Often, as part of an SEO effort, companies engage in what are typically known as link exchanges. On a basic level this means that you email a fellow webmaster and ask them if they will place your link on their website and vice versa. This works on two levels. Firstly, it helps to circulate traffic to your website, which up until now may have been gathering moss. Secondly, because you’ve gained more exposure, this increases your standing in a variety of search engines. Reciprocal links have their drawbacks too, but I’ll save that for another time.
The way in which people go about this process is all to often far from fruitful though. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I receive link exchange requests so incredibly lopsided that nobody in their right mind would agree to them. Often people email stating, “please add me to the front page of your site and I’ll link to you on my links page”, which is inevitably some obscure page that nobody ever visits ( blahblah.com/stuff/links.html). The front page of your site is the equivalent to prime real estate, and as such consideration needs to be given to this whole process.
The other type of failed link exchange request comes from the sites that are simply not at all popular. Sometimes webmasters of such sites email repeatedly in the hope of persuading those with more successful sites to exchange links with them. This is a very counter productive technique because popular sites receive many of these emails and they go directly into the spam folder, and the email address goes onto the ignore list. Should you find your way onto someones ignore list, even if your site does eventually gain momentum and you wish to form partnerships, people may have already stopped listening to you.
From these mistakes we can extract the core of how this process should be undertaken. Firstly, it’s important to push the good points of your website. If you’ve gained any media exposure, or there is anything stand out about your site, mention this in your exchange email. Not everything is directly linked to visitors numbers, so present yourself in the most positive light possible. Secondly, try to exchange links with sites on a par to your own. Check out alexa, stats, the general standard of the site. This way, you are much less likely to get rejected as you will have a better idea of who you are approaching, and can tailor the request to them. The blanket, and hit and hope approaches just don’t tend to work. Last but not least, I would suggest that you seek out webmaster forums relating to your niche. I’ll post about this area of consideration sometime soon.