You may think you know what a link exchange is, but I'm here to tell you, there is quite a difference in the type I'm talking about here.
A "normal" link exchange is one where you place a bunch of cruddy banners or extra coding on your site. This will detract from the professionalism you're striving to preserve. There's nothing worse than having a big old ugly banner plastered across your web site. And if you have several, well, that just makes it that much more unprofessional looking.
A "real" traffic-pulling link exchange is one in which you solicit linking partners on an individual and personal basis to place their link on your web site if they will do the same for you on their own site. Or, simply asking webmasters to post a link to your site on theirs as both sites content will compliment each other.
The wonderful, crazy place we call "The Internet" really was built on the power of the link.
When you think about it, almost everything we strive for as online business owners hinges on the link. We want our link to appear in the top results of the search engines, in the prime spot on sponsored listings and in that huge newsletter. Our link is the 'funnel' that sends visitors to our site. No link, no click. No click, no visitor.
Web masters have always exchanged links with one another. In the days before search engines, this was done as a matter of course; and, most web masters would simply link to sites they found relevant and interesting without asking permission first.
Just posting up a bunch of links found at random on your web site providing more information about the subject matter discussed on your site isn't really doing anything that beneficial for you in retrospect.
It is, however, for those site owners who's links you're putting on your site though. This is why asking them to post up your link in return for you doing so from your site is a better course of action to generate more targeted traffic to your own site.
That's why today, business-minded website owners focus on two kinds of link exchanges: reciprocal links and one-way links.
Reciprocal links = two websites link to one another
One-way links = one website links to another
Reciprocal linking became popular in the past few years due to its influence on Google's "Page Rank" algorithm, which calculates the popularity of a site based on how many other sites link to it. The quality of these links has an impact on overall Google ranking.
In 2005, however, marketers started to move away from reciprocal linking (much of it's original power had waned), and towards one-way links.
There's a catch, though. It's not like the old days when you linked to another site from you own. The focus now is on getting one-way links from other sites to your web site. In other words, getting the benefit of a link without returning the favor.
Again, a lot of this is about Google. Each time someone discovers a new loophole or method to higher rankings, everyone rushes to implement it, and they often do so incorrectly at that. Eventually, the combined effect of all these sites trying to skew the results..well, skews the results. Google closes the loophole and it's back to square one.
This is what happened with reciprocal linking. Now, this does not mean that reciprocal links have no value. You want reciprocal links. They add to the mix. However, they simply aren't as powerful as they once were.
As of 2005, one-way links now weight more heavily in calculating site popularity. The best advice I can give you is to implement a strategic mix of both types of links. Also, keep in mind that links are not the main variable influencing your search engine ranking.
The real traffic power behind links come from increased visibility across multiple traffic sources. If you can get a link to your web site from a site with more traffic than yours, then traffic to your site will go up accordingly. Best of all, that traffic is free.
The first step in participating in either type of link exchange is to do a basic search for web sites that would be complimentary to your own through any search engine you like.
Then, from those results, choose the closest matches to your own site content, find the site owner's contact email address, and simply contact them about doing a link exchange with you. You'll post their link if they will post yours. Feel free to use the email templates inside the Joint Venture section for this.
To build as much traffic to your site as possible, find as many relevant quality sites as you can and ask them to exchange link-for-link with you as described above as the "reciprocal" link. And, if you don't get an answer from some of them, that's all right. At least you made an attempt.
You took positive action to get the results you desired.