Link exchange is the process of exchanging text links or banner links between websites. The use of link exchanges can help improve traffic significantly, through numerous inbound links (backlinks or incoming links) so users on other websites can click through. Exchanging links is normally free, which makes link exchanges cost effective. Another benefit of exchanging links is that it helps improve a website placement in the search engine's list.
Webmasters have used link exchange as a means of direct marketing. Recently, this practice has gained more popularity among webmasters due to the fact that search engines prefer websites that have many inbound links, thus improving positions in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). To the search engines, this is an accurate means of determining the importance of a website. This practice by the search engines to rank websites has helped lead to the popularity of linked-based search engines, like Google.
There are various ways to initiate a link exchange with another website. The primary way of beginning a link exchange is to email another webmaster and ask to exchange links. Another way to find websites looking to exchange links is to visit webmaster discussion boards. These websites might have link exchange forums or link exchange directories where webmasters can request link exchanges from a specific category or have open requests to allow any website to exchange links.
With the importance of link exchanges, many types of link exchange websites have emerged as a source for webmasters. There are 2 types of link exchange directories.
- Paid directories: Make the process of exchanging links easier, but cost money and usually require software to be placed on the webmasters website to assist with the link exchange.
- Free link exchange: Have no cost, except they require the webmaster to manually add each website. Webmasters can have complete control over links when part of a free link exchange.
Some marketing companies have stated that search engines are no longer placing a heavy importance on reciprocal links. The consensus is that popularity of a website is now gauged by incoming one way links. The experts also agree that in addition to having numerous inbound links, the relevance of the linking websites is very important. Link exchanges between complimenting websites is important. Webmasters do not have to link directly with competitors, but should link with websites that have industry relevance. Having a website link with no relevance could potentially negatively affect Search Engine Result Pages.
Websites that have completed many link exchanges will usually experience increased traffic through direct clicks and search engine results. There are various ways for webmasters to find linking websites through direct email contact or link exchange directories. It is important for webmasters to check the relevancy of the links that are being adding as links that have little or no relevance might negatively affect their placement. The use of link exchanges by webmasters will continue to be an important and useful means of marketing websites and improving search engine placement.