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Should You Trade Links with Other Websites?

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I own a few websites and very often get requests for trading links. At first, I thought that email was just spam. Sure, some of it may be to websites that aren't reputable but the majority of those requests are from legit websites. They're people just like you and I who want inbound links. They're working hard at it, too. Sometimes these requests come from people at companies and you see their title as things like "Link Manager" so apparently some companies out there get online marketing or people are just giving themselves that title. Either way, cool!

I get asked about these emails and if you should trade links with these unknown people. My answer is YES!

Links are links and you need them. Even if you're getting a link from a page with a PR (Google PageRank) 1, 2 or 0, you should take them. That page could later rank higher and you got in on the ground floor.

Here are some tips on exchanging links with other websites:

  1. Always look at the page that you will get a link from. You want to make sure there aren't too many links on it and you want to make sure the page looks good. If it relates to your website, even better. How many are too many links? Well, if you're scrolling and scrolling then that's a bad sign. Having 20 or less links on a page is best.
  2. Look at how they make links. They should be linking your keyword (I say "keyword" and also mean "key phrase" meaning, a keyword can be more than one word) versus linking your domain name. Ask them to link your keyword.
  3. Research keywords that you want to use and prepare sentences using those keywords. Keep it brief. Don't capitalize every letter of your sentence or keyword (that's annoying because they'll want to change it and it looks too "commercials" and less natural).
  4. Give people the exact HTML you want them to use and don't have any junk HTML in it. Keep it simple.
  5. Do a "parallel" or "triangle" / "square" link. Since one-way links are best, you should have pages that you want to send links from and just 2-3 pages that you send links to - these are your landing pages or home page.
  6. If you don't like their offer, send them a counter offer. They'll probably accept it or make a counter offer back. They don't want to spend too much time doing this, so they should accept your counter offer if it's reasonable - so make it reasonable.
  7. Prepare several pages on your website to send links from - based on different kinds of topics. Create a small web link directory.
  8. Make sure your website is actually launched and link worthy (has enough good content).
  9. Keep track of your trades (if you want). At least put those emails in a folder. You might want to check in a few months to make sure your links are still up.
  10. Join LavaLinx.com. They take the hassle out of exchanging links. It's a good system. I think their interface could be improved and they use a bit of terminology and don't always explain it. Try some linking on your own first, to get used to it.
  11. If you send out requests to other webmasters or do counter offers, don't give deadlines. Relax. Be cool about it. They'll get back to you when they can. Look at it as them doing you a favor, so chill out.
  12. Don't ever remove links that you've agreed to exchange. That's not cool.
  13. Don't go after links from websites that aren't related to your sending/receiving pages. Yes, you may get those requests sometimes but keep the sending of these out to a minimum. And tell that webmaster why a link exchange with their website is beneficial for you both. Spend the extra minute and personalize your email a bit - you'll have a better success rate.
  14. Keep your receiving pages under 20 links each. You can always add more pages. Remember to do unto others as you'd have them do to you.
  15. In your emails to other webmasters, don't talk about traffic, trying to sell the exchange too much. Briefly explain your website (1-2 sentences) and give them the page that you think would be a good trade for them.
  16. Make sure your links page is visible from the home page - only 1 level removed from the home page. A "Links" link at the bottom of the home page is fine and a good idea.
  17. Stay away from getting links from FFA sites (free for all) and huge link farms.
  18. Build your list slowly. Do it too fast and you raise suspicion. Work on it a little each day or two.
  19. It's ok to exchange some links with sites from the UK. Make sure the site is legit, but a link is a link. Be wary of some other countries.

I do read other posts on exchanging links and they think that exchanging links with sites that aren't relevant isn't worth it. It's really up to you. The way I see it is, if there were 2 equal sites and one site only exchanged links with really relevant sites and the other exchanged links with both relevant and unrelated sites, which one would rank higher? The latter, of course. That's more hyperlinked keyworded text pointing to your website than the other site. More votes for you! The more votes you get helps you win, right?

Ok, this is turning into a long post, so I'll end it for now. Next time, I'll explain what good keyword phrases are, how to do that keyword research and a sample link exchange email you can use.

Cheers!
-Tony

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