I’m into day 7 of the Site Build It! action guide, which covers building traffic.

I’m actually still in day 6, building content, too. In the later stages of the action guide, the days overlap a fair amount. In fact, I skipped ahead to day 8 to get my “Contact Me” page built recently, and then came back to days 6 and 7.

But what I wanted to cover in this post is the Value Exchange tool in day 7.

One of the prime techniques in day 7 is building quality inbound links. If you know enough SEO to be dangerous, you know that a link building campaign is a great way to boost your positioning in search engine results. If you know a little more SEO than that, you also know that quality in-context links are worth their weight in gold, when compared to general directory links. Directory links help, but they don’t give you the boost that even one really good in-context link does.

The Value Exchange tool helps you to locate sites that’ll give you those in-context links. It’s primarily a link exchange program, which have gotten a bad reputation, for good reason. The way that link exchanges are typically done among blogs is that one person will offer to blogroll another person’s blog, in exchange for them doing the same in return. This sort of generic site-wide link offers little SEO benefit, and might actually cause a site to be penalized if you do too many of them.

What Value Exchange does is it offers the opportunity to exchange quality in-context links with another site in your same niche. This is the sort of thing that happens naturally. I find a site in my niche that covers a topic really well, so I link to them for more detail in a post about that same topic. They have a post about at topic that I cover really well, so they link to me. Search engines don’t penalize this behavior, because it’s expected.

Value Exchange simply makes it easier to find those other sites in your niche, so that you can negotiate an exchange of quality in-context links.

At least, that’s all it does if you don’t own an SBI! site. If you do own an SBI! site, then Value Exchange has another level to it. The software analyzes the web logs for your site daily, and pulls out any referring sites and puts them into a list of inbound links. You can easily check out the site that’s linking to you and see what if the link is quality or not.

If you’ve made a link exchange arrangement with a site, Value Exchange will check the status of that link daily, and let you know if they remove their link (an unethical technique that some webmasters will use).

Value Exchange also calculates the Internet-wide oomph of your link campaign, as a number between 0 and 100. 0 means that you have no inbound links that are attracting traffic, and 100 means that you could not possibly be doing any better. They’ve arbitrarily chosen CNN.com as their basis for comparison, so CNN.com is a 100. CNN.com gets a lot of incoming links!

Part of what goes into this number is not just the number of incoming links, but the quality. Are the links used in context and with suitable anchor text that will help your site rank higher in search engines? Then the link counts for more. General directory links count for less, niche directory links count for more than general directory links, but less than in-context article links. You get the idea.

While the scale goes to 100, the most that a small niche site can really hope to achieve is from 50 to 60. When you get to 50, you know that you’ve positioned your site as well as you reasonably can with respect to inbound links. It’s time then to focus on other aspects of your site.

My current SBI! niche site is at 12, which is in the range that means the link building is having an effect on search engine placement, but a lot more work is needed. Which is reasonable, since I’ve just started link building.

The deeper I get into the Site Build It! action guide, the more impressed I am with the tools. They’re truly useful, and tailored to be useful in just the way you need them to be.

You can participate in Value Exchange without owning an SBI! site, but you won’t get the link monitoring benefit. It’ll still be a great way to find other sites in your niche for the purpose of exchanging quality in-context links.

Click here for the Value Exchange page.

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