Are you a Link Exchange Spammer?

Have you ever received a link exchange request in your email?  We receive regular link exchange requests in the Horton Group inbox which are always ignored.  Link exchanges are a relic from ancient SEO days past. Recent Google updates have pretty much made any type of contrived backlinking useless and quite possibly dangerous to your search engine visibility. 

However, SEO is one of the few industries where old and outdated information is posted and reposted for years. This content is then frequently picked up and acted upon by those new to the online marketing scene. Webmasters or business owners wanting to increase their website traffic stumble across outdated SEO info and before you can say canonicalization, (having online content with more than one possible URL) they too are sending email requests similar to the one we just received.


Hello Webmaster,

While searching for 3 way Link Partners, I visited your website and found it very interesting. So for our mutual benefit I propose you for website link partnership. Exchanging 3 way links will benefit both websites in getting high rankings in Google. 3 way link exchanges are different from 2 way or reciprocal link exchange and is more beneficial.

We have following websites on which your link will be published:

{Random Website #1}
{Random Website #2}

Send your website link details which you want me to add.

Here are my website details:

Title: Chicago SEO Agency
Url: {Main Website URL}
Description: SEO Group is a business web design, SEO, Marketing firm helping businesses gain more customers through the internet.

Waiting for your positive and early reply.

The link exchange should never be a part of any contemporary, legitimate SEO strategy. The benefits of such activities have long sense been filtered out by updates to search engine formulas and algorithms. However, if you found this page, you are probably looking for good information about reciprocal link exchanges, so I have provided a handful of best practices for link exchanges in 2013.

  1. Just don’t do them. Considering all of the positive and productive things a webmaster can do for their website’s search engine rankings, spamming other webmasters for a backlink is boneheaded thing to do. The article should end here. Nevertheless, some of you may need a little more information on the topic, so on we go.
  2. If you are going to ask for a link exchange, don’t be a generic spammer. From reading the above email, it becomes obvious the sender used an email template blasted to a list of possible link exchange prospects. There is absolute no indication the sender has ever seen our website, as they do not mention any unique details of our webpages. The closest this request gets to sounding authentic in any form is, “I visited your website and found it very interesting”. Really?  What did you find that was interesting? Some specific praise about our website/brand, such as a blog post, mentioning our Facebook page or even a recent tweet might impress us with the thought that you actually visited our website. This could possibly keep us from immediately deleting your generic link exchange request, but that is doubtful.
  3. If you can’t find a reciprocal links page on the site, you should probably skip it. Horton Group does not participate in link exchanges. Therefore, you will not find a link exchange page, a partner’s page or any kind of resources page anywhere on our website. If this generic link exchange spammer were to have really visited our website and found it interesting, they would have noticed no such pages existed on our site. For that reason alone, the link exchange request should have never been sent to us.
  4. A link exchange is a link exchange is a link exchange. This email specifically requests what is called a three-way link exchange. This is where website A links to website B, which links to website C and so on. Each website links to a separate website which is believed to be a safer way to do reciprocal linking. The more common link exchange is when you link to me and I link to you, end of story. This process was abused for years and when the search engines finally caught on they began mitigating the ranking benefits of sites guilty of exploiting reciprocal linking. Search engine reaction to reciprocal linking abuses was the brainchild of three-way linking. Since there are no obvious two sites linking to each other, this was considered a safer way to acquire backlinks while avoiding the reciprocal link filtration.

    The genius who “invented” the three-way reciprocal link scheme obviously overlooked the one element all such websites participating in this manipulation have in common. The shared links are all on one page, or in some instances on dozens of pages. These pages list and link to hundreds of websites frequently referred to as resources or partners, even being as bold to call them link exchanges. The lesson here is – You can’t fool search engines.

  5. The efforts outweigh any possible benefits. Spending hours searching for websites that may exchange a link with you, then waiting days or even weeks for those targeted websites to reply is a complete waste of time. You would reap far greater SEO rewards by spending your valuable time researching a topic in-line with your website or business, and writing a blog post about it. Funny enough, this article is a perfect example of that practice in action. The fact that the inspiration for this article showed up in our inbox made the process a bit easier, but after a few attempts you will find coming up with relevant subject matter is relatively easy and has great long term SEO benefits.

Since search engines are smarter than spammers, trying to build mass backlinks through reciprocal linking is pretty much a huge waste of time. In the old days, the reciprocal link exchange was created for the sole purpose of quick and easy backlinks in mass quantities. Today, search engines value the quality of the backlink over quantity. One link from a trusted quality website is worth more than all of the reciprocal links you can beg for. Getting that one quality link can be easier and much more effective than emailing webmasters and looking like a generic link exchange spammer.

For a number of years, backlinks from any website in large numbers were required to increase the search engine positioning of any website. Those days have passed. Today, excessive backlinking will now do more harm to your website rankings than good.

As the importance of backlinks for rankings fades away, other factors such as Facebook “likes” and shares, or tweets from satisfied website visitors are becoming the modern day backlink. So, before you send out emails begging for a link, spend some time adding content to your site that will influence your visitors and encourage them to share your content in places your audience is socially connected. Doing so will provide you with an opportunity to claim legitimate links from real people and attract real traffic to your website.