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Reciprocal Linking Revisited

Aug 17, 2007
You are at that point in life where you want to build your home based internet business. You've read countless ads about getting rich quick. You have heard terms such as "Article Submission" and "Linking". This should get you started.

Link Popularity

The founders of Google believed in a term called "citation authority". They found that the more that academic papers cited another person's work, the more likely that the cited work represented an authority on the subject.

Similarly, when a lot of websites would link to a given site, it is very likely that the given site is an authority for the topic. The "topic" is whatever those links say it is. If 25 sites link to another site with the term "railroading" it's likely that this page is an important page for train information.

Consequently, many schemes were born, such as mini-sites, site networks, link farms, and reciprocal linking. It didn't take long for webmasters who wanted to rank well for certain terms to learn that they needed a lot of links with their chosen keyword phrases to improve their rankings in the search engines.

Reciprocal Linking

Reciprocal links are links you trade with other sites (you add their link, they add yours) in order to build link popularity. In other words, you scratch my back and I'll scratch your back in return. There are many online services, group exchanges, and software available to help you link up with webmasters that can enhance your product. As a result, many sites have grown sizeable directories on topics that have nothing to do with their area of expertise, simply because those other sites were willing to trade links with them.

Here is where you use the old noodle in selecting reciprocal linking partners. If your website talks about trains, you would not wish to link with a website that focuses on cats. Leave the cat fanciers to go meow elsewhere.

A lot of webmasters will still use this to link their sites containing nothing but garbage with your website, which you might want oriented to a given class of users. You ought to constantly monitor your reciprocal link requests for garbage. Accepting any or all link exchange requests could penalize you for the goal of obtaining good search engine ranking.

Does reciprocal linking work? The answer is doubtful. In the past, search engines have tended to count a link as a link, regardless of the subject matter of the originating site. Search engines are now tending to look for more ways to determine which sites are truly expert and which ones are simply manipulating their way to the top. Link relevance is sure to come into play. Some say it is already starting to affect rankings.

Mutual Linking

Mutual linking is a bit different from reciprocal linking. Mutual linking is where the content of each site actually benefits the content of a link partner's site. If you sell automobiles, you may want to recommend other sites for tires, and still other sites for automobile financing. You may even maintain a directory of tire and battery service shops. This is useful information for your visitors, who are likely to need these services in the future. It makes sense for these sites to also recommend your automobile dealership and link to your site. While it's technically still a reciprocal link, it has a mutual benefit for both sites.

To re-emphasize what we stated earlier, while you might make a case that visitors to your automobile dealership site might actually need stuff on gambling, forget about linking to such sites. They only make your site look unprofessional. You should avoid links such as these at all costs.

if you link to a site that the search engines consider a "bad neighborhood," it could seriously damage your website. That innocent-looking pet accessories site may be cloaking (hiding links or text), or participating in other linking schemes and it just hasn't been caught yet.

Should I Hide All My Outgoing Links?

We don't recommend it. Many feel that Google's Florida update (in Nov. 2003), adding relevant outgoing links seems to have a positive effect on rankings. Besides, if you hide or block their links, and they hide or block yours, what's the point of participating in a reciprocal linking program at all?

So. What Will Happen if I Do Reciprocal Linking?

If you are looking to build long-term rankings (and real business links that can attract customers), it takes more work and creativity than just sending out automated emails or joining a linking program. Give your site an advantage by giving people a reason to link to it. Is it a helpful tool, a guide, an industry-specific directory, or some other useful content that people will feel good about recommending on their site? If your site is worth linking to, you won't have to rely as much on swapping links as a promotion strategy.

Happy linking!
About the Author
Bob Carper is a veteran consultant in information systems He holds a a MBA from Pitt. For additional information go to
http://www.secure-webconference.citymax.com. My blogsite is http://www.html-secrets.net/blog. You may also contact him at robertcarper06@comcast,net
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