Reciprocal links? Just say no!

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