What is a web ring?
In a nutshell, a web ring is a collection of websites that share a specific theme or interest. Web rings can be thought of a group of websites belonging to a special club. In a web ring, each of the sites are linked together by a common navigation bar, usually found at the bottom of the site, that allows a visitor to view the previous and next website within the collection. The navigation bar allows a visitor to browse from site to site in a circular or looped way, hence the term web ring.
Web rings were very popular in the 1990s and early 2000’s, mostly among personal webpages. Web rings gained popularity as a way for website owners to gain traffic by participating in a network of related links. Although web rings were popular with the personal website community, they were always seen as amateurish when used on a commercial website.
Despite this fact, some search engine marketing companies use web rings as a marketing approach. Although web rings have largely fallen out of use and has become rather uncommon, to this day, some search engine marketing companies still use them in their marketing strategy; mostly under the pretense of link building.
Why should I avoid web rings?
There are several reasons why you should avoid web rings for search engine optimization.
The first and most obvious reason has to do with the quality of incoming and outgoing links. Unless you are the owner of the web ring, you have no control over who links to your website or whose website you are linking to. Often the website linking to you and the website you are linking to are randomized, thus you can never be sure of the quality of the incoming or outgoing links. Just because a website shares a similar topic with yours, does not mean that the content on that website is considered to be of quality. And since the search engines take into account the quality of content linking to you, it is easy to see how this can be dangerous.