Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reciprocal links: are they great, crap or something in between?

Reciprocal links are discussed controversially among search engine marketers. Some think that reciprocal links are great, others think that they are a waste of time, another group thinks that reciprocal links work to some degree.

Great or crap?

What do search engine marketers think about reciprocal links?

    There are three main factions:

        * Group 1: reciprocal links have no effect at all on the position of a website in the search results on Google.

        * Group 2: reciprocal links work just like any other inbound links.

        * Group 3: there's a threshold value. For example, you shouldn't have more than 33% reciprocal inbound links.

    Which group is right and should you use reciprocal links with your website or not?

Is there a threshold value for reciprocal links?

    Webmasters in group 3 think that a high number of reciprocal links is a red flag for search engines. The idea behind this is that links should not be trusted if (for example) 100% of a site's inbound links are reciprocal.

    However, this is not really a good indicator. If high quality websites do link to each other, they won't harm their rankings in any way.

For some sites, it is normal to have a high reciprocity percentage

    Link building expert Eric Ward recently did a test. He found out that there are websites for which it is perfectly normal that they have almost 100% reciprocal links.

    The more specific the topic of a website is, the more likely it is that it will have a high reciprocity percentage. As an example, Eric Ward used the website of "The Southeastern Bat Diversity Network", an organization with a goal to "conserve bats and their habitats in southeastern North America through collaborative research, education, and management."

    The top sites in that subject are all linked back and forth to all other websites that write about bats. This is not surprising and it shows that a high number of reciprocal links can also be a sign of high quality. It depends on the topic of the website.

    If the websites were about different topics, then the reciprocal links would look suspicious.

Should you use reciprocal links for your website or not?

    You don't have to worry if a link is a reciprocal link or not. That does not matter. Reciprocal links are neither good nor bad. They are just links and it always depends on the individual link whether it is a good link or a bad link.

    If a link comes from a website that is related to your website then it is a good link. If the other website is related to yours then you can link back and this won't cause any problems. As long as you make sure that the links make sense to your website visitors then everything is okay.


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