Understanding Reciprocal and Non-Reciprocal Links

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Non-Reciprocal links
Non-reciprocal links are one-way inbound links to your posts that originate from other sites, and they are considered as recommendations by other sites to their readers. These non-reciprocal links get highest values when they originate from the relevant and high-ranking web pages, and also if the anchor text within the link is one of the keywords of your web page that it links to. The non-reciprocal links are also given much importance in the search engine optimization methods and search engines value them very highly.

Reciprocal links
Simply stated reciprocal links are based on an agreement by two sites (two way) to link to each other. Reciprocal linking is often used by small  sites as a way to increase Web site traffic and link popularity.  However, if you plan to enter such arrangements then it’s important to understand the implications and the realities.

Here’s the back story. In order to boost their site’s rankings with the sheer number of inbound links many webmasters had agreed to reciprocal link exchanges.  However, because many of these links were not relevant (see: Understanding Backlinks), they were disregarded in the last Google update. That meant that although the irrelevant inbound link was ignored, the outbound link still got counted and this diluted the relevancy score of many sites. The result was that many sites dropped off the Google map during the last Google update.

Matt Cutts on Nofollow, Links-Per-Page and the Value of Directories
- Also note that there is a Google patent in the works that will deal with not only the popularity of the sites being linked to, but will also assess how trustworthy a site is that you link to from your own site.

Reciprocal Links from the seobook.com glossary

Blogging for money
If you are blogging for money then PR can be a major issue.  Once your site has a higher PR then higher paying writing opportunities become available to you. However, if your write for services like ReviewMe, Text Link Ads, Smorty, and PayPerPost then it’s important to understand that Google doesn’t like paid links, if you have them and if your site doesn’t indicate them with “nofollow” or, if you’re active on the Internet selling links on your site then your PR will suffer.

It’s Google’s search engine and they have every right to say that if you sell links, they might penalize you. Google is not telling site owners what to do with their sites. Google is telling site owners what to do if they are concerned about doing better in Google. If you don’t care about Google and page rank then get involved with services like ReviewMe, Text Link Ads, Smorty, and PayPerPost, and sell all the links you want. But if you don’t want to be harmed in Google PR updates then don’t sell links and don’t link to sites that do.

Linking Strategy
(1) Links add valuable content to your site and we know that search engines (as well as people) love great content. The best linking strategy is to get a lot of non-reciprocal links (or one-way links), which are also relevant links to your site from high ranking and popular sites. When your site receives a lot of quality non-reciprocal links, the search engines consider your websites and the web pages that receive these inbound quality links as containing highly valuable web content.

(2) If your web pages and the site get a lot of reciprocal (two-way links), especially if they are not related then the search engines will assume that these are solicited links, and search engines do not give much importance to such two-way or reciprocal links and may even penalize your site.

(3) Exchanging relevant, high-quality reciprocal links with other related sites is another method of driving targeted traffic to your site. Exercise caution when agreeing to reciprocal linking because in the last Google update, reciprocal links were one of the targets of the search engine’s latest filter. Before you consider reciprocal linking to sites, consider your reader’s perspective and whether the proposed links provide value to them. If the sites are related to your site, then it could make sense because the links are organic and useful, but reciprocal linking between dozens or hundreds of sites, however, is unlikely to provide reader value.

(4) Search engines like Google  use link popularity as a method of ranking your site in their results. The more related sites that link to your site (especially high traffic sites relevant to your field), the higher on the page your site will appear when someone searches on “your” keywords.

Related posts found in this blog:

How to Become a Better Blogger 3: Ethics and Links
Natural Linking Strategy for Bloggers
How backlinks will make Google your blog’s best friend
WordPress: How to maintain and track links

42 thoughts on “Understanding Reciprocal and Non-Reciprocal Links

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  4. good post and make me jealous if you is already knew about everything.

    i want learn about the SEO. i will bookmark your site. thank for your share.

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  6. Great Advice, my personal favourite is to check the competitions links through the search engines and research. Using the linkdomain: and site: operators, it’s time consuming but it’s interesting you can learn more around a topic and about your competition as you research. Great Article!

  7. You hit the nail right in the head with the fifth point in your short linking strategy – reciprocal links feel gray hated when you engage in backlinking partnerships with fishy websites.

    I don’t believe that Google has a problem with reciprocal links exchanged between theme related sites. Of course your rankings won’t benefit as much as from a handful of one way links, but reciprocation remains a useful practice for all white hat environment.

    Just considering the amount of traffic generated by a strong reciprocal link network is more than sufficient to stop saying no to reciprocation in off page optimization.

    [edited by timethief to remove link]
    See if it helps your off page campaigns!

    Great post, timethief
    Talk soon,
    Cristian

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