Why I avoid blog link exchanges

by Martin Reed on 11 May 2007 in Articles

In the time that I have been running this blog, I have been approached by a few bloggers requesting link exchanges. I turned them down for the reasons I will outline in this article.

My blog’s design

This blog was specifically designed to be minimalist. I am a great fan of minimalism on the web, and feel that design should never get in the way of content.

Sure, adding a blogroll wouldn’t necessarily detract from this blog’s minimalist design, but once I start adding blogs I can see the list getting larger and larger until it takes up a huge area of my sidepanel.

Link exchanges do not nurture relationships

One of the things I love about blogging since getting involved, is the networking and relationship building with others who have similar mindsets and interests to mine.

Whilst blog link exchanges can establish an initial relationship, I feel that once the link exchange is established, the majority of these relationships will end.

Some bloggers look for a link exchange solely as a way of increasing their search engine rankings. When they have a permanent link established on your site, their interest in your blog ends.

Sure, you have a backlink in return but you have not built on the relationship as there is little incentive or interest now that you have that permanent link in place.

The alternative to blog link exchanges

When a blogger approaches me for a link exchange, my response is always the same.

Firstly, I thank them for their interest in my blog. I advise them that at this time, I do not exchange links but I am more than happy to mention (and link to) specific, quality posts they may make on their blog which I feel will interest my readers.

I advise them to remain involved on this blog so I keep their blog ‘on my radar’. Bloggers should also know they can always contact me if they feel they have recently published an article I may have an interest in.

The benefits of the ‘no link exchange’ policy

Bloggers now know that if they want a mention on my blog, they need to continue writing good quality articles on their own blog. This is not only good for them, it is good for the blogosphere as a whole.

Additionally, my suggestion of remaining involved in my own blog by posting comments ensures my blog benefits through increased interaction from readers.

I have now opened up the opportunities for further relationship building and networking. As we all know, interaction builds relationships – my blog benefits, their blog benefits, the blogosphere benefits. That is why I have a ‘no link exchange’ policy on this blog.

What are your opinions on my policy? Do you think this article raises some interesting points? Do you feel the only way to build traffic and success is through blogroll exchanges? Whatever your opinion, let me know by posting a comment below!

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Biddy May 11, 2007 at 1:15 pm

My blogrolls – which I will admit have a tendancy to get too long – are really there for two reasons. On “factual” type blogs, e.g. tamebay.com, they are there for more information on the same topic. I think of them as a resource for my readers. On more personal blogs that I write and have written, they’ve been to other bloggers whom I like to read: half-recommendation, half lazy person’s bookmarks list. And when I’ve stopped being interested in what people have to say, I’ve pruned them from my list.

I think your policy is a good one for two reasons. Firstly, I like the minimalist design here very much, and a zillion links would ruin it. Secondly, the whole “will you swap links with me” thing reminds me of the school playground: if I want to link someone, I neither require nor even need a reciprocal link. I’d much rather have proper interaction by way of comments, than a list of links which I don’t believe buy you much search engine juice anyway.

Martin Reed May 11, 2007 at 2:13 pm

Thanks for your comment Biddy.

Yes, I think blogrolls are a good idea as they can be used as a resource for your readers – it’s just the concept of blogroll link exchanges that I have an issue with, for the reasons I cover in the article.

Dave May 11, 2007 at 4:02 pm

I also agree with your comments. I have a blogroll on my blog, but none of the sites are link exchanges, they are just select sites that I have chosen I want to link to. I keep toying with the idea of removing the section completely, and I may do that. I definitely would not want a real long list though. Keep it clean!

Dave May 11, 2007 at 4:02 pm

Oops, forgot to add my website link, just so you know which Dave this is ;)

Martin Reed May 11, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Hey Dave – I like your blogroll as it is relatively short and links to sites you feel will be of interest to your users.

It’s when these blogrolls balloon in length and become nothing more than link exchanges when they become a problem.

Ajay M May 12, 2007 at 9:30 am

Hi Dave,

Ur approach is clean like ur blog. But I must suggest you to change the background from black to a lighter color as it will give less stress on eyes.

Martin Reed May 12, 2007 at 12:38 pm

Hi Ajay (my name is Martin by the way!) – if I make the background colour any lighter I feel it will reduce the contrast between the background and the text which will make the blog significantly harder to read.

I will have a play around though and see if I can come up with anything.

Josh Buckley May 12, 2007 at 1:46 pm

I agree with you here, however. Blogroll exchanges are definately proven to increase my blog’s traffic :)

Martin Reed May 12, 2007 at 1:57 pm

Josh – I am glad that blogroll exchanges are helping you meet your goals; I choose not to take part in them for the reasons outlined in my article.

Of course others may disagree – that’s the beauty of human nature!

Ajay M May 13, 2007 at 4:07 am

I am sorry for the referring you as Dave as I was reading the comment Dave was in my mind and I called u dave. Extremely sorry for that.

Yeah I agree wth you but when you change the background to lighter shade at the same time the foreground tht is text must be made darker.

Denise Olesky May 13, 2007 at 4:13 am

I just started blogging a few months ago and it seems that a lot of people are out there linking to whoever they can to increase their page ranking. People spend hours, days, and months going all over looking for backlinks, commenting on blogs for more traffic, and on and on. Of course people want traffic, but it seems that for some, blogging has become a contest of who can find the most ways to get links back to their site. I like your policy of a no link exchange – it keeps people concentrated on the content of their site and providing good articles to those who visit. I think in the end, that’s how you build a high traffic site.
By the way, I love the black background. My site used to be chocolate brown – I put it together myself. Now it’s a boring blue and white (I’m trying to build content so not much work has gone into the look of the site just yet) since I installed wordpress. I LOVE wordpress, but I miss the standout effect of the brown. Don’t change a thing :)

Martin Reed May 13, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Ajay – don’t worry about it; I can assure you I have been called worse names than ‘Dave’!

You are right of course, that if I were to change the background colour I would need to ensure there was still a good contrast with the text.

I have only had one or two negative comments about the blog design, and since I have brightened and enlarged the text I have had no complaints about the text being hard to read.

I am always open minded about improvements though and will have a play around and see what I come up with.

Denise – Welcome to the blog, and thank you for your comment. I agree with you – I think a lot of bloggers spend more time in trying to get links, and joining all the Technorati trains that are going around than they do in creating decent content!

As well as having a ‘no blogroll exchange’ policy, I also have a policy not to join any of these link or favourite trains currently doing the circuit.

If my content is good, I will get traffic and exposure naturally. From a professional standpoint I feel this is far more rewarding and is a positive reflection of my integrity as a blogger.

Thanks for your positive comments about this blog’s design :)

Charity May 16, 2007 at 1:04 am

I agree about blogroll link exchanges. I currently don’t and probably never will include one on my blog. I strive for minimalism while still incorporating a selective few chicklets and text ads to see how they’ll do. One thing I’ve learned about blogging – it’s an almost constant testing/learning process.

I have, however, taken part in a couple of memes just to get the ball rolling (my blog is only about 6wks old), but I see your point about people focusing on link trains instead of good quality material. I certainly don’t want to be that blogger. I keep a draft pool of about 10-12 posts which remind me that I have better things to write about. :)

Martin Reed May 16, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Hey Charity – memes can be seen as positive as they encourage article creation and creativity which is good for the blogosphere. Link trains and link exchanges just divert time from creating content and that is why I am against them.

Bob August 26, 2007 at 1:52 pm

I enjoy a “minimalist” look on a blog as well. I also have to wonder what the purpose of an enormous blogroll is. If I visit a blog and see that it has more than 20 other blogs permanently linked, I don’t give the list a second glance.

However, links from a posts are very useful. It’s what brought me here, in fact!

Martin Reed - Blog Author August 27, 2007 at 1:37 pm

Bob – I’m glad you found us! What site was it that sent you our way?

Crafty Green Poet September 16, 2007 at 8:36 pm

I think it can be really tricky to know how to manage a blogroll. I like the no blogroll idea but my blogs have small lists classed under subheadings where people can follow links related to what’s in my blog. I like to think that can be useful.

Martin Reed - Blog Author September 17, 2007 at 3:14 pm

Crafty Green Poet – Thanks for your comment. I like the concept behind your related links idea. You are actually creating value for the reader rather than for yourself (which would be the case if you were adding a link only because you were getting one back in return).

Eric Martindale September 17, 2007 at 6:44 pm

On the note of minimalism – that’s one of the main things that caught my eye when I got here. It sets you apart from people like ShoeMoney – his site is CLEARLY aimed at one purpose: making money.

Your site, on the other hand, is more about providing content – which, ultimately, is king. Duh. I find your site more useful than his, and consequently, you’re getting more traffic from me.

Martin Reed - Blog Author September 19, 2007 at 11:41 pm

Eric – I am a huge fan of minimalism; if it isn’t necessary, then it shouldn’t exist. I wanted this blog (and all my other sites) to follow this ethos – content is king, and very often a flashy design can distract from this core principle.

segnala sito October 18, 2007 at 10:33 pm

I don’t thin, you need to avoid blog links exchange, it can be a great idea … if you need PR.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 23, 2007 at 5:34 pm

Segnala sito – They can be a good idea (I guess), but I don’t endorse them for the reasons I outline in my article.

Wtricks November 4, 2007 at 11:10 pm

well .. I had a similar way to see things, but this is no longer the case. I have seen the awesome things a blogroll can do .. my newest blog (a personal one) is not yet 2 months old. At 6 weeks of existence the blog got a PR4 from Google, mainly because of the trade links I had in these weeks. From zero to 4 in just 1 month and a half and almost no promotion, I say this proves something.

I also have 200+ visits a day and increasing rapidly.

I dislike blogrolls sometimes too and don’t like having huge lists, but sometimes they work very nice. I have a lot of visitors from other blogrolls and new visitors discover my site daily.

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 5, 2007 at 3:08 pm

Wtricks – Thanks for your comment. This blog earnt a PR of 4 from Google within six weeks too, and all without a blogroll.

I think blogrolls are great if they add value for your readers. If they are done only for selfish reasons (to gain more exposure even if they are not sites you would genuinely recommend to your readers), I am completely against them.

software development companies November 30, 2007 at 2:06 pm

Yeah I agree wth you but when you change the background to lighter shade at the same time the foreground tht is text must be made darker.

Martin Reed - Blog Author December 1, 2007 at 2:35 pm

software development – Agreed; if you change colour shades you need to ensure you maintain a good contrast between the text and its background.

Binh December 14, 2007 at 11:55 am

Hi Martin, I agree with you about this. I wish to have more discussion on the blogs instead of a dead link exchange request. Link exchange might kill a relationship the instance it is set.

However, I do exchange link for the most relevant blogs because that would benefit the blog readers by helping them find more information on their topics of interest.

BTW, I like your wordings.

Martin Reed - Blog Author December 15, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Binh – I agree with your comment. I don’t have anything against blog link exchanges so long as they are with relevant sites that readers will find interesting.

Honeymoon packages January 25, 2008 at 4:47 pm

If you offer to link to (good) posts then this is even better for the other blogger than link exchange as he is getting a one way deep link which google loves as it is the natural way links are built.

Martin Reed - Blog Author January 28, 2008 at 11:51 am

Honeymoon – Agreed. When specific blogs are mentioned in the context of an article it can be far more valuable to the reader than a blogroll list.

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