Link Exchange: Worthwhile Linkbuilding Tactic?

Are link exchanges going to get you good links? And how exactly do you approach them?

Below we’ll go into why link exchanges are an amazing linkbuilding tactic in your arsenal, and how to do them properly to avoid leaving footprints.

If you’re ready to learn more about link exchanges, read below.

What Are Link Exchanges?

A link exchange is when you exchange backlinks with another website. This is called a “reciprocal link”. When working for our clientele, we prefer not doing any reciprocal backlinking as it can leave behind a footprint for Google to find.

To get around this, we found a third-party website to link to the website we’re doing an exchange with to avoid any penalties from Google. We like to call this, a three-way link exchange.

Reciprocal links are common, as seen in this study by Ahrefs: With over 140,592 domains with 10,000 traffic or more, 73.6 of them had reciprocal links.

Google does consider excessive reciprocal backlinks as “link spam”. Use your best judgment here, because, for all practical purposes, it can be normal for all top sites to have reciprocal links.

You’ll find huge networks of sites that are owned by umbrella companies cross-linking to all of their domains. These are essentially public blog networks, and it seems Google has no problem with these high authority sites pumping up their traffic across sometimes, 10+ domains!

We don’t see any problems with reciprocal backlinks, as it’s common to do them, but when done in excess, it can become problematic. That’s why we lean on our three-way link exchange tactic to avoid leaving any footprint.

What is a Three Way Link Exchange?

Let’s say we want to get some top-tier backlinks for We’d start by doing outreach and looking for any potential websites that would want to work with us.

When doing outreach, we prefer to send a simple message saying:

“Hey, we’re interested in doing a three-way link swap, would you be interested to learn more”?

and go from there. This simple message is highly effective, as it doesn’t take much time for anyone to think about it, and the responses come easily.

This also lets websites that are selling links respond to us as well, as they will respond to any email asking for backlinks with a price (or they may be interested in doing a link exchange).

So once we have an interested website, we send them a list of sites we’ve worked with in the past that they can choose from to get their backlink.

We’d then ask them to link to us from their blog either by a guest post or a link insertion into an already existing post.

So let’s say responded to our email outreach and is ready to do a three-way link exchange.

We would then ask to look through our website list and decide on which website they’d want a link from.

The result would look like this: links to links to

And that’s it!

It all seems complicated, but the biggest issue when doing this is how long it can take to get all the details squared away as once you throw in the third-party website, it starts getting messy.

To figure out if the website you’re considering doing a link swap is worth getting a link from, you can check out our vetting guide near the bottom of our buy backlinks guide.

What if You Don’t Have Websites to Offer in Exchange?

The longer you’re in the linkbuilding game, the more websites you have in your arsenal to help expand your linkbuilding profile. If you’re just starting out though, you may need to wait a little bit until you have enough websites to offer other sites so you can fulfil your end of doing the link exchange.

The other option is to do reciprocal linkbuilding, but in this case, your website should have high domain authority so that you can cast a wide net of websites that would be willing to link back to you.

Some sites however don’t do reciprocal linkbuilding, as we’ve discussed earlier it can be problematic and can leave a footprint for Google.

Social Media is a Great Way to Network Link Exchanges

LinkedIn as well as Facebook and Twitter are great resources when it come to networking for link exchanges.

Be careful though, as we often find that many people are not actually in touch with the websites they claim to be, so before you spend any of your resources, make sure that they are working for the website in question.

About Roy Cohen

I'm Roy, the founder of Zen Backlinks. I've been building links for over four years, and with my wealth of knowledge, I'm happy to share everything I've learned and what has worked for our clients. You can contact me on my LinkedIn or