Recently, I was asked what I thought about reciprocal links. My answer: I’m not keen on it for SEO, but I do like useful link exchanges. Unfortunately, shonky SEO guys & gals often use reciprocal linking to push their wares with emails such as this (hat tip to @clairecarlile). If you get an email like this, run a mile.

Dear Webmaster,

My name is Mark. I recently came across your website through search engine and found it is informative for our website’s visitors.

I would like to exchange link with our websites spammydomain.com.

As you are probably aware, reciprocal linking benefits both of us by raising the search engine rankings and generating more traffic to both of our websites.

If you would like to do the link exchange with us, please place our link on your website with the following details.

Title : We’re Spammers
Desc : We spam you like mad!
Url : http://spammydomain.com/

Then, please inform me by replying to this email with your details (title and description) or use the following links to post your details. Your links will be shown once we approve them within a few days.

http://spammydomain.com/link-to-us

Look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,
Mark Spamboy

What To Watch Out For

  • They don’t address you by name - Okay, not a deal breaker, but often they will address you as a webmaster, or the site owner, not your name or your site name.
  • They try to create confidence - The link spammer will explain why you should link exchange with them, but also doesn’t really give any sort of examples, other than “it increases your ranking in search”.
  • They give your specific details to link to - The spammer will not give any sort of leeway for linking to you, giving you a defined anchor text, an anchor URL (sometimes internal) and a line of text with it.
  • They will put your link on an internal page, buried where nobody can see it…. - Link Spammers live in the hope you’ll get a page within a site that’s actually quite well placed, rather than on a links page. Will you get one in return? Of course not. You’re more likely included in a directory which is linked to from the footer of the terms of conditions.
  • ….and the link won’t be up for long…. - Often as soon as they place a link to your site they will remove yours. Again, this doesn’t always happen, but it can.
  • ….or unindexable - Again, if your link is within a directory, it’s fairly easy to block the indexing of this area of the site using robots.txt or the Robots meta tag.
  • They use a pseudonym – The thing that cause the most amusement? They use names such as “Rudy Rogers”, rather than their standard Asian sounding name. Like that’s an issue?

What’s a Good Link Exchange?

There are great link exchanges out there, here’s a few ways on how to identify them:-

  • They Benefit You & Your Readers - Problogger said it best, great link exchanges are a win/win/win situation. You get a link, they get a link, and your readers have access to another resource.
  • They are familiar to you - If I approached you out of the blue, I’d expect you to ignore me. If however I leave a few comments & get a few responses, I expect you to give me a little more time of day. Have they been commenting on your blog? Are you familiar with their work? That’s always a great start.
  • They’re Not Technically Link Exchanges - As I mentioned in my blog newsletter a few months a go, often I am a lot more open to linking to people if I get a link back first. It’s subtle but it shows that they link to me because they think I’m a great resource, not because they want something back in return.
  • There’d Be Link Freedom - I would link to a post, or a page I like, rather than necessarily the home page. Furthermore, I’d also link how I want it. If the person has problem linking to me, I’d suggest a format (this would include my keywords usually!).

My Perfect Link Exchange Email

If I was writing a “link exchange” email, it’d be more of a “raise awareness in exchange for a link” email. Here’s what I would write.

Dear Mr Wynne,

I am a big fan of your blog and your recent posts (such as: xyz.com).

I especially liked this post (abc.com) and as a result I wrote a post stemming from this on my own blog (def.com). As you can see I’ve linked you from this post.

I’d love to know your thoughts on my posts, and if we could set up some sort of partnership (be it a link exchange, content exchange or anything else) I would be receptive to this.

Do let me know your thoughts.

Cheers

Rhys

def.com

That’s how I would approach this (and I’ve also told you guys the best way to get links from this stunning PR4 blog ;P), what would be your approach? Do share your thoughts in the comments.

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