Are Reciprocal Links Bad? Not Quite.

Aug 13, 2007 • 9:20 am | comments (11) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

There is a bit of alarm at DigitalPoint Forums over June's Google Webmaster Guidelines update that addresses some of the outstanding questions regarding hidden links, cloaking, keyword spamming, and the like. More specifically, the panic is related to linking practices as seen by Google.

Numerous webmasters are afraid that they are being penalized -- or will be -- due to reciprocal linking. But that's not quite the case. As Google's Adam Lasnik says in the questionable blog post that stirred this discussion, Google is looking for relevant reciprocal linking, and not linking schemes that provide no value to the users.

When read with the initial paragraph (right above the list mentioning reciprocal linking), it becomes pretty clear that we are NOT inherently against reciprocal links.

Note in particular this sentence: “However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites.”

I think DigitalPoint forums members need to sit back, relax, and read Search Engine Roundtable for any clarifications. ;)

Forum discussion continues at DigitalPoint Forums.

Previous story: Google's Matt Cutts Shares WordCamp 2007 Presentations



08/13/2007 06:01 pm

"I think DigitalPoint forums members need to sit back, relax" Lol, I have a feeling though that most of the folks over at DigitalPoint posting on that thread should be worried.

Michael Martinez

08/13/2007 08:19 pm

NOTE: All references to "PageRank" are to internal PageRank, not to the silly, useless, meaningless 0..10 values you see in the toolbar. People need to look at the bigger picture here. Google revises its Webmaster guidelines on an occasional basis, but they have on more than one occasion warned people not to participate in reciprocal linking "schemes" without actually defining what they consider to be a scheme. We already know that Google has separated the Web into those pages that are allowed to pass and receive both PageRank and link anchor text and those pages which are not allowed to pass anchor text or PageRank. PageRank is not used to determine how pages rank in the search results, but it IS being used to determine which pages will be allowed to rank in the search results. Google has acknowledged that the Main Web Index content is selected on the basis of PageRank. They have only recently acknowledged that they were only partially parsing and indexing Supplemental Results Index pages. They have yet to acknowledge that the Supplemental Results Index remains a major part of their strategy to promote only an elite portion of the Web that is selected on the basis of PageRank -- which is demonstrably unreliable for determining quality or value. Since PageRank (linkage) in no way represents the expression of opinion with respect to value, Google has painted itself into a corner. People continue to manipulate Google's search results but through anchor text not PageRank; however, Google only says that people are trying to manipulate PageRank, something no one really needed to do until now. Now that it has become crystal clear that you MUST have sufficient PageRank in order to participate in the search results, the floodgates of PageRank manipulation will open and Google will find its index quality sinking even lower than it currently is. I am not predicting that they will lose market share for third month in a row (May, June, July) but I won't be surprised to learn that they have. They seem to have lost market share only since rolling out Universal Search. Instead of seeking to trample small Webmasters who are completely unaware of link manipulation, Google should be giving serious weight and consideration to just indexing the Web and not judging quality on the basis of an irrelevant measurement like internal PageRank. This is why more and more people are calling Google's division of the Web into those pages that are allowed to be found in SERPs and those pages that are not allowed to be found "Web Apartheid". Enough is enough, Google! Let Supplemental Pages be treated no differently from Main Web Index pages.


08/13/2007 08:50 pm

SERoundtable is a great place to get clarification about such things. Or they can also have it explained to them by a handsome man ....


08/13/2007 10:40 pm

Big fan of that video Patrick! :)

Barry Schwartz

08/13/2007 10:49 pm

Yes, very nice video Pat!

Michael Martinez

08/13/2007 11:29 pm

I disagree with the video. If you ask someone for a link to your site and they insist you link back is NOT a "link scheme". The video is misleading.


08/13/2007 11:34 pm

Full agreement with Michael's comment above. External PageRank as a conceptual "voting mechanism" was a darn dumb idea in the first place (essentially expanding on the rationale of academic citation indices) and as the past years have shown, neither external nor internal PR constitutes a safeguard against SERP manipulation. As many webmasters are seeing it now, Google is resorting to mere bullying tactics, purporting to be able to reliably gauge links' "intent" - while this may arguably reduce the less intelligent autogen linking tools, the more sophisticated black hat operators have long surpassed that stage and will merely laugh all the way to the bank if all Google can up with is another round of "more of the same".


08/14/2007 03:37 am

Micheal and Fanto (two people I respect) I didn't clarify in that video enough perhaps that the reason if someone states "you have to link to me" it is a link scheme is not because they said that, it is because the ONLY reason you are creating that link is to receive another. That is a "bad" link you are creating (from google's standpoint, not mine) because it is not for your visitors.

Sandy Castens

08/14/2007 08:22 am

reciprocal linking has been a great way to generate relevant traffic since the dawn of the world wide web. I have had success after success branding our websites with relevant link exchange. The difference is that we dont use software here to fully automate link exchange. Instead, we use an editor based product (linksmanager) to take the grunt work out of it. We will NOT remove our links pages because we obtain so many relevant links to our site. I think google is overstepping here. not the best way to win over webmasters!

Michael Martinez

08/15/2007 05:16 pm

If you're going to make a public statement about what a "link scheme" is, you need to get your facts straight. The Google Webmaster guidelines are misleading on the issue too, since they wrongly impute an intent to all arranged link exchanges that is not necessarily there. It is perfectly acceptable for people to say, "If you link to me then I'll link to you". Just because Google is paranoid about link exchanges is no reason for people to stop exchanging links. Which is not to say I want total strangers contacting me for link exchanges. That's spam in any form. But arranged reciprocal linking is OKAY and Google can take its Webmaster guidelines and put them where the sun don't show for all I care. They don't run the Web and they are not going to tell us how we can get links.


10/14/2011 01:16 pm

I agree, though i prefer one way link back for my personal blog all the way  and I do have a few link exchange links but only a few in number.  I dont believe that reciprocals are 100 % bad.

blog comments powered by Disqus