The Rise and Fall of Linking

Links have been around since the inception of the internet, one of the first practices of link sharing was called the "webring."
In the 90′s, they were in their heyday.Back when Yahoo was the dominant directory, these communities of similar sites enabled users to find other related websites and gave webmasters click-through traffic as users jumped from one site to another.
Today, many webmasters consider webrings useless. Some even claim that just the mere act of soliciting webrings on your website can get you into trouble from a policing algorithm. But are they right?

First, let’s take a look at exactly what webrings are.

Webrings are essentially clubs of associated websites grouped in circular rings, where each website is linked to another with simple navigation bars, allowing users to navigate randomly, backwards, forwards, skip, or see the entire list of all the websites listed on the ring.

Before Panda, webmasters saw webrings as their ticket to ranking well. And for many years, they were successful. Webmasters who took part in webrings began to notice their online rankings starting to climb as Google's algorithm supported relevant website linking However, this also led to abuse. It set off the world of ‘blog networks’ and ‘inbound link farms’ designed to drive rankings through unnatural linking processes.

Many webmasters took part in link and content spamming. India played a huge part in this trend; in fact, about 71% of SEO keyword search index comes from India where thousands of workers send emails and call centers cold-call business owners by the thousands, creating a flat rate price for inbound link building. Over the last 10 years, India’s level of participation in the SEO industry climbed to new heights, making it the #1 country for outsourced SEO link building projects.

Other dishonest SEO techniques proliferated, including automatically-generated content, scraped content, cloaking, hidden links or texts, sneaky redirects, doorway pages, irrelevant keywords, phishing and other badware, and link schemes.
This abuse littered the internet with spam websites that offer no value to the user. It enabled ‘bad’ websites, while those that offer good content remained in the backwaters.