If you have a website, you have likely received unsolicited emails asking about a link exchange. Before replying to these emails, consider the information below on link exchanges and whether it is good for SEO or not. This will help you avoid scams or exchanges that may hurt your rankings.

What Are Link Exchanges

Link exchanges are simply an agreement between you and another site to link back and forth to one another. So on your site, you would include a link out to the other party. On their site, they would include a link out to your site. When Google crawls a site, it not only looks at the text on the site but may follow links to outside sites. So having another company link to you can, in theory, help your ranking, particularly IF the other person’s site is better ranked than yours.

In the past, many companies abused link exchanges. In fact, sites would be set up for this sole purpose. As expected, search engines caught on to this and have begun detecting and penalizing for improper linking. Therefore, it can now hurt your rankings to participate in improper link exchanges or to have too many links on your website!

Detecting Fraudulent Emails

With any emails that you receive, it is important to perform a quick scam and virus analysis. Below are a few indications of scams or viruses. If these are present in an email, you should NOT click on any links. Delete the email and empty it from your trash bin.

  1. Strangely Formatted Sentences or Phrases – Many spammers are located overseas and use automatic translators that don’t quite read properly in English.
  2. Generic Salutations – If your name is clearly displayed on your website, it would be evident to any real visitor to the site. Emails not addressed specifically to you are likely blast emails by someone who has never actually seen your site and therefore could not have reasonably determined you are a valid link exchanger.
  3. Strange Websites URLs – Link exchange emails typically indicate which website will be linking to you. If the site has a strange url (random letters that don’t actually form words or phrases), then it could be a virus or a malicious site.
  4. Unsigned Emails – Emails from legitimate people should contain their name, title, and contact information in the signature.
  5. From Address Not Matching URL – If the website being proposed does not match the email address of the person sending you the message, then there is something not quite right! Another sign is the name in the email address being different from the name noted in the signature area of the email.
  6. Attachments – Introductory emails about link exchanges should not have attachments that need to be opened.

Best Practices for Link Exchanges

Ultimately, it’s best not to consider random emails about link exchanges. Here are some suggestions for best practices…

  1. Link to Companies You Know
    The information on your website is a reflection of you as a professional. You are essentially informally endorsing websites that you link to, so don’t accept random proposals for linking. Think about what your customers will think when they click on a particular link, ad what it says about you and your company. Do NOT link to businesses that could hurt your reputation.
  2. Use Links that Make Sense
    Think about your customers and whether the site you are linking to would be of any use to them or even makes sense. For example, if you are a real estate agent, it makes sense to link to attorneys, inspectors, and mortgage companies. It would not make sense to link to pharmaceutical companies.
  3. Think About Location
    Proposals may come from companies across the country. If you are a local business, consider whether your customers really care to visit the site of another company across the country. If the link does not help your customer in any way, then it will not help you either!

Link Exchanges and Whether They’re Good for SEO

Keep all of  this in mind when you are considering link exchanges and whether it’s truly good for SEO. Your website has limited space that should be used for links that actually help your business and provide value to your customers. Anything else is essentially spam and can hurt both your rankings and your reputation. Link exchanges can be great and add a lot of value when used properly. It is not a valid stand-alone strategy to increasing your exposure and ranking. Providing good, valuable content on a regular basis is a far better approach.