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How to Perform ABC Link Exchange

One of the worst-kept secrets in SEO is ABC link exchanges or the 3-way link exchange. Although they are considered black hat tactics by Google, countless websites use them to increase their traffic and remain undetected. Therefore, it’s no surprise that so many people take the risk. 

Try window shopping on the internet and see how much a do-follow link costs from a DR40 site. Then check the DR 70+. Links of that size can cost upwards of $400. However, there’s a better way of getting link exchanges through spiderman’s way of link exchanges

Therefore, the following sections of this post will help you determine how you can perform the ABC link exchange. But first, let’s determine where the problem lies with direct link swaps. 

The Issue with Direct Link Swaps

Emailing a high DA (domain authority) website owner and asking them to “exchange links” will either result in them not replying or them laughing at you. In these cases, you might link to an article explaining why direct link swapping is unacceptable.

A request like this looks like this:

If they link to yourawsomesite.com (site A) from theirawesomesite.com (site B), they’ll link to theirawesomesite.com (site B) from yourcoolsite.com (site A). Simply put, they’ll link back to you if you link to them.

While the concept sounds great on paper, Google realizes it poses an existential threat to its ranking system. Link exchange would slowly erode the value of links if they allowed them.

What Is ABC Link Exchange?

ABC link exchange, also known as 3-way linking, requires a bit more effort to set up. Link exchanges of this type are harder for search engine robots to detect, so they are beneficial. For most web admins, incoming links are the key to ranking well on search engine results pages (SERPs). Since Google, among others, has realized that web admins are aware of this, they have begun considering links. A reciprocal link is a link between two sites, A to B, that carry a link back to site A. 

Recently, reciprocal links have degraded, and they no longer have the same impact on rankings as they once did. Therefore, there is a theory that instead of site A and site B linking to each other (as in most link exchanges), it would be better if site B linked to site C instead of site A. Owners of site A and site B might be trying to increase incoming links, but it isn’t that obvious.

An Example of How To Perform ABC Link Exchange

It will help to clarify things in this post by providing an example. Let’s say you have one website. Let’s call it site B as we advance. If a web admin wants to exchange links with you, instead of him linking to your site (site B) and linking to his site (site A), you ask him to link to his other site, site C.

Now the links are as follows: 

  • Site A (his site) links to site B (your site), links to C (his site)

The webmaster gets a link to his site A, and you get an incoming link to your site.

The results are the same as when you exchange reciprocal links directly.

What Does Google Say About ABC Link Building?

According to Google’s link schemes, excessive link exchanges (Link to me, and I’ll link to you) or cross-linking to partners can negatively affect a site’s ranking. It means that 3-way link exchanges are equally damaging to your website as direct link swaps.

How Can Google Detect ABC linking?

There is a possibility that Google will identify ABC link swaps not because of the few swaps you do but because of the excessive exchanges of links by your “partners.” Someone will probably offer you a 3-way link exchange again if they have done so in the past. It will be harder to detect if more sites are in the mix and the links are more organic.


A direct link exchange does not always hurt your SEO. As Google states in their policies, this only hurts when used excessively. For example, if we mention you in a significant publication and the publication links back to your website, it’s normal to showcase the feature on your website. Also, if you have a legit partner website, you can link to it. 

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