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Link swapping is a key to business success on the Web.

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Many search engines call it spam; ignore them. They're only being self-centered in their assessments, not necessarily taking the ethical high roads in their opinions. It is important to negotiate link swaps that will benefit you, the other party, and your target market.

Link Swaps, If Done Properly, Can Benefit Everyone

The Web derives its name from the similarity between the way it links together and the way a spider web links together. In other words, links that people include on their websites are what actively tie the entire Web together. Without links, the Web would not exist. You could still manually locate content on the Internet, but you would have to know the address of each place you wanted to go. Directories of websites would be the only effective way to find information, and this would be very limited, excluding much of the content on the Internet from viewing. This is how the Internet used to operate before the advent of the Web we now know. Today, links provide the primary means by which people and search engines find content on the Web. Soliciting a strong array of links pointing to your website is the single most important aspect of your web marketing campaigns.

Links drive traffic to your website through two primary means, website visitor clicks and search engine rankings. Clicks from random website visitors generally occur when links are prominently placed on the referring websites. There is only so much prominent placement space available on a website, so you usually either have to negotiate for such placement or your website has to be so wonderful that other website owners think of it as one of the premier websites on the Web.

The Focus on Search Engines

These days, search engines are a far more powerful means of driving traffic than link clicks. But, far from devaluing links, search engines make links more important than ever. In fact, by most expert search engine optimization (SEO) estimates, there is no more powerful determinant in the general ranking of your website than the incoming links to it.

Search engines are now complex enough that they don't just blindly boost a website in all rankings because there are many incoming links. They analyze details such as where the links are placed in page content, what text appears near and in the links, and how each referring website's content relates to the destination website's content. Additionally, the big search engines, such as Google and Bing, pay attention to the search rankings and credibility of the websites linking to your website. This is why it is so important to get relevant incoming links from reputable websites pointing to each website you place on the Web.

How Search Engine Companies View Link Swaps

The search engines themselves have reputations to uphold, so they have long held policies of attacking anyone who manipulates their rankings. They have loosened up to some extent in recent times, mostly because they have come to realize they were in the wrong for attacking those trying to get fair business placement in Web search results. For a long time, search engines had the nerve to call search engine optimization "spam." This is not just technically incorrect, but ethically incorrect.

To be fair, some people do come up with unscrupulous, automated tactics to manipulate search results, but the blanket statements often given by search engines about link swapping being search engine abuse just don't hold water. These search engine companies are trying to serve their own interests. Remember, the majority of search engines make the bulk of their revenue from search result advertising.

If you do highly abusive link swapping, such as joining link swap clubs or making link swap solicitations on your website, you may find yourself banned from inclusion in individual search engines. If you exchange links in ways that appear natural to your page content with similar, relevant websites, which also display the links naturally, you don't usually have to be concerned about being banned.

Swapping Links

It isn't difficult to find good websites that are managed by people eager to swap links with others who have similar, professional websites. After all, Web professionals know how powerful links swaps can be at driving traffic. The main thing you need to do is find websites with similar content. After all, you need to receive well-targeted traffic to your website. It also helps if you choose websites that display similar development styles. If a website manager doesn't like the way you do your pages, a link swap is unlikely. Likewise, your content should be similar, but not competing with the websites with which you exchange links.

Look for websites that already have good reputations in the search engines. If you use a particular search engine to find the website, the odds are pretty good that the search engine respects the website. There are tools out there to help you get page ranking information from each major search engine about individual pages. But, you should also take time to look over the website to see whether it is a serious attempt at a useful, professional website, or a half-hearted attempt at a website geared mainly toward search engine manipulation and sales.

Once you have picked out the websites with which you want to exchange links, you need to look for a webmaster email address. If none is listed on the website, you can try the email address listed in a domain registrar whois database. Send a courteous email explaining why you want to exchange links, with a general description of where you would like the links to appear on the website. Be courteous and flexible. For the best results, try to repeat this process in order to solicit at least a few high quality links each week. Search engines tend to favor sites that are actively receiving new incoming links.

Build a Micro Web Around Your Site

Keep in mind that during this process, your goal is not to score one great link, but to build up a whole web of links going in and out of your website and similar websites. This is what will provide a steady flow of website referred visitors and search engine referred visitors that are well-targeted for the products and services you provide.



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