Is Reciprocal Link Exchange a Dying SEO Art?

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Not so long ago, when many versatile and easy methods for SEO were being used, reciprocal link exchanges were very popular. You place a blogroll on your blog with a link to your friend’s blog and they place a reciprocal link to your blog on their blogroll. Not only you get traffic, but also if you get a reciprocal link from a high PR site, then it increases your reputation in the minds of Google.

broken SEO link chain
Credit: 123rf.com

Easy, huh? But this was so easy that it caught attention of spammers and the method got downgraded. Spammers with a usual hundred sites exchanged links between all their sites to get the maximum of link juice. So this shortcut method for SEO got spammed. 

Now very few reputed blogs use blogroll. So, the question in mind, is it still advised to use a blogroll and exchange reciprocal links for SEO factor?
Or is the reciprocal link exchange just a dying SEO art?

Google Algorithm Updates – A Danger to Shortcut SEO

Google keeps updating its algorithms to improve site listings and search results. These constant updates are focused on removing spamming content and downgrading spam sites. The shortcut methods for SEO are most widely used by spammers and so Google constantly reduces the effect of these shortcut SEO by updating its algorithms. Keeping a link to a friend’s site in a blogroll is now not that effective in terms of link juice as it was earlier. More emphasis is given on in-content links that refer to related contents on the same site or another site wherever the link follows to. The reason is simple. If you write a blog post about SEO techniques, and you link to a site where you can read more about a specific SEO technique, then the link would be more important for a visitor. And a link kept at the bottom or sidebar of the page which links to 10-20 sites seem to be of no importance. And Google constantly updates its algorithms to match visitor importance. More the importance, more valuable the link in terms of SEO.

Lot of Spam

As I said earlier, a lot of spammers use this shortcut SEO method by building excessive reciprocal links. So this linking method got spammed. And whatever SEO methods have got the ‘spam’ tag on them are finally downgraded by Google. A site with a large blogroll is also looked at as a spamming site. Too many links on your blogroll can make a site look spammy. And these links do not pay much unless you have PR1 and the reciprocal linker is PR6 or something. So the cost is not affordable. 
You won’t like if your site has an impression of spam-site in the eyes of your visitor. Yes you can overcome this impression with your unique and good quality content. I have seen many sites with a blogroll of over 20 links but still I am subscribed to them because of their high quality content. But unless your site is well appreciated by your visitors, you shouldn’t play a bet on reciprocal link exchange.

Bondage and Reputation Factor

Whenever you agree to exchange reciprocal links with some site, you have to follow the agreement even if you want to walk back with your decision unless you are ready to have your link removed from the other site. 
SEO link chain
Credit: realtruthmatters.com
This can be a problem sometimes. Suppose you are a new blogger and exchanged links with a new blogger like you and you progress in the next months to gain good traffic, Alexa rank and PR but the other blog lags behind. Now you know that linking to a site with lower quality than you can be ummm-not the best at least. So what would you do? Remove the link and wait for the other site to remove your link too? Not many would agree. If you feel a slight bondage with the other site, then you wouldn’t like to remove the link and leave them behind. Also if you keep the link, your reputation can get downgraded. You are the owner of your blog but still you have to think before editing a link on your blog! This is the bondage that is created with reciprocal links.

Being Innocent and Trustworthy in the Eyes of Google

Linking to low quality sites decreases your reputation. Quality outbound links are the key to real, proper SEO. Links on the bottom of page in a box called ‘blogroll’ are given less importance. Moreover Google checks every outbound link from your site for spammy content. Linking to related sites have never been dangerous and would never be, but linking to low quality sites can be a danger. So you have to be careful while exchanging link with a partner site. Here is a video in which Matt Cutts answers to a common question regarding keeping a blogroll:

As stated in the video, linking to good quality and related sites can never be harmful but linking to spamming and low quality sites can be dangerous to your site’s reputation and rankings. Whatever you do, just keep in mind that you don’t lose the trust of your audience and Google.

Other Alternatives to Reciprocal Link Exchange

  • Do-follow blog commenting
  • Forum posting
  • Guest posting

According to me, these three are the best methods to get links from other sites without harming yourself. They are even much better than reciprocal link exchange in many ways. By guest posting, you provide good quality content to another site’s audience, thus gaining reputation in minds of audience as well as getting a link from the site.

Placing your site’s links in your signature at forums can bring good traffic to your site as well as get quality backlinks. By commenting on other blogs, you get a chance to place a valuable feedback as well as get a link to your site.
From my point of view, reciprocal link exchanges have always been a forced link gaining SEO method. And anything that is forced is never going to end well. The more links you get naturally, the beter it is. Though reciprocal links are still prominent in this SEO world and would not lose popularity so easily, we should look forward for better link building SEO methods.
Have I missed something? Do share your views with me and everyone by placing a valuable comment.

About the Author: Mahaveer Verma

Mahaveer Verma is the admin of Blogging Panorama. He is a student with great interest in blogging and technology. In this blog, he shares his knowledge about Blogging and SEO. Follow him on Google+

2 Comments+ Add Comment

  • Hello there,
    Reciprocal linking take some changes in your blogs and website.So this takes some times in On-page But here are other blasting alternative of that.
    Forums and blogs commenting works a lot.I prefer all these methods for that.
    Thanks for Your views.
    My recent post Client Management Software

  • Yes Blog commenting and forum posting is much preferred now a days. Thanks for visiting Bhushan.
    My recent post How to Make Your Blog Look Professional

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