I created my first website in 1995 - it was so long ago I built it out of rock and wood, not HTML.
Shortly after it went live I realised that nobody apart from me could see it and it started to dawn on me what this 'Internet thing' is all about. It is not about having a stand-alone website plonked somewhere that nobody will ever see - it is about being part of an INTERconnected NETwork of other websites. INTER-NET. The penny dropped - I needed to start getting connected to other websites.
Much has changed since then (my hair got longer, shorter and has since started to recede further up my head for one thing) but it seems desire and pressure you face as a website owner to exchange links shows no signs of fading. But link swapping is killing your website! Here's 5 Reasons why...
Reason No. 1 - It's Addictive!
It's true. You might not be that far down link-swapping path yet but I promise you it will happen sooner or later. One day you'll find yourself laughing like a maniac as you run a report to see how many in-bound links you have and start rubbing your hands gleefully as you reach that magic milestone you set yourself six months ago. You'll start mainlining reciprocal links:
"Just one more link. Please - all I need is one more link!"
Take a deep breath, step back from precipice and think for a moment. Why do you want all these links pointing to your website? No, honestly - why do you REALLY want all these links pointing to your website? To improve link popularity? You're falling into trap. Do you want it to boost that little green bar that Google assigns to your page? (see toolbar.google.com) Wise up!
Reason No. 2 - It Is Eating Away At Your Time Like A Hungry Hippo!
Just take a look at last time you went out looking for a link and got it. How long did it take you? Not long? Well, let me put this another way - how long did it take you to find right type of websites, look through those and find ones that even have a links page, find contact information for websites you wanted to contact, create email, send email, respond to email, place their link on your website, check that they reciprocated with you, email back and forth a few times more and so on...?
If you add up all minutes that each of these elements takes you could be looking at half an hour per reciprocal link established - maybe even longer!
And don't think you're cutting corners if you're using software. It might be quicker to find possible linking partners using software but it's a false economy as, to my knowledge, people are still cleverer than machines.
What I mean by this is I can tell if you email me using software rather than using your own fingers. If you go looking for reciprocal links using software you are FAR less likely to get a response so whole process will probably take you as long in terms of time spent per link established.