Last updated: April 29th, 2016
Reciprocal links are links with other sites which are usually are related to the theme of your website. The concept is very easy to understand, you link to a site and that site links back to you. The idea behind this goes back to you scratch my back I scratch yours. Some sites have specific requirements when linking. For example some sites might have restrictions based on content, PageRank, or even domain names.
So why are they important?
The reason link exchanges are important ranges from your traffic quality to your search engine position. This method of traffic building is 100% free and this always fits nicely into any website’s budget. It just requires dedication and time to build up quality links with other sites. By taking the time to sniff out links that relate to you and sites that are legit can have some huge payoffs.
First, it will increase your link popularity which is the search engines counting up how many times it finds your link on other websites. This act of counting up the links or otherwise known as a “Link Popularity Check” will increase your position based on the amount of links it finds. A nice tool to check your popularity can be found here.
Your Link Popularity Rating is a combination of:
- The Number Of Sites Linking To You
- The Words That Are Used To Describe Your Site In The Links To You
- The Relevance Of Those Sites As They Relate To Your Subject Matter
- The Link Popularity Of The Sites That Link To You
- The Search Engine Rankings Of The Sites That Link To You
Secondly, the visitors that come from related websites are highly targeted and you’ve a much better chance of selling them your product or service since they’ve come to your site through a link on a related website. The logic behind this is simple they came from a site that had a theme related to yours. So we can make the assumption that they are interested in your product or service. So hand picking who you should exchange with should be very clear now.
Link Exchange Services
I am sure you have all seen the ads before that go something like “Get 1000’s of backlinks to your site!” These services really do not work well. They are designed to include all of its member’s links to be seen on your website. Some places have filters we you can specify the content based on the category another member might have placed themselves in. There are a few reasons this is really bad. One reason is that any member can put themselves in any category so the filter system can be compromised quite easily. Another reason is these services are not worth it is that you can find a lot higher quality sites by simply searching. Again, this can be time consuming but in the end it is worth it. All these members are sites looking for shortcuts and are typically not well ranked in search engines anyway so why would you want to be on these sites anyway? Finally, why would you pay for something that is free?! You can contact every one of these webmasters and build a mutual relationship instead of going through a middle man and paying a premium on top of that.
Can Link Exchanges Hurt Me?
A very common misconception about link exchanges is “The more links you have the higher you will be ranked.” While part of this is very accurate, we must understand that the wrong types of links can do more harm than good. You would do well to avoid participating in link farms (FFA, or free-for-all link lists that you can add your site to), the reason to stay away form this is because these have become recognized by the search engines, and by Google’s anti-spam algorithm specifically, as red flags for spam – and can often get your site banned from their index and it makes sense – if you have thousands of non-relevant links pointing to your site that does not say much about the legitimacy of your content. Major search engines have begun to aggressively penalize web sites that are deemed to be engaged in such linking strategies.
Do Reciprocal Links Still Work?
Well the bottom line is if they did not work this article would not have been written. But with that said it is a known fact that reciprocal links are NOT as effective as they used to be. This does not mean abandon ship as many other webmasters have done. This just means they do not play the same role as they used to. They do however have the long term effect and can still bring you a bunch of targeted traffic at no cost to you. The biggest claim on the net as far as link popularity and links are concerned is “one way links” work better then reciprocal links. Here is the difference between the two, if you link to another web site and the other web site links back to you, it’s a reciprocal link. If you link to another web site and the other web site doesn’t link back to your site, it’s a one way link. One way links obviously are harder to find and usually cost some money to have.
The moral of the story is this: reciprocal links although not as effective as they used to be are still effective enough to warrant the time and effort to create the relationship with other websites. One must be very picky about one’s site selection and keeping the content related to your site is a must. One way links are seen by search engines as more important than reciprocals but again you will most likely end up paying for these. Adapting to the times is no surprise when dealing with the web, so you must ask yourself “what is my competitor thinking in regards to link exchanges?” The answer is they are building them up related to their content. So by you not keeping up with the times you simply fall short in the long run.
There are no short cuts in reciprocal or one way linking unless you have deep pockets to shell out money on expensive text links on high ranked sites. So the next best option is to dedicate the time and effort to your site. If it wasn’t this way the internet would be useless and we would never be able to find what we are looking for. It’s just a fact of life and we must keep on in respects to linking.