Digital PR

Are Backlink Exchanges Good for SEO?

are backlink exchanges good for seo?

When it comes to getting noticed online and climbing the search engine rankings, there’s a strategy that’s been buzzing around for years – backlink exchanges. It’s like a digital handshake between websites – you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.

But as search engines get smarter, the question arises: Are these backlink exchanges still a valuable tool for boosting SEO in today’s digital landscape?

Let’s delve into this backlinking strategy to uncover its potential benefits and pitfalls in contemporary SEO practices.

What are backlink exchanges?

What are backlink exchanges?

Backlink exchanges, or reciprocal linking, occur when two websites agree to link to each other’s content. Essentially, it’s a mutual agreement between website owners or webmasters to provide a backlink to each other’s site.

Here’s how it typically works:

  1. Agreement: Website A and Website B agree to exchange backlinks.
  2. Link Placement: Website A links to Website B on one of its pages, and Website B places a link to Website A.
  3. Mutual Benefit: Both parties benefit from receiving a backlink, potentially increasing their website’s visibility and authority in the eyes of search engines.

Backlink exchanges are often seen as a way to increase the number of inbound links pointing to a website, potentially improving its search engine rankings. However, they can be controversial in the SEO community because they have been abused in the past as a form of manipulative link-building.

Why are Backlinks Important for SEO?

Backlinks are crucial for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) due to several key reasons:

Authority and Trust

Search engines like Google consider backlinks as votes of confidence from other websites. When a reputable site links to yours, it signals to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy.

Consequently, this can positively impact your website’s authority and trustworthiness, which are important factors in determining search engine rankings.

Improved Search Engine Rankings

Backlinks are one of the most significant factors search engines use to determine the relevance and importance of a website for specific search queries.

Websites with a greater number of high-quality backlinks tend to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords. Essentially, backlinks improve your website’s visibility and chances of being found by users searching for related topics.

Increased Referral Traffic

Beyond their influence on search engine rankings, backlinks also serve as pathways for referral traffic. When users click on a backlink from another website, they are directed to your site, potentially increasing your website’s visitor count.

Backlinks from reputable and relevant websites can generate significant referral traffic, providing additional exposure and opportunities for engagement.

Indexing and Crawling 

Backlinks play a crucial role in search engine crawling and indexing. When search engine bots encounter a backlink pointing to your site while crawling another website, they follow that link to discover and index your pages.

This process helps search engines understand the content and structure of your website, leading to improved visibility in search results.

Natural Link Profile 

A diverse and natural link profile, consisting of backlinks from various authoritative and relevant sources, is essential for SEO. Natural backlink profiles indicate to search engines that users and other websites value your website’s content within your niche.

Conversely, an unnatural link profile, such as an overreliance on low-quality or spammy backlinks, can raise red flags and potentially harm your site’s rankings.

How Effective are Backlinks Exchanges?

If done right, they can be the true backbone of your content.


In the absence of good content, backlink exchanges make little to no difference. But with well-written content that receives little to no visibility, they can be powerful SEO optimization tools.

To maximize the efficiency of your link exchanges, here are a few things you MUST consider!

Anchor text display: An anchor can be displayed in three different ways. It can be branded displaying the name of your site. It can be a ‘Brand and phrase’ like “according to AgilePR” or “AgilerPR’s article on.” And lastly, it can be an “exact match” which uses the keywords relevant to your article.

On top of these three anchor types, ensure that your anchor text distribution is natural and diverse. Avoid over-optimizing anchor text with exact-match keywords, as this can raise red flags to search engines and result in penalties.

URL selection: Should you link to the homepage or a specific page? The short answer is, it depends on your needs and the context of an article or page.

Link location: Where should you place a backlink in the article? The answer is, usually at the top or the middle of an article to highlight the importance of your link and its authority. On top of that, when heatmapping an article, most readers only read what’s at the top. Therefore the likelihood of getting referral traffic increases.

Website traffic: Make sure that the website you place your link in has a Domain Authority score above 40 and organic traffic that shows growth or stagnation over time. Look at the websites referring domains and target keywords.

Make sure there are relevant keywords to your niche and that the website avoids commercial keywords or keywords related to adult, substance, abuse, or CBH-related topics.

By following these tips, your backlink exchanges can be natural and display the credibility they deserve.

What are the Side Effects of Bad Backlink exchanges?

side effects of link exchanges

Here is a strong example we’ve experienced where an online business got manipulated into exchanging hundreds of backlinks with black hat tactics AND even paid for it.

As you can see in the image below, this is the case of one of our clients that used several blackhat SEO tactics. The issues related to these were mismanaged link exchanges and unchecked purchases from sites that had high Domain Authority scores, and that’s it.side effects of link exchanges

The websites they exchanged links with had nothing to do with their niche. On top of that, on second look, the links were from bot farms. How do we know that? 

Here’s an example of a bot farm. As you can see, at first glance you might not suspect much, but take a look at the number of backlinks and referring domains. You can see that the site has only a few referring sites pointing to them, while their backlinks are in huge numbers.

bad sites on Ahrefs

This is because they’re getting their link juice from the same domains, pointing to their website, hoping to manipulate rankings. Google has already noticed this and the website’s traffic is spiraling downwards.

Another issue we came to discover is the keywords. There were thousands of keywords on these sites that made absolutely no sense at all or were related to adult and gambling-related content.


Slack Communities for Backlink Exchanges

There are many ways for backlink exchanges. However becoming part of a community,, especially on messaging open systems like Slack is the most popular.

Normally, you’d have a dashboard or platform for contacting different parties who do link exchanges. As you can see below, many Slack communities have dedicated channels or groups specifically for link exchanges.

These channels serve as forums where members can propose link exchange opportunities, share their content, and request backlinks from other members. By participating in these channels, website owners can discover relevant websites for link exchanges and negotiate terms directly with other members.

Slack communication

Links should come from relevant, authoritative websites within your niche to positively impact SEO. Additionally, it’s essential to ensure that the exchanges are done transparently and ethically to avoid penalties from search engines like Google, which frown upon manipulative link schemes.

There are many fraudsters in these communities! You need to be careful!

Backlink Exchange Fraud – What to look out for?

Backlink Exchange Fraud

When engaging in backlink exchanges, it’s important to focus on quality rather than quantity. We have fallen into a trap of working with fake link builders who promise to do link exchanges or ABC link exchanges only to have your link removed a few days after from the place they promised to insert it.

They do this by promising to secure a link in an already written article under the disguise of white hat link-building promises. 

The incentive for these fake link builders is the promise of link exchange, however, in their case these are only permanent. They promise you a link to another domain, which usually charges a small fee. They place your link on these domains in exchange for a link of yours, but since their link is meant to be paid, they delay for as long as possible.

Unaware that they are not being paid, the domain will eventually remove your backlink, whereas if you don’t realize the fraud, you keep yours. Either way, the link fraudster usually gets paid by someone else for placing their link on your website.

This can cause bad results for your SEO, as you might leave backlinks on your site that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Make sure you do an SEO checkup every month to see if you haven’t fallen into yet another case of fraud.


Now to the final question: Are Backlink Exchanges Good for SEO?

The short is, yes! The long answer is: it depends!

Delivering value to the reader on quality sites within your niche can yield very good results in the long run. Especially if you diversify your link-building activities or do ABC link exchanges.

If you feel like you need help with digital PR or link building alone, feel free to follow our Agile Academy or sign up for your dashboard.

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