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I wanted to share my thoughts on reciprocal linking and why I don’t believe it is neither a black hat technique nor a bad thing to do. I would even go as far as to encouraging reciprocal linking.

 

 

Reciprocal linking has been given a bad name in recent years with spammy websites being setup purely to game Google’s algorithm. So ‘Spammy Website A’ or ‘Spammy Directory B’ was set up which charged people £1.00 to get a lot of poor quality websites linking to your website. Then these spammy websites started to pop up everywhere and link to each other as well to try and boost their page rank.

Taking SEO out of the picture here, this is obviously not a good long term strategy to get results. There is going to be absolutely zero trafficgenerated from these links because they are crap, plain and simple. Everyone knows this and is one of the reasons why reciprocal links have been given a bad name.

On top of that, webmasters get hundreds of spammy requests asking “if you link to me I will link to you”. Again, totally pointless and there is no value here.

That said there is still value to reciprocal linking, just not in any of the ways outlined above.

Lets take a few examples of where you would want to actively target websites for a reciprocal link, obviously a one way link is better for SEO but I wouldn’t turn down a high quality reciprocal link.

 

Websites Designed by ‘Company A’

Have you ever noticed on websites where there is a link in the footer saying “This website was designed by Great Web Design Co.” with a link going back to their website? Thought so. This is also on a lot of WordPress themes by default linking to the designers website.

 

 

Now if the web design company decided to show a testimonial on their website to brag about some great work they have done recently, this is a great opportunity for everyone. Anyone reading the web design companies testimonials pages would come through to your website and be exposed to your brand. Is this is reciprocal link? Yes. Would I push back on this? No way, this is a great opportunity to manage those real world connections for the value of SEO.

Think about how many websites that company would have designed, all with links going back to their website no doubt, then they decide to link back to you. I would say you may be getting more SEO value from this link than they are.

 

Sponsorship’s

Another example of where you would find real world valid reciprocal links is when ‘Company A’ sponsors ‘Event B’ and as you would expect with any sponsorship (aka paid link – but that is another discussion ???? ) you would get a link back to your website. The image below isn’t fully accurate since Search Engine Land actually use Google Ads to power these listings which don’t pass any SEO juice to the different websites, but you get the point.

 

 

What would also likely happen in this scenario is a mention from ‘Company A’s website that they are sponsoring the event, which would link to the website in question.

Is this really a bad reciprocal link? I certainly don’t think so and would encourage people to go for these types of links since they aren’t likely to be copied by competitors.

 

Clients and Testimonials

Another example of real world good reciprocal links are from clients, testimonials and listings on each of the websites involved. Take for example a client linking to your website as a service provider, so something like “We use Company A for our parcel delivery”. Many companies will do this for vanity because they are working with a high profile company (this happens a lot in luxury hotels, where by they name drop expensive luxury toiletries companies when talking about their facilities in hotel rooms).

 

 

Then the same process happens in reverse, where by a certain supplier can link to their customer to say that they are the provider of ‘Product X’ for this company.

Again this can be a great way to get high profile links from places that your competitors may struggle to get them from, unless they are thinking of changing suppliers!

 

Summary

There are a lot of different high quality reciprocal links you can go for which are going to be extremely valuable and hard to copy by people checking your back link profile. So my advice here is to stop worryingabout how reciprocal links aren’t worth as much as one way links on this micro level and start thinking about the bigger picture. Go for the difficult links that your competitors aren’t willing to go for.

Sounds like hard work? Nothing worthwhile is easy. Pull your sleeves up and get stuck in actually doing something instead of worrying about the different values that may be  assigned to different types of links. Instead just ask yourself the question ‘Is this really a good quality and worthwhile link?’ and that only takes common sense to answer.

Happy link building! :-)

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Michael Cropper

Founder & Managing Director at Contrado Digital Ltd
Michael founded Contrado Digital in 2013. He has experience working with national and multi-national brands in a wide range of industries, helping them achieve awesome results. Michael regularly speaks at local universities and industry events while keeping up with the latest trends in the digital industry.