I have recently started using Google Answers (GA) and I am loving it. However, I am a little frustrated because many of the links I get are not relevant to the content of the posts I am asking questions about. Recently, I asked a question about websites that provide good content relevant to this blog, and I got the following answer: “Hello Dan. What you are asking is very similar to a question that was asked by someone else several years ago in 2004. It seems that many other people have asked similar questions, but no one has had a clear answer or been able to come up with a way to quantify relevant links. Let’s have a look at this question. What are the most relevant sites for a blog

Recently, I wrote a post on my personal blog titled Google Answers Question About Relevant Link Exchanges: https://supergoodcontent.com/2015/04/27/google-answers-question-about-relevant-link-exchanges/

John Mueller of Google answered a question about link exchange. He was asked how much was normal. Mueller explained how Google’s algorithm and quality team handle link exchanges between websites.

A link exchange is a situation resulting from an agreement between two publishers to establish links between them.

Sometimes two sites link to each other without any agreement or contact between them. This is considered a natural reciprocal relationship.

The terms reciprocal links and link exchange are often used interchangeably, but the term link exchange explicitly refers to a link agreement between two websites.

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By the way, there is also a type of link exchange, the three-way link exchange.

There is a three-way link exchange when website A agrees to place a link from website C to website B. Site B agrees to place a link to site A in exchange for a link from site C.

The purpose of a three-way link exchange is to encourage Google to treat links as one-way rather than reciprocal.

The questioner stated that many website publishers ask for link exchanges, also known as reciprocal links, as part of their link building activities.

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The question was whether link-sharing violated Google’s rules and, if so, to what extent link-sharing was acceptable as long as it was not considered spam by Google.

Question:

My question is about link exchanges. How acceptable is it to share links or is it not considered spam?

So what is the best practice at …. Exchange… Backlinks?

Google’s John Mueller didn’t have to think twice before responding.

His answer was quick and unequivocal.

John Mueller stated:

So, uh… A link exchange where both parties link to me and I link to you, so to speak, which is basically against our webmaster guidelines.

So our algorithms look at that and try to figure out what’s going on here and ignore those links.

And if the spam team looked at it, they’d say it’s not good either.

And if there is a majority of such links to your site, they can apply manual measures.

So that’s something I would avoid.

Second, the questioner asked whether Google’s negative attitude towards link exchanges and for link exchanges between sites that are relevant to each other is fair.

There is an old myth that spam techniques are not spammy when applied between relevant websites.

In the not too distant past, link sellers falsely claimed that Google was okay with this because their link inventory consists of high quality sites and because they only sell links to other relevant high quality sites. Which, of course, is not true.

The similarity between the respective sites is old, but never gold.

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The man asked:

Even if it’s relevant?

John Mueller shook his head and replied:

It doesn’t matter if it’s thematically relevant or is it some kind of useful link.

If you do this systematically, we think it’s a bad idea because we don’t think these are natural links to your site.

You’re only there because you made a deal with another party.

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John Mueller pointed out that it’s a bad idea for a publisher to systematically do cross-linking, meaning it’s a strategy that’s being implemented.

He also said it can be problematic if the majority of the site’s backlinks are link exchanges.

Some see this as a loophole to justify link exchanges on a smaller scale.

But Mueller also said Google will work to find those users and ignore them.

Instead of looking for loopholes in Mueller’s words, it’s better to just refuse to share links and not do it. Apparently, link sharing violates Google’s guidelines.

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For sites looking to avoid a Google ban, it’s helpful to remember that spammy link schemes are a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Summons

Find out how Google’s John Mueller answers the question of whether link exchanges are acceptable. The clip can be seen at minute 9:25.

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