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Google and Link Exchanging Today

 10:48 pm on Apr 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

What is Google's policy today on link exchanges? People and google seem to frown upon it now. Are all link exchanges bad? I find that hard to believe. Is it still helpful to get relavant link exchanges?

For example, lets say the general topic of my site is "SHAPES" and my subtopics and more detailed topics are:

-> circles
-> ovals

-> squares

-> right trangle
-> equilateral triangle

At the deepest level i would like to exchange links with sites of like topic. For example i want to link exchange my "Circles" subtopic with "Circles" fan sites, my "Right Triangle" section with "right triangle" fan sites and my "squares" section with "squares" fan sites, etc.

How will google look at this if i exchange links with good quality sites, i am assuming i can sniff out "bad neighborhoods".

Will they

1) reward me
2) do nothing - i waste my time
3) penalize me

Please let me know if it is (1), (2) or (3)

Do to the nature of my website i think i have to seek out link exchanges in the short run. In the long term i hope ppl will like the site and link naturally.



 2:47 am on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would say ...

3) It will hurt you -

Link exchanges are pretty much the opposite of what Google states it wants in their webmaster guidelines.

The one and only reason you should create a link is to recommend a site you believe is useful.


Many do not understand this. Link exchanges used to work.

They do not now.

[edited by: tedster at 3:19 am (utc) on April 7, 2007]

Sweet Cognac

 3:38 am on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

1) reward me

If you want your deep pages to show up in the serps you need some links to your deep pages.

I still think getting links is a good idea. There are some topics on the web, that that's all visitors do is follow links. Do you know there are people that don't even use the search engines? They just follow links!

I'm like that too. Such as, if I get on a photography or civil war site, I just follow the links.


 5:04 am on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I do not think reciprocal link exchange is a strategy of choice or even a good idea, so don't slam me, but based on observation I do think that there is a lot of hype surrounding this issue.

If you look at several market niches you will consistently find moderate two word phrases and good three word phrases where most of the top ten have extensive reciprocal link directories. When you take away the reciprocal links what is left, inbound link-wise, are scraped links on MFA pages.

This is especially true in product sales categories that do not lend themselves to more viral methods of link building and where small businesses do not have the budgets or desire to purchase quality links.

What is keeping these domains in green? It's not the MFA page links, so that leaves the reciprocal links. If they were worthless then these domains would not rank.

Again, I am not saying that reciprocal links are the key to good fortune. I believe that there are a lot keywords for which the top ten are at risk. But it appears that they are not entirely worthless either.

What are your thoughts?

norton j radstock

 5:17 am on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

You should avoid triangular links.


 3:27 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have a section of recip links that has grown gradually over the years. It started back in the old days when recips had nothing to do with Google ranking, it was just how people got their site known on the net.

The links are all closely related to my site topics and don't seem to have hurt me. I've thought about dropping the section but that doesn't seem fair to the people I've linked too. They are mostly to small businesses related to the hobby my topic covers. I don't think it helps or hurts.

But I would not go on a big recip link building campaign today. A few select recip links should be fine. Something big may stand out as spam.


 3:29 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Link exchanges will end up killing a site, many people who have them find themselves under a penalty now.


 3:59 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Baased on comment by Google reps, I think it's a question of balance.

Matt Cutts posted [mattcutts.com]: "The best links are not paid, or exchanged after out-of-the-blue emails–the best links are earned and given by choice."

Another time Matt posted [mattcutts.com]: "The sites that fit 'no pages in Bigdaddy' criteria were sites where our algorithms had very low trust in the inlinks or the outlinks of that site. Examples that might cause that include excessive reciprocal links, linking to spammy neighborhoods on the web, or link buying/selling."

I'm sure I've read similar comments from both Adam and Vanesssa. It sounds to me as though the overall "backlink profile" of a site is being measured, rather than any one type of backlink being the kiss of death iin rankings.


 4:29 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

You guys are out of your minds, link exchanging by itself will NOT hurt your website. Period.

I have a website that went from 0 to top 10 in 2 months on link exchanges alone. Yeah, I might get a "penalty" 5 years from now, but by that time your "earned links site" will be long gone, if it ever gets in the top 100, and you will be back here crying why Google put your site on 950th spot when you did not do anything wrong...:)

I know of a website which has over 20 reciprocal links on its home page to websites which cannot even be found on Google for their names, and that site still ranks #1.

Google bans websites based on a random number generator (i.e. "algo"), so what you will do has no affect on if you will get banned.

And let's not forget that the webmasters dictate how Google works, not the other way around - if 99% of the websites use link exchange, there is nothing Google can do about it, but just WISH we did not exchange links :)


 4:49 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Links that are "earned and given by choice" are certainly the best, but people have to know about your site first before anything organic will start to happen.

Paid or reciprocal links are a useful part of the promotional mix, especially for new sites. After all, one has to get started somehow!

Tedster's point about balance is vital. Focus on quality and relevance. Trading or buying links from highly relevant sites will do you good. Trading links with 4,362 miscellaneous link whores won't.


 5:31 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

thanks for your insite altrus and buckworth. this is a new site and there is zero traffic. not sure how i will get organic links with that amount of low traffic.

i'll take my time and be selective and then hope for the best. thanks.

i'll see if i can add a section, like a blog, and try to write quality copy that people will like.

thanks all.


 5:48 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Link exchanges between on-topic niche sites work.

How on earth wouldn't they.
Why wouldn't they be allowed to?

On the other hand, creating a link directory on a site and recipricating anyone who links to you, linking back to FFA link directories, exchanging links with off-topic sites does not work.

And it won't/shoudn't work ever again.

When someone mentions link exchange, half of the webmaster community has these "directories" and similar link-begging tactics on mind, that sites put up to get links. The other half thinks about completely legit niche-networks of different ownership, but relevant sites.

Both parties are correct.
The first one doesn't work.
The second one still is one of the foundations of the classic net.
And as a matter of fact, takes up a significant amount of the linking profiles Google itself is based on.


If you're not sure what this means, don't ask for a link, simply send out notices about your site to everyone who you feel would be potentially interested. See if anyone links to you. Conversion rate may not be as "high" as with a PR-junkie led linking campaign, but will do exactly what you wanted. And will do it naturally.


 6:26 pm on Apr 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

i'll take my time and be selective and then hope for the best.


Build a good website with something of value, find your top 5 keywords and see which are "the good sites" for those keywords. Find the best 100 of them - send them an email for link exchange (despite what some people may tell you, all of those 100 websites WILL have links page).

Offer them a good link placement - do not use any kind of reciprocal software - you are not going to build another DMOZ, you are looking for 20-30 link partners. Just put yourself in their shoes and see where on your website you would like to be listed if you were them.

Once you get your link structure going, you, yourself, will become more selective to the websites you exchange links with.

And this is basically how the Google propaganda works - by saying that you should not link to "bad neighbourhoods" they make webmasters do link exchanges only among "good websites" in the industry, thus self-regulating the search results raising the chances that only "good websites" will get the most links (reciprocal or otherwise).

Google is so dependent on links, that they recently had to find a way to fight the so-called "bombing" - where a website could rank #1 for a completely unrelated keyword just based on incoming links (put that in your pipe and smoke it).

You can take DMOZ for example - if you check the cached "text-only" verison of it, you will see that there are maybe 6-7 words, and everything else is links. But because it is considered by other webmasters as one of the "good websites" in the web directory industry, Google overlooks the fact that it is basically a link farm with 0 original content. If you follow Google's "posted" guidelines - DMOZ should have been long gone :)

P.S. One way link would always be better than a link exchange, of course.


 5:37 am on Apr 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

I use link exchanging heavily and haven't been penalized. It is the way I get deep linking to new pages on my site. However, I am selective and only exchange with PR3 or higher. I won't exchange with spammy link directories.


 7:01 am on Apr 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

wchan07 said:

"...i'll see if i can add a section, like a blog, and try to write quality copy that people will like."

A great way to kick start the inbound link process is to get your new site listed in the Yahoo Directory and some other very well-known directories. Since they get a lot of traffic, people looking for your kind of site will find you.

Some of those who thereby discover your site, and who are really impressed with the quality copy that you generate, will link to you.

It is an excellent first step. The better your content, the quicker highly-relevant links will develop. Bear something in mind here. Originality counts. Strive for outstanding, original content.

[edited by: Beachboy at 7:03 am (utc) on April 10, 2007]


 8:22 am on Apr 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

And let's not forget that the webmasters dictate how Google works, not the other way around - if 99% of the websites use link exchange, there is nothing Google can do about it, but just WISH we did not exchange links :)

This made me laugh (in a good way). It's one of the most obvious and sensible things I have read on WW. And I don't even think it is something that Google would even disagree with.

And of course link exchanging on its own is not a problem. It has become as if the use of the term in itself will bring down the Google Penalty Demons™ (GPD).

Why on earth would Google penalise a site for exchanging links with other relevent sites? Or even for adding a one-way link for that matter? How do we think Google is going to find web sites if we don't all link to each other?

Heck, I have a directory (which also apparently attracts the GPDs™) as a part of one of my sites. It links out to a couple of hundred sites in my subject matter. My visitors love it, as it has a set of sites with unique hand picked subject matter not found in many (any?) other places. Should I add a nofollow to these links? No, why should I? I have hand picked these sites and they are good places for my visitors to visit. Some of them have been reciprocol links, most have not.

Does Google penalise my site for this practice? Am I leaking PR? I have no idea. I truly hope not.

Commercial interest aside (or because of), Google wants to build a good quality search engine. How would sensible and relevent reciprocal linking harm this process? It doesn't make any sense.

Obviously, one-way inbound links are the way to go and my site has several thousand more quality incoming links than it has outgoing ones. But that took several years to achieve. When a site starts out, how else are webmasters supposed to get incoming links?

The keywords for me are relevency and usefulness. Just avoid all those emails with three way, pyramid, hexadecimal linking schemes to web sites with lots-of-dashes-and-num83rs-in0their0name.info



 12:06 pm on Apr 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

tedster wrote "It sounds to me as though the overall "backlink profile" of a site is being measured, rather than any one type of backlink being the kiss of death iin rankings."

So what will happen if your competitor start asking for links to your site from very unrelated sites?

If the overall "backlink profile" is diluted by unrelated links then the Google claim that "there is almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your site" is not true...unless the "almost" refers exactly to this scenario...

And if you are not lucky to have a competitor who is so enthusiastic :)
What happens with all the links that you get from webmaster who fancy your PR6 and post your link without permission just in case you might link back to them?

[edited by: asher02 at 12:16 pm (utc) on April 10, 2007]


 12:13 pm on Apr 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

One bad apple will ruin the whole bunch eventually. Those DMCA complaints are very handy. Remember, even your url is protected under the DMCA

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