Link Exchange

Link Exchanges – trading links with another website in order to rank higher in the search engines. Sounds great, but does it really work? I’ll let you know that in the past, I tried using link exchanges as a link-building technique, but since then, I’ve stopped using this method for SEO.

Adding value
Hopefully your business is built around adding value to the lives of your customers. Your marketing should follow that same rule. The best marketing material will educate, entertain, or inform. If you’re exchanging links with some photographer half way across the world, are you really doing any of those? I came to the conclusion that for our business, getting those types of links wasn’t benefiting any real life user.

What’s in it for me?
When building links with link exchanges, your goal is really to get the most important pages to link back to your site while linking back to those sites with the least important page from your own site. The problem is that both website owners have that same goal. People doing link exchanges for SEO are all about what’s in it for them, and that makes it difficult for both website owners to be happy with the exchange.

Link exchange headaches
Finding relevant websites who are willing to exchange links is hard work. It takes time to search Google for the website. It takes time to find the page on their site with the links and to see if Google even recognizes that page. Then the request for the link exchange has to be made. Even if the website owner is willing to exchange links, it’s often a pain to get your link on their website with the right anchor text. Even after your link is on their page, there’s still the ongoing task of making sure they keep your link on the site. What a pain!

Best use of time
If link exchanges were the only way to build links, there might be more of a reason for consideration, but there are plenty of ways to build links. It’s so much easier and more productive to post on forums, build links blogging, or build links other ways.

Good link exchanges
With all that I’ve said about link exchanges being a poor use of time for SEO, there are good uses for link exchanges. If you and another business frequently refer business to each other, it would make sense for each business to add a link to each other’s website on a preferred vendors page. It benefits the customer because they have another great business to check out. It benefits the business receiving the link because they get new customers. It also benefits the business giving the link because they’re seen as a better source for great information. Everybody wins.

Do you still do link exchanges with other sites? Maybe you’ve had different experience with this than I have – have you found what I’m saying to be completely off base?


32 Responses to “SEO For Photographers – Link Exchanges”

  1. Zarko says:

    Hi TJ,

    true and true, people who overdo link exchanges don’t have an idea what they are doing, on the other hand people who know exactly what they are doing know full well the benefits of a quality link exchange, and you know what I am talking about. You said it in the end, if I link to a website similar to mine in every way which can complement mine on everything I’m missing and my website can complement their website, that it makes a perfect solution for both websites to link. The thing is to limit the number and look only for high quality relevant link exchanges, like you said, we have tons of other ways to build links. But it adds to our link diversity and shouldn’t be skipped by all means.

    • TJ says:

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a great comment! For our business, we just link out to other businesses when it is natural. Right now we don’t have a preffered vendors page, but that’s not to say we never will in the future. If we do add one though, the vendors will appreciate the business we send their way more so than the link to their website. To me, the setup where one business really wants to refer business out to the other is the only way to really do it correctly. Then the link is just a bonus to the whole deal.
      Have you found many businesses actually doing this right Zarko? I may have run across 5 or 10 total. It’s definitely rare (from what I’ve seen).

  2. When establishing links and exchanging links this helps your rankings with the search engines and builds on connecting with other business owners. When exchanging links with other webmasters you will need to give them your code and you will need to use their code on your site.

    • TJ says:

      E. Keith Owens,
      Good point. If you are planning on doing a link exchange, make sure to send over the EXACT html that you want them to use.

  3. I’ve exchanged links with several other photographers in the last few weeks. Not sure If its’ worth the trouble. I’ve been posting to dofollow blogs, as well, and figure in the long run that’s really the best strategy.

    • TJ says:

      At least from my experience, you’re probably better off posting to blogs and participating in a forum having links in your signature. Hope it goes well for you!

  4. Tom Hawkins says:

    yeah, link exchange is pain, but i do it every once in while, with other photography sites.

  5. Posting on forums and related photography blogs (dofollow are the best) is great for building quality backlinks and generating some organic traffic.

  6. Jen says:

    Very true TJ, which is why I don’t prefer exchanging links, finding a web owner who is willing to exchange could take some time. I prefer doing backlinking.

  7. James says:

    TJ – do you still get link exchange requests? I know I do… and agree that there’s no point in it.

    I’ve found it more effective to find people who are already using my photos and ask them to either pay for the photo or throw me a link. That way, at least, it’s a one way link. :)

    • TJ McDowell says:

      Yea, I do still get requests. That’s actually part of the reason I wrote this article. I try to be nice to the people who are requesting – I would have done the same thing starting out. I usually include a few of my articles on good link building in my reply. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up with a new blog reader, right?

  8. Lemerou says:

    I don’t believe either in link exchange.
    Blog or forum posting seems much more effective for me.

  9. One way links are much better but if it is highly related then I’d say go for it, especially if you can get a link exchange from a high PR related site.

    • TJ McDowell says:

      Photography Archives,
      Sure, if you can get one that is both high PR and adds value to users, I’d say go for it. The problem I’ve found is that it’s pretty rare to come across those kinds of exchanges.

  10. Tom Dwyer says:

    New blog reader here. I like your article here. I did a search for “photography back links” and your site came up in the top 5.

    I’m not going to ask you for a link as I see this is not the thing to do. I will however, ask for the articles on SEO you mentioned in the comments. ;) (I’m not proud. lol)

    My site is my attempt to flip from my full time photographer job to full time teacher job. I focus on the newbies and amateurs but I like to get into topics with pros too.

    Hell, the economy and other uncontrolled circumstantial is chipping away at the bottom line already. My Droid phone has as many features as some of my Nikon’s. What the hell??

    I have 28 years in this business. I built my studio up from negative nickles to “pretty darn nice.” Most of my growth was in the late 90′s.

    Problem now is, health. My body just can do the 50+ weddings a year and truth is, I hurt after a 9-13 hour day. Bad!

    One day, maybe I can write something for your site and get some of the crazy “link juice” everyone keeps talking about.

    Anyways, great, super sharp looking site you have here. I’ll catch you later.

    Photo Coach out.

  11. I stumbled upon this blog article tonight. I am not well-versed on the subject of SEO, and after thinking that link exchanges were what it was all about, I feel liberated! Thank you, and I will be reading your archived blogs with interest!

    • TJ McDowell says:

      Glad you don’t feel burdened down with the need to constantly be looking for link exchanges now =) Hope you enjoy the rest of the blog too! Thanks for the comment!

  12. Guru says:

    I think thoughtfull Link Exchanges in moderation should not be ignored. Even a few links completely outside your niche is not bad, remmeber diversification and natural link building! The best would still be the domains which compliments to what your site/blog is about. You make a good point though, reminding not to overdo this.

    • TJ McDowell says:

      In my opinion, even if it’s just a few links, the question still has to be does it add value to the website. If a customer is going to see that page, there needs to be a reason for having it. Thanks for your visit and comment!

  13. Melissa Carter says:

    I prefer doing backlinking. 50+ weddings a year? I stumbled upon this blog article tonight.

  14. Charles G says:

    Yes, this link exchange stuff is pretty time consuming! We are trying to get lnks but it seems that others simply are too busy taking photos or simply don’t have the time for this! But ,we shall continue in promoting our site: Thx and enjoy!

  15. As I try and learn more and more about SEO, I feel smaller and smaller in the world. This is such a great article and I hate going to photographers sites and seeing ‘link’ pages with 100s of links listed. Really the best way to build popularity is to have your satisfied customers blogging/linking/etc. about your great work!