Making the case for link exchanges – sometimes good old fashioned hard work pays off. Link exchanges are still one effective method to use for link building. In addition to linkbaiting (creating a controversial or compelling article and submitting to digg.com, reddit.com, stumbleupon.com etc) and social media marketing, and link buying, link trading continues to be a workable model to acquiring links.
Link exchanges are based upon email exchanges, where you physically email the webmaster of a complementary site and ask them to link back to you. It helps immensely if you have already posted their link on your site. Link trading works best when you compliment the site owner you are proposing, and show good faith in posting their link on your site first. Human nature dictates that a good percentage of the population will return your favor out of obligation by linking back to you, provided you have a quality website and it is related.
In my 7 years of SEO and link building, I have seen about 90% of link exchanges remain active over this time period. This is a huge return on investment for sending out an email requesting a link. Link brokers will typically charge you $20-$50 per month for a link, and some of my links have been up for 84 months so this free link represents a value of $1680-$4200!
The link exchange DO’s
- send compliments
- actually view their site, don’t send a form email telling them how wonderful their website is without actually having viewed it
- provide a backlink first
- be persistent. Most webmastes will not respond to you until the 2nd or 3rd email.
- personalize your email request. Instead of addressing your email to ‘Webmaster’ search for a real person’s name. People love to see their own name, and are much more likely to open an email with their real name on it.
The link exchange DON’Ts
- don’t spam – send 1 email and 3-4 well spaced follow-ups, then leave the poor webmaster alone, as they are unlikely to respond to you.
- do not focus on Page Rank. Seek link partners in your category – these will provide you better long term value
- never make demands or require a webmaster link back to you with specific anchor text. You can suggest they use “my keyword phrase” but if they use “yourplainwebsite.com” be gracious, thank them for the link, and continue on.
- don’t ever tell a webmaster their page is worthless because it has a toolbar PageRank of 1 or the page is more than 2 clicks from the homepage. Relevance is key, and PageRank is at least 6 months outdated – a near worthless indicator of the backlink value.
Another benefit of emailing other website owners in your field is that they will often make a business relationship with you. Below is an example of a response I received ALMOST 5 YEARS later! Yes, this person accepted the link exchange after 5 years. It is very powerful when you can have your email sitting in front of your potential partners inbox for years:
—————– Email Received —————–
Sent: Wed, 08 Aug 2007 19:21:40 -0400
From: “Site Fair”
Subject: Re: link exchange
I added your link to our www.—fair.com. Please check out and let me know if you would like to make any changes. This is code for your site:
—Fair Wide selections of top quality, eco-friendly products made from natural organically grown fibers and ingredients Including clothing & footwear for men, women and children, accessories, home items, non-animal tested body care.
I am also interested in your products.
How do I sign for wholesale?
——————— Original Message ————————
Sent: Monday, October 28, 2002 7:41 PM
From: “the linker”
To: < info@—fair.com>
Subject: link exchange
please consider exchangling links www.———.com
your link is located here: www.———.com/links
thanks, C V
If you do it right you can make the power or link exchanges work for you. Search Engine Roundtable and Esoteric labs have good writeups of the current state of link exchanges, and misconceptions of google’s public blogger Adam Lasnik.