Sunday, March 27, 2005

Reciprocal Linking revisited

Reciprocal linking is getting a little bad press nowadays. Possibly due to Allegra, SEO crystal ball gazers are surmising that Google will place even more importance on the relevancy of the link. For once I tend agree because it would seem a logical evolution: from linkpop to PageRank, to relevant PageRank… to even more relevant PageRank.

If true, in practice that would mean that links coming from the body of a relevant deep content page and fitted with a relevant text anchor would be attributed the highest importance and have the highest bearing on your page’s SERPs.

But there’s also a lot of nonsense about reciprocal linking being bandied around. Most of it around the lines that it can get you “penalised” [too phallic for me] or even “banned”.

The more likely scenario is the following. All links probably contribute to a page’s SERPs but some links are better contributers than others. “Natural”, unilateral and relevant links would score highest on the scale. Reciprocal links would score lower but not necessarily “low”.

To ensure inbound, reciprocal links have the highest value possible, try these tweaks:
  1. Provide some theme-relevant content on each links page.

  2. Use proper, relevant text anchors and descriptions, rather than plain ads. The text will contribute to the content of the links page.

  3. Create only links pages that are closely related to the theme(s) of your site.

  4. Keep a close eye on categorisation: make sure outbound links are placed on the most relevant part of your links directory.

  5. Ask your link partners to link to a page that matches their theme as closely as possible, rather than have all links point to the home page.

And lets’ face it: apart from a few top ranking sites, very few will get significant numbers of inbound links without a little engineering. For most, reciprocal linking remains the most viable option and it usually works for them. No matter how great your content may be, if you’re a relatively small fish in a big pond, few Webmasters will link to you without requiring the favour be returned.

Link building is hard work: finding link partners, dealing with incoming requests, putting the links on, asking them to link back, reminding them if they don’t at first, deleting their link if ultimately they decide not to link to you, thanking and possibly upgrading their link if they do, spidering your links pages to spot dead links, etc… It seems like a part time job in its own right. Without some automation by means of software it’s a mountain of work. Next post: ARELIS reciprocal linking software.


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