Recently there has been talk that Google has discounted reciprocal linking as a factor in their ranking algorithm. For webmasters who don't know, reciprocal links are just traded links - web site A links to site B, and site B in exchange links to site A. Often the term "linking partner" is used instead of reciprocal link. In the past, it seems that reciprocal links have played an important role in how a site is ranked in search results. It was an indicator from the webmaster that the other site was of value to their visitors.
Once marketers caught on to this, various software was developed that would help automate the process. As webmasters started freely swapping links with every other webmaster, this diluted the value of having reciprocal links in place. Google caught on to this, and apparently has now downgraded or completely removed this type of linking as a ranking factor.
Should marketers continue to pursue reciprocal links? Are they worthwhile? It probably depends on
1) why you want the links, and 2) which sites you want to trade links with.
Although reciprocal links may not be as useful for search engine optimization anymore, they can still bring you traffic. After all, your link is on other sites that also receive traffic, and it's only reasonable that you'll get some percentage of that. There's no cost, other than possibly some software to automate the linking process, so it probably doesn't hurt anything as long as you don't overdo it.
Also, rather than trading links with anyone and everyone who will do so, consider limiting your reciprocal linking only to sites that are on-topic, or related, to yours. For example, if you run a bicycle site, it's reasonable enough to trade links with other bicycle sites, travel sites featuring cycling vacations, skateboarding and inline-skating sites, and so on. It probably wouldn't make sense to link to a jewelry site though.
The best advice is to keep your reciprocal links on-topic, exercise some restraint, and make sure they provide value to most of your visitors.
John Calder is the owner/editor of The Ezine Dot Net. Subscribe Today and get real information YOU can use to help build your online business today! http://www.TheEzine.Net The Ezine DOT Net RSS feeds are available. (You may reprint this article in full in your newsletter and/or web site)