Sunday, November 17, 2019

Do Reciprocal Links Help or Hurt Your SEO?

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Using reciprocal links – sometimes referred to as “traded” or “exchanged” links – was a popular method of link building in the early 2000s but has decreased in popularity in recent years.
Reciprocal links are still a relatively common occurrence. They’re a natural byproduct of owning a website, after all.


However, the way reciprocal links appear on sites today is different from 20 years ago.
In my research for this article, I found an insightful link building study done by Ahrefs, which states – and I must agree! – that developing relationships through authentic outreach, and linking to sources without expecting anything in return, are the most proper and natural ways to build reciprocal links.
This graph shows that only 26.4% of the authority domains used in Ahrefs’ study are not using reciprocal links:





So, yes, reciprocal links are still quite common.
But the question still begs an answer: Do reciprocal links help or hurt your SEO?

What Are Reciprocal Links?

A link exchange occurs when an agreement is made between two brands to trade links to boost SEO and site authority by essentially saying, “you link to me, and I’ll link to you.”
In essence, a reciprocal link is a quid pro quo, or a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situation.
Does this sound shady?
Maybe.
Is it shady?
It could be. That all depends on how – and how often – you’re using reciprocal links on your site.
In the third paragraph of this article, we linked to Ahrefs. The link sets us both up for a helpful, naturally occurring reciprocal link situation. Whether Ahrefs chooses to reciprocate by linking back to this article is entirely up to them.
Now let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum.
Here’s an example of a shady link exchange offer, found on a site that exclusively hosts link exchanges:


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Not very appealing, is it?

Are Reciprocal Links Good for SEO?

If you want to grow your authority and rankings (and reduce the risk of penalties from search engines), the key is to focus on less risky strategies and tactics.
Above all else, your link building methods should enhance your customer’s experience on your site.
Rather than focusing on SERP rankings and your website’s link profile, focus on providing something of value to your readers and customers by producing high-quality content.
Including some external links on your site can be helpful to SEO, but they aren’t the driving force behind your site’s ranking.

How to Use Reciprocal Links to Help Your SEO

Linking to quality sites that are relevant to your content enhances your reader’s overall experience on your website.
Content is king, and consistently delivering original and valuable information to your readers will earn your site a spot on the throne.
When you link to high-value content, you can establish your site as a trusted source of information. In this case, if the other site reciprocates the link, consider it a bonus – the content matters first.
If you’re going to request reciprocation, check the site’s SEO metrics to ensure that you’re exchanging links with a high-authority website.


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