Recently, members of Geneabloggers and other genealogy bloggers have been bombarded with email requests from several sites asking them to review and link back to specific blog posts and content.
One such site is “free people search dot org” (note that I am not providing an active link to their site – that is what they want, after all). Here is today’s email from firstname.lastname@example.org:
My name is Samantha and I am a student doing some research on a genealogy paper I have due and came across your site. Anyways, I found your site among a few others, most useful and just wanted to extend my thanks and appreciation. I am fairly new to the world of genealogy and have a new found interest in it now.
Anyways, with all the research I did, I stumbled across so many articles and there was a really fun list I found that had a bunch of interesting facts on DNA. You can find it here [link removed]. I thought you or your other readers might find it entertaining.
I highly doubt that “Samantha” is a college student working on a paper. She is also probably good friends with “Carla Adams” (email@example.com) who sent another email this week from “free people search dot org.”
Why Do Some Sites Make Link Back Requests?
The fact is that some sites don’t want to really work at providing solid, informative content and engaging others. Or they take the easy way out by playing on the gullibility of bloggers, especially new bloggers. The fact is that these sites merely want you to link to them so that they can build their Google Page Rank and improve their search engine standing on Google, Bing and other sites.
How do they do this? Various methods include mentioning your blog in a list of “95 Best Genealogy Blogs” or “120 Online Genealogy Resources” etc. Another method is to give you an “award” and a badge which they hope you will post at your site. Doing so will get them the link they want.
In general, this practice is looked down upon in the SEO industry – or should be. Link backs should be organic and come from bloggers who value content and truly want to give credibility to that content with a link. And at the very least, link requests should be legitimate with real contact information (see below). Samantha Greene and Carla Adams are most likely just shills for “free people search dot org.”
Link Requests: Consider The Source
As genealogists we know the value of a source and that proof of a connection to a person who could be an ancestor depends on the quality of that source. A certified birth record carries much more weight than a family story about where or when that person was born.
As a genealogy blogger you should use the same critical analytic skills when you get these link requests. Ask yourself these questions before you reply to a request or post about the site:
- Do you know the person or the site making the request?
- Is the site genealogy related? How long has the site been around?
- Are there advertisements on the site? What is the nature of the advertisement?
- Is their content valuable or original?
- What is the site’s reputation on the Web? Why would they give an award to genealogy bloggers or other groups of bloggers?
One of my most popular lectures – They’re Alive: Searching For Living Persons – is about finding living people as a part of genealogy research. I know the major search engines and I also know there are some disreputable sites that will overcharge your credit card or trick you into signing up for a yearly subscription if you request information. I have not signed up for “free people search dot org” so I don’t know how their site works, but with any site where I hand over my personal information and or credit card data, I always read the Terms of Services. I can’t seem to do that at “free people search dot org.”
Think Before You Link
The genealogy community and the genealogy blogging community are pretty “tight” and most of us “know” each other at least online. Yes we welcome new sites, vendors and others, but like our ancestors welcoming new people into town, we should be cautious. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions and determining a site’s intentions before linking to them. Remember to think before you link.
©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee