So many clients have asked me about link exchanges in the past two weeks that a general response seems to be in order. And the response is, “No.” Why take the chance that your site will be penalized by Google for swapping links with someone? You have little to gain from a two-way exchange, and a lot to lose.
The SEO company that wrote to my client this morning is adamant that my client will benefit from a link on their client’s site. Yet with a website that’s been online since 2006, their client isn’t even on Alexa’s radar, and the site has loads of keyword spam on every page. And who knows what spammy site they will link to next. So we declined the offer, as we always do.
I referred the SEO guy to this Google article: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356, and he replied with a three-paragraph essay on the Importance of Link Building. And yes, link building is important, but exchanging links with a blog that has no PR and that practices keyword stuffing is just begging for trouble.
Seriously, if you have a small business, stay away from SEO sharks. Hire a good content writer if you don’t want to write your own posts, get out and socialize, and you truly will get the links that you need naturally over time. And don’t do as I do, do as I say. Because I have no time to promote my own site. But none of my clients’ sites saw a reduction in traffic after the Panda or Penguin updates, and they’ve all grown steadily simply by building on a clean WordPress theme and posting regular, relevant, useful content.
That said, if your buddy has a useful, non-spammy site and wants a backlink, ask him to write a high-quality guest post for your site and include a link to his site. There’s nothing wrong with that. Or write a post for his site and do likewise. If you have friends who are bloggers or who have businesses that are related to yours in some way, Google will probably view a couple of links between friends–and in the context of quality, relevant content–as natural, because it is.
Otherwise, please ignore those link exchange request emails unless you don’t care what happens to your site.