Link Exchange Traps to Avoid

Search engines assume that if your website is important in the community it will have other websites linking to it. While one-way incoming links are best, they are usually difficult to acquire. A close substitute is to exchange links with other websites. When optimizing a new website for search engine submission, one of the tasks you will have to focus on is exchanging links with other related websites.  When you are making the request to another site, you are in control of the process. You drive it at your own speed and monitor the response. When someone asks you to exchange links with them, however, they drive the process. In this situation you need to be careful that you do not fall into some common traps.

The first of these traps is the ‘No Follow’ parameter in an anchor tag. When a hyperlink is created with a No Follow attribute specified, search engines will not follow the link and index the target site or page. If this link is pointing to your website, you will not get any benefit or kudos from that website linking to yours. It is important that you look at the HTML code of the page a reciprocal link is placed on and check that this parameter has not been included in the hyperlink.

Some website owners will add your link to their web page, but that page may be buried at the end of a long chain of internal links. They will contact you and give you the direct URL of the links page, but you do not see this in the context of the overall site. The page may be too low down in the site structure to provide your website with any meaningful Page Rank benefit. It is important to follow the link path from the home page to check the link depth is reasonable.

When your link is added to a ‘links page’, this may be a dumping ground for reciprocal links. Search engines will look at this page and quickly work out that a page with 200 outgoing links is not focused on any one of these sites. A website is not important when it is one of hundreds. Too many links on the same page will have a negative influence on search engine optimization and you should be wary of having your website listed on such a page.

The web page containing your reciprocal link on another website may not be linked to the home page of that site. This is referred to as an ‘orphan’ page. Search engines will have difficulty finding it with spidering software as they cannot follow a link chain. You may be given the direct URL of the page and you assume all is well when you look at it online.  Go to the home page and look for the link to the page with your reciprocal link. If you can’t find it, search engines may also have difficulty finding it.

Sometimes the problems may be of your own making. You receive a request asking you to link first to another website. The problem arises when you do this and then you forget about it. The reciprocal link may never be created, and you have provided a one-way link from your website to another site. It is important to keep a record of these transactions and to systematically check their completion. Don’t have too many link exchanges underway at one time. Keep the number manageable.

While a reciprocal link arrangement may have been successfully completed, you cannot forget about its existence. A common problem is that a reciprocal link to your website is removed after a period of time. You may not realize this and are again providing a one-way link from your site. Unfortunately you can’t trust other website developers to be conscientious in managing link exchange. Some links may disappear as a malicious plan, while others may be a result of a more innocent event such as sudden website closure. It is vital to check the status of reciprocal links periodically.

Creating reciprocal links is a time consuming process and often accounts for a large part of the search engine optimization budget. It is often difficult to manage and is a labour-intensive process. Follow the suggestions outlined above and this process will be easier and less problematic.

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