In my SEO work, I’ve now taken the stance of making Link Exchanges a low priority of things to do. I have a variety of reason for this, which I will cover later, but this entry will deal with the inherent weakness of exchanging links.
As most know by now, one-way, inbound links to your site are the most valuable. Those are the links from other sites, directories, etc to you that you do not link to from your site. In other words, they point to you, but you don’t point back.
What does that tell you? It tells you that you need to focus on those inbound links first and foremost. No one knows exactly how Google, or the other SEs, weigh a link. For example, is a link from a Page Rank (PR) 5 page worth twice as much as a link from a PR 3 page? More than twice? Less? You don’t know. And Google isn’t talking.
Even if you could figure that out, there are variables that we are aware of that affect things. One of them is the number of links on the page where your link is – a link from a PR 5 page with 10 outgoing links is not worth as much as a link from a PR 5 page with 15 outgoing links. How much difference is there? Again, you don’t know. What you can count on is that one is worth more than the other.
Getting back to exchanging, though, the value of those PR 5 page links to you drops if and when you link back to them. How much do they lose in value? You probably know the answer already. But another one of the things we know for certain is that the one way link is always worth more than the exchanged link.
In the next post, or posts, I’ll point out some of the ways you can be burned through link exchanges. The dishonest webmaster has more than one way to cheat you out of your benefits from an exchange – basically you can end up giving them a one way link without knowing it. But that’s coming up next time.
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