Getting a better Google ranking: is link swapping bad?
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Recently a couple of our web design clients have asked us about link swapping. They wanted to know if it's a bad idea (will it 'get them in trouble'?) and also if it's still a powerful way to get a better Google ranking.
What is link swapping?
Link swapping describes when two website owners include a link to each other's websites.
Getting inbound links from other websites is one of the most effective ways to improve your ranking on Google. Link swapping is one way to get more inbound links for your site.
Is link swapping bad?
Not necessarily. There is one word that Google always uses when describing best practices - relevance. Are the links relevant and useful for the people browsing the website? Keep focusing on your website visitors and what will benefit them. You won't go far wrong.
Avoid the bad guys
Outgoing links to 'bad neighbourhoods' might hurt your ranking. If spammy, inappropriate or irrelevant links are made from your site, Google will catch on and your ranking could suffer.
Too much of a good thing
Excessive link swapping can also be penalised because it's unnatural. Inbound links to your site should appear steadily over time, not all at once.
The best case scenario is that you create content on your website so interesting and compelling that people start linking to you naturally. Your number one goal should always be to create interesting, original web content for you visitors.
Will it help my website's ranking?
Yes, if it's done right. One of our favourite new SEO blogs, Coffee Kicks just wrote a great article a bout deep-linking. Deep linking describes when other websites link to pages 'inside' your website (rather than the home page) - it's worth reading if you're looking at build up inbound links to your website.
You can also read what Google thinks about link schemes on the Google blog.