In the late 1990s and early 2000s, operating businesses was relatively easy. You open a store, customers come in, exchange a few words, purchase the required item and leave. There used to be few substitute goods and fewer competitors. That’s why managing customers, retaining them, and earning revenue were more feasible.
Coming back to reality, it’s 2022! Now, the customers have more options; the competition level is high and isn’t necessarily limited to a particular state or a country. In such a scenario, attracting customers across the globe and retaining them has become crucial for business.
Fortunately, digitalization and e-commerce have made things a bit easier for businesses. You can create SEO and social media strategies to attract the target audience and cater to their needs. One such strategy is using “Link Exchange.”
Sometimes referred to as reciprocal linking or swapping backlinks, this strategy was very popular during the 2000s. However, with time- its popularity has declined. Yet, its use is quite frequent. According to a study by Ahrefs, only 26.4% of Authority Domains are “not” using reciprocal links.
Nevertheless, the questions remain- What is link exchange, and how can it help build your business? Let’s learn!
Link exchange is like an agreement between two or more brands or web admins to trade links with each other. It is typically done to boost a site’s authority and get quality backlinks for SEO purposes. It is noteworthy that in black and white SEO, link exchange is often a gray line.
For Google, an editorially placed link asserts the information given in the link. It indicates that the data is added to help the reader gain more knowledge about the product or service. On the other hand, if the link is not organic and possesses the purpose of deceiving the reader, it can be penalized by the search engine.
In simple terms, the questionability of this strategy depends on how you implement it and not on the strategy itself.
Note: The terms link exchange, and reciprocal links are often used interchangeably. However, there is a slight difference between the two. Reciprocal linking occurs between two parties only for their mutual benefit. On the other hand, a link exchange involves multiple websites.
Generally, each website involved in the exchange chooses an anchor text that offers them more control over their link profile. The anchor texts are of numerous types but are organically infused in the content. It offers the reader new or more information about the product or service.
Know that if the exchange is not done excessively between the chosen websites, it will be considered a white hat and in compliance with the set search engine guidelines.
A recent study stated that the exchange of links between different brands is a “natural byproduct” of the web. Approximately 43.7% of top-ranking pages have reciprocal links. Furthermore, on average, 4 or 5 out of every ten organic Google ranking is reaping the benefits of this strategy.
Taking into consideration this data, it won’t be wrong to say that this practice is very common, especially among authoritarian websites.
It is true that swapping and exchanging links is a debatable topic in link building and SEO. But, by taking into account the search engine guidelines, user intent, and quality of the content, you can get high-quality backlinks.
Google’s link schemes answer page states that:
“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”
If you read between these lines, a conclusion can be drawn that using too many invaluable links or excessive links merely for the purpose of a cross promotion can get the brands into trouble.
On the contrary, if your links align with the content and offer valuable insights to the user- elevating their overall experience, you are practicing white hat SEO.
The divisiveness of this topic can create confusion between SEO practitioners. That’s why below are a few factors that you should take into consideration when using this strategy.
While creating or implementing any SEO strategy, you must focus on your end goal, i.e., brand awareness. Building links and getting referral traffic from the relevant website can help boost your brand image.
Suppose you own a cosmetic brand and are approached by a makeup and lifestyle blogger for exchanging links. In this scenario, you both will have a similar target audience. Thus, the chances of someone connecting to you through their blogs will be high. In a nutshell, to get referral traffic, you need to connect with the right people.
You should not swap links with just anybody who approaches you. Relevancy of your brand and content with theirs is very important. It will help improve the user experience and urge them to keep coming back to your site for more data.
It is easy to ensure niche relevancy by focusing on local or geo-relevant SEO. When you connect with local businesses in your town, it will help attract more visitors from local search. Not to forget, it will also help elevate your chances of ranking higher on the SERPs.
Bear in mind that not only industry relevance but content relevance is also important. Content is the king of search engine optimization, thus infusing the anchor text in editorial format will help build an audience and generate website traffic.
Last but not least, you must evaluate the strategy’s effectiveness regularly. Pay attention to the changing search engine guidelines and mold your strategy accordingly. Also, learn about the taste and preferences of your target audience. While exchanging links, discuss these things with fellow web admins and develop a solution to cater to their needs.
In today’s highly competitive and changing era, SEO is all about trials and errors. You need to try out different strategies depending upon your industry and business objectives. Some strategies might give you favorable results, while others might not. Even so, you should pay attention to the growing trends and incorporate them into your SEO strategy.