In the old days webmasters could freely exchange links with other webmasters without worrying about being penalized by search engines. In the old days I mean 2005 and earlier. Things change quickly on the web and the search engines are catching on faster and faster to webmasters trying to artificially boost their search engine rankings.

Old fashioned link exchanges consisted of 2 webmasters placing the others link on their site usually on a designated links page sometimes consisting of tens of hundreds of pages. The idea was to gather as many link partners as possible in hopes of boosting Pagerank and in turn increasing their rankings in the search engine result pages. It didn't matter if webmasters traded links with site owners who had sites completely unrelated to theirs because in the beginning it didn't matter. The more incoming or inbound links you had the better.

More and more webmasters caught onto this fact as the term SEO or Search Engine Optimization became popular. The web became saturated with links pages and the search engines caught on. Search engines like Google essentially want their results to be as accurate as possible because it is their livelihood so they began changing their algorithms to factor in such activity amongst webmasters. With some major search engine updates webmasters and SEO marketers soon figured out that incoming links from related sites were better then from unrelated ones. So they continued exchanging links but now with related sites only.

The problem with this is that the search engines can quickly tell who links to each other so it's a simple way to see who is trying to boost their own rank. Google and probably Yahoo too now penalize sites that have been involved in serious link exchanges. I'm talking about webmasters who have traded links with hundreds of other sites and who have complete link exchange directories on their sites. You will notice sites like this who have resources or link exchange pages that extend to 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 pages.

Because this is so easily detectible by search engines it's time to start doing link exchanges differently. Link exchanges are not going away, so the way links are exchanged has to well, change. Here are a couple of suggestions on doing link exchanges differently.

The Three Way

No, I'm not talking about anything sexual here silly. I'm talking about creating a 3 way link exchange where one of the two link partners has 2 sites and links to his or her partner via their second site instead of directly from their first. This requires one of the partners to have a second site preferably in another location with a different class-c IP. I'd even go as far as to say with a different person named as the domain registrant so the whois information doesn't show the same info for sites 1 and 2.

This requires of course more resources on the part of the webmaster with 2 sites but it's not uncommon for webmasters to own more then one site. Directories or information portals are types of sites you could use as your second site. They should contain useful and unique content as well and have incoming links from other related sites. To get a boost of Pagerank needed you will have to submit your site to other directories, maybe publish a press release, articles or even purchase a text link or two. Your second site should be well ranked and give your partners a good reason why they should exchange links via this method. Basically you want to create an Authoritative directory of sites in your niche.

The Blog Way

Blogs seem to have special powers on the web. I've seen blogs with blogrolls a mile long and I've never heard of a blogger being penalized for linking out too much. Blogs can be a great link exchange medium and you can see this from bloggers who again have long blogrolls and who have high Pagerank. Starting a second blog is actually easier then starting a second website to use to exchange links with. it's free at to start a blog and once you do it's easy to manage and especially link out to your partners sites. Like the first method you want to create an authoritative resource on the niche you are trying to conquer.

I don't recommend using if you want to actually own your site. You can start a blog at but you never really own your site. I would recommend using wordpress, drupal or typepad on your own domain, again hosted on a different host then your first site. When your blog is set up you can blog about your niche related news, discuss or rate other sites in your niche (giving you a perfect way to link to your partners) or simply place your partners in your blogroll list.

So now you have 2 sites in your niche, one you use as your main site and the other you use for exchanging links. This means you don't have any link exchange pages on your main site, which is great, but what about your partners site? Does he/she have a huge link exchange directory on their site? You don't really want your link hidden in one of their deep link pages do you? I pass up any link exchange offers made by webmasters who are so kind as to offer me a link on their links page located 3 subcategories deep on a page with 200 other sites.

Here is what you can do. Besides telling them they should scrap their entire link exchange section you can suggest they give you a spot outside their link pages by offering them a full page of content. If that's too much maybe a paragraph of content including your link they can include on one of their main pages. Maybe a testimonial of sorts they can add to their site. Most webmasters trade links on pages that are similar in Pagerank so you will have to be willing to offer up their link on a page with equal or greater Pagerank.

The above methods are long term and are only suggested if you are serious about gaining one-way inbound links to your site. Although the work involved is great so is the reward.

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