"You link to me, I link to you." I've seen such requests to trade links frequently and everywhere.
Fine, great way to make friends, but bad news for your web site.
This is serious.
The reality is that Google is getting smarter about search. They can now figure out which links are relevant to your site, and which are not. Consequently, and with increasing accuracy, those superficial links that were merely traded are becoming more like little "white lies" -- and search engines are becoming more like lie detector machines.
There are three concepts to affect links:
- Link Juice
- Measure of credibility
"Link Juice" is an SEO concept. Think of your website as a container of juice. Links to other sites from your website essentially leak "link juice." This is especially true if the links are not perceived as relevant to the information presented. Thus a random link not relevant to your website is not working FOR your site. Instead it is working against your site by draining or leaking "link juice."
Measure of credibility
Links to your site that are NOT relevant, important, or generating traffic are considered weak or bogus by Google. In fact, links to your site that are weak, not relevant or without authority may even have a negative impact on your website.
Links ideally should offer additional relevant content. Thus an article about fashionable hand knit scarves and current fashion trends that link to a knitter that makes fashionable hand knit scarves would be great. In this example, the content and link are relevant.
A link from your best friend who likes your work, but is otherwise unrelated, is not relevant content. A link like this may actually hurt your site as a weak leak and lacking authority. It could also hurt your best friend's site (because it is leaking their "link juice" as well).
In an age of information, search will become even more refined. Search will be more accurate. Search will discount superficial or fake links.
Lots of links to your site or from your site that are not relevant or content based information will not be considered credible. Trading links are like little white lies that just keep accumulating negative points. Links should be about content and based on merit, not trading links.
- Make sure your links are authentic and sincerely related to the content of your site.
- Seek high quality links from relevant sites with high traffic.
- Do NOT pay for links or trade links in the future.
- Remove all weak or irrelvant links.
Below is a video from Google about links. Note that the speaker makes a specific reference to what Google calls organic links. The term "organic" (in regards to search) means naturally fitting into the context, not artificial.
Links need to relate to the content.
Links that you buy or share are not organic.
They will not help your SEO.
P.S. Do not look at any information or YouTube videos about link building from before mid-2012 when Google Panda and Penquin algorithms changed search.
Harriete Estel Berman