3 Way Link Exchange (ABC Linking) | Is It Worth It?

Written By

Nick Zviadadze

Nick Zviadadze

Founder at MintSEO


What is a 3-Way Link Exchange (ABC Linking)

A 3-way link exchange, also known as the ABC link exchange, is a link-building technique that involves a 3-way exchange of backlinks between different domains.

Website A links to Website B, and, in exchange, Website B links to Website C.

Why Do ABC Link Exchanges?

The most straightforward way to build backlinks is to ask other websites to simply swap backlinks with you.

You insert a link to their website on a blog post, they do the same for yours, and both of you benefit from it.

Win-win, right?

Sure, except for the fact that Google discourages link swapping and might penalize you for it.

ABC linking is the easiest way to circumvent this. Instead of directly exchanging links between two domains (something that Google can notice), you do the exchange between three separate domains instead.

This way, there’s no clear evidence of an exchange taking place.

Are 3 Way Link Exchanges White Hat?

Technically, no – a three-way link exchange can also be categorized as a “link scheme,” and hence, it’s discouraged by Google:

Meta: Google comment on link exchanges

Practically speaking, though, it’s very unlikely for Google to actually spot or penalize a three-way link exchange, making it a very effective link-building technique.

To add to that, according to Google, you shouldn’t be doing any link-building in the first place – your content should be SO good that people link to you organically without you having to nudge them.

Since “just wait for people to link to you” is not a practical marketing strategy, it can safely be discarded.

How to do ABC Link-Building Effectively

Want to try your hand at ABC link exchanges? Awesome!

There are, however, right and wrong ways to do it. 

First off, we’d recommend you stick to doing exchanges with websites that have similar stats as yours.

If you’re trading away a link from your website (which is a DA 40), then you should expect a backlink in the same DA range for it to be a fair trade.

Moz domain authority screenshot

We’d also recommend you not overdo it with the link-building or link exchanges, especially if you’re just getting started.

If you just launched your website yesterday, for example, then it would be a bit odd to have 10 backlinks pointed towards this single blog post (when your homepage has 0 links).

Finally, be careful with the anchors you use in the links you get from ABC exchanges.

A direct match anchor is good for SEO, but it can also be suspicious for Google if all the links you’re getting have a direct match anchor.

As such, try to change things up with the anchor texts. With this article, for example, backlink anchors could be a mix between:

  • 3-way link exchange
  • ABC link exchange
  • Link-building
  • Link-building strategy
  • 3-way backlink

And so on.

How to Scale ABC Linking With Guest Posting

Want to take your ABC link-building to the next level? 

Do this:

Find websites that are willing to collaborate with you for link-building. Let’s say you find five such sites.

Then, negotiate with an unrelated party to host your guest post. They’ll allow for one or maybe two backlinks to your website for the post.

In the said post, include one link to each of your link partner posts and, in exchange, ask them for a backlink whenever they do a backlink in such a manner themselves.

This way, instead of one link from a single guest post, you stand to gain five!

How to Check If You’ve Been Penalized for Link-Swapping

Traffic took a dip and you’re worried about whether it’s because of ABC link exchanges?

There’s an easy way to check!

Simply open up Google Search Console and click the “Manual Actions” tab to see if your website was penalized by Google.

google search console check manual actions

Key Takeaways

And that covers everything you need to know about ABC link-building! Before you go, here’s a quick recap of the most important points we’ve covered in this article:

  • A 3-way link exchange is a link-building strategy where three websites swap links amongst themselves.
  • Site A links to Site B and Site B links to Site C, this way, there’s no direct link exchange between two separate domains (something that’s against Google’s webmaster guidelines).
  • If you want to scale up your link exchanges, you can incorporate the guest posting strategy we talked about in this article.
Nick Zviadadze

Nick Zviadadze

Founder at MintSEO
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