There has been a huge debate on the credibility of link exchange, but if you use link exchanges with wisdom, you’ll gain a lot of benefits and avoid any downside.
Where to Find Link Partners? – Your “Competitors”
Your “competitors” are not really your competitors, but those whose sites are so relevant that their keyword themes are similar to your own. Their sites rank similar keywords to yours, and those sites will definitely drive the “most wanted” and relevant traffic to your website. This is something a non-competitor can never compare with.
In order to exchange links with “competitors”, both parties have to be open-minded. If both of your sites are of equally high quality, this exchange is a “win-win” strategy.
For those website owners whose revenue mostly depends on AdSense, driving only highly relevant traffic is the best approach. “Unwanted” traffic will affect your AdSense click through rate (CTR) and further affect your revenue compared with the time and resources consumed.
How to Find Relevant Link Partners?
To find those relevant partners, one of the best ways is to search relevant keywords in search engines and exchange links with those partners, because their sites are relevant and must also be of high quality, otherwise those sites won’t be ranked. I used to search keywords in search engines, and place links on those highly relevant sites in some ways, regardless of follow or nofollow, direct or indirect link, PR of the page my link was on; this simply worked out great. Not only do those sites drive highly relevant traffic, my site’s keyword rank also increased quickly.
Another good way to find relevant and quality partners is to exchange links with those listed in open directories, especially DMOZ and the Yahoo Directory.
Of course, you can also turn to link exchange sites, because not all of the sites mentioned above will be willing to link to you, and the sites registered on link exchange service providers will be more likely to link to you. However, this should be practised cautiously, because many sites there use poor linking practice, linking to all kinds of sites. You save time on finding link partners who are willing to link to you, but you spend more time on filtering those link partners to get some quality ones.
The best link exchange site for me is Link2Me.com, even though many websites there use poor link practices. As long as you spend some time reviewing partners, you’ll be able to find a few gems of link partners. Link2me is better than other similar sites, because it’s user friendly. Link partners are able to interact with each other and work towards the final exchange, in case either party does not wish to complete the exchange. They can adjust their offer to the other party’s requirement to make the previously impossible exchange happen.
Tools to Screen Link Partners
(Don’t tell me about PR; it’s a joke. What will a high PR bring you? – You can sell more links? Then you get penalized and lose PR.)
Alexa is not accurate when it’s the only measurement; however, it’s still a good tool to at least tell you whether a site has traffic at all. Even if a site has very high PR, Alexa may tell you that the site actually has very little traffic. So should you exchange links with such a site? Unless it places your link on homepage, you probably shouldn’t.
On the other hand, sites with a high Alexa ranking do not always translate into high relevant traffic. Some sites exchange links with all kinds of sites, so they get traffic from those link partners, but their link partners’ links are deep down buried in a subpage no one will ever visit.
There are a couple of complementary tools to help you make good judgements:
This site provides some of the most accurate data about the ranked keywords of others’ sites. If a website has a great Alexa ranking, you should use website.informer.com to verify its ranked keywords. If the keywords are not related to your website, then such an exchange is meaningless. Apart from the fact that such sites tend to exchange links indiscriminately with any site, another reason could be that the site recently changed its content: Neither case will benefit you.
One more piece of advice is for you to screen link partners to preview their link pages to existing link partners. If a link page contains a never-ending list of irrelevant link partners, then the proposed exchange is useless.
Another OK link exchange site is Linkalizer.com. But due to the lack of interaction between members, it’s not as user friendly as link2me and the partners there are not of such good quality as the ones on link2me. However, Linkalizer has one advantage: the link back from it to your site weighs more than the one from link2me because of both sites’ linking structures and url formats. This makes it worth the effort.
In conclusion, link exchange is still one of the best methods to build links and like any other practice, exchanging links with wisdom will help your sites grow.