Yet another hot topic of discussion in SEO strategy is the value of reciprocal links. Are they good, or are they bad? However, the key question should really be “is the website that has the reciprocal links a good or bad website”? Does it have good content? Let’s look at why.
So, what is a reciprocal link? Well, the word ‘reciprocal’ describes it well. It is where two parties link to one another on their website or blog – guiding traffic back and forth between the two.
In the past, it has been thought that reciprocal links were extremely valuable in improving a websites search engine ranking. However, Google now discounts all reciprocal link. Google adjusted the algorithm to identify the exchange of links by two parties where the purpose was to increase their number of inbound links. They did this because the concept of reciprocal linking defies Google’s original intention with the algorithm. Google wants good quality content to attract users. They see the exchange of links as nothing more than a way to promote each other’s web content with the sole purpose of promoting one’s own site…so they don’t like it!
There is some talk about Google now even being able to identify three-way linking schemes (i.e. website A links to website B, who links to website C, who links back to A). This hasn’t been confirmed one way or another but if it is the case, you can’t wiggle your way around the changes to the algorithm by linking on a multiple basis.
What should be noted is that Google has ‘discounted’ reciprocal linking and not totally black-listed them. If employed properly, they are still a good tool for adding value to site visitors and building link. However, if you don’t use them correctly and link poorly whereby the link provides little or no value to your site visitors, it will lead to problems such as a loss of visitor traffic and also there will be issues with the search engines. As such, a good thing to contemplate when choosing partners for link exchange is whether or not that link provides value to your website visitors. If every link provides useful information, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Certainly, focusing your inbound linking strategies around reciprocal linking is a fool’s errand. You need to ensure that you focus on creating high quality, unique content. The links will then follow.