Too often other website owners ask me to exchange links with them. They hope that multiple reciprocal exchanges with many website owners will improve their natural search engine rankings. Despite their best intentions, this strategy does not work.
Obtaining relevant links to your website is the single best way to improve your natural search engine ranks. The boost from an inbound link is called “link juice”. However, when you place a link on your website (i.e., outbound link), you actually are giving away link juice.
So who wins? The website with the lower Google ranking wins. That is, if your website has a 3 Google ranking and the other website has a 5 Google ranking, then you gain link juice from the exchange. Of course, the owner of the 5-ranked site should know this information and, as a result, should not enter into an exchange arrangement. If the websites have equal ranking, then there is a zero-sum gain from the exchange.
Further, a website owner can include a link but add in its code NF for “no follow”. If this code is added, then the inbound link is rendered worthless for search engine optimization.
There is a criminal attorney directory called Criminal Defense Lawyers Nationwide. It is a pretty nice site and it has allowed me to add Weiss & Associates, PC, my law firm, to their directory for a small price. The cost? That’s right, you guessed it, a link back to their site. Criminal Defense Lawyers Nationwide has a Google rank of 1 while my WordPress blog has a ranking of 4. So they did get better in the transaction. Can you guess why I don’t mind?