After Penguin 2.0, Should I Link Exchange?

Link exchange sites were popular in the 1990s mainly because search engines like Google used the quality and quantity of the websites’ links in their rankings. These sites were a collection of websites with a central organization running the exchanges. The webmasters registered their sites and then received HTML codes that can be inserted into their web pages, said codes of which caused the display of banner advertisements.

Benefits of Link Exchange Sites Then

The arrangement worked for the benefit of all members as their advertisements are displayed on more websites, thus, increasing the visibility and credibility of the member websites. This is, in effect, using a cost-efficient and results-effective SEO link exchange program with specific benefits including:

• Bringing in targeted readers to the website since all the members in the link exchange websites have similar purposes;

• Increasing the website’s link popularity; and

• Providing a relatively stable method of creating hyperlinks, the most important part of all hypertext systems such as the World Wide Web.

Basically, membership in the link exchange sites was part and parcel of an effective and efficient SEO plan since the website was perceived as more visible and credible by the search engines and the target audience.

Link Exchange

But with the constant changes in algorithms made by Google, link building may just be a dying art for SEO purposes. This seems especially true with the recent rollout of Penguin 2.0, Google’s algorithm update in relation to web spam; said update occurred on 22 May 2013. Or is it?

What then will happen with your SEO link exchange plans considering the Penguin 2.0 update? To understand its impact on SEO, a few things must be discussed about the changes including:

• Authority. Considered as the biggest change in the algorithm, Google wants the websites to be authorities in their niche instead of just spam websites and the like. Tip: Use the Author Rank feature. Use social sharing, Google+ and rich snippets.

• Anchor text. Google will look closer at the website’s anchor text to determine relevance. If the anchor text is rich in keywords, the search engine can deem it unnatural and, thus, lower your webpage’s ranking; your website will not be affected per se. Tip: Diversify your anchor text. Focus on branded variations on the link exchange sites.

• Advertorials. These are places where the links were clearly neither sold nor earned by the company. Keep in mind that Google will not condone selling links because this is akin to tricking the bots.

• Hacked CMS. Content management systems have been used for hacking purposes, which will lower the website’s ranking. Google now provides its webmaster the opportunity to resolve the issue before being penalized.

With these changes in mind, here are the tips to taking advantage of the Penguin 2.0 updates and, thus, proving that link building and link exchange are not dead in the SEO universe:

• Perform a link audit. The links that should be removed such as links from domains absent in Google’s index, links with malware, and links to unrelated websites can be identified and removed/disavowed.

• Keep the links relevant. Google ranks websites according to the relation and relevance of the links.

• Start using white hat tactics instead of black hat tactics. Not only will the website escape penalty but it will also rank better and longer on the search engine results pages.

So, should you still avail of the services of link exchange sites for SEO purposes? Of course, you should but be sure to adopt the right techniques!

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