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Marketing Through Link Exchanges

Link Exchanges were considered hot news a year or so ago. The latest greatest thing, and an easy way to get better search engine ranks. Unfortunately, the spammers took advantage of them, as they do with all things, and killed a lot of the power of link exchanges. Link exchanges may be referred to as link trades, or reciprocal linking.

Link exchanges operate on a couple of different principles. Some are sites that offer “link exchange services”, which are usually just a listing of businesses that will trade links. I have never received any offers of trades from these that were not spam.

You can place a page on your site that offers link exchanges. This page has one. These will get you a few legit trades, and a lot of scummy offers. It has been worth it to me for the few golden trades that have come in through these, but I don’t put them on all of my sites.

Some people will go hunting link trades. I don’t. Offers to trade links that come in without having been asked for, will usually be treated as spam. When I have a link exchange page on my sites, I give instructions that they have to email me, with a specific phrase in the title. If that is missing, I know they are most likely using automated software to send the request, and that there is not likely to be a real person at the end of the email.

I participate in some business networking forums, and I encounter people there that I enjoy association with. When they have a website that is topically related to one of mine, that would be a good trade, then I’ll offer privately to trade links with them. If their site has a better pagerank than mine, I’ll put links on more than one of my sites in trade.

The current dogma is that relevant link trades are better than non-relevant. Actually, search engines do a bad job of telling the difference. People, on the other hand, do a very good job of telling the difference, so relevant links are always better. A Links page full of all kinds of garbage makes your site look tacky.

Make sure you screen any sites you link to. Your link on their site won’t hurt you, but their link on your site will! Only link to good quality sites that have not been banned.

Low pagerank won’t hurt you. Today’s pagerank 0 can be tomorrow’s pagerank 4. Several of my sites went immediately from pagerank 0, to pagerank 4 the first time they showed up with a pagerank.

High pagerank helps you. Some sources will insist that your links on sites with lower pagerank will hurt your rank, but that is utter nonsense. If that were the case, there would BE no high rank sites, because for a pagerank 10, EVERYONE that links to them is lower pagerank! The fact is that high pagerank helps, and lower pagerank helps too. Not as much, but it does help, regardless of what your pagerank is.

The other philosophy that is stupid is that links that come off of your site lower your pagerank. That is also a misinterpretation. The misunderstanding comes from the statement that “when your site is linked from a high ranking page, that page ‘gives’ you a little of their pagerank, hence the value of a link on a high pagerank site is more than on a low pagerank site”, and the statement that the more links on a page the less value is passed on to each one. So someone got the idea that outbound links cause you do “lose” pagerank like leaky plumbing. This is also nonsense. If it were true, then Directories would have no pagerank at all! In fact, search engines do consider what kinds of links you have coming off your pages, and they expect to see a variety of links to other sites. That is, after all, normal linking behavior. You won’t be penalized for linking to other sites, unless those sites are trashy or banned.

People who have come up with those ideas have obviously not logically thought about the process! Because if you do think about what they are saying, it is obvious that such a ridiculous policy could not possibly be maintained by any search engine!

So, watch for good link trade opportunities, but don’t waste your time mass emailing for them. Nobody will read those emails. If you find link trade invites on reputable sites, go ahead and email or trade according to their instructions. Do not be surprised though if automated link trade forms don’t work – every single one I have ever used has failed to recognize a static HTML link on a simple HTML page.

I get a reasonable amount of traffic from links on the sites of others, plus I get a better pagerank, therefore better search engine traffic as a result as well. I am conservative about trading, and I look for relevant links only.

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