Is Reciprocal Link Building Worthwhile?

Anybody who knows me also knows I am the enemy of reciprocal link building, this is due to many reasons, firstly because of the lack of link juice they pass, secondly they leak PageRank unnecessarily and thirdly because many reciprocal links look like spam.


My point of view has changed slightly, in the last three months actually.

As many of you might know I control a whole load of niche blogs, one of those blogs has been causing me a few problems; in fact I was struggling to get it onto the first page.

After a long conversation with a close friend and a bit of brainstorming, I decided I was going to do a straight link exchange with 2 other quality sites within this particular niche, a straight exchange blogroll to blogroll. In fact I didn’t even bother with getting the exact anchor I was looking for and just used the domain name.

I was sceptical about this but didn’t really have anything to lose, the site was barely generating 20 bucks a month!

After just 1 week of the links been in place I not only moved onto the first page but into the top five! This meant 20 times more traffic, and $5 in income. This was 2 links and a week later wam!

Let me make one thing clear, this is a pretty small blog in a low competition niche, I know every link that points to the site and their aren’t a ton of them, not even a hundred. This is how I know the reciprocal links are the reason for the increased rank.

What Does This Mean

OK, before you going out trading links like a mad person let me just clarify some rules first and give a few warnings.

1. I only traded 2 links, now this is all I needed to give me a boost, but I would never recommend a blogroll of more than 10-15 partners.

2. I traded the links with related sites, this doesn’t mean on the exact topic but on a related one (ie. blenders site links to a cooking site – not exact but relevant)

3. Treat the exchange as a partnership adding value not just in your blog sidebar but within your posts as well.

4. Finally don’t trade them in one go, site wide links can mean your link popularity jumps by thousands, this can look suspicious so keep it to 2 trades a month and build from there.

Please Do Not Do This!

There is another form of reciprocal linking that I would advise you to completely stay away from, let me show you the chart below.

reciprocal link building

As a webmaster you are going to get automated email after email asking you to exchange links, 95% of them will be set up like above.

“Hey give us a link and we will send you a link from our spammy unrelated link list.”

Some even have the links lists in categories but it is designed to do the same thing, spam Google’s index and you will get caught and banned.

This is different to having a links page with helpful links on it to sources based on your niche that don’t necessarily link back to you, that sort of ‘resources’ page is fine.

Why is this different to a site wide or blogroll exchange?

A blogroll or site wide exchange is designed to pass traffic as well as authority, if you show a link on every page of your site you’re willing to lose PageRank from every page of your site. Would you do this for a worthless link??

Reciprocal link pages are not designed for users, they’re designed for spiders, they are crowded, look terrible and shout SPAMMER!

So ignore the emails, find good, trustworthy and relevant link partners because this sort of reciprocal linking is valuable.

You may have noticed my ‘useful sites’ link on the right-hand site, yes this is my reciprocal list. I do plan on adding more but slowly, these sites are quality blogs exchanged with people I know and trust and am happy to refer traffic to and they will remain there as long as the partnership lasts.

One word of warning

Do not do this with a brand new site; first give your site some authority with one way links through guest posting, article marketing, directory submissions etc

Then when your site already has some authority, look for partners. This is for 2 reasons;

1 – Many webmasters will not exchange links until you have some toolbar PageRank

2 – One link exchange can give you hundreds of links, a new site hit with this kind of link popularity straight away is always going to attract attention.

This could well be my last post before the holidays so if I don’t get chance to publish again, enjoy the holidays and have a great Christmas. I will be posting before the New Year!! Big things coming in 2010!

P.S. My post about Bing SEO got into the “Top 50 SEO Posts of the Year” at you should check it out, lot’s of great resources on this page.


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

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