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Is Link Exchange the way to go?

Ever got emails from webmasters requesting, actually pleading you to provide a link to their websites? Familiar, isn’t it? Okay, so what exactly is link exchange? Is it actually good for SEO or not?
Have similar questions? Read on to know more on the topics

What is link exchange?

 

It’s much like the barter system, except here you trade in just links. You give your backlink to some website, and the same webmaster returns the favour by giving you his backlink. Sorted, right? Everyone is happy! But, only if it was this easy.
Prior to the strict-Google-algorithmic scenario, this was an often used practise. In fact, it constituted as a key to improve Google search rankings. But now, Google’s algorithms have become much strict and sophisticated. Hence, links exchanges stopped working well for everyone. In fact, sometimes the sites involved were even penalized by Google.
All the above instances gave a bad image to link building and started to make people believe that this was an evil practice and will make them land in great troubles with Google.
Well, this is not entirely true. Google is only against artificial or manipulative links, i.e., those links which are used to fool Google and increase the rankings.
So, this means that can some link exchanges be good? Yes, of course!

Link exchanges can be good too!

Link exchanges with websites having the following characteristics will surely serve some good to your websites:

  • If their website can get you a lot of related, relevant and targeted traffic.
  • If the other website is a good resource of information that would be useful for your users.
  • If their link neighbourhood is clean and are a quality and authoritative website.
  • If their website is not in direct competition with yours.
  • The keywords that they rank for should be consistent with some of your keywords.

How can it be kept good? Keep it natural!

You don’t have to think about it too much! You see, when you go ahead building quality relations with other webmasters of your niche, you will eventually keep having link exchanges , without even you thinking about it.
For example, I write a lot on SEO all the time. During my research, if I come across some really good stuff on the same lines of seo, I tend to share it via my Facebook, Twitter etc. Sometimes, these articles also give me some nice ideas about the topic which I should write on. So, I reference or link them back while writing on those topics.
And I think, a lot of them would be doing the same.
So, you really think I would be penalized for all these link exchanges that are actually done for the purpose of adding value to my readers?
Is it really wrong to link with related niche sites in case if they link back to me?
Well, those are rhetorical questions. I think I made my point clear, link exchanges are good if you do them the right way.

But, what about my PageRank? Well, forget about it!

I know what you might be thinking right now. It’s common to think that, when someone gives you a link, they pass their link juice and hence you improve your ranking prospects. But, at the same time when you exchange this link by giving them your link, you pass your link juice to them as well. Hence, both the transfers negate themselves and you are back to square one.
However, it is such a wrong way to think on these lines.
You should totally stop worrying about your Pagerank. Pagerank is just one of the hundreds ranking parameters of Google. If your site has quality content that focuses on the needs of your users, then it will naturally attract links.
Just go about linking to those sites which are going to add value to your content and the users.

Wait! Beware of exchanging links in the following scenarios

  • If it’s a new website that has no PR, no alexa, no backlinks etc.
  • If the website is nowhere connected to your niche. Say, you are an SEO firm. Why would you in
  • god’s name want to link with a blog on beauty tips?
  • If the website is giving out No-follow links. I mean, why do they even want to exhange links for then?
  • If the website is giving you a requesting for exchanging links and have not even your mentioned
  • once in it. These kinds of emails are Send-to-all emails and are spammy, so beware.
  • If the website have a poor navigation, horrible design, crappy content.
  • If the website has a suspiciously large number of outbound links.

Conclusion: Just take care of the Penguin consequences

My advice would be to stop thinking and obsessing yourself with link exchanges. Give and take links freely if they add any value or providing an incentive to your website. Google Penguin will definitely punish you for an unnatural looking link profile.
Let the links flow naturally and you are good to go.
A natural link exchange would be one that would increase the traffic both ways.