Reciprocal Links. Steering Clear of one SEO Controversy

Are reciprocal links of any use?

As I mentioned in other link building posts, Google evolved its capacity for detecting low quality link exchanges, constantly diminishing their value towards zero or even negative figures. The reason why link exchanges dropped so dramatically is because of web’s evergreen reason – abuse.

I’m not saying that exchanging links is a banned practice in Google and other SEs perspective, but rather the abusive way in which is conducted and its approval or not depends largely on with whom you’re hanging out.

Basically you have these two alternatives:

1. Going beyond your website’s theme. Not sticking with your topic when seeking to exchange links will render you a shy sprinkle in rankings or, in worst case scenario, landing on ill-famed web corners, thus causing your website to rank even worse;

2. Staying on the topic and building real business relationships; keeping your quality standards high and limiting the linking process to only a handful of reciprocal, relevant links.

Of course, by walking this path it takes time to build a presence and a brand but you provide a solid end product for the community with all the benefits that follow.

When to use reciprocation in link building

If you have a good amount of quality links pointing to your website, there is nothing outbalanced to diversify a little bit your linking sources, even with some that are far from being topnotch. This practice is especially useful if you intend on building relevancy through anchor texts and further impel your rankings.

Note that all quality websites have their own closet of junky backlinks resulted from automated/overlooked abusive link building processes.

Instead of just building sterile reciprocal links across two related website, see if you can initiate a reciprocal promotion, where both parties make reviews and interviews with each other and then promote the content (along with the link) back on their own site.

In a sound social environment reciprocal links are natural information flows that give credibility and recognition.

It doesn’t have to be always two ways

Well, the above statement can easily be contradicted by our human nature of irresistibly asking “what’s in it for me”.

The solution to counter act this attitude is constantly build content that other marketers feel that they make themselves a service by referencing it.

A more sneaky approach could be that of presenting your one way link request mingled with other valuable resources that add value to their site. Other methods of getting one way backlinks were discussed in more depth on a previous post on one way links.

The truth is that most link requests, even reciprocal ones, are turned down. Your job is to sound, look and feel like a human being that has a thorough knowledge of the website he intends on linking to. A reciprocation free approach to link building is that of article distribution. Article submission software can give you an edge in terms of one way backlinks on a given time frame.

Where to stop reciprocal linking

> Getting involved with reciprocal linking networks. Here’s why:

1. Most of them are listing junk websites, their top positions being constantly occupied by PR0s. These sites leave evident footprints in the link exchange networks providing Google with lots of clues in learning who are your backlink sources.

2. There is a 99% probability that these potential linking partners are simple sales letters or consisting of a maximum ten content pages per domain which makes it virtually impossible to rank well in organic listings.

3. Not only do they sound spammy, they look spammy, also; e.g. keyword stuffed title and description tags, over use of hyphens.

4. Good rankings doesn’t require a presence in these artificial linking schemes. This conclusion is based on common sense.

> Reciprocal linking sleazy tactics:

1. Using nofollow tags, noindex and robots.txt exclusion to stop SE bots from indexing reciprocal links on their website.

2. Removal of reciprocal links after a short period of time.

3. 301 redirecting to other websites with a high Toolbar PageRank to “negociate” profitable link exchanges.

4. Pointing links to your webpages from junk sites while you fully honor the agreement and link to them from your primary website.

5. Not declaring their involvement in link exchange networks.

Mass reciprocal links don’t pass any authority because they’re stuffed on a single page, usually named “resources” or “links”. These link pages aren’t referenced through internal or external linking and obviously contains hundreds of outbound links thus resulting a close to 0 PageRank to be passed to each landing page.

Instead of wasting time getting your hands on a sack of third hand backlinks and hunt down sly webmasters, try focusing on building valuable content for your prospects and establish your linking relationships as you go.

Do you have some tips to add, something to comment?

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Sal Says:

    very good information.

  2. Louena Winslet Says:

    That is really helpful article!

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