Link Exchange

Link Exchange Guide – Effective Strategies to Swap Backlinks

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Link Exchanges, Backlink Swapping, Reciprocal Linking – Are you familiar with these terms? If not, let me introduce them to you.

In short, all those terms mean the same thing. It doesn’t matter if everyone favors this exchange or not; there are plenty of website owners and bloggers who willingly accept exchanging.

This guide will explain the give-and-take policy of backlinks, which involves risks and rewards. It also focuses on the diverse methods of link exchange and how they differ accordingly. For a better SEO value, an effective link exchange is necessary, and this article will help you reach that goal safely. So, hop on!

What is a Link Exchange?

Link Exchange

A link exchange, also known as reciprocal links, is a form of link building strategy in which two or more websites exchange links for mutual benefit. Each site mutually agrees to accept backlinks, which is done to promote each other’s products, resources or information.

This is done in order to increase the search engine ranking and traffic to your website. By exchanging high quality backlinks, the websites within the same niche can acquire high authority.

As simple as it seems, the swap can hurt your SEO due to excessive link exchanges. It is because the created links may not be of equal quality or maybe considered part of a link scheme that is less in quality. The links trying to manipulate Google principle are discouraged automatically and Google’s Webmaster Guidelines prevent the well-established sites to get higher positions.

The better way to avoid these mistakes is to be aware of the different types of link exchanges that can be used to control web presence. This will also help you in understanding how to swap backlinks safely.

Different Types of Link Exchange

Let me walk you through the link exchanges that are classified into four types. They are categorized in a way that their differences may not significantly impact their link building strategy. This categorization aims to improve the relevance, authority and trust of the web pages in action.

Private Influencer Networks

Private Influencer Networks

Private Influencer Networks (PINs) are groups of content creators who share backlinks and promote one another to increase their organic traffic. In other words, it is a network of websites that partner up to link to each other.

PIN exchanges are common among websites that share the same niche. It helps them avoid competition. Suitable websites send backlinks to each other’s homepages, guest posts, or blogs to make it work.

But keep in mind that these manipulative private link building tactics are not supported by Google.

Guest Post Swaps

A guest post swap involves swapping links on different website, which include a backlink to their own website, through guest posting. This helps websites attain high domain authority and topical relevance.

This method is useful if you find someone within your niche and who is willing to add your guest post as part of an exchange. Your success depends on them agreeing to your terms.

Guest Post Swaps

Reciprocal Links

Reciprocal link building involves exchanging of quality backlinks (that help your SEO) between two websites. It is a straightforward link scheme that can be understood by the verse “link to me and I’ll link to you”.

Reciprocal Links

Direct link swapping is easier because reciprocal links can act as natural links. It only happens when two websites agree to exchange their web addresses. This helps websites build high-quality content and outreach without manipulation. A recent Ahrefs study shows that 74% of domains have reciprocal links. Thus, this type of link exchange is valuable.

Direct link swapping

However, direct link exchange is considered to be a bad practice. If it is done naturally, only using it from time to time, it is safe. We must choose an authoritative website for the exchange to be approved by Google. 

Trust reciprocal links because they..

• Increase website traffic: Your brand will be more visible if you link with other websites. Popular web pages act as a guide for Google to locate new websites. So, adding those links will help contribute to visibility. Gaining backlinks from a reputable website helps in being introduced to their audiences. It is an easy way to increase traffic.
• Contributes to building link popularity: When you engage in this link building, your website’s reputation is improved. This is a crucial factor in determining the website’s position. The more quality links you have, the higher your rank in SERP.
• The improved bond between websites: Reciprocal linking only happens when websites mutually agree. This linking can lead to a healthy website relationship, and they can partner up for further collaboration or marketing. This will improve their SEO.
• Trust and credibility: If a website is a part of reciprocal links, it is trustworthy and credible. Linking with other websites ensures the content quality, and more people will trust you to recommend you to others. 

Decide on reciprocal links only if you can handle the heat..

• Disrupt Google policy: Google considers excessive link exchange to be link spamming. So, don’t use automated services when you are link building, as they will prevent higher SERP ranks.
• Irrelevant links: Compared to other link types, reciprocal links lack importance. This link exchange is only possible if the other website agrees to link with you. So, there is no guarantee that the website willing to connect you is related to your industry. It will portray your website in a wrong way. 
• This link exchange takes time: Direct link swapping takes time because you have to look for websites willing to link you manually. If it were to happen naturally, you would be fine. But it does not happen that easily. You must contact the website owners and negotiate with them for approval. All in all, it takes time.
• Maintenance difficulty: Reciprocal links should be adequately maintained or can result in broken links. A broken link will give you a 404 error. You may need to remember to maintain them, deeply impacting your search engine ranks. So, when you consider them, you must ensure the other website updates the link occasionally. 

Three-Way Link Exchanges

A three-way link exchange is an indirect way to perform a direct link swap between two websites. It involves using an intermediate site to send and receive links. It is a triangular link building strategy to improve SEO. Two of the websites involved in web address exchange should be of better quality to make it work.

By using this method, it is difficult for search engine like Google to detect that a few sites are involved in a link scheme.

Three-Way Link Exchanges

Three-way link building is more convenient than direct linking and an advanced method of swapping links. Search engines cannot detect the exchange if we use three-way links, and even Google is less likely to notice the interaction between three websites at a time. 

There’s more than “three” perks for you!

• Increased SERP ranks: This method can increase link popularity and improve SEO. The more websites link to yours, the more credible you will appear to Google. Google will also consider your site more relevant, helping it rank higher. This will also increase your click-through rate (CTR).
• Improved referral traffic: You must link to websites in the same industry to increase referral traffic. This will provide you with frequent targeted visitors more likely to convert into customers. Three-way linking helps you gain more followers, aka visitors.
• Enhanced relevance: If you link with a relevant website, your website is also considered appropriate. Google can’t prove that the link is obtained from elsewhere. This will make your website rank higher in SERP and a topically relevant webpage.
• Safe alternative: When three-way linking is done perfectly, Google will not find your website suspicious. Moreover, it will enhance your site with improved SEO. Direct linking is more risky because it is a straightforward method. Google will penalize your website for this. So, three-way linking is a safe alternative to help grow your website.
• Improved bond between websites: A three-way link exchange makes building a better bond between other websites in your industry easier. It will help you in the future when you need to promote your content or other opportunities.

Let me be honest, link back only if you can take the risk..

• Spammy links: Three-way linking can be seen as spammy when done in a different way. You can use only a few links from the same website. It will appear suspicious and affect your search traffic. While using this type of exchange, you must be careful and try to do it correctly to attain your goal.
• Inconsistent quality of links: You can’t determine the link quality you receive through this method. If you are linked with a low DA website, Google will classify you as a spam website. You have to participate in this exchange without hurting your website’s SEO.
• Time-Consuming: Bagging websites of your choice will take some time. Then, conducting multiple exchanges through those websites can be even more time-consuming. So, you must remember that three-way linking is a challenging process. You have to be patient.
• Requires mutual understanding: It isn’t easy to coordinate when working with many websites. The three websites of your choice must agree to link to each other and follow the rules. You must not allow anyone to trash your website. Only then will this method be effective.

Link Exchange Process

Engaging in guest posting or sharing links is a simple process. Meeting people from other websites in your industry requires a lot of email communication. However, you must ensure the people you connect with are authentic. Let me walk you through the steps involved.

Link Exchange Process

Step 1: Find suitable websites to exchange links.

Step 2: Reach out to those websites asking to exchange links with you through blog posts or other means.

Step 3: If they approve your request, start discussing your topic. Ensure you choose a topic that will benefit everyone and specify the links everyone must use. Come to a formal agreement to avoid fraud.

Step 4: Add the web addresses to your websites.

Step 5: Confirm that the other website has naturally posted you to avoid suspicion. Make sure that they do not use a nofollow tag. 

Effective Methods to Exchange Links

If you want to exchange links for SEO, you should be aware of the best practices for exchanging web addresses, which hold greater significance than any other SEO strategies. It is common knowledge that we should choose high-quality relevant sites for exchanging. Some of those tips are mentioned below.

1. Estimate the link quality

When someone wants to include their web address on your website, please don’t rush to add it. Instead, take your time to analyze their website to see if it is compatible with your site. If it is, then add the web address yourself. Also, aim for web addresses from trustworthy websites and avoid websites that are suspicious or less reliable. One must focus on quality.

Estimate the link quality

2. Add it on an appropriate page

You must choose a suitable page on which to add the web address to your website. Adding these on a page that describes or hints at your chosen topic will only make sense. It should be done naturally to avoid spamming.

3. Limit the use of anchor texts

Anchor texts must be natural. They should not appear spammy or forced. Try to be innovative when creating an anchor text. Type it in a way that will be of value to the topic you have written. Anchor texts like “Check out these blog tips ” are more likely to be visited than “Click here.”

To rank higher on SERPs, we must include innovative anchor texts. Google uses anchor text to determine the quality of the content and where the web address leads. At the same time, ensure you use only a few anchor texts in one post. Doing so is considered keyword stuffing and can affect your SEO.

anchor texts

4. Take your time when adding web address

Whenever you add a suitable web address, do it gradually. Whether it’s direct linking or another category of linking, add only a few. It is best to have no more than two web addresses.

5. Track them actively

Tracking your web address once it is submitted and added is very important. It is done to find out which ones are working. The ones that are not working should be removed.

6. Disown unwanted web addresses

Even after following the best practices in exchanging, you may get low-quality website for linking. It will affect badly to your SEO. You can get the help of Disavow Tool by Google to overcome this toxicity.

7. Always use natural ways

It is always safe if you use a natural way of networking. Guest posting is a secure method to do so. Exchanging web addresses in a relevant manner can improve your SEO. If you participate in frequent exchanges, Google will notice the pattern. But if you do it gradually, analyzing everything, you are safe.
Your exchange will only work out after a few weeks, and if you are not getting the viewers you expected, that means you did something wrong. If you execute your plan successfully, you can thrive. You can experiment with the strategies to find an effective way to exchange.

Contact us for more link building tactics.

Are Link Exchanges Safe?

Does link exchanges help or hurt your SEO? They are relatively safe when they are used in a balanced manner. They are good for SEO, just like other link building opportunities. It helps you to establish relevance and authority.

If you exchange links between site that are relevant, it will boost your SEO results. At the same time, you must ensure not to overdo it.

They are not risk-free, but if you find a smart way for exchanging web addresses, it will be helpful. Google’s guidelines mention how web address exchanges might be seen as a part of link manipulation, potentially leading to penalties for a website.

The definition given by Google is a bit cryptic: “Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking.” Google acknowledges that reciprocal links are part of the web.

Link spam

Link exchange may not be safe when;

1. There is too much overlap in exchanges.
2. There is too many outbound links compared to inbound links.
3. The site is not related to your niche.
4. The site is spammy.

You have to make sure that your partner is trust worthy; otherwise, they can harm your website.

How Does Google Identify Link Exchange?

When you engage in this exchange with another website, a formal agreement will be created to clarify everything. In the deal, they will list all the websites with similar interests involved in the exchange and specify the pages they exchange. This will indicate where the web addresses should be included. This will avoid further misunderstandings regarding the sharing and keep the exchange straightforward.

When Googlebot visits the group of websites on your list and finds the web addresses, it acts as a plus point for the site’s popularity. Having more of these points will help build a more significant quality site. However, if the crawler notices a sudden change in the web addresses, it is a warning sign for the website. It is considered spam, and Google might penalize your site manually. Too many suspicious and inappropriate web addresses will harm your site as well as your SEO.

Google Identify Link Exchange

In short, exchanges are against their terms 🙁

Give a Chance for Facebook and Slack Groups 

One of the significant concerns about people is where to find a perfect link exchange opportunity. In my opinion, Facebook groups and Slack groups will help you with it. 

But how can these private groups be beneficial for you? It is effortless. You will find other members in the group who are willing to link to you. Just do the favor in return, too. If anyone is unwilling to participate in the exchange, they are immediately kicked out of the group. Sounds fun, right?

I support this system because you will be rewarded with high-quality web addresses without hassle. 

Find your perfect opportunity at the Facebook group ‘B2B Bloggers Boost.’ 

Slack groups :

• Backlinks Slack Group
• Marketing Lad Slack Community
• Traffic Think Tank

To Wrap Up

Link exchanges are generally safe, but don’t forget to use common sense to make it work. Concentrating on quality sites will result in relevant link profiles. At the same time you should not depend excessively on Private Blog Networks (PBNs).

When considering a link exchange, you must always verify your partners for securing high-quality links.


What to consider when exchanging links?

• The site must be topically relevant to your niche and well-designed.
• Only trust-worthy sites and owners should be partnered with.
• Select a quality site for real link juice.

Where to find link exchanging opportunities?

• The process of finding link exchange opportunities is similar to finding guest post opportunities. It is done through manual approach or by joining social networks to connect with people.
• Platforms like Facebook groups, Slack, Discord and Skype can help find people with the similar interests in link exchanging.

Where to position links?

• Links must be integrated into relevant content and should avoid placing them in less valuable areas such as sidebar or footer.
• You have to make sure that the link profile is acceptable.

What is the count of outbound links?

• The greater the number of outbound links, the weaker their individual impact becomes.
• Maintain outbound link ratio because excessive linking can harm link opportunities.

What’s a good domain authority goal for exchanging links?

• If your website has a lower DA, it is hard to convince websites with higher DA(more than sixty) to do an exchange.
• It is best to aim higher because if they agree to share with you, your DA will also increase.

Are link exchanges legal?

• These exchanges are used by thousands of webmasters and about 74% of the sites use direct exchange.
• The webmaster guidelines clearly state by that the sites will get a penalty if they use excessive exchange of web addresses. Otherwise, you are good to go.

Gaby Alexander

Gaby Alexander

Gaby is a search marketing enthusiast with a passion for helping agencies improve their ROI through effective link-building strategies. With expertise in Google Campaign Manager, HubSpot Inbound Marketing, and SEMrush, Gaby provides valuable insights and guidance to optimize search marketing campaigns.

Gaby Alexander

Gaby Alexander

Gaby is a search marketing enthusiast with a passion for helping agencies improve their ROI through effective link-building strategies. With expertise in Google Campaign Manager, HubSpot Inbound Marketing, and SEMrush, Gaby provides valuable insights and guidance to optimize search marketing campaigns.

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