What is a Link Exchange?

What is a Link Exchange?

In order to promote web site visitors to their sites, many web site owners choose to participate in link exchanges. A link exchange is an agreement between two web site owners wherein they agree to add a click-able link to each of their sites in order to promote each other and share traffic.

What are the Benefits of a Link Exchange?

The primary benefit of a link exchange is for unpaid search engine positioning. Search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and MSN are believed to count the number of incoming links a site has from other web sites in order to determine it’s relevance when returning search engine results. It is widely believed that the more incoming links a site has, the higher it will rank for a given search term.

The secondary benefit of a link exchange is an exchange of traffic from one web site to another. By participating in a link exchange, web site owners actively promote their web site elsewhere on the internet in order to gain more visitors from incoming links.

Although generally overlooked, link exchanges also provide value to your web site’s visitors. Assuming that you are planning on linking to sites that have content related to yours, you are providing your visitors with additional resources.

What are the Problems with Link Exchanges?

The link exchange system is prone to abuse. Many sites automate link exchanges with other web masters to generate thousands of incoming links. These incoming links are less a “vote of confidence” from another site and are generally annoying to visitors looking for real information. Here’s a sample automated link exchange request from Merchant Service Group

How can I get the most out of link exchanges?

This part can be time consuming, but it’s definitely worthwhile. Stick to the following for best results:

  • Have a web site worth linking to. Fill your site with useful content for your readers and for those sites who would link to you.
  • Don’t automate your linking process. Instead, hand pick sites that compliment yours and contact the owner in a personal way. Mention who you are and what you like about their web site. I always write an individual email to each potential link exchange partner. It’s definitely more time consuming, but in the long run it has better results.
  • Contact sites that are relevant to your area of expertise, but not direct competitors. An example would be a veterinarian’s web site linking to one for a pet groomer.
  • Don’t go overboard. A few choice links from the right people will get great results.

Is there any terminology I should know?

This is not a comprehensive list, but should get you started:

  • URL: the address in your address bar. It normally looks something like http://www.danifer.com/blog/what-is-a-link-exchange.html.
  • Anchor text: You can use any text to link to another web site. What you use for anchor text is believed to have an impact on search results. This is an example of anchor text. This is a good place to insert keywords relevant to the site you’re linking to.
  • One way link: Not a true link exchange, but rather an incoming link to a site that is not reciprocated.
  • Banner/Image: You can use an image to link to a site rather than anchor text.
  • Alt Text: When an image is used, alt text can be added to signify what the image is about to visually impaired or graphics disabled browsers. This is a good place to insert keywords relevant to the image you’re using and the site you’re linking to.

What about buying links?

The jury is still out on this one. It definitely makes the process easier, but it might not achieve the results you’re looking for. If you’re going to buy links, do so in moderation and don’t blow your budget. There are more proven ways you can spend money to improve your traffic.

I’m ready. What do I do now?

Here’s how the link exchange would normally work:

  • Contact the site you would like to exchange links with.
  • The two of you agree where you would like the links placed and what you will be linking to.
  • Communicate with your web master where the link should be placed, what it should point to and any other information you worked out with the link exchange partner.
  • Confirm that your link exchange partner has posted your link.
  • Check back occasionally to make sure nothing has been changed.

Best of luck to would-be link exchangers! I hope you found some of this worthwhile.


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