How Effective Are Reciprocal Links? (Really)

reciprocal linksIf you just want a short answer to the above question, reciprocal links are rarely effective ways to do SEO. That said, reciprocal links do have their place, just like almost anything else. The issue is all a matter of how it’s done and how often you do it. Here’s what you need to know:

What Are Reciprocal Links?

Let’s start with the obvious. Reciprocal links are two way links. This means that if I put in a link to your website, you’ll do me a favor and put in a link back to my website. The theory is supposed to be that you would then create links for yourself which would contribute to your SEO efforts. However, in reality, these kinds of efforts rarely work.

Why Reciprocal Links Don’t Work

For those who don’t know much about how Google works, reciprocal links rarely work. The reason is simple – Google wants links to be natural and organic. This means that they want the links to be given to you simply because someone felt that the content on your website was worthwhile and was worth reading. They don’t want you to trade links with another website because they tend to think of that as being equivalent to buying links.

It’s Okay In Moderation

Now to be fair, reciprocal links are fine in moderation. There is no reason to be concerned in you have five or ten reciprocal links spread throughout your website. They probably won’t do much for you from an SEO standpoint, however they also probably won’t cost you any points with Google either. It’s even possible that if you can trade reciprocal links with a well established website which has a high PR ranking that you could gain some benefit, as long as you do it in moderation.

You Shouldn’t Overdo It

Overdoing it is a big problem though. Creating a page which is titled “links” is a great way for example to incur the anger of Google, especially if it has lots of links on it. The best thing to do if you want to trade a handful of links is to keep the number small and to have them on different pages with content surrounding them. For example, you may want to write a paragraph about a site you’re linking to rather than simply listing the name of the place.

The Other Use of Reciprocal Links

Reciprocal links are also useful when you want to trade business with your colleagues in other areas. For example, if you run a home decorating consultancy in Portland Oregon, people who find your site from Portland, Maine won’t be particularly interested in your site. However, if you were to trade reciprocal links with some home decorating consultancies in Maine, then you’d be able to get some additional business from people who stumble across that site.

Bottom Line

Reciprocal Links have their place in the world of SEO. However, they should be used only in moderation and not as a primary method of doing your SEO work.

4 thoughts on “How Effective Are Reciprocal Links? (Really)

  1. Reciprocal links are definitely still valuable if used in moderation, like you said. I think the key to successful link building in general is using as many tactics as possible, in moderation.

  2. This is exactly true. Officially, Google doesn’t like link building. They want you to gain your links through organic means. The trouble is, it doesn’t work to rely exclusively on organic linking. This means that you have to link build, but everything in moderation.

  3. Its really difficult to keep up with all these google updates. Some time ago, reciprocal links were a big part of seo. Now everything is different, reciprocal links worth almost nothing if they are not legit. When I say legit, I refer to linking to a relevant website and as you said writing something about it rather then just putting the link up there in spam style. Over doing it might actually penalize you in search results and rank. I know this for a fact! Thanks for the article, it was a good read.

    1. Yeah, unfortunately as the spammers and black hat seo folks get ever more sophisticated in their efforts, Google has to constantly change their methods and it also means that we end up having to work that much harder to get things done.

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