Is Reciprocal Linking Dead?

If you have been reading some of the internet forums, the last Google update certainly caused quite a stir, and it has left a lot of people asking the question “Is reciprocal linking Dead?”.

This latest Google update affected a lot of websites that depended on their reciprocal linking strategy to rank high in Google.

If a webmaster wanted to outrank a competing site, They would work out how many links they needed from different websites with a certain PR rating and then commence a reciprocal linking campaign to out rank their competitors.

This strategy was certainly sound and was very effective. But most webmasters would swap links with anybody and everybody, so long as the site had a Google page rank (the higher the better).

Each link swapped was a step toward ranking higher in the search engines and beating out their competitors.

This strategy may have worked in the past when Google was not as smart, but it appears Google has wised up to this strategy. So, it is not surprising that as Google and the other search engines get more sophisticated that the effectiveness of reciprocal linking has diminished as an important factor for ranking well in seach engines.

Which brings us back to the question “Is reciprocal linking dead?”

Instead of asking yourself if reciprocal linking is dead, you should really ask yourself what outcome do you want to achieve with your reciprocal linking strategy.

If reciprocal linking is your only strategy to rank high in the search engines, then you should re-think your strategy because reciprocal linking is not quite dead, but it has taken a big hit.

I have not stopped my reciprocal linking strategies because I am aiming for the following outcomes:

1. To drive traffic to my site from other relevant websites.
2. To add value to my visitors by offering them links to websites that they may be interested in.
3. If I rank higher in the search engines, then this is a bonus.

Before swapping a link with another site I am always mindful that if a visitor sees a link on my site, they correctly assume that I have recommended this website to them, and, if the site I send them to is not relevant or very good, then I loose credibility and a possible return visitor.

Whenever I am going to swap links with another site I always ask myself the following questions:

1. What is the other site about and does it compliment my website?
2. Will my visitors  find this site useful to them?
3. What is the quality of the content of the website?

If I think my visitors will find this site useful I then look at the site from the webmasters point of view and ask myself the following questions.

1. How will their visitors find my link? If a visitor cannot find my link then how am I going to get any traffic.
2. Is there a link on their home page (preferably on all their pages) to their links directory?
3. Where is my link going to be placed? Is it more than two clicks away from the home page?
4. Does the website have a sitemap and is the links page included in the site map?

If, and only if the website passes the above criteria will I proceed with a link exchange.

A reciprocal Linking strategy may not be as effective to rank high in the search engines, but it still is an important part of getting targetted traffic to your website if done correctly.

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