Google Penguin 2 and the Jobs in Ireland

Did you hear Google released a major update to Penguin 2 on Friday? Matt Cutts (the head of Google’s Webspam team) recently confirmed on his blog that Penguin 2.0 is now live.

So let’s see how did the Google Penguin 2 update affected our Irish online recruitment industry. Here is the search result page for the word “Jobs” made in the Google.ie.

Make sure if you do this search yourself that you are not logged in into Google yourself, have removed the Google cookie, etc – so that you do not see the Google’s “Personalised” search result for you.

Here is the new google.ie ranking for the search word “jobs”:

  1. Jobs.ie
  2. IrishJobs.ie
  3. FindAJob.ie
  4. Indeed.ie
  5. RecruitIreland.com
  6. Monster.ie
  7. Fas.ie
  8. Ie.JobRapido.com
  9. JobsToday.ie
  10. Twitter.com/jobs

So what can we conclude from the list of the sites that a are on the first page for the phrase jobs? By comparing what we have used to see there before the Google Penguin 2 update we can see what sites have been affected. Let’s start with the sites not affected by the update:

The SAON Group web sites leading with the purchased Jobs.ie site on top and their original IrishJobs.ie is steadily on top.

Nothing changed there for years. In fact may years. The last change there actually when Jobs.ie overtook IrishJobs.ie. If my memory serves me correctly that was towards the end of the 2005. Very shortly after that IrishJobs.ie bought Jobs.ie.

So since 2005 the first two search results for the search for “jobs” have not changed in Ireland. So is Google doing much really with all this Panda, Penguin & Penguin 2 “updates”? Well in the last 7 years the results on top are not changing at all. Or does IrishJobs.ie & Jobs.ie have so good SEO specialists to keep them on top for all this years? It must be one of those.

The next three slots are: Findajob.ie (aka LoadzaJobs.ie), Indeed.ie and Monster.ie. So what’s new here? Nothing much really in relation to the Google Penguin 2 update. Long term there isn’t much that has changed in here in the last 10 years really. What has changed is that Loadza have changed their domain name several times. They cannot seem to get it right really. EmployIreland.com that was 4th there is replaced by Indeed.ie about a year or more ago when they came to our market. Monster is the 5th recruitment web site there for the last 10 years.
So in essence the top 5 results for the word “jobs” haven’t changed at all in the last Google Penguin 2 update.

Where the changes did occur are on the bottom part of the search page. That is the space that in the last 10 years have been occupied mostly by the Irish start up job boards or similar sites. FAS was always there somewhere. They did rebrand to SOLAS, but forgot to do it online. Hence FAS.ie is still there. Good old civil servants…

So what the Google Penguin 2 update did affect is the last 4 remaining slots the search results page fro the word “jobs”. You can say Google haven’t changed much really. What we are going to look at is if the Google Penguin 2 update was good actually. Or is it a step back in the quality of the search results?

The bottom of the page of the search results for jobs have been occupied by start-up job boards. It always was a dynamic space. In the last 10 year, about a 100 web sites appeared and disappeared from there. I can remember the first Irish Jobs Aggregator IrishJobs.ie featuring there, and a long list of site showing Irish jobs listings. There was one recruitment agency that made up there – in 2010 when the CPL.ie new web site was released. In this new update CPL.ie dropped to 128 place, while their other site CPLJobs.com landed on a much better 53rd slot. Is there a hint that CPL.ie got hit by the Google Penguin 2 update? Most likely from the way it is ranking now.

It is still quite strange that no other recruitment agency got listed on the first page for the word “jobs” there ever, isn’t it?

So what did Google Penguin 2 update replaced the Irish start-ups with?

Ie.Jobrapido.com – one job aggregator. Well it is the only .com web site here. It actually does have jobs aggregated from sites like freelancer.com and similar. Some Irish recruitment agencies as well. The overall quality of the jobs advertised (content) if poor. A large number of jobs are taken down from teh sites they are originally published on anyway, and the whole set of jobs is really poor representation of the list of active jobs in Ireland. In essence a really poor experience for a job seeker.

JobsToday.ie – a UK newspaper publisher. Note that any link you click on that site it brings you to their UK web site (.co.uk). This results driven by the backlinks from their newspaper releases is so wrong that it actually reminds of the Yahoo style paid search result placements from the end of the last century. It is pointless and out of place. It is no good to a Google visitor. There are simply a handful of jobs listed there on some UK newspaper web site.

Twitter.com/jobs – The page with the HTML Title: Jobs at “Twitter –San Francisco”. San Francisco??? A search result to someone looking for a job in Ireland in Google.ie? Google? Don’t you have a Google Maps division? Or do you want us all to emigrate? What’s the story there? What kind of a (crap) search result is that? Or did the Google Penguin 2 algorithm value a social media sites results “a bit” too much so the results from the social media are going to creep into any search we make?

So to conclude what have the Google Penguin 2 update brought us? It removed Irish start-ups and replaced them with what can be the best described irrelevant search results. In their own vocabulary they call it SPAM. Luckily for us this only affects the bottom part of the page. The “under the fold” stuff. The top part of the page wasn’t affected by the latest update.

How did your site ranking feature in the Google Penguin 2 update last week? If you are stuck give the SEO Consultant a shout!

Silicon Republic review of Jobs Blog

silicon_rep-logo Silicon Republic, Ireland’s leading technology news web site published a nice review of Jobs Blog:

Ivan Stojanovic works in the recruitment industry and operates EmployIreland.ie. JobsBlog.ie is where he waxes lyrical on the topic.
He keeps us up to date on the latest seminars, talks, new sites and companies, and tackles issues like ’10 don’ts for job hunters on social
networks’.
His top tip? Make sure nothing embarrassing shows up when you Google your name.

Thanks Silicon Republic for the nice touch!!!

10 don’ts for job hunters on social networks

  • Don’t be too technical or industry specific in your profile
  • Don’t jump on a social networking site and give the perception that you’re desperately looking for a job — just “taking” and not “giving”
  • Don’t wait until you’re laid off before building out your social networks and staying active
  • Don’t forget to check out your “online presence” or “personal branding” to make sure nothing embarrassing shows up when you Google your name
  • Don’t forget the No. 1 goal is an in-company referral and you must be willing to take action outside your comfort zone to get one
  • Don’t spend too much time in front of the screen. Phone calls and face-to-face meetings are vital
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone on the Web in your targeted area — ask questions, suggest products, share information
  • Don’t expect to log on and find a direct lead, because the best tips often come from someone on the network who is several times removed from you
  • Don’t forget to stay engaged in your field, keep up on the latest news, products and services. Check out start-ups, which can be a great place to find a job if you act fast
  • Don’t try to make friends or contacts with everyone you can on the networks; make sure it’s someone you know or have something in common with

Declan Fitzgerald

Social Networking, Blogging, Recruitment 2.0, an all the other buzz words do not mean anything until all those technologies are utilised, and utilised properly. It is actually quite easy to embrace it all, or any part of it, and make absolutely nothing. How many web sites, job sites, blogs social networks or internet projects in all shapes or forms get published and just nothing happens with them afterwards? If you do it, you have to do it right, to make any kind of impact. There is a long list of people and companies trying, and all are in the same race. Only one or a small number can therefore succeed in every niche.

Irish employers have stayed out of all this new way of attracting talent. Irish companies haven’t made much success in blogging or the next step – recruiting via their blogs. LinkedIN and Facebook are used as the tool for the background checking more than what they are built for – for sourcing. Boolean searches, we all tried it and found gems, but very few in Ireland and it was disappointing.

But then it all started changing. And the change started with Declan Fitzgerald – a recruiter form Microsoft who calls himself – The Irish Cyber Sleuth. Declan was brave and jumped heads up into the blogging and social networking. Fairly quickly all his efforts come together with a great result. The result is actually so great that not only Microsoft will benefit from it, but it has far greater repercussions on the whole Irish Recruitment and Human Resources industry. Things will never be the same again. Declan lifted us and made us all think on how we do our business, and in some cases ‘Pushed’ us into the future of the recruitment.

So how did Declan Fitzgerald do it all?

Well Declan did a lot of things, and the result we see today is the combined result of all of those actions. What we have today is:

Blog: The Irish Cyber Sleuth: The Future of Recruitment is in the Cloud
Talking about someone’s blog is just like painting about someone’s music. Read it! It is the most popular Employer recruitment blog in the country for a reason. Here is how Declan describes it himself:
I am passionate about technology and recruitment. This blog is about the intersection of both, keeping an eye on what is happening in both industries in Ireland and abroad and understanding, commentating and theorising about what is happening on the gleam of the knife of recruitment innovation.

LinkedIN Group: Irish Recruiters
Declan made the largest group of the Recruiters in Ireland on LinkedIN. He closely monitors the activity, moderates it and encourages positive discussions. A lot of hard work and it is all paying off not since the group has 852 members today, and not just ‘anyone’ in it.

Tuesday Club
Being such a great networker, Declan knew that he needed to organise the Irish Recruiters to meet physically as well, not only over the Internet. The Tuesday Club is the meeting only for the members of the LinkedIN Group Irish Recruiters. And this is what makes it so good. Only the people who keep an eye on the future have been there. This makes the quality of discussions that Declan organises with the questions prepared up front, on the highest level. We all learned something on Tuesday Club! It is not that often to see people working the Irish jobs sites, multiple job posting service providers, ATS, recruitment agencies and in house recruiters all in the same room in the very open discussion? Recruiters sharing experiences like what jobs site they use for what kind of a position? The timing was perfect for the Tuesday Club. Recession brought us recruiters very close together as the industry. We genuinely want to help each other and care about each other. Even that we might be a competition some times. The ruthless ‘Sales and Nothing but the Sales’ approach we used to have during the past decade grew into a nice and relaxed atmosphere. Enjoyable. Tuesday Club that Declan so passionately organises is just the best that could happen to the recruitment industry in Ireland.

Recruitment Conference: The Future of Recruitment – Part 1:The Road Ahead!
As if the above wasn’t enough, Declan went on and organised a recruitment conference. Ireland has seen a very few of those, and if I remember correctly the biggest so far was the one Marco and his Jobs.ie crowd organised some 4 years in Westin Hotel in Dublin. Declan invited the top heads from the largest Irish recruitment agency and largest Irish jobs site, and some people from Microsoft and LinkedIN. A serious line-up. He asked them to give their views on the future of the recruitment. Declan was brave again since those 4 views should be all going in their separate directions. The Q&A session will be lively!

Declan does not show any signs of tiring actually. The Tuesday Club ended in him making sure everyone knows their input on the topics for the next meeting is not only welcome but expected! He names his first conference ‘Part 1’ for a reason. He already has a plan what will the next one be about and when are the likely speakers.

Well done Declan!

Sonru… or the day I ditched Skype, MSN and YouTube altogether!

2009 is probably going to be remembered as the year the Irish recruitment industry exploded! Why is that? Well this is what I am here to tell you today!

Late 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 was probably (Carlsberg) the worst time for the recruitment agencies in Ireland. Majority of the agencies have let a percentage of their staff go. Quite a number of them vent under and have been sold for not really desired (by their founders) sums.
sonru-small
And then it has happened! Sonru was born!

Sonru.com launched in Public Beta on the 27th of February. The launch took place in the Enniscorthy Enterprise & Technology Centre in Wexford in the company of Paul Kehoe TD.

So what is this Sonru and why will it change your life as a recruiter in Ireland? Here is the magic answer: Sonru is a really simple video interview tool based on the web.

What will you use this Sonru for: Sonru is used for lots of different interviewing purposes, the most common being, 1st round job interviews and mock interview preparation.

How much will it set you back? Not only is Sonru convenient it is also very cost effective. Also the folks at Sonru strongly believe that – We believe Sonru is great value for money.

So now you know. Sonru is The Thing in 2009. And just in case you didn’t get it by now, here is a comparison chart for you:

sonru

And this is why you should as well as I did, ditch your Skype, MSN and YouTube instantly! This is all so ’08! Sonru is NOW! Sonru is the future! Long live Sonru!

The author of the above post is not in any way affiliated with any of the above companies Sonru and Skype wile holds some shares of MSFT and GOOG, but their value seems to be melting quickly. Obviously accelerated by the Sonru arrival).

Green Jobs

I am pleased to announce the nicest Irish Job board: Green Jobs!

A this is second new job board I am looking at today, and funnily enough the first one was also ‘green’ or perhaps a bit to ‘green’!

Anyway back to Green Jobs! It is again the jobs site owned by the recruitment agency, and the good thing is – they do not hide it a bit! Their Green Search logo is proudly displayed in the header next to the Green Jobs one.

The Green Jobs Design

The design of the Green Jobs web site is probably the nicest site design of all Irish recruitment web sites. Modern, Web 2.0 (and beyond), light colors on the white background, 3D,… what can I say? It ticks all the right checkmarks! It really is a pleasure to look at, and I find hard to write about it, since I just keep starring at the front page. And not only the front page. When you browse around, you find the little graphics in the site that are relevant to the content, and make the site easier to read and follow.

There are some possible improvements on the looks, it could be a bit modernised since some elements are a bit… ‘old’. The latest jobs scrolling make me really nervous since I cannot really read about the job. It’s too quick! Featured employers box ruins the balance, and is over, over,… out-standing. Fonts could be a bit more exiting… But hold on! This is still probably the nicest (Heineken) jobs site in Ireland!

PS. If you are a graphic designer who made those graphics please call me on 076 670 8888 now! I have a job for you!
PS2. In case you are calling from Brasil, there is +353 for Ireland in front of the number…

The Green Jobs Usability

Well,…. there is always a room for improvement. Again, there is only one green button, on one page only that leads you to the job search facility. I think a job site’s main purpose is to show jobs. The Jobs Search should be on every page. I will repeat that. The job search should be present on every page.

SEO of the Green Jobs

Well not much of SEO on the Green Jobs page. There is actually a test you can do on a job site to check how serious contender are they. You just look at the URL of their job posting. If the page where the job is actually displayed does not contain the job name in the URL, in the TITEL, in the META, in H1 Tag, and a few times in the text…. well then that page will not get much relevant traffic from the search engines. You have to ask yourself – why publish something if it will not have any reach?

So let’s see the URL of the job post on Green Jobs:
greenjobs.ie/jobseekers/info.php?jobid=158

Well, you be the judge… My take on it is that they will always depend on Google AdWords for the traffic to their site, and we all know that this is not really sustainable way to run a job site.

Conclusion?

Green Jobs is the nicest little recruitment site in Ireland. It is cute in its simplicity really. Well done and all the best Greens!!!

Golden Spider Awards 2008

Newbridge Silverware have won the 2007 Golden Spider Award for \"Best e-Business Website\"It is 50% more expensive to be in the Golden Spiders this year…

If there is anything an entrepreneur cannot stand it’s the PR stunts for the ‘Big Boys’. When you are starting your average ‘Two Boys in the Shed’ (or kitchen, bedroom or even attic if you are lucky!) company, with absolutely no investment other than your old PC, the worst thing that can happen to you is to get ‘An Invitation’ for the Awards ceremony that you cannot pay the entrance fee for. An invitation to pay the entrance fee… Imagine if you get a invitation to see the show in the cinema, that starts with you paying for the ticket first.

Basically it is the invitation to empty your wallet in our bag, please? Thank You!

Golden Spider Awards seems like a respectable event. The usual carvery menu, a bit of wine, and a table decorated by the flower. Black Tie recommended – required to get published later on, on the photographs.

What does it to enter the Golden Spider Awards? I get a call every year now, and remember the last years cost of €100. This year it is €150. Right. That makes it 50% more expensive than last year.

Recruitment Roadshow 2008: What is The Best Job Title?

Recruitment Roadshow 2008 took me to Swords and Tallaght today visiting the two La Creme & Premier offices. It was really interesting how the same presentation I am giving every day evolves from the contribution from the recruiters I meet every day. The most interesting topic we spoke about today was the Job Titles. Basically the question was:

What is The Best Job Title?

Since the Job Title appears in the Job Search Results on the job boards, and it also appears on the Search results of the search engines, it is very important to write the job title in a such way that it invites the web site visitor to click on it. If the job title does not make a job hunter click on it to see more of the job, the application process gets ‘broken’ and a visitor/CV is lost.

The conclusion is that a job title has to be:

    Short
    Descriptive
    Attractive – it needs to sell the job

By looking at the Google Analytics data of a recruitment agency web sites or a job sites, and comparing the number of views of the same job with a different job titles gives a definitive answer, and that is that:

The job tile on a recruitment agency web site and a job boards shouldn’t be the same!

Why? Simply because you are trying to attract the job hunter in the different environment.

Job Titles for the Job Boards

Job boards contain thousands of jobs. Most likely there will be numerous jobs with the job tile that is exactly as yours. Standing out is a good thing. Sometimes you need to ‘Go Crazy’ as well (for certain type of jobs). I have heard how the tiles like: ‘Can you sell ice to the Eskimos’ work well, simply since they stand out.

Recruitment Agency and Corporate Site Job Titles

Job tiles on your own web site need to be far more formal. There are two reasons for it. Here you do not compete with the rest of the recruiters in the country. Here it is all about you and your brand. Informative, descriptive, short, attractive…

Another point is that your web site content is the main driving force to the web traffic to your recruitment web site. The majority of the content of the recruitment sites are the job descriptions. Google just loves your jobs online since they get updated regularly, and Google ‘loves’ the live content. Your job titles will most likely (should really!) contain the most used search phrases to drive the traffic from Google. If you want relevant traffic you need the job titles that are 100% relevant to your jobs.

This simply points to the obvious:

Job titles for the job boards and job titles for your company web site shouldn’t really be the same.

Google AdWords in Recruitment?

Google AdWords was good!

Years ago I was preaching to the recruiters in Ireland to start using Google AdWords. The cost per click (CPC) was literally a few cents. The early adopters really drove massive traffic, and relevant traffic to their web sites. I remember my own www.IrelandJobs.ie – and how easy was it to purchase a thousand visitors a day. We experimented a lot and found that the best click trough and the conversion rate on our web site was for the AdWords Campaigns linking directly to a job just advertised.

Today the scenario is the opposite.

Google AdWords is bad!

Cost per click started grooving from the day one. It was just a question of time when will it all stop making sense. In the late 2007, when CPC reached the 1 Euro, a lot of people started revaluating their Google AdWords accounts and rethinking if that spend still makes sense. A large number of advertisers stopped their accounts or limited their budgets. The results are that the CPC stabilised for a time. It took some time to get used to pay over a euro for a visitor. Advertisers got used to it, and the price is soaring up again.

So why is paying a single 1 Euro per job hunter bad for your business?

Well simply because you could be paying about half by purchasing your traffic from other sources. Call today for details: 01 440 1900!

Job Search Keywords

Publishing a job advertisement on the web strongly benefits from the search engine optimisation of the jobs post itself. Regardless of the job board you are publishing your job you will definitely get more applications if you apply the search engine optimisation techniques to your job advertisement.

How to optimise your jobs postings for the search engines?

There is very little that a job board will let you control on the web page where your job is advertised. The only element of the page that you can control is the text on the page. You cannot do much with the URL, Title, Meta,… it is on the job board staff to worry about that. You control the text. ‘The Content’. And you know what the search engine optimisation specialists say? They say: ‘The Content is the King!’. What is the importance of content in the search engine optimisation? Well search engine optimisation is actually all about the content. Search engines actually do not do much but read, analyse and index the content on the web pages. If your content is original and relevant to the particular term, a search engine will display your page in the listings for the search phrases your content is about.

But what we forget to write in the content is what people are actually searching for. When writing a job specification for the job advertisement we forget to actually mention the word ‘Job’. I the same time we are trying to attract someone looking for a job. We do know that when someone is looking for a new job, that is exactly what he will write down in the search engine, the word job or jobs. In the same time when writing a online job advertisement we co rarely put a word job or jobs in it. In fact the job boards themselves tell us to put a whole list of other words, but not to mention a most important word jobs?

Just remember, you are advertising a job!!!

For any search engine to consider your job posting worth displaying in the search ranking pages you have to use the word ‘jobs’ frequently in your job advertisement!

CPL

CPL Web Site - pointing to the http://alliancenurses.ie/The CPL recruitment agency is the leading recruitment agency in Ireland. They managed acquire a number of competitors, and also grow organically in some areas. The web site is a quite important thing for any recruitment agency. It represents you on the Internet, and the Internet is the channel for the majority of the communication a recruitment agency does. Jobs are listed on the Internet for job hunters and your services are displayed on your site to your clients. Every single email has a reference to the web site to help drive the traffic to the recruitment agency web site.

And jet this most important communication channel gets neglected. How? Well simply entering the web address without the ‘www’ part in it so just cpl.ie gives you the web site of: Alliance Nurses Agency. You can view the real copy also on their domain address: http://alliancenurses.ie/.

How did that happen? Most likely the configuration settings on the Microsoft IIS web server. I am guessing that the domain http://alliancenurses.ie/ is set “All undefined” option, and the admin did not specify the CPL.ie to point to the same where the www.CPL.ie is pointing.

Note: Yes I did call CPL and have let them know….Note: Yes I did call CPL and have let them know…. And guess what I am told: “That is OK, they are part of our CPL Group.” :)

Is the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) a compulsory skill for The Online Recruitment Marketing Manager?

The ‘usual’ Marketing Manger in the recruitment industry in Ireland up until a few years had his job divided into the traditional offline marketing efforts (even a guerrilla marketing falls into this here!) and the online marketing. Online marketing consisted of purchasing the subscriptions on the job boards, getting the recruitment web site done up, and perhaps purchasing a banner or similar advertisement from the news portals. And it was all well back then, and most of the actual work could easily be outsourced to an external vendor – a marketing agency. And then came Google…

Google messed up the life of a marketing manager, simply because someone up in the management got an idea to ask a question:

Why do job hunters not apply to our web site and instead go to the job boards, and we have to pay for advertising there? Surely we can do a good site as well?!

The classic advertising or marketing agency failed to deliver a single visitor from eh Google search engine, so Google invented Google AdWords. Being the number crunchers and statistical people by nature, the Google failed to understand who will be the end users of their AdWords tools, so the interface was all in numbers, percentages, and zillions of statistical acronyms. You really needed a PhD in statistics to understand anything there. So a new breed of consultants surfaced, the Google AdWords Management Consultants. Most Irish recruitment marketing managers even today fail to understand they do need to hire them to manage their AdWords campaigns. It simply undermines their management authority to outsource management of their precious budgets. Jet they didn’t really care for the statistics in school., but are ‘creative’ people by nature.

When enough Irish online recruiters, and those who wanted to become ones, started using Google AdWords to drive the precious job seekers to their recruitment web sites, the price of the visitor started climbing up. And up… So the Google AdWords became too expensive for the generalist recruitment, and the new breed of marketers surfaced up in Ireland the SEO Consultants.

My Definition:
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a ‘science’ (is it?) that defines the elements that affect search engine ranking of a web site for a particular keyword in a set search engine.

So how can a SEO Consultant help a Online Recruitment Marketing Manger in Ireland? Well a SEO guy can help ‘optimise’ the recruiters web site so that it gains higher ranking for the recruitment related keywords (or phrases) or for some other (industry or location) related search keywords. A search keyword or search phrase is the text that people using the search engine type to perform the search. So in short, a SEO consultants job is to change the web site so that the web site gets more traffic. In the recruitment industry – it means more free visitors – more applications – more CVs – more placements!

This is where it gets very confusing to our Irish Online Marketing Manager. The SEO Consultant simple does not speak the same language. Also there is absolutely nothing exact in the SEO!? There is no formula (Google keeps it as a Coca Cola recipe!), nothing really to back up what the SEO Consultant is ‘preaching’.

The effect of this falling behind in the ever changing knowledge of running the online business is very beneficial for the Irish Jobs Boards. Since absolutely no Irish recruitment agency have ever made a substantial effort to make a web site that would have a high visitor numbers, they simply have to purchase traffic from Google AdWords or completely rely on their advertisement on the job boards. There is a limited success they achieve with newsletters where they offer a iPod Nano raffle for a CV submitted, or a bit of Radio and print advertisements. But all those traditional marketing efforts combined bring only a small fraction of het CVs that a well optimised recruitment web site bring in Ireland today.

Therefore a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a compulsory skill for The Online Recruitment Marketing Manager in Ireland today.

Links exchange email requests

If you are the ‘Lucky’ recipient of any public email address like ‘info’ or ‘webmaster’ you are most likely receiving the links exchange request emails every week now. Someone is informing you that they have placed a link to your site or that they will place a link to your site as soon as you place a link to their site. They also take (your) time to explain you the benefits of the link building.

Under the current Irish legislation even the Irish company can send emails like that to any other Irish business. I see it as an obvious failure of the law to protect us from the SPAM. It is irritating because there is no really reliable and effective cure for the SPAM today.

So should you accept and put the links to all those web sites in return from the link obtained from them?

Here are the guidelines that you can use as a test in the following order:

If the email is sent from the free email host like Gmail – NO!
If the web site does not have a lot of the content relevant (really relevant!) to your web site – NO!
If the web page where your link is has more that 50ish links to some other sites – NO!
If the web page is not in the Google index – NO!
If the web page (not the site) has a Google Page Rank lower than 3 – NO!
If the web page where your link is has a Google Page Rank more than 2 lower than your page – NO!
If you just do not like the tone in the email – NO!

If you use the filter above – you will see that 99% of those emails will not pass the test. So even without performing the test, you can safely delete and ignore all such link exchange email requests.