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A link exchange is an online marketing technique involving the exchange of hyperlinks between two domains. This method is typically used to increase the number of unique visitors to a website. The process of a link exchange helps websites increase their ranks on different search engines, typically boosting the chances that their services, products, or information will be found by a web user. There are three levels of exchange: one-way, two-way and three-way.
When the Internet became populated with large amounts of content, websites needed a way to make themselves stand out. Link exchange was developed as a technique to help websites increase the likelihood that their content would be found through a search engine if a user entered a specific set of keywords or key phrases. By collaborating with each other, webmasters were able to make their content visible despite the high number of websites dedicated to similar topics on the Internet.
The process of link exchange is essentially a manipulation of the way search engines function. Typical search engines have complex algorithms that decide which websites best fit the keywords or phrases a user defines. In addition, search engines periodically send out web-crawlers, specialized automated software that scours the web for websites and indexes them based on their content, links, and other information. A foundational principle that search engines operate on is ranking; websites that have more references to them are automatically ranked higher. When a user enters a keyword, the pages that have higher ranks are displayed first, followed by pages that have lower ranks.
Link exchange takes advantage of the tendency of search engines to allocate higher ranks to websites that have more links to them. For this reason alone, webmasters collaborate by including links to each other’s websites. A one-way link exchange is when a website gets an inbound link reference from another website, but does not reciprocate; this type of exchange includes directory submissions, blog postings, and social bookmarks.
Two-way link-exchanges, the most common type, are when two websites exchange links with each other. Three-way link exchanges are typically executed between a lower-ranked group of websites and a higher-rank, higher-quality website. The lower-ranked website conglomerate will place two or more links for each link placed on the higher-quality website.