Early on in the 2000s, using reciprocal links or “trading links” became a popular method of link building. Oftentimes reciprocal links are natural, so they still show up on the web all the time. But today, these links appear differently on sites compared to 20 years ago, so we’re here to explore the impact of reciprocal links on SEO.
What Are Reciprocal Links?
When two brands agree to share the other’s link on their website, it’s a mutually beneficial relationship that boosts SEO and authority for both sites. If this sounds shady to you, it’s probably because it can be, it all depends on how often and how you’re using these types of links on your site.
Are Reciprocal Links Good for SEO?
The best way to grow your online authority and increase your rankings is to focus on less risky strategies (anything that could incur a penalty from Google) and focus on providing value to site visitors. Quality content is always king when it comes to SEO.
Linking to high-quality content can work the same way, linking to trusted websites improves your reader’s experience. There is also an opportunity for link reciprocation, if the website you’re linking to has competent authority, ranking, etc., you may want to request that they link to your site from theirs. Naturally occurring reciprocal links between high-authority websites can benefit both websites, as well as instill a sense of trust in the reader.
How Links Can Hurt Your SEO
If your website is full of irrelevant links and links to your site are posted across low-quality websites, you’re at a high risk of being penalized by Google. You can decrease your website’s authority by working with poor quality websites, so it’s recommended to do some SEO-related research on any organization you reciprocate links with.
Boosting Your Competition
Linking to relevant websites are important, but if you link to a website targeting the same keywords as you are, you’re just boosting their SEO and not your own. You should reciprocate links with sites you aren’t in direct competition with, but share similar content and lanes in business.
Search engines can lose trust in your website through the abuse of reciprocal links. Lost trust happens when your website has an unusual amount of one to one links (my website only links to sites that link to me), which look suspicious to search engines. Irrelevant or suspicious anchor text can clue in search engines to poor reciprocals links as well.
Reciprocal links can help you grow your website’s traffic and establish your site as an authority within your industry/niche but relevancy is key. Low-quality websites linking to your site will only hurt you in the long run, as it exposes you to penalization from Google. Linking to trusted, authoritative websites will boost your site within your niche and help develop relationships with established brands. Focusing on high-quality, relevant content will always serve your website well.