Link Exchange for SEO: How Do You Do It?

Link exchange (swapping links between sites to gain higher placement on search engines) is one of the good old proven off page optimization techniques. Although it's not as powerful as it used to be back in the early days of search engine optimation, it's still a very effective method to build authority of a website and improve its standing in the search engine rankings. Let's see what exact steps make for a successful link exchange campaign.

Link exchange (as well as any link building technique in that respect) is based on two cornerstones: quality and relevancy. You need to make sure that the websites you exchange links with are trusted and established sources on the web and are in the same niche as your website or are complementary in some way. That brings us to the first stage of linking campaign.

Keyword Research

To find relevant websites you need to identify the keywords these websites can be found by. Take your general list of keywords that you target in your search engine optimization campaign and expand it with keywords from neighboring niches. For example if your website is about guitars, you can also include keywords that describe effect pedals, amps, musical theory, picks, recording gear, etc. Once you've come up with a list of keywords you can go on to the second step of link exchange.

Searching For Link Partners

Running a search on Google and other search engines is the most obvious and a very effective way to search for relevant link partners. Search for the keywords from your list and you're sure to get tons of relevant results. Don't try to focus just on the first page of search results. In fact you would be better off starting with the second or third page, because websites that are already at the top are less likely to be interested in link exchange.

Pick The Best Link Sources

Once you have a list of relevant websites it's time for quality control. Although every relevant link is good for your rankings, links are not valued equally. Search engines tend to put more trust in .gov and .edu sites, therefore textual links from these domains are more effective. Don't be obsessed with PR though keeping in mind that it's just one of the factors in the ranking algorithm. It's a good idea to check the linking profile of a website, i.e. the websites it links to and those that link to it. Exchange links only with websites that are in a 'good neighborhood' and are not associated with dubious sites.

Set Up Links To Partners

Before you jump into sending out link requests to webmasters of the websites on your list it's better to make the first step towards your link partnership and link to them from your website. Set up a directory of links to your potential link partners and mention them with the exact page URL, anchor text and description when asking for a link back. To speed up the generation of your links directory you can use SEO software.

Send Out Link Exchange Requests

Link exchange requests are something every webmaster receives every day. A lot of them are automatically generated by link exchange bots, therefore if you want to increase your chances to get a link try to sound as personal and particular as you possibly can. Address each person by the name, mention their website and by all means be polite.

Manage Your Link Exchange Campaign

Getting a link back to your site is not the end of the link exchange process. It's rather a beginning of a new stage. Now you need to make sure that the link stays in place with the right anchor text and description. When you have hundreds of links it's just impossible to monitor them all by hand. The best way to manage your links is by using special link exchange software. It'll save you a lot of time and effort and will check your links faster and more accurately. Such tools are also very useful on all other stages of link exchange: when searching for partners, evaluating the value of each potential link, sending out link requests and so on.

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