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Marketing Through Ad Swaps

A lot of small sites either offer advertising, or their owners are open to ad swaps. The same rules hold here as with link exchanges though, and if you go out looking for them, you’ll not have much success.

In the course of business networking, you’ll run across people that you get along with, and who have a website that will compliment yours. Keep your eyes open for the opportunity for ad swaps within the course of normal associations with people. You’d be surprised how many you can find, I run into quite a few every week. But I don’t spend time hunting them down.

Most established websites get lots of “link exchange” spam. And I do mean a LOT. If you offer ad swaps, you’ll get a lot of trash offers too. The sad fact is that most people who approach you for ad trades who do not already know you will have trashy sites. Only 1 in a couple hundred will be legit.

This means that when you are on the receiving end of ad swap requests from strangers, you tend to throw them out. So if you send out requests to people YOU don’t know, they will treat them as spam also. People are pretty reluctant to even swap ads with someone with whom they do not have some kind of established relationship.

So go back to forum participation, trade association memberships, networking groups, etc, to get ad swaps. And then just pay attention to the people around you, and when you stumble on someone with a quality site that compliments yours, make an offer after you have some kind of basic relationship established.

It comes as a secondary result of forming relationships FIRST. This is true of a LOT of free marketing tactics, and the real benefits don’t even show up until you have really started to develop a reputation within a forum or group.

You can trade content page links, banner ads, text ads, or buttons. You can trade based on page volume, or just trust and swap. Just keep an eye out for swaps that help you and your trading partner both.

Make sure you never trade unless you have checked out the other site. Don’t just swap and stick their link on your site, because if their site is banned, or using tactics that will get it banned, then it will hurt YOUR site to have their link on it. Use a Google Ban tool online to check it, but beware, brand new sites won’t be indexed in Google yet, and will show up the same as if they are banned.

Look for Black Hat Seo on the site. Check for obvious things like repeated and badly used keywords, pull up the source code if you think you can understand enough of it to see if they are using bad alt tags or metatags, and drag your cursor over the page to check for hidden text. Look at the bottom of the page, for any tiny links that go to sites that you feel are not good quality (sometimes site owners hide disreputable links at the bottom of the page). Normally you can check the home page and one random interior page and get a good feel for the site, but you’ll also want to check the Links or Resources page if they have one, and see what kind of sites they are linking to..

Make sure the site has a good, high quality feel about it, with solid informational or product content. You can usually get a good feel for it fairly quickly.

You will also learn fairly quickly who you can trust and who you cannot. I’m frankly shocked at the number of nice little stay at home moms who are out there just aggressively spamming and using really dishonorable marketing tactics because they either lack the patience to do it right, or because they are just following the wrong instructions!!>

Use caution when you swap ads, and develop relationships first.

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