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10 Things I Hate About Link Trading

Written by Ryan Ambrose  · November 20, 2008

You’ve heard great things about link trading, right? Well, I have too, and I’m sick of it.

When I first started building sites, I thought it was what I needed to do. A lot of hours and much frustration later, I accomplished next to nothing. Not only that, but I learned there were better ways to get back links, and realized just how much time I had wasted. For those of you that aren’t yet as convinced about this as I am, I present to you the 10 things I hate about link trading.

1.) I spent lots of time for little gain. Yes, they put my link on their related link pages, and I put their link on mine. Of course, that was when they bothered to respond, or actually knew how to alter the HTML of their own sites to do that. Some just didn’t care if they ever posted my link, and after a lot of wasted correspondence to them, I wound up taking theirs down. This is not my idea of time well spent.

2.) Link trading services aren’t much better. Yes, you can put your link in a marketplace and have people look you up, but the end results are still the same. Plus, the service sends you email asking you to upgrade to the paid service, which will cost you money to do more of the nearly nothing link trading accomplishes.

3.) I didn’t get jack for traffic. Oh, there were a few exceptions, but for the most part, no traffic. Seriously, when was the last time you went to a web site and thought “Oh, the first thing I’m going to hit is the related links page?” Neither does anyone else.

4.) Related links pages don’t have the same page ranks as the home page. I don’t know any exceptions to this rule. Don’t even take the time to believe that your link is going on the home page. Unless you can make a blogroll, that’s probably not going to happen.

5.) You don’t know if you’re going to be cheated or not. Yes, your link page could be nice, well organized, and short enough so that it’s not mistaken for a link farm by a search engine. Do you know your trading partner will have the same? Do you know they’ll even have a clue?

6.) Two-way link trades are discounted in the search engines. Nowadays, search engines aren’t giving as much weight to them as they once did. They even have services that do three-way link trades now to get around that. Still, how long do you think it’ll take some engineer at Google to crack three-way link trading and get their happy little spiders to discount them too? It’s going to happen sooner or later.

7.) One way links are better, and you know the sad thing about them? They’re easier to get. You just trade some content for them with a little tried-and-true tactic called article marketing. You do less work for more gain, because once you’ve taken the time to create a good article and post it to some free article sites, it’ll spread on its own over time.

8.) There’s way too much effort being put into this now-worthless tactic. There are two-way link trading automation scripts. There are two-way link trading services. There are scripts to insure that if someone trades a link with you, they don’t cheat you. And they’re all a waste, because two-way link trading is miserable.

9.) There are ways to make your links go viral that take less time and effort. You can put them into YouTube videos. You can write viral reports around them. You can create cool content, put it on your web page, and have it bookmarked into a site like Digg. If you do a good job, any of it could go viral. If that happens, tons of people will see your link, and you won’t have to spend any time wondering why no web masters ever answer your emails. Ever do that with a two-way link trade? Not a chance.

10.) You might get so frustrated by the futility and low payoff of two-way link trading that you’ll write a rant about the 10 things you hate about it. You’ll really know you’re in trouble then.

As far as I’m concerned, two-way link trading is a waste of your time. There are better ways you can do more and get you better links for less time and trouble. Those tactics are all I ever use anymore, and I get more traffic now than I ever did tormenting myself with link trades.

You don’t have to muddle through your web site knowledge like I did. Discover the basics of web hosting and choosing a good domain name with my free mini-report series, Web Hosting and Domain Names 101 today.

I’m Ryan Ambrose, and I’m one of the authors for Can I Make Big Money Online.

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9 Responses to “10 Things I Hate About Link Trading”

  1. Dave on November 20th, 2008 7:41 pm


    Great article! Now that you have listed why link exchanges are an insufficient way to create traffic, what do you find works best?


  2. Ryan on November 21st, 2008 8:26 am

    Here’s some of the stuff I do instead of link trading, Dave.

    – Article marketing, which I do with a blaster service.
    – Viral reports. I put at least one up on Butterfly Reports for every site I launch.
    – I also do YouTube videos, though I have a few of them to do for some of my sites yet.
    – If you have a content site, you can submit it to directories.
    – Also, if you have a content site, make it easy for people to bookmark you. You can get social bookmarking buttons, or Feedflares from Feedburner, for example.

    Those are a few of the things I find do more for less time.

  3. Dave on November 21st, 2008 11:34 am


    Thanks for the response. I am familiar with a few of your ideas, but need to look into butterfly reports and youtube videos a little more.

    Thanks again,


  4. Maria Etiketten on November 24th, 2008 3:16 pm

    I dont understand the youtube-approach.
    Of course you can put a link into your video, but how does this gain more links to your site? People linking to your video will not link to your site as well. So where is the gain?

  5. George Manty on November 24th, 2008 9:45 pm


    I believe that when Ryan says he uses Youtube videos instead of link trading, he is talking about using them for traffic. He finds videos bring more traffic then link exchanges do. And he is generally correct. I still do limited link exchanges myself, because link exchanges do still cause your Search Engine rankings to go up. However, the methods Ryan lists for getting traffic are better ways of getting traffic than link trading.

    Hope that helps…

  6. Isabelle Newton on November 27th, 2008 9:30 am

    Agreed. I wouldn’t even bother with link trading anymore. If anything it’s more likely to have a detrimental effect on your ranking than anything else. I earn extra money
    and find that article submission is the one sure fire way to build links AND provide content that makes the web a more useful resource.

    And “10 things I hate about….” always helps me to release the pent up rage too. ūüėČ

  7. Mitch on November 27th, 2008 8:31 pm

    Great article, Ryan. I also have determined that it’s way too much work to keep trying to trade links, so I spend more time looking for blogs that I like and commenting on those blogs, especially those that have dofollow set up. That’s not the biggest thing for me, but it helps a lot. Trading links got problematic when I noticed that I’d have a specific link page that could be accessed from my main page, but most everyone else had that page hidden, so that wasn’t going to do me any good at all. Not anymore.

  8. Make More Money Online on December 24th, 2008 6:17 pm

    Thanks for the advice. I’ve just started link trading but it seems I would be better off spending my time marketing articles. Thanks again.

  9. Tim on March 5th, 2009 6:50 pm

    Thanks a lot for the head up on link trading. I been trying to rap my head around all the ways i can build up links for my site. And I thought of using link trading but i can see some of the pitfalls now, thanks again. Tim