Reciprocal Links Are Dead!


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I've been reading a lot of nonsense on various SEO forums about reciprocal linking being dead. People screaming and crying because their sites no longer rank well after Google's big Jagger update. I thought it would be timely for me to write an article about what REALLY happened, and what you can do about it.

Reciprocal Links Aren't Dead

First of all, reciprocal links aren't dead, not by a long shot. It would be foolish of any search engine to ignore links from one authority site to another just because that other site points back to it. That, in fact, reinforces the value of both sites!

What really happened is that Google got smarter about reciprocal links. They are harder on link farms now, and bogus "directories" of links. So the people who are crying foul probably had most or all of their links coming from these kinds of shady sources.

From my own experience with my many sites, however, it seems clear that reciprocal links have been devalued by Google. All that means is that they don't count quite as much as they used to, but they are still very valuable.

If you follow my philosophy of optimizing for keywords that are not super competitive, though, then you may have already guessed that my sites weren't affected much, since most of my "competition" isn't really competing for the keywords I'm targeting anyway.

Reciprocal Links Have Always Been A Short-Term Solution

Besides, reciprocal links should ALWAYS be looked on as a short-term boost to get a site going. You want to get those reciprocal links so that you can get ranked for some less competitive keywords. Once you're getting some traffic, if you're offering high quality content to your visitors, you'll get more links into your site naturally.

This happens because if a lot of people value your site, you are bound to get talked about in forums and message boards that are related to your site topic. And other webmasters who visit your site and like it will add links from their sites to yours. Your link popularity will grow naturally–as long as your site content is high quality.

But a site needs the initial momentum that reciprocal links provide to get started. Just the act of emailing webmasters for reciprocal links will result in people who are in your area of expertise looking at your site. So whether you get a link or not, if you have a quality site, you've put it in front of a person who has the opportunity to spread the word about you. And believe me, quality sites get talked about a lot.

Getting More Links

Since it's true that reciprocal links have been devalued by Google, that could mean that you need to get more links to stay competitive (though that really depends on what keywords you're targeting).

Personally, I find SEO Elite to be a huge asset in this regard, because it automates the process of getting people to link to your site. I also highly recommended Jack Humphrey's Power Linking methods.

Summing It All Up

If you're building quality content and using reciprocal links as they should be used (to get ashort-term boost that launches a new site), then changes in the valuation of reciprocal links will not be a problem.

If you're a link spammer, or if you're relying on shady directories or link farms, then yes, you're in trouble. Stick to the methods I've outlined above and use software-assisted link gathering tools like SEO Elite and you'll be on top of the search engine game for many more algorithm updates to come.

Filed under Blog, Search Engine Optimization by Jonathan Leger

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