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I would like to create a link exchange with my clients' websites which is not reciprocal but A links to B, B links to C, and C links to A for higher SEO benefit.

If I add an article or a link page to each site obviously it would need to be crawled. Is there a way to discourage it popping up on SERP? Should this even be a concern, assuming it's optimized for completely different keywords than regular pages of the owner's site?

  • Link schemes do not work. In fact, it is a good way to get penalized fast. As well, if a page is indexed, it will show up in the SERPs. That is what a SE is about. What you are describing here does not make sense to do. – closetnoc Mar 7 '17 at 23:13
  • Can you expand on 'link schemes don't work'? Link building is a huge part of SEO, I fully agree that link farms, or reciprocal link schemes are severely devalued but saying that strategic link placement in general doesn't work is pretty serious statement. – AA Mon Mar 7 '17 at 23:49
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    Gaming the system via links is a No. No. Links should be organic. Link schemes intended to build rank can easily be detected and sites will be penalized. It is that simple. Link analysis by Google is extremely extensive looking specifically for gaming patterns and uses AI learning methods to find and de-index sites that use links to game the ranking system. Google has been doing this for over a decade and is very good at it. Here is one famous example: searchengineland.com/… – closetnoc Mar 8 '17 at 0:08
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    There is no short-cut to building rank. You will have to do it like everyone else, the old fashioned way, through promotion and popularity. Here is proof: inbound.org/blog/confessions-of-a-google-spammer – closetnoc Mar 8 '17 at 0:14
  • I see what you mean, I would say that's a very conservative position to take as to completely avoid any kind of intended link placement but you are right sanctions can be severe. Thank you for the feedback. – AA Mon Mar 8 '17 at 1:06
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To have a page crawled but not indexed you should use a meta noindex tag:

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

This comes with two caveats:

  1. It is not clear that Google counts links on pages that are not indexed
  2. As closetnoc states eloquently in the comments, your link scheme is likely to get your site penalized

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