Always double check any links that have been placed on another site. Not everyone is honest and a simple glance on another website to see your link is there is not good enough – not everything is as it seems at times. If you have arranged a reciprocal link, or paid to place a link on another site, it is in your best interest to confirm that the link is clean.

  • Perform a Visual Check of the Link

Visit the website where your link is located. Has the webmaster correctly used the anchor text you specified, and is the link in the agreed location (i.e. not buried deep inside the site, 4 pages deep, on a page with 200 other links)?

Use your mouse cursor to hover over the link – is the correct URL address for your link displayed at the bottom of your browser? If not, then the webmaster may be trying to send visitors elsewhere, via your link (find out how to double check this in Section 3).

It may not always be possible to see if a link is pointing to the correct URL, there are methods to display the correct URL, but still send a visitor to another URL. This is why you need perform a manual test.

  • Test the Link Manually

Click on your link and ensure it leads back to your site – some devious webmasters will use Meta, JavaScript, or server-side PHP and ‘.htaccess’ redirects to send visitors to a site of their choice, instead of your specified URL. All these different codes and scripts instruct a browser to redirect any visitor to another URL, instead of the URL included in the link HTML. Simply hovering over the link will not show up anything suspicious, your URL will still be displayed – redirects are not easy to spot unless you physically click on your own link.

  • Internal Source Check

Lastly, open up the source code of the website homepage your link is located on. This can be done by right-clicking the browser screen in Firefox, or clicking on “Page” in Internet Explorer, and then selecting “View Source Code” or “View Page Source”. This will show the websites source code.

Check for “No Follow”

“No follow” is an attribute included in HTML source and is used to instruct search engine robots not to follow a particular webpage or link.

The first piece of HTML code you need to look for is this:


This will be located near the top of the source code, between the <HEAD></HEAD> tags. If you locate this line of HTML code, this means the webmaster has instructed the search engine robots not to follow any links contained within the site.

Why would anyone add the “no follow” attribute? It is to do with off-page SEO – the more quality links into your site, the more authority and search engine brownie points a website receives, this can mean higher ranking. However, this is the reverse with outbound links – these can “water down” the inbound links. This is why one-way links are superior to reciprocal links, and why some webmasters will try to sneak in “no follow” attributes so their site does not lose any juice from an outbound link. The links will still work and anyone clicking the link would be sent to the specified URL, but the backlink will not be credited by a search engine.

If you do not find a Meta “no follow”, you still need to check your actual link HTML. The “no follow” attribute can be added to individual links. Go to the actual page where you link is located and view that page’s source code. Locate your link HTML code; if you are not sure what to look for, a typical link looks like this:

<a href=”Your Site URL”>Anchor text</a>

Once you have located your link HTML, check that a “no follow” attribute has not been inserted inside the link. If a “no follow” has been added to your link HTML, this is how it will appear:

<a href=”Your Site URL” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text</a>

Correct URL

The final internal check of your link HTML is making sure that the URL (located after the <a href=”) is the actual URL you specified when requesting the link (discussed in Section 1). Obviously, if the URL is wrong, no one will be able to reach your destination URL from that link. Yes, your anchor text may look the same, but anyone clicking on it will be taken to a completely different website.

A Clean Link is a Good Link

This may seem like a lot of work but once you have performed these checks a few times you will be able to speed through them in no time at all. If you have gone to the effort of finding a suitable website, contacting the webmaster and arranging a link exchange or paid for a link, you really need to know that the link works correctly.

Remember to go back to the website from time to time and redo the checks to ensure nothing has been altered, and if you find any discrepancies, contact the owner straight way.

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