Is Mutual Linking Extinct?

If you’ve been reading internet forums, you’ll know that Google’s most recent algorithm update caused quite a stir, prompting many to ask, “Is reciprocal linking dead?”

This latest Google update negatively impacted many websites that relied on reciprocal linking to rank highly in Google.

If a webmaster wanted to outrank a competitor’s website, they would calculate how many links they needed from various websites with a certain PR rating and then launch a reciprocal linking campaign.

This strategy was unquestionably effective and sound. But the vast majority of webmasters would exchange links with anyone and everyone so long as the site had a Google page rank (the higher the better).

Each link exchange was a step toward a higher search engine ranking and victory over the competition.

This strategy may have worked in the past when Google was less intelligent, but it now appears that Google has become more savvy to it. As Google and other search engines become more sophisticated, it is not surprising that the importance of reciprocal links as a ranking factor has decreased.

Which leads us back to the question, “Is reciprocal linking obsolete?”

Instead of asking whether reciprocal linking is dead, you should consider what you hope to accomplish with your reciprocal linking strategy.

If you rely solely on reciprocal linking to achieve a high search engine ranking, you should reconsider your strategy because reciprocal linking is not entirely extinct, but it has taken a significant hit.

I have not ceased my reciprocal linking strategies because I seek the following results:

  1. To generate traffic from other relevant websites to my website.
  2. To add value for my visitors by providing links to websites that may be of interest to them.
  3. This is a bonus if I rank higher in the search engines.

Before exchanging links with another site, I always keep in mind that if a visitor sees a link on my site, they will correctly assume that I have recommended this website to them, and if the site I send them to is irrelevant or of poor quality, I will lose credibility and a potential return visitor.

Whenever I intend to exchange links with another website, I always consider the following factors.

  1. What is the subject of the other website, and does it complement my own?
  2. Will my visitors find this website to be useful?
  3. What is the quality of the website’s content?

If I believe that my visitors will find this website useful, I examine it from a webmaster’s perspective and ask myself the following questions:

  1. How will their site visitors discover my link? If a visitor cannot locate my link, I will not receive any traffic.
  2. Is there a link to their links directory on their homepage (and preferably on all pages)?
  3. Where will my hyperlink be placed? Does it require more than two clicks to reach the homepage?
  4. Does the website have a sitemap, and does it include the links page?

I will proceed with a link exchange if, and only if, the website meets the above criteria.

Correctly implemented, a reciprocal linking strategy may not be as effective for ranking highly in search engines, but it is still a vital component of attracting targeted traffic to your website.

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