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Old 07-26-2006   #1
exoticpublishing
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Are Reciprocal Links Dead?

An SEOer just told me that we can't use reciprocal links anymore & they will actually count against us.

Is this true?

Thanks


Michelle
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Old 07-26-2006   #2
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Hello Michelle,
In my opinion and experience I can say that this technique is not dead. If you do it properly it can well be worth the effort - if you do it properly. Don't ask for links from a site that sells used boats if you are a wedding planner ;-)

Links have more than the one function many think about (read page rank and link popularity). If you set up a tightly themed link directory you'll be surprised at the quantity and quality of traffic you'll receive.

Sante
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Old 07-26-2006   #3
exoticpublishing
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Yes I know about not trading links with companies that aren't similar, but I'm not talking about that, this guy made it seem like you actually get penalized & I want to know if it's true or not.

I've never seen anyone get traffic from link pages.

Your link is buried 10 ft. deep with all the other banners & links LOL


Michelle

Quote:
Originally Posted by sjachille
Hello Michelle,
In my opinion and experience I can say that this technique is not dead. If you do it properly it can well be worth the effort - if you do it properly. Don't ask for links from a site that sells used boats if you are a wedding planner ;-)

Links have more than the one function many think about (read page rank and link popularity). If you set up a tightly themed link directory you'll be surprised at the quantity and quality of traffic you'll receive.

Sante

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Old 07-26-2006   #4
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Reciprocal Links Dead, long live Reciprocal Links.
Reciprocal Links Dead, long live Reciprocal Links.
Reciprocal Links Dead, long live Reciprocal Links.
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Old 07-26-2006   #5
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Recip links are NOT dead, and it's absolutely NOT true that they will get you penalized. Anybody telling you that is spinning yarns about that which they don't know.

I am currently running some tests on reciprocal linking. I'm several months away from publishing any definitive findings but the results so far show that that recip links still carry weight with Google.

With that said, if you have nothing but reciprocal links then Google will see an unnatural linking pattern going on with your site and it may discount a lot of them. Reciprocal links are a excellent part of a balanced link diet... but they should not consist of the entire link diet!

[added] A poorly implemented reciprocal campaign CAN do you more harm than good (less frequency of spidering, etc) but I would not say that this constitutes a penalty.

Last edited by St0n3y : 07-26-2006 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 07-28-2006   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by St0n3y
Recip links are NOT dead, and it's absolutely NOT true that they will get you penalized. Anybody telling you that is spinning yarns about that which they don't know.

I am currently running some tests on reciprocal linking. I'm several months away from publishing any definitive findings but the results so far show that that recip links still carry weight with Google.

With that said, if you have nothing but reciprocal links then Google will see an unnatural linking pattern going on with your site and it may discount a lot of them. Reciprocal links are a excellent part of a balanced link diet... but they should not consist of the entire link diet!

[added] A poorly implemented reciprocal campaign CAN do you more harm than good (less frequency of spidering, etc) but I would not say that this constitutes a penalty.
THANK GOD

This is completely accurate… any other advice is uniformed. Merely go to Matt Cutts blog and search ‘reciprocal links’ he has discussed it many times.

I have researched, tested and written extensively about all things ‘Big Daddy’ (Google algorithm update) and I have read many, many comments and guidelines by the CUTTlefish on linking. As Goo is currently the toughest on linking strategies/patterns, it is a good indicator.

There is just so much, here are some tidbits;

The Q&A period at the recent; ‘Nov16-2005 - WMW Las Vegas Organic Site Reviews Panel’ - This panel, made up of representatives of the Big 3 and more, was giving general reviews of sites from the audience form an ‘organic’ SEO standpoint. Matt mentioned in a review of some sites for the attendees;

“TicketsToGo.com – “Matt Cutts said "tell me about your backlinks" ... uber spammy reciprocal linking campaign. said good news is no manual spam penalty, but few of the low quality links this site has are doing it any good.””

On his Blog as a follow up to the event;

“The main point I want to get across is that in 1-2 minutes, it was easy to tell whether a site was (over)doing reciprocal links or trying to buy links”

On his Blog in regards to Big Daddy and linking;

“The sites that fit “no pages in Bigdaddy” criteria were sites where our algorithms had very low trust in the inlinks or the outlinks of that site. Examples that might cause that include excessive reciprocal links, linking to spammy neighborhoods on the web, or link buying/selling.” - www.mattcutts.com/blog/indexing-timeline


My point is TRUST ME. Our friend here is very correct that advice to the contrary is simply misguided, (unless you don’t believe Matt).

It’s about linking responsibly. If you go out ‘willy-nilly’ buying links and trading with any irrelevant site you can find.. you can most likely expect to get devalued and see no measurable ROI on your link building investments.

It’s not dead… it just requires care.
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Old 07-28-2006   #7
exoticpublishing
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Ok, thanks guys.

So who is Matt anyway? Clearly I have no idea.

I'm in the process of looking to hire a new PPC/SEO guy/gal (not many females in this line of work is there?) & I want to make sure they aren't giving me misinformation, as I've already hired people who have screwed me around b/c they think they know it all & they know almost nothing.

Should any knowledgeable SEOer know who Matt is?

Where does one go to upgrade their skills when it comes to PPC & then SEO?

How often should they be upgrading their knowledge?

Thanks


Michelle
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Old 07-28-2006   #8
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Michelle,
Matt Cutts is a very influential Google employee

If you haven't seen any good traffic coming your way from linking referrals then it wasn't done properly - links can bring traffic and increase your visibility, this is a fact, I have hard numbers (=statistics) that can prove this.

I suggest you look at seopros.org for a professional SEO to take on your job. I have taken on small consulting tasks to define the activity and put the company in the condition to out and ask for an RFP (Request for Proposal)

Hope this helps and good luck on your SEO efforts,

Sante
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Old 07-28-2006   #9
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>So who is Matt anyway? Clearly I have no idea.

Matt Cutts is a senior search engineer at Google. His blog at mattcutts.com is well worth checking out.

>Should any knowledgeable SEOer know who Matt is?

In a word....yes. They should be reading his blog and taking on board what he has to say

>Where does one go to upgrade their skills when it comes to PPC & then SEO?

Some companies do offer SEO training, but the best way to keep up to date with PPC and SEO is through experience, and of course reading forums like this one.

>How often should they be upgrading their knowledge?

Every day!
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Old 07-28-2006   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by exoticpublishing
I'm in the process of looking to hire a new PPC/SEO guy/gal (not many females in this line of work is there?)
actually some of the undisputed leaders in this industry are females. Barbara Coll and Jill Whalen are probably at the top of that list.

The rest of the advice you have received so far in this thread is accurate, in my opinion. And yes, Matt Cutts is a name that anyone you interview should probably know...
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Old 08-11-2006   #11
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If you ask me recips have been devalued but still work, but man you need numbers.

What works better is a few links per page- you know, the ones that Matt cutts told you not to get? That is why we go out and get them.
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Old 08-11-2006   #12
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If a link makes sense for users, it will probably make sense for Search Engines So no, reciprocal linking is not dead per se. it is just that SE are more and more efficient at detecting artificial linking schemes.
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Old 09-25-2006   #13
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Ston3y said:
"I am currently running some tests on reciprocal linking. I'm several months away from publishing any definitive findings but the results so far show that that recip links still carry weight with Google."

Ston3y, that is very intersting.

Most people who say that reciprocal linking is dead are just not looking at SERPs much. It's alive and well, and being used very effectively, and has been since...oh...1994..when the WWW started.

Sites that linked improperly and with anything and everything have often seen their results suffer, but sites that have done this properly have been rock steady, for YEARS.

I've seen it with my own eyes, again and again. It's the kind of results that everyone wants, but many people can't seem to get.

For anyone to deny it is just admitting their own lack of understanding of reciprocation done properly.

Neverthless, the "reciprocal linking is dead" crowd is a very vocal portion of the SEO world. If you are a small busienss owner who needs links, just be glad that you aren't taking their advice, and your competitors are....
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Old 09-26-2006   #14
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Post Reciprocal Linking is Alive and Well

Hello folks,

I've been lurking around here for years primarily as a reader but decided recently to become active in link building forums because I increasingly see misinformation with regards to reciprocal linking. Since this is my first post here, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on reciprocal linking.

Reciprocal linking existed pre-Google... in the late 90's we too found that linking with like minded sites was a great way to produce relevant traffic entirely separate from search engine returns.

Then G came along and unleashed what you all know to be PageRank. It's my opinion that may not have been such a hot idea because many unscrupulous webmasters tryed to game G and manipulate PR in an effort to soar to the top of the rankings.

As many of you all know, the search engines had to do something to deal with this surge in gamesmanship and chicanery. Now we see webmasters complaining that backlinks aren't being counted or being stuffed into supplemental results.

Webmasters must stop making linking decisions for the search engines. Do not make linking decisions based on what you think it is going to do for your rankings. Linking decisions must be made for the end user, not the search engines.

I have seen some seo companies post blogs titled "reciprocal linking is dead". I strongly disagree with these misinformative statements.

The web is built on links. That’s why it’s called the web- a interconnected, interlinked wonderful conglomeration of people, places and things. That’s the way it was intended to be. There was an Internet long before there was a web and the Internet wasn’t easy to use and navigate through mostly because information wasn’t linked to other information. Every university, science lab and government domain was an island unto itself.

Site operators naturally tend towards reciprocal linking. Bob has a motorcycle shop, and he links to Joe’s custom paint service’s site. Joe puts a link to Bob’s shop on his site because his customers are always asking for recommendations on where to buy custom parts. Joe and Bob aren’t involved in some evil scheme to artificially boost their search engine rankings; they are providing a valid and useful reference service for their customers. This is exactly what a web site is supposed to do.

What doesn’t work, and what search engines may penalize you for, are high volume irrelevant reciprocal links, publishing a long list of sites that have no connection to your business, or linking to sites that have no reason to link to each other.

Search engine engineers realize that webmasters will link to and obtain links from sites that benefit their end users. When you do it correctly, linking can be a great way to obtain relevant traffic completely separate from search engine returns.

When it comes to link building, avoid:
- services that promise X number of links over X period of time.
- services that "guarantee" X number of links for X price.
- services that obtain links for you without eidtorial discretion.
- services that link your site in high volume to sites irrelevant to your own.

If you will make linking decisions for your end users, you will enjoy long term success. If you make linking decisions for the wrong reasons in an effort to inflate your rankings, you are asking the search engines to downgrade your rankings. You do not want to do anything that will cause the search engines to look negatively upon your link strategy.
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Old 09-26-2006   #15
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I've had a client that had put up reciprocal links pages and used automated scripts to add and check them.

They did this because their rankings were not very high and they hoped it would improve by doing this. It did - for a short while, and not very much. Then important internal pages started not showing up for searches they used to.

When I took over, I did the following:

1. Went through the list of recips for people who had stopped linking to my client. This is very common - agree to a recip, then a few months later, remove your link (or no-follow or javascript it), giving you a one-way from your victim. Like most tactics used by spammers and assorted nasties, it's a numbers game, some people check back, others forget about it or trust them. You can usually assume that a site doing this either is or will be in a bad neighbourhood, and you do not wish to be linking to them for any reason. Not to mention I'm constitutionally unwilling to allow cheaters to take advantage of me or my clients on principle.

2. Went through the remainder and removed off-topic and unwanted links. I'm generally fairly easy about what's on-topic or not, but this removed about 600(!) links.

3. Ran a PR checker on the remainder - kept most of the high PR ones and manually checked the low or no PR ones. I kept several of these because they were either good sites that were on their way to having higher PR or they were just plain useful or very much on-topic (measuring by PR doesn't take into consideration that MSN, Ask and Yahoo don't use it - never decide only on PR for anything). I also removed one very high PR site that has obviously been buying it's way there and wasn't going to last long.

4. Then I removed the automatic software and put the links in a proper, organized format.

This process lowered the number of reciprocal links from more than 1200 to less than 50.

The results were:

1. Absolutely no loss of displayed PR
2. An increase in rankings for almost every page of the site, including the ones that had been losing their rankings earlier.
3. A lot less stress and worry...

Reciprocal links can help you - but you need to choose the right ones. Be picky. If you find yourself trying to hide some links because your are embarrassed, then why the heck are they on your site in the first place?

Reciprocal links can also hurt you. I have a lot of evidence to show this, as well.

So whoever advised you was right about the possibility of harm, but wrong in their understanding of what is actually going on. Links don't hurt you - connections to bad sites do (this is not always a link, reciprocal or otherwise).

Likewise, connections to good sites can help (though if you think that linking to a few good sites will somehow fix a bad site, you are wrong).

Ian
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Old 09-27-2006   #16
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Thanks CNVI and Ian for making this thread very sticky-worthy. Great breakdown by each of you, and Ian your numbers are very similar to the ones we got in past reciprocal clean up efforts at my last company.

If done right, reciprocals are simply links that are beneficial to visitors of both sites. The fact that they are reciprocated has really nothing to do with it, IMO.
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Old 09-27-2006   #17
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Ian, I don't mean to argue with you here because I agree with your post, but when you drop from 600 to 50 links, many of these which were still reciprocating, could the improvement in spidering not be just about the fact that you're not linking out to junk sites (a definite help, I'm sure) but also about the fact that you significantly increased the amount of incoming one way links?

Either way, the conclusion is that one-way links are better than reciprocal, but when determining what exactly was the result of the gain, it could be one or the other or a combo of both. Regardless, I think that unless you requested that all the reciprocating sites that you dumped links to to remove the link back, its impossible to determine what exactly was the primary factor in achieving the positive result.

As a side note, I think you stepped dangerously close to being one of those in your own point #1. By removing all those links YOU have become the person that is no longer linking per the original agreement. I know exactly what you're talking about and it's true that people do this for malicious reasons, but as your case proves, removal of reciprocal links is not always malicious, spammy or deceitful.
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Old 09-27-2006   #18
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That's a good point, St0n3y, or rather, a good point if I had done it the way you've interpreted me to.

In this case, there is a reason why I removed the automatic software last - this particular system automatically checked to see if you were reciprocating and if you removed a link through the system, the other link was automatically removed. If you removed it manually, it did not.

When I said I removed the links, I actually meant I stopped the reciprocal relationships. You are right to question me on that, since the way I wrote it it sounds like I killed a bunch of links and still let them link to me. I didn't, and I'd like to stress that would be a bad, rude and spammy thing to do.

You are also right that links can be lost due to redesigns, mistakes and other reasons not associated with the person removing them being evil or deliberately breaking a contractual relationship.

As far as reciprocal relationships go, the Golden Rule really does apply, and indeed is the basis for the whole idea. Treat your reciprocal partners the same way you would want to be treated yourself.

As an addendum, I do not believe that it's possible for the removal of links to increase PR (that's not how PR is calculated) but it IS possible, and I've seen it, where the links simply are not passing on anything of significance, and in some cases hurting your rankings for the keywords involved.

So, yes, under some circumstances you can *increase* your rankings by removing some reciprocals link on your site.

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Old 09-27-2006   #19
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mcanerin said: "this particular system automatically checked to see if you were reciprocating and if you removed a link through the system, the other link was automatically removed. "
That statement certainly sheds the most light on this situation, when taken with all the other factors you mentioned.

Please correct me if I assume wrong, but it sounds as if this was one of those automated, non-editorial link networks. There are a bunch of them. It also sounds as if there were a lot of off-topic links.

Participants in those networks are spammeisters. They toss up junk scraper sites, join the network, and take what they get in terms of temporary traffic, then move onto the next domain, once they get hit.

It is much less likely to encounter that kind of thing in the legitimate reciprocation world. It's too much work for the spammeisters to do this work the right way, so they gravitate toward these quick and dirty schemes. Unfortunately, innocent sites get caught up in the "easy links" aspect of it, unwittingly, and not knowing the consequences.

Anytime links are extraordinarly easy to get, it's the wrong path....

Not all link exchange forums are like that. LinkPartners is an editorially-based link exchnage forum that does not generate automated links back and forth. Let's be careful here not to paint all with the same brush.

From what has been described, it was the massive number of non-relevant links to sites that were in this crappy network, and likely, from what you describe, they were mostly crappy sites.

For all to hear, loud and clear, that is NOT they way to do proper reciprocation, and it does not reflect what happens to sites that reciprocate properly.

Outbound links to legitimate sites seem to have no detrimental effect on rankings, from what we have seen here, for years.

Oubound links to large numbers of sites that are playing horrible games is the culprit, and playing in an automated, non-editorially driven link network is a very good place to find exactly that.
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Old 09-27-2006   #20
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Quote:
Please correct me if I assume wrong, but it sounds as if this was one of those automated, non-editorial link networks. There are a bunch of them. It also sounds as if there were a lot of off-topic links.
No correction - that's exactly what it was. In this case, my goal was to find other honest but naive businesses that were on-topic but had made the same mistake in choosing the wrong system, then reciprocate personally with them.

If your link building strategy is "set and forget" , then, frankly, forget it.

I'm familiar with the LinksManager, and I agree it's built in editorial system is better than most. Obviously it can still be misused in spite of this (anything can be misused if the person using it doesn't "get it"), and I've seen that happen, too. Of the group, it's the one I have the least issue with.

I still avoid any software-based links system, simply on principle. It's nothing directly against any software package in particular, but rather all reciprocal link-management software.

This is a personal and professional recommendation, rather than an editorial one, however (i.e. I don't use it or recommend it myself to clients, but I don't claim users are automatically spammers, either).

My main concern is that all software leaves a footprint, and search engines have been known to "throw the baby out with the bathwater" if they see numbers to support it, and I'm very protective of my babies... errr... clients.

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