|Many people would agree that having alot of links to your website is the key to rank well in all search engines. As Search Engine Optimisation becomes more popular, everybody tries to come up with new ways to get as many links as possible and link exchange is just one of the many techniques.|
|Introduction To Link Exchange
Link exchange is one of the earliest andÂ most popular SEO techniqueÂ among smaller websites to getÂ inbound links (urls pointing to your website). Basically, what a web master does is to exchange urls of his website with another website. Â There are a few variations to link exchange, ie it could be 2-way, 3-way, 4-way…etc.Â Â 2-way link exchange means site A exchange links with site BÂ (This isÂ the most common definition of link exchange). 3-way means A link to B,Â BÂ linkÂ toÂ C,Â and C link to A.Â You could figure out the restÂ of the variationsÂ easily…Â
The most complex link exchange today is a Link Exchange Network. In the network, you post a url of another website in your site and the server willÂ post your url in another person’s website based on a merit or point system. There are also people whoÂ incorporate the idea of MLM into link exchange, turning the whole linking systemÂ into aÂ pyramid. Why the hassle? The whole idea is not to let the search spidersÂ detectÂ your linking strategies.
Link Exchange Is Often Abused
Search engines want to display the most relevant search resultsÂ with the most important websites ranked first. If the number of links pointing to the website is the only criteria to determine the importance of the website, then search engine results could be manipulated easily. Nobody knows the exact Google, MSN or YahooÂ ranking algorithm but we do know that Google especially, take strong measures toÂ preventÂ people from manipulating searchÂ ranking results.
Many small companies are often blamed for manipulating searchÂ results because theyÂ are able to getÂ alot of inbound links without spending any money using the link exchange technique.Â The link exchange boom makesÂ everybodyÂ to post and exchange links in blogs, link directories and affliate pages… Almost everyone would want toÂ incorporate a link directory in their website just for SEO purpose. As such,Â we also witnessÂ a boom in link directories.
Even if you can getÂ 1000 links overnight, does it really mean that your website is important?Â Does the amount of linksÂ pointing to your website really equate to the importanceÂ of your website? These areÂ debatable tough questions which is hard to answer in a short time.
Is Link Exchange Ethical?
Many people believe that Google and Yahoo have already started penalising web sites that does link exchange in a large scale but we do not know the extend of it. In my opinon, it is very hard to justify whetherÂ link exchangeÂ is ethical or not.Â Everyone will have a case to say but generally,Â all of us would agree that websitesÂ thatÂ getÂ large amounts of links within a short time, has manyÂ outbound and inbound links to and from many unrelated websites are trying to manipulate search results but again, there can be exceptions.
It does not make senseÂ to me to punishÂ website A, B or/and C if they are practising 2, 3 or whatever ways link exchange; doesn’t matter ifÂ theirÂ websites are related or not. There are many real lifeÂ examples. If my friend Andy is web designer and he has a web design blog and another friend of mine JoeÂ loves swimming and he has a swimming blog. Both of the sites are totally different in nature but theyÂ are friends andÂ they want to link to each other.Â If this is not permissible in the SEO context, thenÂ it will be a sad news for everyoneÂ of us.Â Â Â Â
Search Engines Is Evolving But SEOÂ Travels Back In Time
Search engines, like human being, are evolving everyday. they are getting more intelligent and are able to pick up websites that are trying to hack the ranking system. With enough computing power and time, I believe they would one day be able to detect more complex linking systems. Many experts believe that search engines are too clever to beÂ manipulated and started advocating “Natural Search Engine Optimisation” – NSEO. The word “Natural” is important because it means that you are trying to optimise your website legally. In NSEO, you write content naturally, link to pages naturally and so on. To withstand the test of time, the practise of NSEO is highly recommended.
ManyÂ believe that links to a websiteÂ will still be an important factor in calculating itsÂ searched ranking in major search engines. Therefore,Â link exchange and other SEO techniques to get inbound links should still be important. The only problem is that the inbound links have to be natural.Â Personally,Â I would think that natural links should have certain features:
1. The Ratio of Text to Links
2. TheÂ Density of LinksÂ
3.Â Google PageRank
4. Quality Is Better Than Quantity
I think the list for “The features ofÂ Natural Links” could go on. So back to the ultimate question… Is Link Exchange dead? My personal opinion is more inclined towards aÂ ‘No’ but we have to start practising natural linking when doing link exchange. One think to keep in mind is that searchÂ engine spiders are getting more intelligent everyday.
If we are more carefulÂ with links, search engines will have an easier task of displaying relevant search results. Let us all make internet free from spam!
* Note: I use SEO to refer toÂ Search Engine Optimization or Search Engine Optimizers in this article to cut short the typing time. The opinions expressed in this article is purely personal and speculative.