What is a link exchange?
A link exchange, not to be confused with the action of “exchanging links”, is a collection of websites maintained by a central organization in charge of operating the link exchange. How it works is simple; a website owner registers his or her website with the link exchange and then receives a code in which they insert into their website. The code then displays links to other websites that have also registered with the link exchange. In turn, the website owner’s website is added to the other websites within the link exchange.
Link exchanges can have many rules and many variations as to how they work, how they display listings, how often your link appears in other people’s websites, etc.. Some link exchanges display links to websites that are related to your site’s topic, while others are free-for-all’s, displaying websites of any topic or theme.
Why are link exchanges bad?
Link exchanges focus on quantity of links rather than quality, and provide a method of establishing links into your website quickly and easily. For the most part link exchanges have always been tied to search engine optimization rather than part of the websites legitimate content. Today search engines are smart enough to recognize the difference between useful and useless incoming/outgoing links. As a result, search engines are quick to identify a website participating in a link exchange due to “unnatural links” and “unusual linking patterns”. Search engines that find “unusual linking patterns” with your website may lower your websites ranking or remove your website from the search engine results.