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Introduction to proper Link Exchange
There are hundreds / thousands of web sites that are offering link exchange program. Some web sites offer free link exchange, and some are paid link exchange programs. In either way this is a good practice but it needs to be done properly. Now question is what does it mean properly in this case? It could be elaborated in several different ways, but let's make it simple: Do a link exchange only if the web site that you are exchanging is related to your web site. This is a basic rule which makes sense and it will hold true in most cases.
Some "Consultants" will try to make you exchange links with non-related web site, other will try to sell you placing your link on high ranking (Pages with high PageRankTM) sites and so on. This could be fine too, but if it is not related to the page you are linking it could make it worse.
So, to conclude, it is good to swap your links but make sure it is related to your site. Search Engines like Google, Yahoo, MSN are not small companies that you can trick easily and therefore you should play honest game, that way you will be heading toward higher position and star receiving trafic through search engines as well as from other web sites.
If you decide to link exchange with a non-related web site, you will get a link and it will be counted as a link, it will come handy especially if it has a high page rank. However, it may affect serach results. Think about it this way: If you are placing (exchanging) links with dozen of real estate companies, then search engines might think that your web site is related to real estate business. However, if you don't care how you receive yoru visitor (and if you don't care if that visitor is targeted for your business) then it may work very well for you :)
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