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Should I do Link Exchanges?

One of the most important factors to improving your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is gaining quality links that point to your website.  The practice of link exchanges can help achieve these backlinks.

Obtaining Links to a Website

There are 3 primary ways of obtaining links to your site.

  • 1. Organic or natural growth
    • This is the best type of backlink.  A natural backlink is when another website links to your website or web page without being solicited to do so.  The higher the websites rank, the more potent the link is for you.
  • 2. Link Exchanges
    • A reciprocal link exchange is an agreement between two bloggers or website administrators to place the other’s link on their site.  The link is often placed in a blogroll or a links page, which is a web page dedicated solely to linking to your buddies or similar sites.
  • 3. Purchased Links
    • A purchased backlink is when a website administrator pays to have another website link to their site.  These link building strategies are extremely popular, due to the recognized understanding that backlinks are the most important factor in improving your SEO.  There are many different strategies for link placements, so I won’t talk about them here.

Link Exchanges

Link exchanges are one of the first steps in building a blogger’s online presence.  A reciprocal link exchange works best if you exchange with bloggers or websites that are related to the topic your blog discusses.  In regards to SEO, it’s not the best link to obtain, but it does possess several benefits.

Benefits of Link Exchanges

  • It’s a Backlink
    • A link exchange is considered an inbound link, also known as a backlink.  This is important for improving your search engine ranking.
  • It’s Free
    • It costs nothing to obtain a link on fellow blogger’s site.
  • It’s networking
    • It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself and your blog to the community of like minded people.  Don’t just send an email to another blogger without reviewing their website.  Make sure they allow link exchanges by searching for a links page or a blogroll.  Inform the website admin of your blog niche and make it known that you have perused their blog.
  • It’s Traffic
    • It may not be a significant SEO benefit, but it can result in some quality visitors to your blog.  If a reader is looking at another blogger’s links page, they are looking for another resource.  They have a specific topic they are seeking and a click on your link will most likely result in a reader spending quality time on your website.
  • Get on Quality, Well Known Sites
    • It’s your opportunity as a newbie blogger to have a link placed on a high ranking, well known blogger’s website.  Find the most popular bloggers in your niche and if they have a links page or blogroll, introduce yourself immediately.

Link exchanges aren’t the most effective way to build quality backlinks, but they have too many benefits to ignore.  If you want to get more creative, consider a 3-way link where you (blog A) link to blog B, blog B links to blog C, and blog C links back to you (blog A).  Another idea is to provide a link to one of your pages instead of the home page.  Switching things up is always encouraged to boost your blog search ranking.

Link Exchanges with Businesses

This is where things get more complicating.  Eventually, you will get an email from an organization, usually related to your blog’s category, asking for a link exchange or just a link on your links page.  I consider a business as not being an independent blogger.

You will hear me say this often, nothing should be for free.  Sometimes the payment isn’t always in dollars, but there should be some measured benefit.

A company will suggest you add their link to your links page because your readers will benefit from the additional resource.  Nope, don’t fall for it.  If they want a link on your site, charge them.  This is how you make money.

If the business wants to offer a link exchange, the choice is yours to make.  Consider how deep the page is on their site and how well it ranks (Google PageRank).  A link on another blogger’s page might be clicked on more often than from a links page of a business blog.  You are willing to putting another blogger’s link on your links page because it’s also a resource for your readers.  Is this link to this business a resource too?

I personally don’t add company links to my links page.  I prefer to keep them all as independent bloggers.  If a business or company wants a link to my site, even if it’s a link exchange request, I politely respond that I don’t offer free link exchanges with companies, but they might want to consider purchasing a link on my site for X amount of dollars.

If you are just beginning your blog, check out other bloggers’ links pages to get to know your community.  It’s not only a great resource for readers, it’s also a great resource for other bloggers.

About Jason Castellani

Senior Consultant for ATCS Inc. and Principal of Castellani Media LLC., a collection of blogs focused on providing unique content and entertainment. Began blogging after quitting my job and backpacking for 1 year with my wife. I became fascinated with the impact of social media and how social media marketing can help businesses grow. My goal is to continue building consulting services in an effort to remain digital nomads. @JasonCastellani


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15 Responses to Should I do Link Exchanges?

  1. Lisa @chickybus September 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    I’m with you on this…I prefer to do link exchanges with other independent travel bloggers and not to add company links. Like you, I fee that they should be paying for this sort of listing.

    • Jason September 12, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

      I feel that way too, mostly because I have a fee for that type of service. I will link to a company in a post if I think it’s absolutely necessary, but I don’t add them to my links page.

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  2. Nomadic Samuel September 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

    Hey Jason, I agree with you completely on this article. I only exchange links with independent travel bloggers. Having only had my blog running for a short period of time I made an important decision based on my links page. I decided to go the route of a blog directory as opposed to a tightly wound recommended list of travel bloggers I think my readers would thoroughly enjoy. I also decided to have a no strings attached policy, in which I would put up links without requiring another one back to my site. Although, I highly preferred and politely requested that I would appreciate one back to my site it was not a conditional request. I’ve found that by taking the time to get to know other bloggers and commenting on their sites and engaging with them in various other forms of social media is really a key way to building a relationship beyond just links exchanges. Overall, the travel blogging community is quite supportive to new bloggers if you’re sincere and active with your own blog.

    • Jason September 12, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

      I think a blog directory is often easier for a reader to seek out other sites. My links page is long and probably not very beneficial for readers any more. It’s time for an upgrade.

      And yes, you don’t need to require a reciprocal link to put someone else’s on your site. It’s our blogs, so we can do whatever we feel is best. I also have some links on my site of other bloggers that are not reciprocal.

  3. Adam September 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

    I know where you’re coming from but I don’t agree completely with you. For companies that I know and like, if they contact me, I’m happy to include them on a list of travel resources. I’ve even given proper SEO links to companies when requested simply because they asked nicely, communicated with me several times before on a variety of subjects and were generally polite in all their interactions with me.

    Sometimes it’s okay to include a business or company link so long as you make room for that type of link on your links page or blogroll. I also don’t think you should require other bloggers to link to you if you link to them. I offer links for blogs that I like and read, for newbie bloggers and for companies that I know and trust.

    • Jason September 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

      I think it’s fine to link to businesses or other bloggers without a reciprocal link, and I would never criticize someone for doing that. It’s like telling a friend about a good restaurant you ate at. A free referral is good natured.

      However, I personally have opted not to link to many businesses, because I offer that service for a fee. But, again, I am not telling people not to do it, I am just trying to be honest about what I do. I also link to some blogs that I discovered on my own, without requiring a reciprocal link, but I specifically focused on link exchanges in this article.

  4. Darian Culbert September 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm #

    I have a blog about Halong Bay and I’m open to link exchange with both independent blogs and businesses. There are some blogs that I like and I use one space for them on my link exchange page. Whenever I remember them or want to know how they are going, I will check their blogs again. These are mainly my friends’ blogs and I added these because I like their blogs. They are also happy to put a link to my blog too and it was great and both are happy!

    I also agree with Adam regarding business links! Although they are business but I may also need them sometimes in my life. They are also run by friendly people so there is no reason to ignore them! I also set a place for them on my link exchange page.

    All these links get Google PR3 so you can see how popular the links are! I often recommend this page to my visitors if they are looking for something that is not available on my blog!

    • Jason September 13, 2011 at 6:09 pm #

      Thanks for commenting Darian. I think everyone agrees, we shouldn’t ever ignore businesses, however how everyone handles businesses may be a little different. Links pages are a great resource for followers trying to discover other similar resources.

  5. Chris Schwarz September 18, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    Hi Jason,

    Link exchanging is such an archaic practice that is practically ignored by Google in September 2011.

    In my opinion, having a blog roll is useless. Google can tell this was just done just to ‘get a link’ and not really offering real value to the audience. Having someone rewteet a page is probably just as powerful as a link.

    Setting up a /links.html page with 50 outbound links is not going to achieve anything. I would be much more inclined to set up a new post with “top 5 video travel bloggers from Australia” and curate a decent amount of content around why there are the best.

    At the end of the day, where entering a new ‘content’ driven search engine marketing era. Great content + Social marketing will achieve higher Google rankings.


    • Chris Schwarz September 18, 2011 at 6:29 am #

      I re read that and it sounded so harsh!

      I am saying there’s a clear right and wrong way to do link exchanges. The easy way is more than likely the wrong way!

    • Jason September 18, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

      Chris, it’s important to realize there exists 5 benefits outlined here and I wouldn’t discount them all with the belief that Google “can tell this was done”.

      As someone who has a links page, I get the highest quality visitors from being on other’s links pages. The more dominent the blogger is in their category or topic, the more visits I get from them.

      And the networking benefit should never be overlooked. It’s a great way to network and get to know other bloggers in your community.

      if the article’s topic was, “Can link pages benefit your Google Ranking, then you have a good point, but there were 5 benefits discussed.

      Excerpt from the article:
      “In regards to SEO, it’s not the best link to obtain, but it does possess several benefits.”

      I do respect the idea of not creating a links page. I don’t have them on all my sites, but not solely because of SEO beliefs.

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