Exchanging links has been a tried and true SEO strategy for digital media brands since the beginning of… well, SEO strategy. In an effort to get new and increased traffic, sites can employ a “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” mentality, through a mutual link exchange. While a tried and true method, swapping links comes with a number of unforeseen drawbacks:
- The site you’re swapping with may have no relevance to the content of your site, thus decreasing the actual SEO power of the swap.
- The quality of their site may be in question. Remember, you’re associating your site with theirs so it’s important to be wary of swapping with low quality or new sites.
- Some sites send what are called “NoFollow” links, which don’t allow Google to crawl to where the link is pointing to. In other words: it was all for nothing.
- Even if the link is not a “NoFollow” link, search engines rarely index links pages.
- The keyword content of the pages that your site is linking to is completely out of your hands.
The research and outreach involved in swapping links is arduous and time-consuming, which makes it a real shame that the result of it is less than optimal at best. While when executed ideally, the benefits of link swapping can outweigh its downfalls, there’s an alternative strategy that doesn’t require such pristine circumstances and ultimately has more SEO power. The answer is simple: swap out what you’re swapping.
Content swapping is a strategy that has the same aim of link swapping, but eliminates a number of its pesky and unreliable variables. By swapping original content, it ensures relevance, keywords, and links that count. Not a bad deal, right?
But what exactly does content swapping have that link swapping doesn’t?
- Content swapping employs the power of both internal and external links pointing to the article, allowing for search engines to find and include the content in their databases, spreading the seed of your link far beyond the initial swap.
- Once found, the link in the article will carry a significant amount of weight due to the knockout combination of a single link back within the article and external links pointing back to the article.
- The content and keywords are highly relevant to the linked to site. Unlike with link swapping, relevance is no longer out of your control. You can single-handedly optimize the page that your link is on for the keywords that you want by creating your own content surrounding it. A.K.A.: You’ve regained the power! And while this may seem like a small feat, it’s not when your efforts are ultimately at the whim of search engines’ algorithms.
- Most importantly, this strategy is about quality links over quantity of them. This allows every link that is in play to count. Each link will be recognized and be counted towards your search engine rankings.
So how do you go about employing this strategy?
The first step would be to agree upon topics for the content that will be exchanged. The content that you create should include your site’s major search engine keywords and a single link back to your site within these keywords—after all, you’re not doing this for nothing. Not only will this link bring new traffic from users of the site you’ll be swapping with, but these links also create SEO link power for your site. It’s a more organic way of linking out to your site, nestled in original content, which is much more favorable in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Second—and key to the success of the whole swap—both pieces of swapped content must be linked to a page that is already recognized by major search engines. In other words, the content should be treated like another source of the site’s already existing content as a kind of guest post.
Next, each site should have a link that links back to their “guest post” on the other site. Optimally, this should be a text link that obtains the corresponding keywords of that site. And once again, this link back to the featured “guest post” should be linked to a page that’s already in major search engines. However, the link back to the post should not live on the same page that the post links back to.
This strategy works similarly with sites swapping existing content on their sites. If you don’t have the bandwidth to create multiple original posts for these content swaps, this is a great way to get started. The same rules on linking and using known pages apply to this method.