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Reciprocal Linking - Do Not Make This Mistake.
By Susan Norrad

If you have been wondering if Reciprocal linking is still a good idea, then read below. I'll give you Google's opinion on it, as well as mistakes to avoid when linking with other sites and how to correctly do a link exchange.

Google, says yes, links to your site are important! They say to help you get a bigger search engine ranking, make sure other sites link to yours.
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=40349&ctx=related

By having other sites linking to yours, it helps Google's crawlers find your site and as well gives your site a greater visibility in their search results.

Google uses their PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search.

Google interprets links to your site as a "vote" for your site from the other sites. Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. "Votes" from sites that Google considers "important" will weigh more heavily in determining your search engine ranking.

Therefore, do NOT go out and try to get as many links as possible. Google calls these "unnatural links" that are placed there specifically to make your site look more popular to the search engines. These types of links are link farms, or linking schemes and doorway pages.

Google says in their Webmaster Guidelines:
http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769 "Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links."

Link Farms:
I am seeing more and more webmasters asking for "three way links". For example, if you place their link on your site, they will place your link on a different site other than their main site. They try to justify it as a better solution than reciprocating links from your site to theirs by saying it's a one way link to your site from the "link farm".

Therefore, the "three way linkers" do not have any links on their main site. They are getting higher quality sites to link to them, making it appear that their site is more popular.

You get the short end of the stick! Your site's link is now on a site that is nothing more than a "link farm".

Link farms are sites that have nothing but a huge directory of links. The search engines do NOT see these as "important". So therefore, you have just hurt your site by agreeing to a three way link exchange.

There are many reciprocal link management services and link farm products. You will recognize them by the template-based emails offering to exchange links. All of them will want to place your link in nothing but a directory of links (a link farm), where it does not do your site any good at all and will actually harm your search engine ranking.

Awhile back when I realized what was going on, I began declining all "three way link" exchange offers. However, I did keep those in my links directory, which had been submitted before that. Now I see that was also a mistake. My PageRank dropped a point. The PageRanks of my links directory pages that had once been between 1 to 3, dropped to 0.

Therefore I am going to do a clean up of my Links Directory and delete all sites that were "three way links". You may want to do the same if you want to improve your search engine ranking.

How To Properly Do Reciprocal Link Exchanges:

DO go to websites that are relevant to your site's theme. Check to see if they have a "Links" page or it may be listed as "Link Exchange Program". These are usually listed on websites in the lower left hand or right hand columns or at the bottom of the site. You can see where I placed mine on the left hand column at http://everydaybusinessonline.com

Follow their instructions for submitting your link, after all you are the one asking them, not the other way around. If they ask you to send an email, do it. If they ask you to fill out a form to submit your request for a link exchange, do so.

Do NOT send them an email without even visiting their site. I get so many emails that say, "I just visited your wonderful site.... blah, blah, blah, it would be to both our advantage to exchange links..."

I know they did not visit my site, if they did they would have seen the link to my Link Exchange Program which clearly states that I do not do exchanges by email, they must click on link and fill out the request form.

I hope this helps you in understanding the significance of links exchanges and how to avoid the pitfalls when building your link exchange program.

Copyright 2007

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Susan Norrad
Everyday Business Online
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