Link exchange services may promise to increase your web traffic by 100 percent or more. However, if you've never used a link exchange service, it can be hard to see how this would work. Do link exchange services actually do what they're supposed to do? Are they useful for doing web marketing in 2012? In this guide, you'll learn what a link exchange service does, and how you can use link exchange services in your own law firm.
Why Do Lawyers Want Link Exchange Services?
Lawyers think of a link exchange service as a means to an end. That end is increased web traffic—or, even more accurately, increased conversions. Link exchange services work to improve your web traffic numbers by increasing the number of inbound links that direct web users to your site. If you are having a very difficult time building your inbound links organically, it may be a good idea to start considering a link exchange service.
Inbound links don't just bring in traffic directly. They also increase the amount of traffic your website will receive from Google and other search engines, because a higher number of inbound links translates directly into improved Google search rankings. As your SERPs climb, your traffic will too—making link exchange services a potentially fantastic investment for your law firm.
What Kinds of Link Exchange Services Work Best?
Just because it's possible for a link exchange service to dramatically improve your company's web presence doesn't mean that this is always the result. You can increase the chances of picking winning link exchange services by following a few guidelines:
Make sure that any link exchange service you decide to use is making new links “by hand,” rather than just automating the process. Automation through link exchange services leaves trails on the web, and those trails can be found by Google.
Link exchange services that work to build contextually relevant links are generally much more successful than those that post links non-contextually.
You should try to use a link exchange service that builds at least some of your links from websites with high PageRank.
Link exchange services are better when they work to create meaningful links to good content. If you feel that the link exchange service you're using is mostly just spamming, you may not experience the success you're hoping for when building inbound links.
What Kinds of Link Exchange Services Fail?
When a link exchange service fails, it's usually because Google got wise to the ways in which the service was manipulating search results. There are several different ways that Google detects when link exchange services are being used to create large numbers of links to a website. First, Google checks to see if the anchor text for the links being used is identical. Too much identical anchor text usually reflects link automation, either through automated one way link building services or link exchange services.
Next, Google will see whether a large number of your links come from the same IP address. This is almost always a sign of some sort of inbound link manipulation scheme. The same goes for a large number of links coming from a particular type of website, especially if it's something like an unmoderated blog—easy to build a link from, regardless of the quality level of the content you're linking to.
Link exchange services that use these tactics will very quickly fail, because Google will simply not be fooled. Instead of profiting from using a link exchange service, the law firms that use these services will find their rankings significantly diminished.
Social Media and Link Exchange Services
Today, some link exchange services are changing their tactics to keep up with the changing times. Instead of posting thousands of reciprocal links all over the web, they're starting to use social networks and social bookmarking sites to generate new links for their clients.
There are a number of advantages to using social media as part of your inbound link building strategy. Often, a link exchange service today will help you to exchange links on Facebook or Twitter as well as traditional links.
Many attorneys just post links on Twitter and Facebook thinking that their friends and followers will see them. However, these links are often quite valuable to search engines, and by using link exchange services you can maximize the potential of your social media link building.
If Your Link Exchange Service Automates Too Much
Whether you didn't know that Google penalizes overly ambitious link exchange services, or you just thought you'd take your chances, what if the worst comes to pass? What if you find out that your website is no longer ranked high in searches because of the link exchange service that you used?
First things first: tell the service working for you to stop building new links while you fix the damage. In some cases, link exchange services will actually help you clean up your link presence online if you find that you've been penalized by Google. With less reputable link providers, you may have to do the legwork yourself. Find out where the links are coming from, and then ask the webmasters in charge of them whether they would be willing to take them down. If you're told no—or that it will cost money to have a link taken down—you can talk to Google to have your site re-listed with all its link juice intact.
Alternatives to Using Link Exchange Services
Of course, you don't need to use a link exchange service to trade links. It's very likely that you already know several owners of websites who might be willing to exchange links with you. When you talk to people you already know, you're more likely to be forming contextual, relevant links that will attract geographically local visitors. These links create much more conversion ready traffic, and can be much more valuable than a generic reciprocal link developed by a link exchange service.