Link Exchanges have been used since the beginning of the internet as a way of gaining popularity in the eyes of the major search engines. This used to be the best way to gain positioning in the major search engine results for your given keywords. Your company could gain ground fairly quickly by utilizing link exchanges.
Wikipedia’s Definition of a link exchange:
Link Exchange (“Reciprocal Link Exchange”) is the practice of exchanging links with other websites. There are many different ways to arrange a link exchange with webmasters. The simplest way of doing it is to email another website owner and ask to do a link exchange. Also visiting webmaster discussion boards which offer a dedicated link exchange forum where webmasters can request a link exchange be it of a certain category or open to anybody.
Link exchange has been a long time practice by website owners since the beginning of the web. In the last few years (after year 2000), this practice has gained more popularity as search engines such as Google started favoring sites that had more links in the rankings. This system was very accurate at gauging the importance of a website when it first started, leading to the popularity of Google.
However according to experts, search engines no longer place a heavy emphasis on reciprocal links. Instead, the popularity or credibility of a site is now gauged by one way incoming links to that site. In addition, analysis suggests that it is very important both that the theme of an incoming be link be relevant to the page being linked to.
This definition can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Link_exchange
The death of the link exchange is officially here. Relevant one-way links are the most important aspect of search engine optimization since the newest algorithm changes for the major search engines. Yahoo has gone as far as denying sites admission into their search submit program for having a link exchange program, considering it spam (I have personal experience with this).
The best way to build relevant links is by utilizing these aspects of search engine optimization:
1. Directory Submissions: The all important DMOZ (www.dmoz.org) and yahoo directory (www.yahoo.com) are mandatory for any company seeking high rankings in the search engines. Be sure to search for relevant directories for your company. You can do this by searching for your major keywords in search engines with the word “directory” and will find them fairly easily.
2. Article Submissions: By writing articles that can be reprinted for free, you get free advertising and webmasters get content to deliver to their customers through an article database or e-zines. You are allowed to include a resource box at the end of your article that contains information about your company and the all important link to your website.
3. Social Book Marking: Social Book Marking is a new trend on the internet that was pioneered by sites like del.icio.us, http://www.furl.net, http://www.digg.com and many others. This is the act of book marking a site to a public (or private) favorites archive that other web users can use to find important information. You then use tags to identify your book mark for the relevant keywords. This also generates a link pointing to your site.
The link exchange has officially become useless. End your link exchanges now while you still have the chance to do so. In the near future, search engines may penalize sites that take part in link exchanges, so take advantage now and get rid of them before you lose crucial positioning in the search engine results pages.