Link wheels are an SEO method that violates Google’s criteria in which numerous sites are created and linked to each other in a round-robin way. They are purposely and entirely designed to affect a website’s rankings, to trick Google into believing such connections are real.
Background Information about Link Exchanges
A link exchange is a circumstance that occurs when two publishers agree to connect.
Sometimes two websites will connect without any arrangement or interaction. This is seen as a natural reciprocal relationship.
Reciprocal link and link exchange are sometimes used interchangeably; however, link exchange refers to an agreement to link two websites.
Variation on the Link Exchange Strategy
On a related point, a three-way link exchange is a version of the link exchange.
Site A agrees to connect to Site B via Site C in a three-way link exchange. In exchange for the connection from Site C, Site B commits to link to Site A.
The three-way link exchange aims to fool Google into thinking that interlinking is one-way rather than reciprocal.
When do link exchanges become spam?
In his link-building effort, the guy who asked the query mentioned that many website publishers seek a link exchange, also known as a reciprocal link.
The question was whether swapping links violated Google’s criteria, and if so, how much link exchanging was acceptable until Google considered it spam.
Google claims that link exchanges violate its policies.
John Mueller of Google didn’t have to think about his response.
His reaction was direct and unambiguous.
John Mueller said:
“So… a link exchange where both sides are like your link to me, and therefore I will link back to you, ” is essentially against our webmaster guidelines.
So that’s where our algorithms would look at that and try to understand what is happening here and ignore those links.
And if the web spam team were to look at it, they would also say this is not okay.
And if this is the majority of the links to your website like this, then they might apply manual action.
So that’s something I would avoid.”
Exchange of Links Between Relevant Websites?
The questioner then inquired whether Google’s unfavourable attitude towards link exchanges also applied to links between related sites.
There is a long-held misconception that if a spammy approach is used across relevant sites, it is not spammy.
In the past, link merchants falsely stated that because their link inventory comprised of high-quality sites and only sold connections to other high-quality related sites, Google was fine with it. Which, of course, is incorrect.
The justification “between relevant sites” is an oldie, but it has never been a goldie.
Loopholes in Link Exchange
When a publisher engages in systematic reciprocal linking, which implies when it’s a plan, it’s a terrible idea, according to John Mueller.
He also stated that it might be troublesome if most of a site’s backlinks were link swaps.
Some may see this as a way to justify undertaking smaller-scale link swaps.
On the other hand, Mueller stated that Google would strive to discover and disregard them.
Rather than looking for loopholes in Mueller’s statements, it is advisable to avoid link exchanges. Link exchanges violate Google’s standards.
It’s important to remember that spammy link schemes are a short-term solution to a long-term problem for sites that want to avoid being blacklisted by Google.