Reciprocal Links: Are They Worth It?
Many Digital Marketing companies raise a red flag when the word ‘backlinking’ is uttered. However, the reality is that backlinking strategies are not always black and white. Reciprocal links represent the gray area. Many digital marketers exchange links, but this may not always be the best link earning strategy to implement. While it makes sense to participate in link building, you have to go about it in the right way with more inbound links from trusted sources. By doing so, this implies to Google that your site has valid information and shows authority over a competitor’s site with less reputable links.
As digital marketers, it is of course important to diligently avoid those black hat tactics that will only result in short-term gains in traffic but will ultimately hurt you in the long run. In my quest to provide our client with high-quality links, I hoped to get our client’s site added to a relevant industry portal and local business directory. I reached out via email and received a positive response, however in exchange the developers wanted me to put a link to their site somewhere in our client’s site – a reciprocal link. My immediate thought was “No,” as I thought it would look out of place on the site. And although this link trading would not boost the client’s rankings, it could boost direct traffic to the site. Since this particular site was primarily an e-commerce site, increasing visitors could raise conversions for purchases.
Before accepting the proposed link trade, I asked myself the following questions:
1. Does it help the goals for your website?
In this case, not particularly. While this company does have two brick-and-mortar locations, their primary concern is e-commerce. Directing visitors to check out other businesses might deter local customers from the client’s stand-alone shops.
2. Does the link create a better experience for the site visitor?
The link would direct the visitor to other local businesses. This may be helpful if the customer lives in the area. If not, the link is irrelevant and takes them further away from completing the desired goal – a purchase.
3. Does the site/company that wants to trade links rank well?
If the site has very few visitors anyway, the issue is moot. Our client’s site would receive little direct traffic, so trading links would not be beneficial.
Every site is different, and every client has different needs. Reciprocal links are still a gray area, so use your discretion when deciding if they are a beneficial backlinking strategy for your site.
Have you used reciprocal links to your advantage in the past, or do you avoid them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet us @Perfect_Search!