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Reciprocal Linking – Still Beneficial to Search Engine Optimisation / Marketing Efforts?

Reciprocal Linking – Still Beneficial to Search Engine Optimisation / Marketing Efforts?

Article by Karyn Ogier

Many questions have been raised recently on forums, blogs and at Search Engine Conferences around the world, as to whether reciprocal linking is still a worthwhile Search Engine Optimisation and/or Marketing technique. Numerous webmasters and website owners think that reciprocal links are valueless because of the idea that reciprocal linking is likened to spam and that interlinking cancels out any link value. We believe however, that there is no such thing as a worthless link (whether you link back or not) provided it comes from a relevant, trustworthy and sound source. Link Farms are often associated with reciprocal linking. This is a widespread misconception. Link Farms hyperlink to every other website within a group with the sole purpose of obtaining higher ranking in search results. It is important to note that these websites are predominantly unrelated and of low quality. This type of linking is considered to be Search Engine spam.Another phenomenon created with the intention to manipulate Search Engine results are Paid Link Schemes. It is important to know that whilst not all paid links are illegitimate, many are, and again it comes back to the quality and relevancy of links returned. It is furthermore important to note that paid Link schemes are actually a violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines.We support the practice of reciprocal linking between ‘individual’ sites that have selectively exchanged links with other relevant and high quality sites. Such practice is thus neither Link Farming nor Search Engine Spam. There is still value in reciprocal linking if you apply the two key factors of Relevancy & Quality.1. RelevancyGoogle (in particular) along with other Search Engines use links to determine your website’s popularity. It is Google’s goal to display the most relevant websites to a search query and how your site ranks in these search results is in part based on how Google sees the sites that link to yours. Having hundreds of inbound links from irrelevant sites to yours will not have a positive effect on the rankings of your site and can have a detrimental effect on your site if the inward links are associated with any Link Farms or Paid Link Schemes from ‘bad neighbourhoods’. It is vital to research and reciprocate links with sites which are of a similar or related theme to that of yours.2. QualityOf critical importance is the quality of the sites that link to you. A content rich site of a similar theme, that itself is ‘popular’ in the Search Engine indexes, will be considered of higher quality than one that has had little thought to content and has not gained in popularity via inward links. Likewise, in order to encourage inward links to your own site, the more useful content you offer, the greater the chances that other website owners will find that content valuable to their users and link to it.Don’t be tempted to just create pages with content which is off topic to your site, simply to encourage links, this will just result in your website receiving non relevant, low quality links and therefore will not help with your rankings.So to answer the question, is Reciprocal Linking still beneficial to your search engine optimisation / marketing efforts? – Yes, it is, but it should always be approached with both Relevancy and Quality in mind.

About the Author

Karyn specializes in website optimisation and marketing. As co-founder and Operations Director of Apex Internet Ltd, Karyn now has ten years experience in optimising and promoting websites and has a wealth of knowledge in the industry.

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