Guidelines To A Successful Link Exchange Program

Webmasters look for ways to get a higher ranking with search engines and increasing traffic to their website everyday. One of the ways they accomplish this is through exchanging links with other websites. In order for a link exchange program to be beneficial, one needs to focus on building a solid exchange program correctly.

With some search engines, like Google for instance, can base your rankings by how many inbound links you have. So one would think...well this can be a simple task, I'll just work on exchanging links with any website who is willing to participate.

It's not as simple as just sending out an email to every Webmaster that's out there. The biggest mistake you can make is linking to sites that are not relevant to the theme of your website. Search engines frown upon sites that link to one another with no relevance. You can risk the chance of being penalized and banned from their search results. So obviously, this is not a good approach.

The best way to build a solid program is to exchange links with only targeted websites and whose customers would have an interest in your products or service. If you are just starting out, a good rule of thumb is to try and devote a few hours one to two days a week just focusing on link building. This will require effort on your part, but the time you spend will show results rather quickly.

You can start by performing a search using keywords that would pertain to your website. Take the time to view each of the sites of interest. As you visit each website, try to view as many pages as you can. As this may seem to be time consuming, never judge a website just from their home page. You want to be sure that their site is one that you would recommend to your viewers.

As your viewing these websites, another factor to consider is how their website is set up for a link exchange program.

Do they have a link to their main links page (resources, link partners, reciprocal links page, etc.) plainly visible on their home page? You don't want to exchange links with sites that hide or bury the link to their exchange partners.

Are they listing their link partners into appropriate categories on their main links page? As your link program builds, it's important to put your exchanges into appropriate categories. You will find that your exchange partners may fall into different categories, such as web design, home business opportunities, software, etc. Listing them in appropriate categories allows viewers quick access to the link of interest.

On each of the category pages, do they list more than 25 listings per page? It is best to keep each category page limited to 25 listings per page. If website has a links page where it requires a lot of scrolling, the changes that your link will be clicked on are slim. A solution to this is when each category begins to grow, list them in alphabetical order, than break the category into separate pages. As an example, lets say you were using web design as your category; you can use Web Design (A through M) than Web Design (N through Z) as your second category.

Does their website provide useful content, or do they have a lot of misleading information? If the website you are exchanging links with has a lot of misleading information, the viewer in most cases will not be on the site long enough to even see your link. Also keep in mind; the links you recommend plays a role on your business reputation.

Other Link Exchanges To Avoid:

There are many ways one can exchange links with other websites, but the following are ones that are not recommended.

Automated Link Software: These software programs automatically search and send email requests for a link exchange with other websites. The biggest problem with most linking software is that some of the links they search for may not be targeted to your website.

You can end up getting a lot of replies from websites you have no interest in. Which would be a waste of time on your part just by viewing these sites alone.

Link Farms: This is a definite NO! These websites are strictly set up to gain link popularity. Anyone can submit their site to their list once you have registered with them. Some link farms can have thousands of websites who have agreed to do a link exchange. Everyone who participates, must agree to link to all websites on the list.

The problems are:

  • No organization or categorizing with these links.
  • Most of the sites will not be relevant to yours.
  • Your link can be located on a page that it is hard to find.
  • Search engines will penalize sites that use link farms to gain link popularity.

It would be far more beneficial to stay away from using Link Farms. It is looked at as an artificial way to inflate link popularity having more negatives than positives.

FFA Sites: Search engines also view this as a means of artificially inflating your link popularity. FFA (free for all) sites are looked at as the same as Link Farms. You will take the risk of your site being banned from their search results.

Link Exchange Proposal:

Once you have found a website that would be appropriate for a link exchange, look for the contact information to the Webmaster and send them an email. If the contact information includes the webmasters name, make sure you personalize your email by using their first name in the subject box as well as in the heading.

You will want to include your name, your URL, a short description of your site and contact information. In the body of the email, mention what you liked about their site as well as the benefits both of you can receive by exchanging links.

There are some marketers that feel that before you send a potential link partner an email, you should add their link to your website first. Then include in your email that you have added their site and letting them know the location of their link. This option is used to help encourage a "yes" from the Webmaster.

Our advice on this option is to be selective if you're going to use this method. Remember, not all websites will agree to do a link exchange with you. The ones that offer a solid resource to your website, will be an improvement. The ones that fit the theme of your site, but are not necessarily a solid resource, will cost you time by going back in and deleting their link.

The idea is whatever email approach you use, be brief and to the point, you do not need to send a book. If the person is interested in exchanging links with you, they will reply to your email to go over the details.

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John Kovacs is the CEO and founder of "A Home Business Opportunity". His website mainly focuses on supplying free marketing tips, resources and support for home startup businesses and Internet marketing.

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