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How to Do Link Exchange to Promote Your Small Business Website

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It has been said, "Build it, and submit it and they shall come." This is a common misconception. To have your website, especially a new one, indexed by the search engines faster and more thoroughly it's a great idea to exchange links with some other websites. Plus it's free advertising.

Why do link exchanges in the first place and doesn't it just send my website visitors away to another website?

Besides the fact that having your website's link on another website will help search bots find and index your website the link could send you potential customers. Yes – it can go both ways where your visitors go another website but that's why it's called an exchange. It's also good idea to have that link exchange go to one of your service or product pages, not just your home page, providing a deeper access point into your website by the visitor. Remember a link exchange should be free so once you have the exchange it's basically free advertising.

Link exchange can be an easy and cost effective way to self-promote your new or old website. Self-promotion also included word of mouth, business cards, print and media adds for sure but doing link exchanges can directly affect your website traffic. Look at similar websites, partners or service providers to exchange links with for a starting point.

What is Link Popularity and Why Should I Care?

Link popularity is a driving factor in obtaining high rankings on the Sear Engine Result Pages (SERPs) for your desired keywords. The more websites that link to your website the more popular it looks. The more popular your website becomes, the higher your rankings become in relevant searches on most search engines. Getting one-way links are always the best and carry more weight with the search engines. These can be more difficult. Look at other website or partners that may link directly to a product or service or maybe an article on your website as a resource for their website. These links will become valuable over time.

You can do one for one link exchanges or three-way link exchanges with similar websites or just get a direct link as mentioned above. These can fall into three different basic categories of exchanges.

1) Similar Service or Product Market
For example a dog grooming website linked to a pet supply store website, a web designer linked to a web hosting company, or a cooking store linked to a recipe directory. Link exchanges with similar websites can be mutually beneficial to both parties, by soliciting a targeted audience that is on one of the websites already looking for that certain type of product or content.

2) Location
The World Wide Web in many cases can also be called The Regional Wide Web. Exchanging links within your local region or community can be a great way to target your desired audience. For example, a large hotel linking to local restaurants could attract tourists, or a flower shop linking to a local DJ service could attract brides and grooms looking to consolidate wedding plans.

3) Service Providers or Partner Business
Linking with business partners or service providers within your community is a great way to build backlinks to local resources. In most cases this is a very easy exchange as you already know and do business with them on some level so it's just a matter of asking the question. This tactic also creates a local business referral network between your websites, and referrals are always a good thing.

There are some important link exchange best practices you should consider:

1) First develop your own link exchange page on your website. This can just be one page that is organized alphabetically or by subject with the links you would like to have on it. Then at the bottom of the page place the link, text and contact information that you would like someone else to use when linking to your website. Always thoroughly review any link exchange submissions and don't be afraid to respectively decline any offer if the site doesn't fit your business focus.

2) When you're soliciting for link exchanges from another website look for a "link-to-us" type of page on the perspective website. Often this will be located at the very bottom of the home page or somewhere away from the main navigation. By using this already set system your request will go directly to the source and receive a better response than a random email.

3) Always place your perspective link exchange partner's link on your page before soliciting them to put your link on their website. This shows good faith and will get a better response.

4) Keep a list of the requests you make so you can follow-up with the websites later and don't spam your perspective websites with continued requests unknowingly. If you do not get a response in a reasonable time frame, remove their link and move on.

5) There are a number of programs and websites that will help you build your link exchange web pages but review how they are used carefully and where the list of links are hosted from. Having a links page not hosted on your main website address may hurt your site's ranking and help someone else's. Also, don't use "Free for All" link pages since they only keep your link for a few days or weeks while sending you a bunch of email spam forever afterwards. It's always a good idea to set up a specific email just to handle your link exchanges and website submissions so they don't clog up your main email address.

Follow-up and review of your link exchanges yearly is highly recommended.

Once you have established link exchanges with other websites follow-up and review is key. Make sure that they have reciprocated with a link to your website and check back every six months or once a year to be sure it hasn't been removed. Second, every six months check that the link to their site from your site stays active and points to the appropriate place. With a little work this type of self-promotion can be very successful, target the audience that you want and best of all it is free.

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