Last week I wrote about how some SEO (search engine optimization) professionals and webmasters claim that link exchanges are out and free articles are in, as a link-building strategy. It is due to changes in the way Google ranks inbound links. Well, stop the presses and hold the phone! Jennifer Laycock, Editor of Search Engine Guide, offers a slight twist. She suggests that early on, for a new site, link exchanges still make sense. That's because until a new site builds enough traffic for people to see great content, the webmaster's first goal should be to concentrate on getting people to discover the site: "Most small business owners understand that one of the most important things they need to do in order to help their web sites rank better on the search engines is to build incoming links from quality, relevant web sites. I've written in the past about building the right content to serve as link bait, but the reality is that until your site starts to be found on its own, it's hard to get those links, no matter how great your content is. That means that many small business owners will need to start off their link building campaign by asking for links." Read the full article describing link building as akin to building relationships. In her article she notes that she spent a half hour researching a single site and composing an email message in order to ask for a link. It's clear that whether you request links or write articles that others can publish for free on their websites, both approaches will take time and considerable thought. The days of mindless link exchanges are over (if they were ever in).