I met Eric Enge author for Search Engine Land and…
It makes me laugh when I see statements like this:
Reciprocal link building became widespread by webmasters and SEOs in the 90’s and continues today. Some people do it manually one link at a time, while others use automated programs to search prospects, contact them, check for the back link and publish the reciprocal link. Some internet marketers sell reciprocal link building software while others sell against it. In some cases it will get you penalized by Google. But in other cases, you can find websites that dominate their targeted keywords whose backlinks are filled with insestual reciprocal links. You may wonder…
- “If I trade links with someone who emailed me with a reciprocal link offer, will it hurt or help me?”
- “Can I use a reciprocal link building program without penalizing my website?”
- “I think its OK if they link to me, but should I link to them?”
To find out the answer to your questions, forget everything you ever heard or think you know about SEO. Think about your own website visitors. Why do your visitors go to your website? Would someone on your website be interested in reading what is published on another website? Remember the term “Surf the web”? For those of us who do, we would go to an interesting website, read a bit, see an enticing link and follow it. Read some more there, until we either get bored with it and hit the back button, or come across another enticing link and read some more there. Those were the days before link building…before the knowledge of link affects on search engines polluted the activities of webmasters.
Go back to the ideals of these pre-link building days.
Create links for your visitors and you will be rewarded for quality outbound and inbound links.
That is one of the goals of Google. “No follow” code for links addressed some of the spam link building activities. Google algorithm updates over the years have aimed at rewarding or penalizing visitor benefiting links and spammy links made just for the purpose of having one more link.
Reciprocal Link Directory: Good or Bad Idea?
Sometimes webmasters would publish a list of related references that they respected. However, unless the sole purpose of your website is to be directory, it makes no sense to create an index of outbound references about every subject thinkable. DMOZ and Yahoo Directory already covered this. If however your website directory is full of online resources that are pertinent to your website and valuable to your visitors, such as a list of local vendors for something you provide expertise, then that makes sense.
If a resource on your website is indeed valuable to your visitors, it is likely valuable to visitors of other similar websites… and it would make sense for those websites to link to your resource. It would also make sense for you to link to it from prominent pages of your own website. Search engines can read relevance in the language. Search engines like Google know what words are related to others because they read content from all over the web and remember which words appear together (this is called a semantic relationship between keywords). Search engines like Google determine the value of a directory (or any other web page) based on inbound links. By linking out to other excellent resources, you can create a valuable resource. This is the original idea behind a directory, and it still holds true, as long as you make it a good one for your particular visitors.