Reciprocal Linking Is Not Worthless, Just Not Great
Yet another myth that is circulating among search engine optimizers is that reciprocal linking has no value, and that one way links are the way to go. While it is true that one way links have more value than the reciprocal ones, they arenít entirely without value.
The value of reciprocal links depends largely on how you make them. Itís all about relevance. As with any element of search engine optimization, you have to make it related to your niche to make it worth anything.
If you do reciprocal linking with irrelevant, low-value directories, you probably wonít get much in the way of SERP ranking. It might bring in some human traffic, which helps with your ranking indirectly. All the same, though, itís really not worth your while going this route.
Now, if your reciprocal linking is natural and relevant to your niche, thatís a different matter. Letís say you have a site for a master plumbers association. If you link to your members pages, and they link back to yours, that has value. If you link to, say, icanhazcheezburger.com, and get a reciprocal link, on the other hand, it doesnít count.
Not only does relevance count in your reciprocal linking, but the quality also counts. If you link up with some back water webpage that has no authority and is low on the SERP pages, youíre probably not going to get any improvement in your own ranking. This is why many webmasters are not too keen on the idea of link exchanges with new sites. They have nothing to gain from it.
With this, it doesnít matter one whit to your SERP placement how much reciprocal linking you do with low quality sites. If you have a massive reciprocal link directory at the back end of your site, youíre going to get jack. Itís much better to have just one good link to a quality site than a thousand crappy links.
With this in mind, you have to be selective about who you get into reciprocal linking with, at least in order to get any gain in ranking for it. Itís the indiscriminate linking with whatever site that proposes to trade links that will get you.
This isnít really as hard to do as it may sound. As Iíve said a thousand times, you canít just put up content and hope that someone with a quality site will propose reciprocal linking. Itís great when it happens, but itís not something to wait for.
Instead, you can set up profiles on Web 2.0 properties and do reciprocal linking with them. Nearly every social blog has a website linking option in their profile generation. You can take advantage of this and do your own reciprocal linking.
It may sound like youíre playing dirty, but there is really only one judge and arbiter of your actions in your linking. Google, of course, will have a say in the matter, but ultimately, itís your bank account that will give the final word as to whether itís right or wrong.