Reciprocal links? Just say no!

| June 10, 2010

A reciprocal link is where two sites link to each other. They link to you, you link back to them. Once quite useful for SEO, they were downgraded by search engines a few years ago. 

Having received a flood of unsolicited reciprocal link proposals recently, I decided not to make assumptions. Instead I did some research to find out whether they were still a bad idea.

Here’s the lowdown on reciprocal links

  • Google originally decided to ignore reciprocal links because people were exploiting them to unfairly manipulate site visibility
  • Because Google cancels out reciprocal links these days, they no longer have any SEO value
  • If you’re unlucky enough to fall victim to a link farm through reciprocal linking, Google can penalise your site by either adjusting your ranking or dropping you from the results pages altogether
  • Because you can’t control who links to you, Google and co won’t penalise you for inbound links. But outbound links are your choice and your responsibility. If you link to a dodgy neighbourhood your ‘reputation’ with Google could be seriously damaged

What to do about reciprocal links?

  • ignore all unsolicited reciprocal link requests, whether free or paid for
  • never accept reciprocal link offers from directories – they’re particularly risky
  • don’t offer reciprocal links to other site owners
  • if you do use reciprocal links because they’re useful for visitors, take great care to only link with reputable sites and accept there’s no SEO value


Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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