Link exchanging is something that is designed to be of mutual benefit to website owners.
A web ring is an easy form of exchanging website links. A webmaster will apply to be included in a web ring, and submit the site’s relevant information, including details about what their site is about. This will determine whether a website is suitable for a specific web ring or not.
Once a site has been accepted to the web ring the webmaster will be expected to include the web ring’s HTML on a page of their website. This is a fair exchange. As admission to a web ring is free, it acts as a form of free advertising for the websites included in the ring by the way of banner ads – which will have been submitted during the sign up process. Your ad will be viewable on the sites of other members of the web ring, though how many times it will be seen will depend on how much traffic a particular website attracts.
Other forms of link exchange include a more direct method, such as contacting other webmasters directly and exchanging ads. There are also link exchange directories available, whereby other websites will see your listed information and offer to exchange ads with you, or you can do likewise with them.
Advantages of link exchanges are that they will normally attract visitors that are not merely browsing, but who have actively decided to visit your website because of the information in your ad. You may also find that you are appearing higher in search rankings as a result of exchanging links, especially with sites with a reasonable page rank.
There are several disadvantages of link exchanges. They can lead to visitors departing the site that they are on to view the site advertised via a link exchange ad. As link exchanges are done with sites with a similar target group this can have a negative effect on new websites in particular. Also, some banner ads can look great, but they can be too distracting for your visitors and can harm a page’s loading time. Finally, the ads that appear on your site may not fit in with your own ethics as a webmaster, i.e. they may include profanity or views you find offensive.