Link cheating is when the other party in a link exchange does not live up to the bargain and does not add your link to his site. Link cheating can happen when you add someone else's link on your site first, then submit your link info, and assume that they will reciprocate and add your link to their site. What often happens is they don't add your link. And you end up with a one-way link, giving a link and getting none in return, improving someone else's search engine ranking and not yours. Link cheating. Even worse, you end up wasting a lot of your valuable webmaster time and energy for nothing. And, often, you won't even know it. You may not know you are the victim of link cheating or may not find out your link was never added to the other site until weeks or months later! Because link cheaters don't email you telling you your link has been added to their site and they don't email you telling you they have decided not to add your link (for whatever reason). They will just take advantage of the one-way benefit of you linking to them. Link cheating.
How can you protect yourself from link cheating?
As a webmaster, protecting yourself from link cheating is very time consuming and frustrating. Of course, you can check every site you linked to and see if your link has been added to that site. This is very time consuming, even with a "link checker" tool, and you may not find your link even if it is there! Or, if you don't find your link you can follow up with a polite email. And, if you don't get a response within a week or two, you can remove their link from your website. Unfortunately, by then you've been promoting the other site (s) for a month or more and getting zero in return. Link cheating.
Link cheating costs trusting webmasters, trying to build their website ranking, a lot of time and a lot of irritation. A lot of time adding links, submitting links, checking links and, ultimately, a lot of irritation removing links which don't reciprocate. One website owner became so fed up with link cheating (20 times in 2 weeks) that he changed his reciprocal link policy. DestinyFinders.com no longer will add a link to their site unless their link is added first, and confirmed to them by email. They promise to then add your link provided it is deemed suitable and acceptable. And they will no longer be a victim of link cheating, by avoiding sites who force you to use those automated you-go-first-but-we-don't-have-to-reciprocate link management programs. Many of these are good programs but they are being abused by bad webmasters.
As for the link cheaters, in the interest of internet honesty and fair play, webmasters who offer a reciprocal link exchange should abide by the agreement. If someone links to you you should honor the link exchange and reciprocate. That means adding the other party's link to your site. Or, if you have decided not to reciprocate at least have the professional courtesy to email the other party stating that their link has not been accepted.
Link cheating is reaching epidemic proportions and appears to be on the rise. And there appears to be no easy cure. But here's some good advice for website owners and webmasters who wish to trade links … beware … be aware … and don't cheat.