Is it SPAM or is it GLAM?

A Discussion on Link Exchange

A recent client was concerned about whether to accept a request to exchange links with their web site. With their own credibility on the line our client was right to be wary. Here are some things initially to think about when considering link exchange:

  • First impressions count for a lot. Does the request seem like a form letter? If it does then it’s likely part of a spam mass emailing. Probably, their web site and product or service is not a good fit with yours.
  • If you want to go further, examine the request’s grammar, spelling, and general tone. While you still should check their web site, failure here is a red flag of a web site quality issue.
    • Is the tone insistent or bullying? Have they said they’ve already linked to your web site? They are trying to create an obligation in your mind to accept their link.
    • Are they trying to impress you with their page rank, their number of links, etc.? These are important but is that their main focus? They should mention how their proposed page link can help you. Perhaps their content is not a good fit for you.
  • How will the link code you received look when displaying on your page?

If the swap request gets this far, look at the quality of their web site to see how credible the request is. Manually enter the URL of the site in a browser – do not click on the link they sent you in case it is a virus.


If the web site doesn’t pass your tests it’s either because the owner has not done his/her homework in identifying your site as a good fit, or there is a difference of opinion as to how useful an exchange would be to you.

  • Does their site “read” well? Is their site content relevant to your site content? Is the tone and overall quality consistent with yours?
    • If the link is to a blog page, are the quality and tone acceptable? Are these entries originals or merely reworks or copies of postings on other sites? Good original postings can add credibility to your link.
  • As a quick impression, what other links are on the page they ask readers to link to? Are these your competition? Would those links add credibility to your link?
  • Try some of these links. This can provide additional clues as to the quality of the site and reliability of the owner.

Site Owner

Use a web search and social media profiles to sense whether this link request is legitimate. Look for reviews and comments (but be careful – these may not be real).

Nothing can guarantee a credible, useful link. These guidelines should enable you to eliminate all but the most cleverly fashioned but undesirable link exchange requests. Should your own research still leave you with a question, we will be happy to offer you our opinion.

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