Quid Pro Quo
However, most of the time other webmasters will expect a reciprocal link in exchange, fair is fair. It's nice to have links coming in without having a link back in return as this provides the best ranking boost but in reality you will find that you will get those occasionally but if you really want to build a good number of in-bound links you will have to do link exchanges with other websites.
This does still provide a ranking boost to your site. Don't think of it as each link canceling the other one out. Google knows about link exchanges and it can even help Google to find other related sites when it's bots spider your pages. But the staff at Google aren't dummies.
Only accept link exchanges with sites that, first of all, are relevant to the theme of your site. Secondly, only accept link exchanges with sites that you truly believe provide value for your visitors. By linking to that site you are effectively recommending it so your reputation and credibility is on the line.
How to Find Relevant Link Exchange Partners
You could search for other sites and try contacting their webmasters directly but that can be time consuming and it can be awkward if they don't want to link to your site.
Instead I use a free service called Value Exchange. With Value Exchange you sign-up and enter some information like your domain name, site description, keywords describing the theme of your site and your email address.
Value Exchange takes over from there. Your information is cross-referenced with other sites in their database and you are given a list of sites directly related to the keywords you entered.
You then go down the list and evaluate each site to see if you would like to exchage links. If you like what you see you click on the "Yes" to let Value Exchange know you want to invite the other webmaster to have a link exchange. You go down the list selecting "Yes" or "No" depending on your evaluation.
Once you are done you don't have to waste time trying to contact each webmaster yourself. Value Exchange automatically emails every one you said "Yes" to and deletes the ones you chose "No" for.
The other webmaster will then email you back and you work out the details between you.
The other good thing about doing this is that everyone in Value Exchange is interested in finding link partners. Sometimes other webmasters will even come to you and you will receive requests through Value Exchange.
The key to Value Exchange is that it keeps you focused on finding other websites that are directly related to the theme of your site.
Other Ways to Build Your Linking Campaign
Link exchanges are only one way to build your linking campaign. There are also many directories that you can submit your site to such as DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory. There are countless other smaller ones as well but make sure to choose only quality directories (not link farms!). However, it can be tough to get into the more popular ones and some even charge for inclusion.
Another good way to build in-bound links is to submit articles to sites like EzineArticles.com. There are many other sites like this but they all work basically the same way. Your article is posted so that other webmasters can use it on their websites and newsletters. What's the benefit to you? Your article will include live links back to your site which have to be included when they are used by someone else.
There are paid services such as ArticleMarketer.com that will submit your articles to hundreds of outlets for you. This is not a free service but once you get to a certain level it can be an invaluable tool to take your website promotion to the next level.
You can also post answers to questions on various boards and forums. Many forums allow linking to your website. Just be sure you provide a quality answer and the link to your site is relevant. Don't spam forums or it could backfire.
Many blogs allow commenting. Again, provide insightful comments and include your link where appropriate.
Don't Forget to Add High Quality Out-Going Links Too
It's also good to have a few high value out-going links even if that website doesn't link back to you in return. This shows Google that you are interested in providing high quality information and are interested in serving your visitors by linking to other resources.
Choose out-going links to authority sites that are highly regarded in your niche. Try to find non-commercial sites, sites to government agencies, universities or organizations (sites with top level domains ending in .gov, .edu or .org).
Next Time: Building Relationships With Your Visitors
Building a link exchange program to boost your ranking with search engines is designed to drive more free traffic to your website. But if someone visits your site once, then leaves and is never to be seen again it's been a wasted effort. Next time we'll look at why you need to build an ongoing realtionship with your site visitors and some of the ways to do that.
Until then I highly recommend that you sign-up with Value Exchange (its free) and start building your linking program as soon as possible.
All the Best,
Value Exchange - (FREE) Find Quality, Relevant Sites to Exchange Links With
EzineArticles.com - (FREE) Make Your Articles Available for Distribution
ArticleMarketer.com - Submit Your Article to Hundreds of Sites at Once