Through one of my other websites, I was just solicited for a link exchange by Link Helpers. I managed to chuckle despite how annoying these requests are. I get a request every month or so. It irritates me because these companies exist for the sole purpose of exchanging links for their clients under the guise of professional SEO. This is why it pays to educate yourself and take the mystery out of SEO. You need to know when you’re being taken for a ride.

Link exchanges worked five years ago. Maybe even still three years ago for some industries, but the folks over at Google aren’t idiots. If you participate in multiple link exchanges, you run the risk of serious penalization from Google. Sites have dropped from page one to page ten over such discrepancies.

What’s so wrong with link exchanges?

The problem lies in the method of acquiring links, and this is always the case. Links weigh heavily upon search results because Google prescribes to an ideal: that only someone who values the content or message of your site will link to it. Links are supposed to be a sign of popularity, authority, and validity. Link exchanges and link buys defy Google’s measuring stick of relevance. It is for this reason that Google penalizes hundreds and thousands of websites for unethical linking campaigns.

I use the term “unethical” somewhat loosely. Google’s algorithms are based on ideals, which of course do not always agree with reality. Reality is that some morons are good at personal branding and networking. They go to conferences and workshops and organizations where they network and build relationships with a core of people who link to them. It’s like a popularity contest of sorts. How are you supposed to earn backlinks if no one can find you to read your pages? How do you get the message out there prominently enough to earn recognition and greater exposure?

It’s a catch 22. I have never done a paid link campaign for any of my sites, and you can tell. I received tens of thousands of visitors for just three blog posts that I wrote at the beginning of this year. They were HUGELY popular, but I don’t think I earned a single link out of those tens of thousands of visitors. Why? Because I draw the wrong kind of visitors. Most of my visitors are consumers and readers, not website owners or web professionals. My target audience on that site is the crowd that feel extremely self-congratulatory simply for using Google’s search engine with greater efficiency. Anything beyond a search is too high tech for them. A blog is still relatively confusing for most of them.

You may own a website and have no knowledge of search marketing or linking campaigns. You may come across some company offering “link exchanges” or “reciprocal linking”. Do yourself a favor and avoid them. While some websites benefit for a short time from link exchanges, most of these websites are caught and penalized by Google. After you’ve been penalized by Google, it will take you some time and effort to get back in their good graces.

Before you jump at an offer to receive an amazing deal on search marketing, feel free to drop me a line and check on the legitimacy of their offerings. Blogsteading is NOT an SEO company, so we in no way compete with other agencies or individuals. We’re strictly here to offer experience and insight that will help you make wise decisions for your web marketing campaigns.