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Reciprocal Linking (cont'd)

Everyone loves compliments. In your message you might compliment on something specific about their site so they know that you've spent some time on their site. You might also mention that your link to their site will be highly visible to your visitors.  On this site, for example, we devote one of the seven major sections to reciprocal links.  A potential drawback in providing premium real estate (i.e., the "Links" section) for our linking partners is that many of our visitors will exit our site through the page.  However, we would not have it any other way.  Most people will react positively if they know that you intend to offer something substantial in return for their favor.

Although it may not be prudent to seek reciprocal linking with sites that sell the exact same product or service as you do, many "borderline" competitors would be willing to trade links with you if they think they can benefit from the swap.  We have successfully secured reciprocal links with many other sites offering website promotion and search engine optimization tips.  No two sites on promotion are exactly the same (unless one is a mirror or plagiary of the other), and there are bound to be some aspects about one site to which a competitor would feel worthy of referring its visitors.

When looking for reciprocal linking partners, look for high quality sites that are well maintained.  Ideally, you'd want to swap links with popular, high-traffic sites, but they may not want to swap with you, especially if your site is brand new and not receiving many visitors.  Although links from established sites with high page rankings are worth more than those from less well-known sites from a search placement standpoint, we feel it is just as worthwhile to seek links from quality, content-rich newer sites that are aggressively promoted.  Although their links may not be worth much now, your relationship with them will certainly pay off in the future. 

Avoid swapping links  with link farms.  These are sites with little or no original content which are created for the sole purpose of gaining traffic by swapping links with countless other sites.  The search engines are smart enough to recognize link farms and penalize for associating with them.  Since you have no control on who links to you, the search engines won't penalize you for a link to your site from a farm.  However, the search engines may penalize (or even ban) you if you link to link farms. 

When considering a site to swap links with, pay close attention to its directory structure, namely how the page containing your link is connected to the main page.  There should be a clear path to the links page, and you shouldn't have to click more than twice to get to the page (perhaps one click to the links page and another to a category containing your link).  Links from dangling pages (pages not integrated into the main site) are not worth much and are a scheme for unscrupulous webmasters to secure linkage from other sites without making reciprocal links visible to their visitors.

After you secure reciprocal linkage with other websites, check your link page regularly to fix bad links and remove those partners  who no are longer linking to you.  Some scam artists will link to your site long enough to secure a reciprocal link from and then remove it later. 

A general rule of thumb about reciprocal linking is to approach it in good faith.  Reciprocal means mutual-- it's a win-win relationship.  Both parties benefit from reciprocal linkage, so there's no point to cheat or associate with cheaters.

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