June 30, 2016

5 Things to Consider Before Reciprocating Links with Other Websites

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reciprocating links

When it comes time to build links, you’re likely going to be faced with a dilemma known as reciprocating links. Whenever you try to earn a backlink on a website, whether it be through contributing a guest article or otherwise, there is often a chance that the Webmaster you’re speaking with is going to want to earn a backlink from your website in return.

Sure they get your great content, but why not push the envelope and try to get even more from this new partnership? After all, you might be tempted to do this when someone approaches you for a link on your website, so you can’t blame someone for asking.

This will then put you in a position to make a decision about reciprocating links. If you do not allow a featured piece of content and backlink on your website, that website might not give you the opportunity on their site. In other words, you lose the partnership and the backlink if you don’t reciprocate. However, is a link exchange just going to cancel out the link you wanted to earn in the first place? Is it worth it? This is the big question, and it’s actually a somewhat complicated answer.

When to Use Reciprocating Links for Success

In the past, reciprocating links was more widely used and accepted because link building was seen as a good practice. Today, it’s important to focus on readers and not SEO. In the end, reciprocating links really can work for your visibility as well as for SEO purposes. So it’s not something you should immediately dismiss. However, there are a few different things that you must keep in mind if you want it to work.

Only Link When it is Natural and Relevant

These rules apply even when you’re not reciprocating links, but it’s important to point out because it’s more tempting to ignore this rule. You might want to put a reciprocal link in the sidebar so that it doesn’t hold as much weight, but this isn’t going to look natural to Google. The same can be said if you’re linking to something that isn’t relevant to your industry or website. You have to follow the rules if you don’t want to get penalized.

Do not Build Your Campaign Around this System

It’s not a good idea to build your entire link building campaign around reciprocating links because then you’re canceling out all of your hard work (more or less). Things are going to move faster if you’re building links and not giving them right back. After all, the goal is to earn links naturally in the copy of the text without ever having to ask for them.

It’s Usually not Worth it to Reciprocate with a Competitor

It’s best if you can engage in reciprocating links with a company that compliments your company and does not compete directly. For example, if you’re a dentist, consider reciprocating links with a toothbrush company as opposed to another dentist. This will help make sure that the links are not going to compete with each other.

Consider the Authority of the Other Website

It’s always a good idea to check the authority of the website you might exchange a link with. If your website has a PageRank 6 and a PageRank 3 wants a link on your website, it might not be worth it to give a link to that page. It’s true that PageRank isn’t everything so there will certainly be exceptions, but I find this is a good place to start. You can then evaluate the site in terms of quality and potential. If the site isn’t up to par, you would be getting a weaker link than your competitor would be getting, so be careful.

It’s important to understand that in the end when you monitor backlinks, your links will be devalued if you’re engaging in a lot of reciprocal linking. Nevertheless, you’re still earning that visibility and you still are giving a relevant audience the chance to click on your link.

A Quick Tip: Remember, don’t offer if you’re not asked!

When Reciprocating Links is Best Left Untouched

You have to be very careful with reciprocating links because too much can get you penalized by Google. Search Engine Watch actually labeled too much excessive linking as a gray hat SEO tactic.

In the past, websites were exchanging links at a very fast pace, which was not helping readers at all. Google, of course, put a stop to this and labeled it “link farming.” To make a long story short, it is okay if you want to engage in reciprocating links following some of the rules above, but do not do this all the time. A few reciprocating links here and there should be plenty to get you that link you wanted on that great site — but not put you on trial for link farming.

Have you found reciprocating links to be successful?

Link Photo via Shutterstock

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3 Reactions

  1. This tactic needs to die. Ask yourself, how does this help the site user? If a link helps enrich the content or provides access to a valuable resource, then put in the link. If it’s just to boost your rankings, don’t. If you find content that would benefit from a link to your site, go ahead and see if you can get a link, but not just because it helps your rankings. Focus on the basics.

  2. I agree. There is a limit on how you should reciprocate links. While I do like it because it creates a sense of community in a certain industry, it should not be used as a way of building massive numbers of links.

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