Beware the link exchange - the snake oil of online marketing

About once a week, Bitterwallet receives an email enquiring as to whether we'd be involved in a link exchange; would we care to provide a link to a third party business on our homepage, in return for a link to Bitterwallet on theirs? Link exchanges can provide an economical way to market websites and generate new traffic, but only if the deal doesn't screw one side into the floor.

Which it invariably does, because the request usually comes from some chancing shitehawk hoping to increase page views on their badly conceived and poorly designed website, hoping to generate revenue from advertising.

James Cridland is the owner of Media UK, a long-established and popular media directory. He recently received such an email requesting a link exchange:

My name is Lucy Anderson. I’ve just visited your website and I was wondering if you’d be interested in exchanging links with my website. I can offer you a home page link back from my Recruitment and Jobs website which is www (dot) cfs-fund (dot) com.

As mentioned, your link would be placed on the site home page, not on any “links” pages which may be buried in the site somewhere. I’m sure this exchange would be benefitial for both of our sites, helping towards increasing our visibility in search engines.

Cridland's reply (as posted on his personal blog) dispatches with the request in a thoroughly polite and decent way, while similtaneously simmaltaneersley simoltaniously simmertainserly simultaneously taking it round the back alley and giving it a bloody good hiding:

Hi, Lucy,

A link on www (dot) cfs-fund (cough) com sounds great. Collaboration is always a good idea.

Media UK has over half a million visits a month; while I can’t help noticing that your site is totally unlisted in Google.

Media UK contains thousands of pages of unique content. Your site appears to contain nothing but ten articles. The article I chose to research was copied from without any attribution, which is in violation of their terms of use. And it’s really very badly written.

Media UK contains a privacy policy with information required by Google to take part in their AdSense program. Your website contains a privacy policy without such information, which violates Google’s AdSense program. Actually, your privacy policy is so boiler-plate you’ve even forgotten to remove the information at the top urging you to edit it.

Your copyright at the bottom of your website still retains a boiler-plate “”, and is dated 2007. I’d wonder whether XSitePro are delighted at this use of their templates.

And your letter, Daniel, while it’s sweet that you’re using a girl’s name, it’s less sweet that even this is a simple copy’n'paste job - I bet you can spell “beneficial” correctly if you really try.

On second thoughts, Daniel, I’m not sure I will rush to collaborate.

Cheers, anyway.


  • Andrew S.
    I bet you can spell "simultaneously" if you really try. Pot ... kettle ... etc
  • Andy D.
    Good spot Andrew - thanks!
  • LB33
    "The request usually comes from some chancing shitehawk hoping to increase page views on their badly conceived and poorly designed website, hoping to generate revenue from advertising." BitterWallet has been sending out requests again, then?
  • Justin A.
    At least it's a sign that you've got a decent website if you receive such requests and therefore a compliment. We receive them for a site that I work on but they get ignored without even checking the site out. The requests are always written as if a chimp with broken fingers has been jabbing at a keyboard anyway...
  • Jackie O.
    Great post. I get those kind of link requests too so I know just how you feel. And Justin is right. The link requests do always look like they been written by a chimp. And as for them not changing the at the bottom of the page, that's just a joke. I use XSitePro for building my web sites and love it. Making that change to a basic XSitePro template would take, ooh, as much as 5 seconds.

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