What is a link exchange and why would I want one?

A simple definition of a link exchange is when you put a hyperlink on your website to another company's website and they reciprocate by putting a link to your company website on theirs.

There are several reasons why you might want to exchange links with another website:

    1. When search engines look at the websites that will be displayed higher than other websites in the search results, one of the factors they consider is called a "popularity factor". If other websites link to your website, your website may be considered more popular.
    2. If a link to your website is on another website, you have increased the chances that someone may click on that link and find your website even without using a search engine.
    3. Exchanging links with another company website could be a way to establish a productive business relationship with another company.
These all sound like good reasons to exchange links, don't they? Does this mean that your website will benefit by exchanging links with as many website owners as you can talk into doing it? Absolutely NOT!

Link exchanges can also hurt you if they are the wrong kind. Here are some rules to help you decide when you should and should not exchange links.
    1. If the website on which your link will appear is just a long list or links, many search engines consider this to be search engine SPAM that is a way of trying to trick the search engines into thinking your website is popular. They may penalize you or even ban your site from the search engine altogether. Avoid such exchanges like the plague!
    2. If someone asks you for a link, there is a strong possibility that the exchange will help their site and hurt yours. Be very cautious of accepting such requests.
    3. If the page on which your link will be displayed cannot be reached directly from the first page of the website, the chances are good that the search engines will not count it at all. Unless the website displaying your link receives significant traffic and is highly ranked in the search engines already, many search engines will not look further than one level away from the entry page. Link exchange scam artists are famous for hiding their link pages deep in their website where they will never be found.
    4. You should consider linking to websites that are ranked higher than yours (download the Google toolbar at http://toolbar.google.com/ so you can learn about ranking), that are professionally designed, and that compliment the content of your website. For example, if your company is a landscape design company, it makes sense for your link to be found on the website of a real estate agent who is recommending your services to new homeowners. It does not make sense for your link to be on a gambling site. The first link would be helpful to you; the second would not. Search engine designers, especially Google, pay attention to the logic of the links on a website.
    5. In general, text links surrounded by text that compliments the link is better than an image link, since many search engines to not even follow image links. The text link to your site should contain your important keywords. For example, this link: ABC Landscaping Services is better than this link ABC Designs since the first link contains the important work "landscaping."
In summary, link exchanges should be treated as carefully as any other networking exchange in your business. Just as your should network with high quality people who can help your business in your offline activities, you should link or network with high-quality websites online.

By Nancy L. Saltz,
President, Accounting & Computer Enterprises, Inc.
With Help From syruss.com