Do you consider your target audience when exchanging links?

by Martin Reed on 5 February 2008 in Snippets

Link exchange target audience

Link exchanges still prove to be a popular way to gain direct traffic, create relationships with other webmasters, improve search engine rankings and create awareness of your site. There is one important factor you should always ensure you consider before exchanging links with another site though: is the site suitable and relevant to your audience?

Untargeted traffic is wasted traffic

Link exchanges can take a long time to arrange. You will often want to negotiate with the other webmaster to ensure the best possible placement for your link, along with the anchor text and any description you want to be used. Going through such a time consuming process when all you will be attracting is traffic that is uninterested in your site and its content is a huge waste of time.

Untargeted traffic is not at all useful. Sure, you may get one in a hundred visitors who have some vague interest in what your site is about – however, your time will be better spent going after link exchanges with sites that have a similar audience to your own. Untargeted traffic is not only a waste of time, it is also a waste of your server’s resources.

Why you need targeted traffic

Targeted traffic is essential to the success of any website. It is far better to receive 100 targeted visitors than 500 untargeted visitors. Targeted visitors will be interested in your site and what it has to offer. This will result in higher page views and more exploration of your site. You will also see a far better conversion rate of visitors to members – the lifeblood of any online community.

By aiming solely for targeted traffic, you are optimising your time and using it efficiently. Don’t be seduced into link exchanges with sites that have nothing in common to your own. Stick to websites that are relevant to your audience – not only will the links you are publishing on your site be more valuable to your own members, but the traffic you receive in return (even if smaller in number) will be far more valuable.

Your comments

What factors do you consider when initiating a link exchange? Do you exchange links with any website you come across, or do you only target those of a similar size or subject? Share your link exchange strategy and/or thoughts on this article by leaving a comment below.

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{ 19 comments } February 5, 2008 at 8:39 pm

When I exchange links I do it with related sites only. But if I come across a really good and clean site in my opinion I try exchanging links even if is not relevant to my site. A good link won’t hurt even though is not relevant.

guitar hero cheats February 6, 2008 at 2:30 am

Since link exchange is such an effort I would only exchange with related sites. Size doesn’t matter just subject amd it must be a site I personally like.

Martin Welch February 6, 2008 at 5:50 am

Definitely, why exchange link to the website that is not your target? If you want to drive more traffic, then go for the one that is related to your website.

Amish Made Furniture February 6, 2008 at 4:42 pm

Absolutely. Why bother with sites that can do nothing for your site? If you do come across a site that appeals to you, I would start another related site if the focus is of interest to me.

Community Information February 6, 2008 at 5:21 pm

I only exchange links with other sites that are related to my site. It only seems natural to exchange with related sites. In the past when I have tried to exchange with non-related sites, I often got rejected, for just that reason. So I figure, why should I bother with non-related sites.

Video Conference February 7, 2008 at 9:10 am

Agree with you. In order to get good conversion of traffic you have to target your audience. Targeted links from related sites would help you get targeted traffic.

Online Furniture Store February 7, 2008 at 10:48 am

Good post! I never gave any thought to the fact that one should be considering one’s target audience even when exchanging links. You are quite right, untargeted traffic is irrelevant.

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 7, 2008 at 9:31 pm

Articles – An unrelated link may well hurt; what if they send you 10,000 visitors and crash your server? Not only do you have a crashed server and a high bandwidth bill, but your site wasn’t even of interest to any of those visitors! Stick with related sites when exchanging links.

Guitar – I like your rule of only exchanging links with relevant site that you like. After all, if you like them it is far more likely that your visitors will, and that visitors sent from that site will like what you have to offer, too.

Martin – Agreed. Not only do link exchanges with relevant sites attract better quality traffic, they are also likely to attract more traffic as your site will actually be of interest to those that see your link.

Ramana – Ha, I like your thinking. See a site that you like but isn’t similar to your own? Don’t exchange links, instead start a site on the same subject!

Community – You make a good point. You are far more likely to get accepted as a link exchange partner when you target sites that are related to your niche.

Video – Thanks for your comment. Of course, it makes perfect sense when written down – targeted sites bring targeted traffic.

Reena – I’m glad you have seen the light and will now adopt a far more effective link exchange strategy!

Nicole Price February 8, 2008 at 7:36 am

True, untargetted traffic is no good. But truthfully, link exchanges lead to hardly any direct traffic (at least in my case). I guess they are done mainly for the purpose of SEO. Though relevance is considered while exchanging links – again for the purpose of SEO.

Chat February 9, 2008 at 1:51 am

When exchanging links or selling link space I only accept related websites. With some of the stuff Googles been pulling these days its not worth getting a penalty or BANNED! It is very hard usually to find related link exchanges. Thats why i know for some people its very tempting to do unrelated link exchanges because it it easier and faster; but it may come with consequences.

Hirsutism February 11, 2008 at 4:52 am

Exchanging links help in getting visitors, but I feel that how one markets himself and how he makes the website. If you product is genuine and good, visitors will visit your site. Now we see in many cases of various blogs which are famous. They write good and original posts and visitors go back to read again and again.

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 15, 2008 at 3:37 pm

Nicole – If your link appears on a page full of other links, it is unlikely you will receive much direct traffic. This is where your powers of negotiation come in. Why settle for a link on the links page? Why not try to get a prominent link or banner on a high traffic content page?

Cody – I agree with you completely. You should only ever exchange links with related websites. Simple as that.

Hirsutism – Content is king, and nothing will ever change that. Sure, you can get visitors but without good content you can’t expect them to stick around or even come back.

Hirsutism February 18, 2008 at 4:23 am

But I am not too fussy to have a link exchange with any site. Should I do an exchange with related sites, does related sites link help more than miscellaneous sites? Please give your suggestions.

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 20, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Hirsutism – I would recommend you only ever exchange links with relevant websites. Unrelated link exchanges are practically worthless, in my opinion.

IPO Services May 8, 2008 at 1:09 am

I would definitely recommend only exchanging links with quality related sites that have some domain age…. if they have no PR, I would not exchange with them unless they have built a really solid link portfolio.

Martin Reed - Blog Author May 12, 2008 at 7:45 pm

IPO – I wouldn’t immediately discount a site with 0 PR; who knows what will happen in the future? You may have just missed the opportunity to exchange links with the next Google!

OC Web Design July 1, 2008 at 6:36 pm

Yeah you have to really look at where the site is going, and what type of links they are getting. If it’s a solid site with a growing presence, then it may be worth it even if the PR is 0. Yes, typically I try to stick with established sites that have PR on their internal pages, but sometimes you make exceptions.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 17, 2008 at 1:32 am

OC – I agree. You should always consider the potential of a site that is looking to exchange links with you. Often this can be even more important than its current popularity.

Doug Holladay February 25, 2010 at 7:12 pm

I agree with many of the posters on this topic. I don’t think that you need to discount the sites that you are linking to just because they may have a lower page rank.