Bed and Breakfast Link Partners
A well known B&B website company has put into place a link partnering method of promoting your Bed and Breakfast site and their other clients' sites. The basic idea is that a link is placed at the bottom of your homepage. The link says "link partners" or "partner sites"and goes to a page on your website that lists and links to 10-20 other B&B's not in your area (not your immediate competition). Here is a screenshot of what it looks like (found near the bottom of the home page.
A few years ago link partnering was a way to get your Bed and Breakfast website to appear higher in the search engines. This is based on the idea that incoming links to your website improve your site's position. This is true. Incoming links are a strong factor for controlling how well a website shows up. Incoming links are good, but the story doesn't end there. From the search engine's point of view anything that is heavily weighted is prone to manipulation and therefore is watched / monitored more closely by the search engines.
Link partnering has some short-term benefits and long-term risks. This makes it appropriate for promoting one time events but inappropriate for a B&B that needs to be visible for the long term. Here are the current risks of organized link partnering schemes.
- They are quite easy for the search engines to spot. This is done completely automatically. When the link partnering is identified, the links to the partners are devalued or ignored. This is why the benefit is short term (think weeks, not months).
- Link partnering for the purpose of manipulating the search engines actually violates the terms of service of the search engines (at least for the 3 major ones). This means sites using organized link partnering run a real risk of getting a penalty applied. Search engine penalties range from getting pushed down 50 or so positions (50 positions is 5 pages) or an outright removal of your site from the search engine (a ban). Currently, organized link partnering for B&B's is not being abused enough to trigger removal, but being penalized even a few positions results in a significant drop in web site traffic.
- Google says "...Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank..." - Google guidelines for webmasters
- Yahoo says "examples of the more common types of pages that Yahoo! does not want include:
... Excessively cross-linking sites to inflate a site's apparent popularity." Yahoo guidelines
- MSN Says "techniques discouraged by MSN Search: Using techniques to artificially increase the number of links to your page..." MSN guidelines for web pages
- This method offers nothing of value to your potential guests. It doesn't offer them travel advice for your region, or any useful information. All it does is offer them a link of no value, unless you are sending them someplace else ... this is truly bad marketing. The risk is that they will choose to spend their travel dollars on a totally different trip altogether.
- The other principle this violates is controlling who you link to. The other B&Bs on the link partner list are not of your choosing, they are the choice of the marketing company. Again from the major search engine point of view, who links to you can not usually hurt you, because the search engines realize that you can't control who links to you. However, who you link to, is under your control (should be) and your site can be held accountable for the perceived partnerships you make. Link only to quality sites that provide information relevant to your potential guests. Don't link to websites that use questionable marketing techniques, including the link partnering scheme mentioned here.
- The final risk is that you will part with hard earned money to take part in a partnership scheme that will actually hurt you.
For any money you might be considering paying for taking part in a link partnership scheme, you would be better off putting it into improving your web site by creating more content, hiring a professional photographer or making sure your search engine optimization is as good as it can be. These are all investments that keep giving you a return on your investment.
I hope this helps.
Return to Bed and Breakfast Website Advice