The Reciprocal Linking Hasn't Left the Building
Look around you, the SEO industry is routinely at least 6-12 months behind any new search engine trends good or bad. As a result 'SEO pros' and amateurs alike clamour to find the next hot-button r...
Look around you, the SEO industry is routinely at least 6-12 months behind any new search engine trends good or bad. As a result 'SEO pros' and amateurs alike clamour to find the next hot-button regime that will set them apart from the competition. Lately there has been increased discussion pertaining to the declining importance of reciprocal linking and linking in general. Some SEO pundits claim it's time to drop reciprocal linking, my question is: in favour of what?
Reciprocal linking is simple: Site A links to Site B, Site B links to site A in return. Currently, there is sufficient evidence to suggest the major search engines are starting to devalue reciprocal linking and are smartening up to the quality of links. All reciprocal links are starting to become less and less important to increasing SERP positions, however, irrelevant reciprocal links are worth even less. (This means that relevant links are worth more-they do have worth!)
The fact of the matter is stupid webmasters (or those by choice) who link in 'spammy' ways, (over 50 links on linking page, unrelated links to web site, etc.,) have less to show for their work, but, does this mean it's time to abandon reciprocal linking all together? Not so fast, your haste may stunt your growth.
Yes reciprocal linking has reduced impact on influencing your SERP position, however, they still remain a viable method of increasing your 'search engine legitimacy'. High quality reciprocal links, and by high quality I mean links that are from worthy sites with relevant and rich content for your users, remain important components of the SEO puzzle and any linking strategy.
Even 'low quality' but relevant reciprocal linking remains an acceptable practice, if not for anything but community building. The largest community building sites on the internet, MySpace, Blogspot, all rely on community members linking to each other and vice-versa in some fashion. Although SERP positions may not increase dramatically (remember, they may a bit) the traffic through 'word of mouth' is worthy of the link.
Of course, the power of the relevant one-way link, Site A links to Site B with no link back to A, remains stronger. I don't feel at this point there is any indication that one way links will be replaced as major indicators of SERP position. If you offer a unique item/distinct capability then webmasters will flock to you with links-nothing can beat high quality content.
Today, the major search engines are smart enough to discovery who has legitimate content and who doesn't. Webmasters who are just starting out may find no other alternative but to establish reciprocal linking partnerships in order to get a start. There is a greater time investment regarding reciprocal linking campaigns when first starting compared to a firmly established web site.
Established web owners must look at two fundamental items: 1) create unique content and hopefully through word of mouth/community or SERP positions where you can acquire one way links, 2) reduce reliance and time invested into reciprocal linking, however, remain open to viable and profitable link partners. It's not time to dump reciprocal linking, however, it is time to start moving our focus away form the 'quick fix' and towards more useful investments, namely, unique and distinct content for our users. SEO is becoming more than just links and code but capable writing on distinct topics.
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