Reading Between the Lines: Matt Cutts on Reciprocal Linking

Dec 21, 2007 • 9:15 am | comments (3) by twitter | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

At Pubcon, Matt Cutts was asked about reciprocal linking. We already explored the reciprocal linking question with Adam Lasnik who said that reciprocal linking with relevant sites is better than reciprocal linking with every possible site on the Internet.

A WebmasterWorld thread quotes my coverage of the Matt Cutts keynote (shout out to cnvi for reading!) where I pretty much cover the question about reciprocal linking:

Q: People are all about links but then there's a concern about linking to bad neighborhoods. How do you identify bad neighborhoods? Should you nofollow them or stay away totally?

Matt: Use your gut. Trading links is natural and it's natural to have reciprocal links. At some level, natural reciprocal links happen, but if you do it way too often, it looks artificial. My advice is to go with your gut and if you're worried, you can use nofollow.

Yup, that's what I said. Then I talked about birds. (Actually, Matt did. See coverage here.) In any event, martinibuster expounds upon the statement by Matt to say what we pretty much already know. Matt isn't saying anything different with regards to reciprocal links. He's just saying that you need to be careful with your reciprocal linking approach:

1. Heavy reciprocal linking won't pass a hand check.

2. Light reciprocal linking, both as naturally occurs between similar sites, and apparently the unnatural kind may pass a hand check if it's light.

3. The limits of reciprocal linking are purposely left ambiguous which means either there is no clear number by policy or algo to how many recips you can have, it is hard to put a number to it because it occurs naturally, and/or the limits are left to the judgement of individual hand checkers, i.e. Google reserves editorial discretion when performing a hand check.

That makes complete sense. Be careful in your strategy if you really are inclined to do reciprocal linking.

Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld.

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Laura Anderson

12/22/2007 07:41 pm

since when do we refer to someone who calls themselves "martinibuster" on the topic of reciprocal linking? stop clouding google's official word on link exchange. Nothing wrong with link exchanges as long as you control who you link to and keep it relevant. I am tired of all of these experts throwing their "expert opinion" around. Matt's word is final. we dont need to hear from someone who is more concerned about their next martini.

Scott Walker

12/28/2007 01:27 am

Google will never post a cookbook approach to reciprocal links, so I will continue to form link relationships with other relevant sites. Scott


10/24/2009 08:53 pm

Man, I do not know what Google is doing but I have watched this website rocket up the rankings over the past 60 days just blasting out reciprocal links: Nearly have 1000+

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