SEO manual – Good Link Exchange Practices
Link exchange is great way for small and medium businesses to make their website known and liked by Search Engines. Big companies typically don’t have to worry about this, because the back-links come in naturally as a result of usual business flow.
While link building is a good way to get higher in Search Engine rankings, this is not about links only. It is about establishing your image, creating content and ultimately improving the user’s experience.
Here are the basic rules on healthy link exchange.
Inaccessible Link Pages
Check the reciprocal links often. Unscrupulous webmasters remove the links after a while. Use a back-link checking script.
Make sure the reciprocal link is easy to find on the other site. Sometimes the link-exchange directory is hidden and there is no link to it. If there is now way to navigate from the site’s home page to its links page, then the search engine spiders will have the same problem. The reciprocal link to your site will have no value.
Sometimes webmasters do not do this on purpose they are unaware of the missing navigation to their links page, and just need a reminder. Others will do this deliberately.
Furthermore if the links/directory page has a Page-Rank greater than 0, you know that search engines already spidered this page.
Focus on exchanges with Related and Relevant Websites
Do not start a desperate link-exchange campaign and accept any link exchange just for the sake of it. Be selective and concentrate on websites related to yours. This way the link exchanges will carry more relevancy; Search Engines have ways to compare your theme with the themes where your site is listed. Although many unrelated links will not do any direct harm to rankings and it will help a little with your rankings, it will not help a lot. Having to manage a lot of irrelevant links and running the risk that your links are considered unnatural is not worth the little advantage.
Links are about Content – Give Content
Try that your link exchange looks more like an articlette, (small article), rather than a simple link. This will add more contextual value to your placed link. Make sure your articlettes base is ample enough so that you don’t get duplicate content issues.
Invalid or Indirect Links
When exchanging links, check each new link to your site to make sure that it is a valid link that will contribute link popularity (and PageRank) to your site.
One thing to look out for is links that link to a script on the other site (and the script then redirects to your site). These links do not help you. Another trick to look out for is links that include the nofollow tag, which tells search engines not to follow the link at all. These links will likewise do you no good.
I recommend using an automated program such as LinkMachine that will check your reciprocal links for you and will not count indirect or nofollow links.
Do not Link to Banned Pages
If you link to a page banned by Google, it can lower your site’s ranking. Avoid including on your site any links to sites that have been banned by Google. Look up the site’s domain in Google, and if nothing comes up, you know the site’s been banned and it’s best not to link to it. There are other ways to check this.
The Anchor Text has a Great SEO Value
Use various anchor text for your link exchanges. There are many reasons for this. Google interprets this lack of diversity as the result of artificial linking, and reduces its positive influence on search rankings. Another reason is that you will gain popularity for only the text you are promoting through your link exchange. Let’s say you sell a Help-Desk software that includes an inventory system and a Remote Control Console. You need to rotate your anchor text to change such as all of your three features are published. Furthermore the three variants should vary, (for instance “Computer Inventory” should be rotated with “IT inventory”).
Purchasing links is banned by Google and is against Google’s TOS. This being said, there are many sites which buy and sell links. It is very difficult to determine a link resulted from such a transaction.
Do not use Doorway Pages and Cloaking
Don’t use black SEO techniques such as "doorway pages", ("advertising pages" or "promotional pages"), or "cloaking" to generate unnatural links to your site. They are prohibited by Google and they will result in your site being banned by Google and other Search Engines.
Use Software or Scripts to Manage your Link Exchange
Don’t try to manage your link exchanges manually. It is a tedious work and it will take your focus from the most important activity on your site – the content.
A good script for managing links is LinkMachine. LinkMachine has many features that allow you to manage Link Exchange in an elegant way.
Another good option is Axandra’s software – IBP, a leader on the Market. IBP facilitates the optimization of all the SEO aspects and it has an included link exchange Manager. Read more about IBP.