We are having a discussion over at Small Business Ideas Forum where Dale King starts things of by questioning the effectiveness of reciprocal linking tactics. He basically says that once upon a time, reciprocal links were one of the number one ways webmasters acquired links from other sites. However, in current times, reciprocal links have been greatly devalued by the search engines, at least as far as helping a SEO effort. So are reciprocal links a thing of the past? Should webmasters avoid them like the plague? I would say that it really depends on the “type” of reciprocal link.
Reciprocal linking, the process of one web site linking to another and they doing the same in return, has been around long before Google entered the game and changed the way search engine algorithms placed a heavy emphasis on who is linking to who. I don’t see reciprocal linking going away anytime soon either. In fact, it is quite a natural process. Allow me to explain.
Within this blog, I have linked to sites such as Search Engine Land, Search Engine Guide, Techmeme, Small Business SEM, Search Engine Watch, and the list goes on. I have done so because I either found something resourceful to my readers, something that helped to support what I was writing about or simply due to the fact that the site I linked to was the original source of my own writing. These same sites have in turn linked back to our site for the very same reasons. That is true reciprocal linking. So is this a bad thing? Is Google, or any other search engine going to devalue those links because they are not true “one-way” links? I don’t think so. This is a natural process of the web and search engines are smart enough to understand that.
Besides, in the above situation the sites are not always linking back and forth to the same pages. It is not like your typical ” I link to your home page and you link to my home page” scenario.
Now ineffective reciprocal linking is where I subscribe to some kind of reciprocal linking program where everyone links to each other’s main domain. I could do the same if I have a large number of sites under my control. This essentially creates a network of sites all linking to each other, usually at the main domain (home page) level. Search engines can easily see through this and recognize that it is an “un-natural” linking process. Add to this the fact that most of the sites you are receiving links from in this type of scenario are of low quality and carry very little authority. Not only is this an ineffective strategy now, I believe it always has been.
In our discussion, Stoney deGeyter chimes in and says, “The whole ‘reciprocal links are dead’ issue is a sham. Just like any link, reciprocal or not, the quality of the link is what matters. Search engines don’t care IF they are reciprocal… it’s a matter of HOW.” In fact, he conducted his own testing to prove that reciprocal links are not all bad, but can and do provide value.
So it really depends on the “type” of reciprocal link as to whether it can beneficial or not. It is the old adage, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” Reciprocal linking is fine so long as it follows a natural pattern of sites linking to each other.
David, I couldn’t agree with you more. As I was doing research for a linking campaign recently and had a similar thought.
For example there are several legitimate resources such as community directories that will list your site either for financial support or a link to their site.
One thought I had was to add a page on the site that said: “Find us here” or something like that linked from the about us page and then have the different logos of the community sites with return links. This way it doesn’t look like a spammy link page.
BTW – I just noticed we are neighbors (I live in Mesa and work in Phoenix)
Link exchange (reciprocal linking) is alive and well! and always will be.. link exchange is what makes the web a web. Those of you who have been scared off by the SEO fear mongers are missing out on great link building opportunities. The trick with link exchange is to maintain editorial control and to avoid link services that force you to link with any ol’ site. We use software to manage our link exchange (linksmanager) but its editor based so we control who we link to, not a software algo. And our rankings are better than ever.
It’s funny, on the one hand I’d like more people to know this because I’d have more people to trade links with. But on the other hand, if everyone knew this, it’d make it harder to beat the competition. So, in a way, I appreciate the negative hype on link trades. But the fact of the matter is that the right trades do work and they work very well, and I have a number of sites that prove the point.
Link exchanging has certainly lost favor and some SEO consultants don’t do link exchanges period. I am also of the mind that link exchanges don’t count for much, but I also know that link exchanges can be part of a big SEO strategy.
Link exchange is fine as long as the link is relevant to your site.. or else it will end up as link farming.. which is prone on penalize by Google.
Thanks for this post. Popular belief, forum talks are always pointing to the wrong direction(s)
Well Resiprocal links for now has nothing but positive effect when we talk about Search Enging Ranking and espicially in Google & Yahoo … However, its could be a really tough task for newbie internet marketeers.
“google threatens us of punishing for link exchanges and gets what it wants.”
I do agree ,reciprocal links (site to site) carry weight,unless they are page to page links.
great article! here I found another one regarding seo myths that will interest you too. Take a look at that
I have read your SEO blogs and a couple of those you listed and I am pretty much sure that if you follow them right,There are lots of people who get on the internet hoping that they will be able to learn how to attract new customers (it allows them to directly be in the page they were looking for).fast, but most usually without a clue as to where to start.
No, reciprocal links and one way links work just the same. The reason why some people think that reciprocal links don’t work is that many webmasters who engage in reciprocal linking don’t care about theming but only about the number of links. One way links are usually from topic-related sites.
People generally compare the importance of Reciprocal and One Way Linking. From Search Engine perspective one way linking is definitely better; it is harder to do however. Either One-Way Linking or Reciprocal, both have their own advantages and both can make your existence effulgent. However, the factor that matters the most is the quality of links. Quality Link Building refers to getting links over relevant site and having quality content. If you are looking forward to make brand exposure, ensure that you choose quality Link Building.