Reciprocal Links: Look Before You Link

A reciprocal link is when a web site links to you and you link back to them.

If you own a website, I'm sure you've received emails asking for link exchanges. This article's purpose is to help you decide who you should be linking to and why.

Look before you link!

Indiscriminate linking can be harmful to your search engine rankings and your reputation. When considering another website for a link exchange, always check out the potential link partner's web site and the page that your link is going to be placed on.

Five essential rules to follow when choosing a link partner.

1. Make sure that the website is related to yours. For example, if you're a real estate agent, don't exchange links with pages about diet pills or casinos. Link to other real estate related web sites, like mortgages or real estate agents in other areas.

2. Don't link to link farms. You can tell a page is a link farm by the fact that there's usually no company logo, hundreds of links and no real content.

3. Think of your outbound link as a recommendation for that site. If the web site or link page is of poor quality, don't link to it. Ask yourself, "Would I recommend this page to my visitors?"

4. Ensure your link will be found by search engines. Just paste the URL of the web page you'll be linked on into Google, Yahoo, or MSN. If the page comes up in the results, it's indexed.

5. Examine the links on the potential link exchange partner's web page. Make sure the links point straight to other sites and are not redirected or use JavaScript linking code. Look at the HTML source code and check the the links for the following text: "rel=nofollow". This code tells major search engines not to count this link in ranking algorithms.

If done correctly, reciprocal linking can be a great way to increase your online traffic. So, don't forget! Always look before you link!

About the Author

Robert Raught is the lead SEO expert at Technet, a search engine optimization firm based in Washington state. He also publishes daily SEO news and articles in an online RSS enabled blog titled "The Optimizer".

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