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Link Building Part I: Reciprocal Link Building

One of the important aspects of search engine optimization is links. Links to your website found on many other websites on the Internet is the best way to make your PageRank higher. So, the secret to website success is links, links, links (but don’t forget content). The more links to your site, the better. It is a given that incoming links to a website help to determine its PageRank. And, PageRank is Google’s prime method for establishing trust and importance.

It was a practice in the past for webmasters and website owners to blast email, even spam email, other webmasters or website owners to do link exchanges; they would link to your website, and you in turn would link to them. This is usually done between websites who have the relatively same type of content or sell the same product or service, but can use the other website to increase traffic to theirs. This practice of exchange links is known as reciprocal linking. It has evolved, however, and you must be quite careful in how you implement it today or it can end up hurting your site (Google frowns upon link farms and paid link exchanges).

With the dawn of engine optimization, reciprocal linking became an important technique used by webmasters for link building. It’s very efficient in getting a targeted audience who visit one site to click on a link to another site which is related or similar in nature. It also gives users additional content to read and go through, information that are not easily found by using search engines. Reciprocal linking is one of the oldest tricks of the trade. The main objective of the World Wide Web is to interlink all of the websites in it, and reciprocal linking is the one that started to weave the web into what it is now.

There are some webmasters out there who ruin the reciprocal link building game by creating websites that are “link farms”, or pages and pages of links which do not contain any valuable information at all. There are also bots that sends spam emails to all web owners who literally beg for other website owners to put link to these websites. These practices actually ruin the reputation of reciprocal link building. Then there’s the practice of accepting or requesting links from sites that are totally unrelated.

A lot of websites accept and exchange links from sites that are irrelevant to their sites, thinking that it’s a free ride. Linking to websites that are not related or relevant to your website’s content are actually known to lower your site’s PageRank and value to other search engines. Some search engines like Google actually penalize these websites whose links can be found on unrelated websites or are part of “link farms”, and put these websites into a theoretical place called the “sandbox”, where websites using blackhat techniques to gain more traffic temporarily get a lower PageRank and sometimes, even eliminated from searches. It is good to avoid being placed in that “sandbox” as this could harm website traffic and ultimately, your business.

There are still known advantages of reciprocal links, although the practice has already been frowned upon by search engines. Here are some good tips on how to practice efficient reciprocal link building:

• If you do practice reciprocal link building, make sure those websites you exchange links with are relevant to your site’s contents and have valuable and reliable information. You will also have to closely monitor the websites that you exchange links with to make sure that they are doing their part and not taking down your links or using hidden tactics for your links not to show on their website. Make sure that the you are playing the game fairly and that your links are situated in places where visitors can easily see them, and vice versa

• It is better to check your link partners’ PageRank and traffic to ensure that these websites can help you and not harm your own site’s ranking. Again, poor quality reciprocal links are known to lower your rankings as it is so make sure the websites that you exchange links with do not add insult to injury. Also, check if those websites are not banned on search engines

• Have your link partners use your keywords and key phrases to add more value to your exchange

• Ensure that incoming links from link partners point to relevant pages within your website, and not just your main landing page

One important thing you have to remember is that you can be penalized if you link to a website in a “bad neighborhood” – meaning a blacklisted site. So make sure to check the sites you are linking to by looking at the last time they were indexed by Google, making sure that they are currently in the Google index and also checking their PageRank. You cannot be penalized by spam sites linking to you (you can’t control that), but Google will indeed penalize you for linking to them.

Reciprocal linking can be a good and free way to improve your site’s ranking. The key is to ensure that these links are from relevant sites and use relevant keywords. You have to monitor your link partners to make sure they are doing their share in the exchange and you have to make sure that your website is not being jeopardized by these partnerships. Reciprocal link building is an old practice that has worked efficiently in interweaving the World Wide Web, but it can also do harm to your website’s rank in search engines if not implemented properly. Even with new technologies and innovations arising in search engine optimization, these search engines are always two steps ahead of us. They find ways to give exact results, even minimal results to searches which eliminate websites that could be of value, so you would have to be on par with their systems and techniques. Reciprocal link building is still a solid method of driving traffic to your website and increasing PageRank as long as it is implemented correctly.

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