There are hundreds of different SEO techniques and methods to get your affiliate site ranked. One of them is reciprocal linking. So, do reciprocal links work? And more importantly, what is a reciprocal link exactly?

Reciprocal links – the definition

Quite simply, reciprocal linking is a situation where two webmasters agree to link to each other sites for marketing-related purposes (marketing – including SEO).

The benefits

The two main goals of reciprocal linking are traffic and rankings.

Traffic is a very direct benefit. If you manage to set a reciprocal linking agreement with a popular site, you should get a nice number of direct visitors. Dealing with some less popular sites won’t bring in such results though.

Search engine rankings are the other benefit, and one that’s nowhere near as obvious, at least these days.

The problem with rankings

Just a couple of years ago, Google didn’t have the means to determine whether your links are coming from a reciprocal agreement or are a result of the natural lifespan of your site. Now, it’s a different story. Basically, the minute Google decides that your linking profile looks suspicious, you’re getting penalized.

Here’s what Tom Roberts – the Head of Digital Marketing at So What? Media had to say:

“Reciprocal links get a pretty bad rap, for pretty solid reasons. Link exchanges with masses of sites, whatever the relevance, does look pretty unnatural and may flag up as a link network.”

And here’s what Oleg Korneitchouk – the EVP, Director of SEO & Web Development at Melen LLC thinks about reciprocal linking:

“In general, if used excessively, Google frown’s upon it.”

Can it still work?

In a word, yes. Like any other link… Links still help your affiliate site’s SEO.

So when (and if) you have a solid opportunity to do some quality reciprocal linking, the only challenge is to make the links look natural. From a technical point of view, every link looks the same. Therefore, if it seems like a completely natural link, Google won’t get a grasp that it actually isn’t.

On the other hand, if you fail to make your link profile seem natural, Google can hit you hard virtually overnight.

Anyway, here’s what you can try to do with reciprocal links (at your own risk):

  • Link from within your content (not from sidebars or footers).
  • Tell your partner to do the same.
  • Don’t interlink pages – make sure that your partner doesn’t link to the exact pages from which you are linking to them.
  • Don’t place links in places where it doesn’t make any sense.
  • Tell your partner to do the same.
  • Try not to feature more than one link per 125 words of text (a safety rule not to make the page seem link-driven).

Plus, here are two more hints by Oleg Korneitchouk:

“Link only to relevant pages that you believe supplement the purpose of your site.

Make sure your link quantity is not unruly – if you have 300 links just thrown on a page, users trying to find a specific link will get confused. Try to add value to your links and make sure they are manually reviewed.”

Have you tried reciprocal linking lately? What are your results?

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