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Exchanging links - the pitfalls - plus link management software review

Link exchange strategies and linking management software have become increasingly popular over the last couple of years as webmasters have come to realize the importance of gaining increased coverage on other sites. 

Having a solid link exchange campaign is a crucial part of your overall marketing, not just as a traffic boost from having a listing on another site, but also from a search engine perspective. It's no secret that many major search engines will boost your rankings not just based on what's on your site, but also what's off it; i.e links from other sites pointing back to you.

Every day I receive several requests for reciprocal links trades and out of 100 such requests, perhaps one or two I will actually respond to.

Buying/selling text links

Text Link Ads

Text Link Ads

Web masters searching for cross-promotional partners have a tendency to make many mistakes when approaching other web masters for a link trade. The popularity of Windows based link management software packages and the consequent misuse of them has also provided many traps for web masters:

1) Tone - the request is more like a demand.

2) Impersonal link request - I can tell that the person hasn't really looked at my site, just at my rankings.

3) Unbalanced link trades - many people create a huge "list o' links" - hundreds of entries on a single page and then expect a premium placement. These kinds of link farms are of no benefit.

4) Failure to exchange - on a couple of occasions where I've agreed to a swap, after a few of days I've noticed the link to me has disappeared from the reciprocating webmaster's site

5) Site theme - requests from totally unrelated sites. I get many requests from people running pharmacy and diet sites.

6) Link pages that can't be spidered - some link management software packages generate pages that aren't search engine friendly; negating much of the value of a link exchange.

These issues have led me to be quite suspicious of any reciprocal link request that comes my way to the point that if *anything* in the note doesn't look quite right, I back away from it and don't even bother investigating.

Getting link exchanges right

To engage in a successful link exchange request campaign, it's really not rocket science - just an observation of common courtesy and a recognition of the WIIFM (What's In It For Me) motivators in regards to the people you are approaching. 

For tips and suggestions on how you should approach other webmasters with a reciprocal link offer, read our guide to Internet Marketing etiquette.

Link management software

There are literally hundreds of Windows based linking management software packages now available. They definitely have a role in managing a link exchange campaign as it can become quite confusing and time consuming tracking all the requests that you have made, who has linked back to you, who hasn't plus the adding and editing your links pages.

Many of the marketing blurbs associated with link management software promise you all sorts of amazing results; but the fact is that most of them don't work and may actually damage your search engine rankings.

It's very true that search engines may reward you for links on another site, but search engine algorithms are also becoming a lot smarter. They can detect "link farms" quite well. Also, many linking managers perform automated queries on search engines in order to harvest prospects. When used incorrectly, these can actually get your site penalized or banned and the IP address from where these queries are being made blocked. The following are a couple of search engine friendly solutions you may want to trial:

Link Explore summary

Link Explore is new a software application/service well worthwhile taking a look at. It contains two components; software that generates the link exchange request and html link directory pages; and an automatically updating database of relevant sites willing to participate in link exchanges (no link farms).

Link Explore's central database currently has over 10,000 categorized sites that you can easily sort through. It uses an automated search engine friendly spider that scours the web to find new sites. 450-500 sites that are willing to exchange links are added to the database every month. This aspect alone can save many, many hours of research.

The creator of Link Explore software, a very successful internet marketer himself, is so sure that the software will provide benefits that he offers a 3 month, 100% money back guarantee with each purchase. Learn more about Link Explore.

Link Exchange Manager Review

I've examined many packages over the months and one I've been particularly impressed with is Link Exchange Manager. It's well worthwhile downloading the free trial version to see if it suits your needs.

Link Exchange Manager features:

  • Automatically generates search engine friendly pages
  • Generated pages can be fully customized to suit your site
  • Checks linking partner sites to ensure they are still linking back to you.
  • Can automatically removes sites who no longer link back.
  • Created personalized link request emails to target partners.
  • Aggregates pages into categories and subcategories
  • Displays Alexa rankings for all partner websites

Link Exchange Manager is a very simple to use Windows based software package that can greatly decrease the amount of time you need to spend on this aspect of your marketing. Setting up is a 5 step process:

1. Enter your details
2. Provide your website HTML template page
3. Create your links categories (single or multi-page)
4. Find and enter details of potential link partners
5. Send personalized reciprocal link request emails
6. Generate the pages which you then upload to your site.

After your pages are in place, Link Exchange Manager will monitor the sites you've sent requests to and advise you if your link appears. If after some time your link request isn't acknowledged, you can instruct the software to delete the entry from your pages.

Exchanging links is an ongoing process. Sites come and go, so it's important to be able to monitor your links pages closely. A dead site, or a webmaster who doesn't reciprocate or continue to honor your agreement is only taking up precious space which could be used for a more mutually beneficial agreement. 

Related learning resources

Internet marketing etiquette - reciprocal link requests

Tutorial - advice from an expert in link building

Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast
Tutorials, web content, tools and software.
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