Link exchange has been a go-to strategy for link builders all over the world. But with the updates in Google’s algorithm, its popularity has been reduced through the years. Now we ask, what is link exchange in SEO nowadays? Is it still as effective as before? Or is it harmful to your link profile now?
In this article, we will go through the nitty-gritty of link exchange in SEO. We will discuss the effects of link exchange on a website’s SEO and the possible dangers it can bring. We will also go through the proper way to do link exchange in 2021.
Let’s get to it!
Link Exchange in SEO for 2021
Before diving our noses deep into the how-to’s of link exchange, we have to understand it first. Link exchange happens between two websites that link to each other in their content. A couple of reasons for this exchange are:
- They may be peers that exchanged links for SEO benefit
- You like each other’s content
- You want a backlink from them, that’s why you linked to them first
By doing so, you’re giving your vote of confidence to them, so you can gain a backlink from them. At least that’s what the old method does. But now, reciprocal links are earned through building a relationship and adding value to the host website.
So, does that mean that link exchange is still being practiced in 2021?
Let’s look at a recent study from Ahrefs about reciprocal links. According to their findings, the majority of top-ranking websites have reciprocal links. This majority accounts for 74% out of the 140,000 random websites they crawled.
They also found out that even if you’re not doing it intentionally, you can still have a reciprocal link to a niche website. This is true especially if you’re making content that’s worth linking to.
However, link exchange is still considered an act of manipulation of Google’s algorithm. Search engines realized that this is not an honest vote of confidence, generally. It won’t lead to a penalty, but the SEO value of the reciprocal link you produce is almost negligible.
When to Avoid Link Exchange?
Linking to a website that provides the best resource for your content is completely fine, even if it will result in a reciprocal link. These are the instances that are almost unavoidable. But if you’re doing link exchange intentionally, here are the things you need to avoid.
1. Linking to Irrelevant Websites
We all know that relevance is one of the most important factors that search engines consider when looking at your backlinks. You don’t want to exchange links with an irrelevant website because it won’t bring any value. Backlinks from irrelevant websites might even hurt your SEO.
2. Inbound-Outbound Link Ratio
Before linking to a site that has previously linked to you, check the outbound links ratio of the website. The outbound links should not exceed twice the number of inbound links to that site. This ratio can be observed from Private Blog Networks (PBNs) and other sites for link farming.
For example, if a website has 200 inbound links, its outbound links shouldn’t exceed 400. You should avoid linking back to these sites. It means that they are keener on linking to other websites than gaining backlinks for themselves.
3. Link Exchange to New Websites
To maximize your link building efforts, you want to build links from established websites. Linking to a robust and well-established website can make you rank higher on Google faster. Unfortunately, new websites can’t bring you that kind of result.
Unlike old and established websites, new ones have a relatively low PR. Partnering up with these websites won’t have a big impact on your ranking. Thus, it’s not worth the risk.
How to Do Link Exchange Today: The Right Way
To get the most SEO value out of your reciprocal links, you should earn them the right way. In this section, we will discuss how you can do it properly.
1. Aim for Partnerships Through Outreach
Building links is all about building a professional relationship with each other. This leads to some kind of partnership within your niche. If you build links this way, exchanging links with a website will look like an exchange of trust for each other’s content.
You can do this by outreaching to the webmaster. By talking directly to them, you can communicate what you have in mind for the link building process. You can then exchange ideas, plans, and resources for the link exchange to happen smoothly.
2. Bring Value
For your reciprocal link to have SEO value, you must also bring SEO value to the prospect’s site. Don’t focus on the possible benefits for your site. Instead, focus on the relevance of the link exchange process.
When you ask for a link from your partner, you should provide value through your guest post. The backlink you produce from this will be helpful for your SEO.
3. Partner with Quality Websites
If you’re risking the penalties for reciprocal links, make sure that it’s worth the risk. Since you’ve decided to do it, then you might as well do it with quality websites. This will bring more SEO value to your site than linking to a poorly-made and poorly-maintained website.
You want to provide your visitors with a valuable resource from the links on your website. This way, they won’t get disappointed once they click on one of your external links. This will lead to a great user experience for your website, and hence, better SEO value.
4. Choose Websites That Have Plenty of Organic Traffic
Since reciprocal links won’t have a huge impact on your site ranking, you have to rely on the referral traffic coming from these links. That’s why you have to choose websites that have a good number of organic traffic in the first place. The more organic traffic there is, the more chances you have to convert them into your referral traffic.
We’re hoping that you’ve learned a lot about link exchange in SEO today. Building relationships with sites in your niche is the key to an effective link exchange. Remember not to overdo it to keep your website safe from Google penalties and maintain your site authority.
Carefully reconsider if you want to engage in link exchange. As we’ve said earlier, the SEO value you can get from these reciprocal links is almost negligible. LinkDoctor recommends sticking with white hat link building strategies to gain backlinks.