Consulente Web Marketing e Consulenza Motori di Ricerca

Web Marketing & Search Engine Consultant

How to set up and manage your link exchange program

How to set up and mange your link exchange program

During the past few days and for the next week I’ll be heavily involved in preparing my forthcoming seminar in Milan on search engine and organic placement. I enjoy teaching and speaking at public events as they force me to make time to gather all the information I collect while working.

Today I was working on my slides regarding linking and linking strategies and decided to write this post on linking and linking strategies. I read a lot about links, linking, link popularity, cross linking, reciprocal linking, all based on the necessity to increase their ranking.

Many say it’s a waste of time and it can actually hurt your rankings on the engines – I say that’s incorrect, it all depends on how you are doing it.

First of all linking isn’t a walk on the beach – it’s hard work:

  • Find web site to trade links with
  • Visit the web sites
  • Find the appropriate Email to send your request to exchange links
  • Follow up your request
  • Update your web sites
  • Keep on doing this day after day as if there were no tomorrow

Now before any of you jump on my back and say this just doesn’t work please read on, let me put this into perspective.

Who should use this strategy.

The way I see it, most small businesses, especially hotels are ideal candidates: let’s face it, a hotel in L’Aquila (that’s where I live in Abruzzo Italy) can say so much about itself and the town where it’s located and link baiting really isn’t much of an option in this case: There are so many small businesses facing this kind of problem – I work with them every day.

How should the strategy be implemented ?

Well not by making one long page and slapping all your links on it. That’s useless and something the search engines will certainly frown upon. You have to take it more than a step further to make it work – build a Directory of web sites a resource that users will find useful and that will actually rank on the search engines.

Build your Directory contacting web sites that are in a similar line of work, preferably not in direct competition with you (although I have seen cases where sites competing have exchanged links).

Day after day search the web for quality web sites and add them to your directory. As you explore the web you’ll be finding more categories to add to your Directory. Personalize titles and descriptions for each and every page of your directory. Make those titles keyword rich and attractive to the user’s eye. Add all the sites you find – ask for a link, if you don’t get one back in return don’t worry, leave their web site up and running on your directory.

Choose  the web sites you add to your directory with care

It’s not how many web sites you have listed it’s about how good they are and how much your users will appreciate them when they identify your direcotry on the search engines and click on it.

The directory pages shouldn’t carry more than 20 links

Each link must have a nice description, you’re providing your users with a service and you want them to use it. You are creating something that has value and will bring you traffic and visibility. You need to differentiate your incoming links.

Use a wide variety of keyword rich text links with different descriptions

When you send off your request for a back link make sure you send the HTML you want the webmaster to use, or point them to a page where it is simple to copy and paste the HTML code to be used. Here is all the information you need to make your link exchange page – keep reading …

You can use an IFRAME to include the code randomly chosen from a list you’ll have to write up and maintain:.


<iframe frameborder="0" src="descriptions.php" src ="descriptions.php"> </iframe>


Add whatever code required to personalize the look and feel of your web page. The HTML code for your link and description page can be like this:


<html> <head> <meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow"> </head> <body> <ul><li><a href="http://www.yourwebsite.com/webpage.html">keyword rich link text</a> <br> Your Description <br> <table border="1" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="border-collapse: collapse" width="600"> <tr> <td> <b>COPY HTML CODE</b></td> </tr> <tr> <td bgcolor="#FFFF00"><a href="http://www.yourwebsite.com/webpage.html">keyword rich link text</a><br>Your Description.</td> </tr> </table> <br> </body> </html>


Here again, add whatever required to personalize look & feel. Note how I included a nofollow tag on this page, simply because it is a page of no value to the users and consequently to the search engines. But there’s still more to link building. Not only do you want the links to be different but you want them to reach out to different areas of your web site to increase your deep link ratio defined as the number of links pointing to pages other than your home page. It’s important not to attribute all the importance of your site to your home page. You can use this code to randomly extract descriptions and links (provided by Raimondo)


<? $needle = "<li>"; $haystack="code.html"; $arr = array(); $fh = fopen($haystack, ‘r’); $theData = fread($fh, filesize($haystack)); fclose($fh); $posiz=0; $random_content=file("$haystack"); $posiz= strpos($theData , $needle); $posiz2=$posiz; $theData = substr($theData , $posiz2); while( $posiz= strpos($theData , $needle, 1)) { $arr[]= substr($theData , 0, $posiz); $theData = substr($theData , $posiz); $posiz2=$posiz; } $stringa=$arr[rand(0,count($arr)-1)]; echo($stringa); function strnpos($haystack, $needle, $occurance, $pos) { for ($i = 1; $i <= $occurance; $i++) { $pos = strpos($haystack, $needle, $pos) + 1; } return $pos – 1; } ?>


There is also another issue related to the user: Your links will be found and clicked – that’s a fact you’ll be able to verify by looking at the referring sites section of your statistics.

You want the users to get as close as possible to the resource sought: sending them, to your home page could be counter productive.

By deep linking into your web site you’ll direct traffic to relevant pages. But you can go one step further to develop your linking strategy.

Set up a hittal account and watch your long tail develop. After a some days you’ll see hittail suggest new niche keywords that can be used to further develop your online visibility.

Create new landing pages and link to them also via your linking strategy: as you discover new keywords use them to create new pages and new link suggestions to add to your descriptions page. The long tail of keywords is now also a long tail of linking !

More information on the definition of Deep Link Ratio and Deep Link Ratio Tools:

More information on SEO TOOLS:

  • Who said that linking strategies are simple ?
  • Do you think link exchange is dead ?
  • Was this too long and complicated ?

If I go on any further this post will grow to an enormous size so I’d prefer you ask questions I’ll give you an answer rather than continue the rant …

7 Replies

  1. Hi, good Blog!
    Saluti dall’Italia
    By Francesco

  2. AFrance’ – guarda che sto all’Aquila !

  3. custom web design

    How valuable are reciprocal links in your opinion; especially as long as the pages are not directly linking to each other (e.g. they point to the homepage of the other)? I have really stopped focusing on them other than linking between great and relevant sites for my users, but necessarily search engines

  4. Rcp

    Months ago, I tried email to ask for exchanging links and somehow it worked, but I wanted more volume in terms of links. There are so many SEO techniques that will help optimize websites for a higher Search Engine Results Position (SERP).

  5. One thing to remember about asking for links manually is that it’s extremely difficult to reach a quota with that method. It can certainly be done, but the fact that people get back to you about your requests in their own good time makes it a really hard method to keep on a schedule, unlike some other SEO techniques.

  6. I read through your post with a frown, until I came to the bottom of the article and saw:

    Do you think link exchange is dead ?

    Well, yes, I do think so. It might still have value and work for some sites, but as a link building method, it has lost all popularity. The days that I received (or sent) dozens of emails daily for a link exchange request are long gone.

    Can you give an answer to your own question?