A few years ago, link exchange SEO was the big buzz in the search engine marketing community. Today, that buzz has died to a whisper. What happened to SEO link exchanges, and why is SEO link exchange no longer considered a valid strategy for professional websites? The reasons have to do with what makes a quality search, and by learning why link exchange SEO failed, you can understand how search engines are changing and developing.
How Link Exchange SEO Worked
In the early days of SEO, link exchange seemed like a godsend to marketing professionals who needed to get high rankings for brand new websites. By using SEO link exchanges, you could get a large number of links without really needing to try very hard at all and without taking up all of your time for content creation.
Most of the time, you could start building link exchange SEO by copying a small snippet of HTML for your website. When inserted onto a page, the code gave instructions to anyone who wanted to reciprocate links with you. SEO link exchanges were so easy to use that nearly anybody could—and that created some major headaches for Google, which quickly declared war on SEO link exchange.
SEO Link Exchanges Create a Google Problem
Link exchange SEO was used to create a big profile of inbound links, even for websites that had barely had any traffic. While this was great for marketing professionals, Google didn't design web searches to be free marketing tools—they designed them to be useful to the people performing the searches. When more and more links on the front page came from an SEO link exchange instead of a more legitimate source, search results were suffering badly.
That's because the websites likely to use SEO link exchanges the most were the websites with the smallest sense of ethics and fair play. The same websites that had prospered in the very early search engine era by stuffing their websites with keywords and hiding text now used link exchange SEO in much the same way, gobbling up huge amounts of space on the web without actually providing any relevant results or quality content.
Google's Response to SEO Link Exchanges
Once Google realized that link exchange SEO was becoming so easy to abuse, and that the abuse was making searches worse, they had to do something about it. Their response was to look through large numbers of websites with natural link structures and those with artificial link structures, and try to figure out what the differences were. They quickly discovered that only websites that were overusing SEO link exchange had more reciprocal than one way links.
To make sure that people using SEO link exchanges weren't able to collect authority, or link juice, from the links they were making, Google simply stopped new reciprocal links from adding any link juice once you'd reached a high percentage of reciprocal links. Many websites that had used link exchange SEO as a primary search engine marketing strategy saw their sites go into an immediate, precipitous rankings decline when these search changes were implemented. The people who had run SEO link exchange services found themselves going out of business overnight.
What Happens if We Use An SEO Link Exchange?
Using SEO link exchanges is likely to have little or no effect on your overall standings in search rankings today if you start using them now. That's because link exchange SEO is already essentially “capped” by Google. However, because of these caps, using an SEO link exchange is one of the least effective ways possible to use your inbound link building time.
If Google notices that you have used too much link exchange SEO, you will receive an email that addresses this issue and shows you how to change the situation if you choose. Once you receive that email, it's best not to push your luck by continuing to use SEO link exchanges: at best, you'll receive no benefit, and at worst their policies could change again and you could find yourself receiving additional penalties.
Checking On Your SEO Link Exchange Links
Maybe you aren't sure whether you've used SEO link exchanges before, or whether your law firm marketing predecessor did something you don't know about. Better safe than sorry—you should check out your backlinks using a backlink checking program. These programs tend to be free and hosted online, so a quick Google search should reveal several excellent backlink trackers on just the first page.
The backlink checker can tell you not only how many inbound links you have for your website, but also how many of those links are from SEO link exchanges. If you find out that your firm is overusing link exchange SEO, you can ask webmasters to remove the offending links as soon as possible. Remember that small quantities of reciprocal links won't hurt you, so don't panic if you see a few dozen reciprocal links out of your several hundred total backlinks.
Other Ways to Get Links for SEO
There's no reason to use SEO link exchanges as your primary means of search engine marketing today. Instead of using link exchange SEO, you need to build one way link SEO through a combination of strategies. Today, variety and diversity are the most prized qualities in links, because natural linking structures tend to show much more variety than artificial linking structures.
If you are using any kind of artificial search engine optimization strategies, you should always keep in mind that Google has shown itself to be ready, willing, and able to penalize websites who get caught cheating. Your strategy could easily work for several months or even years, but as technology advances it's a good idea to have a very solid foundation of real, organic, quality link building underlying your inbound link numbers.