Link exchange is an old SEO practice that consists of creating reciprocal links between two different websites or domains by mutual agreement.
In other words:
The webmaster of domain A creates a link from his page to the domain of the webmaster B and the latter, in turn, creates a link from domain B to domain A.
Something simple, very easy to do, and that also boosted the search engine rankings.
So, this practice spread like wildfire and Google had to take action to prevent domain owners from falsifying the results.
The truth is that, at this moment, the exchange of reciprocal links can only serve to penalize your domain.
Although this is not true in 100% of cases.
And we say that it is not always fulfilled because there may be crossed links between pages of the same niche or properties of a certain size without Google even being aware of it.
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines clearly state that excessive link exchanges are against their terms. However, it is interesting to focus on the language Google uses…
“Excessive link exchanges (“link to my site and I’ll link to yours”) or partner sites for the sake of link exchanges
The word “Excessive” shows that even Google understands that it is natural for websites to link to each other.
This suggests that there is a whole range of cases in which link exchange is completely acceptable.
Assuming that the ideal thing to do is to avoid the exchange of links, there are circumstances in which this type of links do not have a negative impact on SEO.
And the fact is that we can have reciprocal links within our property with other websites without realizing it.
In general, when a reciprocal link brings web traffic, is related to our niche, and points to a specific URL of our website, it will send positive signals to search engines.
To protect your website and prevent Google from penalizing you for link exchanges, it’s best to insert links subtly and make sure they are useful and not linked to malicious sites. One way to do this is to use “link hopping,” which involves linking from a secondary domain and then linking back to your main site.
Also, it is important to space the time between links and avoid link farms or address lists. Instead, bet on contextual links that are related to the content of the site you link to and that are inserted naturally. In addition, it is important to avoid exchanging links with spam or unreliable sites and to ensure that your site has quality and relevant content for the user.
There are many other reasons why you shouldn’t do link exchanges.
But there are also some RARE CASES in which you should consider it.
To find out the answer, we follow or ask ourselves the following questions:
If all the answers to these questions are positive then we can give the green light to that exchange.
Because in any case that link will be positive both for your audience and to bring more value to your project.
Within the practice of link exchanges, it is also necessary to talk about non-cross link exchanges.
This type of link exchange is more sophisticated and is carried out precisely to avoid possible penalties derived from reciprocal links.
The scheme and typology of the exchanges are diverse but, for practical purposes, we are going to talk only about the simplest one. Of course, you will need to work with at least 3 properties or domains.
Let’s put ourselves in the following situation:
Let’s imagine that we are interested in getting a link from site B to site A but we want to avoid creating a reciprocal or cross-link.
One strategy would be to offer the owner of site B in exchange for another link from a third site: site C.
In such a way that we would have the following linking scheme:
With this simple method, we break the direct relationship between domains and avoid crosslinking problems.
There are much more elaborate linking schemes.
What is common to all of them is that you will need at least three domains.
Link exchange is still a matter of discussion among SEOs.
The ambiguity of Google’s guidelines on the subject and the results of some studies make the debate persist on its suitability or not.
From our point of view, it all depends on how naturally we use this technique. Systematically exchanging links in a blogroll, footer, etc. can cause problems for your website.
But if they are natural links, well contextualized, and that bring qualified traffic, they should not be a problem in principle.
Important: Evidence suggests that well-done link exchange helps, but keep in mind that one-way links will always be the best for your project. Exchanged links have higher risks and provide less value compared to one-way links.
Recommended links and readings:
Link exchange is an old SEO practice that has fallen into disuse but can still be used to your advantage. We help you to better understand this technique and get the most out of it by eliminating useless risks.
The only 100% safe solution is not to exchange links. Even so, you can rest assured if you do not link from the page that receives the link nor to the page that sends it to you. Or if you do not abuse this practice too much.