Information and Resources for Solopreneurs

The Place of Value Exchanging Within an Inbound Links Program

Written By: Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell) in Ken's Blog | July 26, 2008
Ken’s Blog

In my previous blog, I started a discussion about inbound links and the importance of “keeping it real.” Today’s entry continues along that same vein of thought, with a specific focus on “Value Exchanging.”

Value Exchanging, as opposed to link exchanging, remains a valuable part of building an overall inbound links program. There are many folks, including sophisticated Web marketers, who don’t seem to understand the value of a diversified program, including the judicious use of exchanging value for value.

Let’s talk a bit about inbound links and the place of Value Exchanging within your program…

1) There will be those for whom their niche just does not find good matches. If you’ve carefully fine-tuned a good set of keywords to match upon at Value Exchange, improving your list of keywords often takes care of that. If you still don’t find many, no harm done. It’s just not right for you/your niche. Move on to all the other ways to build an inbound links program. (I’ll make a short list below.)

But if you do find good matches, boy, does it simplify the manual way of finding, communicating, exchanging, and monitoring (so important!) exchanges with good sites. A reciprocal link that is of value to the visitors of both parties adds to the Web. In other words, you’d do it anyways. That said, choose carefully — I’m not a big believer in leaking traffic out through hundreds of outgoing links.

2) Forget about the “cognoscenti” who try to mislead you in their search for the latest and greatest. We “absorb” what’s good out there on the Net, as you know, and build upon it, to continuously deliver the best 80-20 way of doing anything. And we ignore the nonsense or the arcane. The “cool” like to pooh-pooh on link exchanging.

As a result, we have built, over the years, a process for building a diversified inbound link program. I do believe that a few outbound links, exchanged or not, likely is a good thing. I can’t prove it, but common sense (which will always stand you in good stead if you lack the data and when trying to deduce how Google might react to something)
tells me that a few outbound links tell Google you are an outgoing part of the Web, too, not just an island with links coming in.

Choose those outbound well, though. Affiliate links are likely known as such, so I’m not sure they count for much in Google’s eyes. I’m talking about having a few quality, non-commercial outbound links. Of the hundreds of links that you’ll develop over time, if a few happen to also link to you, do you really think Google would think, “Oooo… bad?”

When I speak of hundreds of links, it’s great content that
will ultimately earn you the most inbound links.. with zero
extra effort. The whole point of an inbound links program
is just to get the snowball rolling, show the engines you’re
part of the Web and that others do know and link to you.

More on “old wives’ tales” (or better called “expert misinformation”)…

Google’s official stand on link exchanging is not to do it “excessively.” Their exact wording is “Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging.” But I’d extend that principles to anything — don’t depend on just creating articles for article sites. In other words…

Diversify! (More on this below.)

3) Value Exchanging is not link exchanging (which has been so abused, it has a
bad name) — it’s value exchanging. And that’s not semantics. You are exchanging a quality link that brings value to visitors.

4) More on misinformation. Bloggers repeat what other bloggers say, more greatly misinterpreting what Google says at each level, until finally it comes out that “Google does not like link exchanging.” Wrong. Google recommends “not to participate in link schemes,” but the context of that is spamming links, not simple one-on-one quality exchanges with quality, theme-related Web sites. See the note on “excessive” use above.

5) Value Exchanging is only one small part of an overall, diversified inbound links program, including…

  • major directories — the “cool” will tell you they’re dead, too. Google doesn’t.
  • 2nd tier directories (quality)
  • themed directories, hubs
  • article sites
  • Q&A sites (ex., Yahoo! Answers)
  • Web 2.0 sites (ex., squidoo, blog comments, etc.).
  • forum posts
  • press releases.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few other ways, but they’re all in DAY 7 of the Action Guide, Make Your Links Work!, and in the two “building links” sections of SBI!’s Tips and Techniques HQ (for SBIers only), including exactly how to go about each one to minimize effort and maximize results. Not all will be right for you and your niche — there is no obligation to use them all, of course. But do diversify.

Summary? The biggest principle of building a quality inbound links program is… Keep it real. If you provide value to your visitor, if you provide value to the resource you get a link from, you cannot go wrong. If you use a variety of different resources to what amounts to embedding your site into the Web, working to enhance its reputation, you can’t go wrong. If you stay away from a sense of “manipulation” or “doing something just for the engines,” you can’t go wrong.

I would go so far as to say to ignore whether a link is “nofollow” or not. Somehow, some way, anything that is good and true and links to you is going to be noted.

In the old days, links were pure, given and gotten (sometimes in a reciprocal manner) because the owners felt that their visitors should know about a site. Today, links have become abused for obvious reasons.

You don’t have to go that route. Build a diversified inbound links
program, as outlined in SBI! resource articles (including Value Exchange), and you can’t go wrong.

All the best,

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)
Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell's comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.
Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

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