From what I can piece together, an ongoing thread on the discussion board of the National Association of Personal Finance Advisors has been for months creating excitement about NAPFA members engaging in a link exchange program.
I feel obliged to clarify the benefits of a link exchange program, which may have been overstated by some NAPFA members on the discussion boards. (Please keep in mind that I don’t have direct access to the NAPFA discussions and have to piece together snippets of information relayed to me.)
A link exchange program among groups of advisors allows one advisory firm to display on its website links to other advisory firm websites.
You may ask: Why would an advisor want to link to another advisory firm? The answer: To increase your website’s “link popularity,” a factor in a site’s search engine ranking.
What advisors must realize is that link popularity is just one of many factors that determine your natural search engine ranking. Many other factors, such as your site’s content and your URL are more influential in the algorithms used by search engines to rank your site. Moreover, search engines discourage gimmicks to enhance search rankings.
“Some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites,” Google says in addressing link schemes. “This is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site's ranking in search results.”
Advisors who expect a link exchange program to bring a lot of new traffic to their sites are likely to be disappointed.
Despite all this, Advisor Products is creating a link exchange program for advisor websites. While the potential for abuse exists, we want to respond to requests from advisors asking for this feature and we will try to educate advisors about how to best utilize the tool.
We’re now programming a new feature in our content management system, BackOffice, to enable your firm to add a “Link Exchange” page to its website. This will allow you to quickly add links to other firms that will be displayed on your marketing website. The page on your site will be pre-formatted to look attractive and easy to read.
While enabling link exchanges with other advisory firms is unlikely to greatly enhance your site‘s search engine ranking, we want t be responsive to advisor requests for this feature and do believe a link exchange program that expands beyond advisory firms can be used productively as long as it is not used excessively.
If you have suggestions about how you would like the link exchange page to be created on your website, please let us know.