Only a couple of years ago the ‘Link Exchange’ was quite new and
an excellent place for savvy webmasters to exchange quality
links with those who were like-minded. Many Link Exchanges,
mostly based on the original few, have sprung up promising an
unending stream of reciprocal links with as many sites as you
dare dream. There’s no problem with this however, they must be
used correctly to be of much benefit.
Firstly, it’s no great secret that the majority, if not all, who
practice reciprocal linking do so in order to improve their PR
(Google Page Rank), which in turn, can have a definite effect on
one’s rankings in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). The
actual degree of this effect is anyone’s guess as Google have
always been extremely secretive about anything regarding the
algorithms or components, which decide the SE ranking of any
given website (or page for that matter).
PR alone will not do it for you, but I have seen too much
evidence that it does definitely help your rankings when you
have a ‘good’ PR provided that the links pointing to your
site are from related websites (i.e. sites with similar
content whose visitors would be interested in your site). An
incoming link is seen as a recommendation or ‘vote of
confidence’ from a website, so the higher the PR of the PAGE the
link is from (not just the Home or Index page), the more weight
the ‘recommendation’ from that website carries. So, the upshot
is, PR is the reason, result and purpose behind webmasters
spending so much time, money and resources building reciprocal
and/or incoming links.
To make your efforts and costs more efficient, you need to
ensure that you use the Link Exchanges correctly. When you
don’t, you waste so much time (and that of those you request
links from) and you also blow your chance for a good, high PR
link a little later down the track.
Most webmasters, when they first list with an Exchange,
generally have either a low PR or none at all. Many then proceed
to request links from as many sites as their membership allows.
Sadly, far too many of them request links from websites, which
are not related in the slightest way however, that’s not why
we’re here today. I’d be “flogging a dead horse” if I took up
that particular issue (again!). Simply, it seems to me there are
still millions out there who, for some reason, think a link from
a Lung Cancer website will assist their Poker/Gambling site in
the SERPs or a link from a Diet website will help their Real
Estate site! I can’t understand the mentality…
But I digress (as is one of my faults), back to the issue at
hand. Obviously, when requesting links from other sites, you
need to take account of the PR issue, as it stands at that time.
If you have no PR or a PR1, there is not much chance of being
‘granted’ a reciprocal link from a PR5 site or page. The problem
is, if you request such a link while you’re still in the ‘low
PR’ bracket, that site will forever be listed as “requested but
rejected”, you don’t get a second chance once your PR improves.
So, six months later, when you have a PR4 (through much sensible
and hard work), you can’t ask again, the chance is gone.
When you are a PR1 or 2, only request links from sites with PR1,
PR2 and maybe some PR3 pages. Don’t waste you chance by trying
to get high PR sites to link to you while you offer no benefit
to them. What they are effectively doing by linking to sites
that are much lower than themselves, is giving away some of
their “PR Power” to you and getting nothing in return (actually
a negative effect) from you.
By the same token, having said this, it’s wise when you receive
requests from sites that have a PR lower than yours that you
don’t ALWAYS disregard them. Take a look at the website,
consider their Alexa traffic ranking, a good amount of traffic
is an indication that the site owner is getting hits. Even if
it’s via Traffic Exchanges, it proves at least that they’re
serious about BUILDING their website to be a worthwhile resource
and this, to me at least, means PR will come and when it does,
you will already have your link from them. It’s basically a
Have a look at their Link pages and see if they are linking
sensibly or stupidly. If they’re using a ‘Directory program’, my
advice is to give them a miss. They can’t possibly be only
linking with related content if they have a huge list of
different website categories, can they? Simply, take into
consideration the entire look and feel of the site. It doesn’t
take long and you’ll be surprised how easily and accurately
you’ll be able to predict which ones will end up with higher PRs
in the next Google ‘update’, from which you will benefit. It’s
also worth considering that if a website is banned, those sites
that link reciprocally can be affected negatively by
‘association’. Yes, it’s true!
As with everything else, building a website is a long, continual
and time-consuming endeavour, which happens slowly (contrary to
what some SEO gurus or ‘experts’ promise). There are no short
cuts, in fact, the Search Engines are now very aware of all the
so-called ‘tricks’ and as far as linking is concerned, a large
jump in the amount of incoming links over a short period,
especially multiple links from higher PR sites could bring your
site under suspicion of using ‘unnatural’ techniques, such as
purchasing high PR links etc, which could get you banned but at
best, certainly won’t help your cause.
Patience is the key to achieving your website goals and if you
don’t have it, and are tempted to try the ‘short-cuts’ or go mad
trying to collect as many links as possible from all and sundry,
you’ll end up much further behind, rather than progress with any
great speed. It’s true that your PR will increase with links
from ‘unrelated’ sites but these unrelated links can only hurt
your chances in the SERPs. Google themselves explain this in
their info pages.
Always remember what the ORIGINAL purpose for linking was and
why it was practiced and why incoming links were, and still are,
valued by the Search Engines. A link from a related site is a
‘vote of confidence’ that they feel their visitors will benefit
from your content and hence, evidence that your website is
considered to be of value in a specific category. How can a
recommendation from a totally unrelated website carry any weight
at all? Of course, it can’t and where these types of links
exist, it smacks of ‘linking to boost PR’ without any thought
given to the value of the website to the visitors (who are the
Search Engine’s customers).
This is why linking correctly is so important, even though the
motivations have been perverted over recent years into a ‘free
for all’ of link requests from unrelated sites, which frankly,
are almost as annoying as spam to me.