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No link exchanges policy

A good idea?


Nick Jachelson

5:39 pm on Jan 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have an unstated policy on my site of not linking to anyone (especially not my competitors). In a few rare cases where I do have external links, I use a rel=nofollow.

A few years I ran a site that thrived on link exchange and my traffic quickly rose to 3,500 visitors a day. For this site it's hovering around 1,000 - 1,500.

The reason I'm doing this is I'm trying to project a more professional image than my competitors whose sites are stuffed with link exchanges and bad design but they are obviously doing much better than me right now in search rankings. But I think in the long run people will realize that my site is much cleaner and easier than theirs.

Does anyone else have a similar policy? How do you get incomming links? So far I got linked from a VERY prominent technology blog (PR8), I think as a result of "staying clean".


5:45 pm on Jan 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In my case, my site has become an authority in its field (Residency Planning) and this is partly due to my decision not to accept link exhanges. People are voluntarily linking to me (including one link from a high pr UK government website)

I pick and choose which sites I want to link to and they're mostly government resources and large established sites that I know my visitors will find useful.

I agree with your analysis, link exchanges devalue sites.


6:17 pm on Jan 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Link exchanges may or may not devalue sites, though personally I think they do. So, I only exchange with very selected sites and not very often, and then with natural links from content rather than on links pages, with a similar style of links back, because I think links pages are at least part of the problem.

However using no-follow, or having a policy of not linking out are not the only, or to me the obvious, alternatives. They too could be construed as 'unnatural' links, so you are back to the same problem as with link exchanges.

For me the answer is to keep it natural. I link out plenty, with normal links (ie ones the robots can follow), within content, whereever there is a quality appropriate or useful resource to link to. I have stopped even contacting people about linking, you show up in their stats anyway and a link back, usually with an equally natural one, often results.

It's a lot less time consuming, a lot more useful for users, enhances the real and perceived image of your site and is, in my opinion, likely to be a linking method that finds favour with SEs long term.


10:46 pm on Jan 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Presenting a professional image is separate from linking out. You can limit the number of outbound links and link only to very high quality websites and look very professional. If that was your approach I'd stay away from the "no follow" tag.

I use firefox and have modified my user chrome to show nofollow links as bright blinking box. When I see nofollow used unless used it's in a blog or forum where someone is "talkin' trash" about another website, I think they are either trying to horde PR or up to some other "funny business". just my 2 drachmas.</opinion>


11:03 pm on Jan 16, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member ken_b is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

No link exchanges policy A good idea?

It's probably too narrow a policy to really benefit you.

It's one thing to exchange links with every site that asks, and it's another thing to refuse all requests.

Somewhere in between is a productive point for most any site. Finding that point can be important.

Nick Jachelson

3:36 am on Jan 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

It's probably too narrow a policy to really benefit you.

It's one thing to exchange links with every site that asks, and it's another thing to refuse all requests.

For example nobody asks amazon.com or ebay.com for link exchanges .. well because that would be silly. Yet, both are the most prominent sites in their industry. That's similar the kind of brand I want to create, sort of the "amazon.com of widgets". When people want widgets, they'll type "mybrand" or "mybrand widgets" into Google. I already see 5-10 queries like that per day.

There is a whole network of competitors who all link-exchange with each other, and any one of them easily beats me on SERPs right now. But I think that will be irrelavant as more and more people discover that I'm offering a professional service with better features and an easier way for them to get widgets.

I hope.


4:02 am on Jan 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I freely link out, but only to the best resources I can find in my field.
I do not 'exchange' links as in a trade or swap.
Many of the sites I link to will link back naturally. If not, too bad.

It all hangs on what your are doing with the site, what kind of 'tone' you want to present.
A discriminating browser (there are a few) will see junk linking to junk and move on. -Larry


5:19 am on Jan 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

When Amazon started very few people were selling anything online, so what they were doing was exceptional, unique and link-worthy. If you aren't going to be giving some free link love to other websites, you are going to have to <b><i>do some thing</i></b> to get noticed and it's are going to be exceptional and or outstanding in some way, for people to say "wow this is great I should link to it from my website or blog".

Not saying it can't be done, just it's a steeper hill to climb if no one is helping you.


1:40 pm on Jan 17, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

>>>It's one thing to exchange links with every site that asks, and it's another thing to refuse all requests.

Exactly. I'm not huge on link exchanges and haven't been now for a long time, but they do have their place. If I sell apples and someone who sells gorgeous baskets approaches me for a link exchange, I don't see why not if both sites are quality and compliment and not compete with each other. Better yet, trade some content - give them an article on great ways to use apples and baskets and reference your site within it and let them do the same. Site gets bigger, more informational and you both get something more valuable than a trade 4 levels deep on a directory page.

And I'd knock off that no follow. I personally think it is normal to link out to other sites. A site that didn't have any outbound links (offering credit) would look more abnormal to me than one linking out to some good sites.

Nick Jachelson

2:19 am on Jan 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

you are going to have to <b><i>do some thing</i></b> to get noticed and it's are going to be exceptional and or outstanding in some way

Well, for one, I'm giving away my widgets for free, while mostly everyone else is selling them. I know I make a lot less from AdSense than they do from sales, but I think my site can be incredibly disruptive in the long run.

For example, in the old days, people used to pay for online stock quotes ($0.25 I believe). Today you can get real-time stock quotes from free anywhere, and nobody is silly enough to try and sell them. That's what I'm talking about.


8:28 am on Jan 18, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


You are really off on this. Let me take you back to school. (Somebody get me the Rules of SEO!)

Rule #1: Study your competition and do what they are doing.

(Okay, so maybe that's not Rule #1, but it's pretty close.)

We all want a site like amazon or ebay, but few of us are going to get it. I met the SEO for amazon at Nine Fine Irishmen, in Las Vegas, at the last PubCon, and I can tell you his concerns with SEO were nothing similar to what you describe. His concerns were all site internals, making all of the site content available without impinging upon the privacy of all its millions of members, a daunting task. If they want traffic on a term, they buy it, via paid advertising. They don't monitor what their rankings are for the millions of terms they probably rank for naturally. Other than making the site accessible to the engines, they don't have to SEO individual pages like most people, they SEM those pages. They market them.

The only way to have sites like amazon and ebay is to have a really unique idea, be first to the punch, and have the growth and marketing to keep out the competition. It doesn't sound to me like you've developed a bird flu vaccine or have created a new antimatter generator I could use to power my house and my car without stopping for fuel for 5 years, at half the cost I'm paying today.

If your competition is using reciprocal linking, then you should too, because it is a measurable method, that can be defeated by like in kind.

How many links does he have? How much will it cost me to get that many links? How much to get twice as many links? Now you have a starting figure for how to make a successful site in that arena.

There are probably a lot of sites out there that would give you traffic if you would be so kind as to review their site and link to it if you like it.

Link Analysis is the leading means of deriving rankings for all major search engines. If you don't participate, you don't compete. Generally, the person with the top ranking for a keyterm is the person with the most links for that keyterm.

Reciprocal linking is not the only way to get links, and they're not the only way to compete. You should bless your lucky stars though that you can at least measure the effort you will have to put into your site to compete in your chosen arena.

Why do some people think that reciprocal linking is like living in a trailer park? It's as trashy or as classy as you want it to be.

If you want to rank on todays search engines, then you need more better links than your competition. (I alwasy thought that 'more better' was a redundant term, but when we are talking about links more is not enough and better is not enough, more better is what you need.)


1:09 pm on Jan 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

No link exchanges policy A good idea?

I think for all the recently established websites, a link exchange policy is necessary. On the other hand, if you can avoid it by having many oneway links and an older website than it's even better.

I think the critical factor is the "quality" in your link exchange policy as to all the other SEO issues (content mainly!).

I once started developing a website and after one year I started a large link exchange campaign that brought me higher rankings. Then I started receiving many oneway links as people found my website easier and considered its content of high value. From that time I haven't exchanged any links for that particular website although it has managed to reach the SE top5 for a very competitive keyword!

So imo quality in link exchange policy is something everyone should consider mostly.


2:43 pm on Jan 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

*I'm trying to project a more professional image*

Not sure if running AdSense helps much there.....


2:48 pm on Jan 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I wouldn't say a no link exchange policy is a good idea at all. Its too general because there are alot of sites out there you'd be happy to send visitors to. Just do a little research into who you're thinking of linking up with and make sure you're getting into a good partnership.

Small Website Guy

8:51 pm on Jan 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'd rather have an unprofessional looking site with 1000 visits a day than a professional one with no visits.

And that's often the choice if you don't have huge money to pay for marketing.


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