Are you tired of writing countless eMails to other webmasters asking for a link exchange with your new website just to see them being deleted by a spam filter or just ignored? Or don't you want to go through many manual directory submissions again just to get some links and therefore potential visitors to your homepage? Then one of the many different programs that automate or simplify the process of building links to your site might be what you are looking for. However, since those services are available in many different kinds of flavor and some of them might even damage your sites ranking instead of helping it, this article will now take a deeper look at some of the more important programs to help you decide which could help your websites best.
1. Link Vault - http://www.link-vault.com/
This one is a fairly new player in the field however it's system looks like one of the best and I know of many people (including myself) who had very pleasant results with it. The basic concept works like this: You add a little php script to your sites that will automatically place links to sites of other members in the system on your website. For those links you get a certain amount of points (called Vaultage) based on how many links you give and how valuable they are. Your points are then again automatically spent to add your links to the other websites in the system. That means you always get back exactly what you gave.
2. Coop Advertising Network - http://www.digitalpoint.com
The Coop could be the predecessor of Link Vault. The system is nearly exactly the same except that the Coop is much older and therefore has many more members, that the points are called Wight instead of Vaultage here, that you can choose to also show banner ads and that the links are not static but rotate every time the site is refreshed (Which makes them not nearly as valuable for search engine optimization as the Link Vault links are). In the end its down to personal preference if you decide to use the Coop or Link Vault. They are both good and have both prooven themselves to work.
3. Link Market - http://www.linkmarket.net/
Link Market works in a totally other way: When you are a member your site will be placed in a directory where other webmasters can find it and request a link exchange immediately. Of course you can request link exchanges with other sites in the directory as well. Link Market will then help finishing the exchange by providing the link codes and testing if the links have been placed correctly. A good concept but some big problems I have found are that there are very many spammy sites in there and that they require you get a paid membership even for the most simple features. It might still be worth a try though.
4. Link Metro - http://www.linkmetro.com/
Works exactly like Link Market but you get all the features without paying anything. In exchange it doesn't have as many members as Link Market does by far.
5. Got Links? - http://www.gotlinks.com/
I would highly recommend staying away from this one (or any program with a similar concept) as this is what is considered a "link farm" by search engines and using them could get you penalized or even banned from them. What they do is to just setup a big directory at your website that links to all other sites in the system. In exchange all those sites link to you from their directories. As I've said, it's not worth a try. Your link wouldn't be found in those deeps directories anyway.
Of course there are many others around, most of which work in a similar fashion like one of the programs above, but I think those five are the most popular ones and the first four also the best working ones. Number 5 for example could be considered rather considered a warning.
Thomas Höfter is the webmaster and publisher of the metal music portal Metally.net and the smartphone software directory Smartphony. You can find more of his articles and tips at his personal website LunaticStudios.com.
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