Reciprocal links are arranged when two web sites agree to link to each other.
Reciprocal links are also known as “link swaps”, “link exchanges” and “link partners”.
A common misspelling is “reciprical links”.
Reciprocal links help you in two ways:
1. They increase your web site traffic, from people who click on the links.
2. Reciprocal links also play a major role in boosting your rankings in search engines.
Warning: Late in 2005, Google's Matt Cutts made it clear that it's possible to “overdo” reciprocal links. Getting good, solid, reciprocal links should be VERY SMALL PART of your links strategy, not your total marketing strategy.
When ranking sites, the major search engines take into account the number and quality of the sites that link to you.
Persuading good quality, relevant sites to link to you can be tedious, time-consuming and frustrating. Here are some tips to increase your chances of success.
One way to find link partners is to do searches in major search engines such as Google and Yahoo! to find sites which complement yours but are not direct competitors.
Many sites also link to direct competitors, figuring that the benefits outweigh any disadvantages.
Examine their links pages
A refinement of this strategy is to visit your competitors' sites and complementary sites and examine their links pages or resources pages.
The sites you'll find there are potential reciprocal links partners. They should be linking to you.
Now visit THEIR links pages and examine them, and so on down the chain.
You should end up with a long list of good sites with which to exchange links.
How to set up reciprocal links
- Find GOOD QUALITY, complementary sites.
- Place a link to them on your site.
- Only AFTER you've placed a link to them, email the owner of the site a short, friendly note. Address him or her by name. (If the name isn't on the site, you may be able to find it at DomainTools.com.)
- Genuinely praise something on the site. If you can't find something worth praising, delete the site from your list.
- Tell the web site owner you've linked to their site, giving them the URL of the page where you've placed your link.
- Ask for a link back to your site, suggesting a page where the link would be appropriate.
- Three weeks later, if there's been no reply, send a brief, polite reminder. It's easy for emails to be lost or overlooked.
- Use the phone and/or snail mail. A link from a good site is a very valuable thing. If you can't get noticed by email, consider trying a phone call or posting a letter. They're more expensive but also more likely to attract the answer you want.
- Keep an alphabetical record of sites you've linked to and requested links from. You need to know who you've contacted and who you haven't.
Want links from pages with high PageRank?
To boost their PageRank, some webmasters concentrate on getting links only from sites that have high PageRank. (If we all did this, no new site would ever get reciprocal links.)
If you want to try this approach, SEChat's PageRank Search is a useful free search tool to use. It gives you Google search results PLUS their PageRank. You type in a key phrase and can quickly see the PageRank of pages optimized for that phrase.
Really serious ways of getting links
You can arrange newsletter article exchanges with other newsletter publishers in your niche, preferably with newsletters which are archived online.
Some webmasters also arrange “article swaps”. You write an article to be published on their website and they write an article for your site. This gives you an in-context link, which is much more effective than a mere link on a links page.
Reciprocal links websites
You can search in Google for link exchange websites which publish directories of website owners who actively exchange links with each other. As a general rule, the easier and more automated link exchanging is, the more risky it is that you'll be doing something which the search engines don't like. For example, you don't want to get involved in link farms which link to totally unrelated websites.
Reciprocal linking tools
To facilitate getting reciprocal links, consider the software described in Ralph Wilson's “Reciprocal Linking Tools” report. His 22-page report explains the functions of various types of reciprocal link management software, divides them into three types, and provides reviews and recommendations on best-of-breed software.
It includes brief reviews on Zeus, Arelis, LinksManager, Links4Trade, Hot Links SQL, Linking101 Link Management Script, LinkManager Lite and Pro, Duncan Carver's Link Management Assistant, and PowerLinks. Arelis is a good choice.
Three ways to save time
1. You can hire companies which specialize in finding reciprocal links partners for you. This will probably cost about $6 per link. Prices vary in different industries. Dirk Johnson's LinkStrategy is one company which provides this service.
2. Use the free SiteSell Value Exchange. It's a very simple, fast, efficient way of exchanging links with relevant sites.
The Value Exchange is very useful but isn't likely to find you all the reciprocal links partners you need. In some industries, it may find you only a small number of link partners. In others, it may find you several hundred links partners. It's definitely worth joining – especially so because it's free!
While you're there, make sure you download the free Make Your Links Work report. It describes sound, long-term linking strategies.
3. Arelis software takes a lot of tedium out of finding reciprocal links partners. For example, it has a great “Find Competitor Links” feature that allows you to quickly find all web sites that link to your competitors.
Web sites that link to your competitors are sites that should link to you. Arelis quickly locates these sites and helps you to contact them and ask them to link to your site.
If they're already linking to similar sites, there's a good chance they'll be willing to link to you.
You can also search for reciprocal links partners by keyword or keyword phrase.
Arelis makes link management very simple and saves you a lot of time. It also builds your link pages for you. You can customize the template to match your site's style and no one will ever know you're using a link management program.
Warning about SBI and Arelis
Here's a warning from a Site Build It user who also uses Arelis.
“If you upload pages created by Arelis (or any other pages for that matter) to SBI, the links to external sites are replaced by redirected links, presumably for tracking.
“What that does however is that it prevents you from passing any PageRank to your link partners. Putting aside the debate whether PageRank is important or not, many webmasters clearly believe it is important and simply refuse reciprocating with sites that don't link to them is straight HTML. Certainly that has been my experience.
“…the only way around this is to create all reciprocal links in SBI by hand and forget about uploading pages from Arelis or any other reciprocal management software.”
SBI users can still use Arelis for a very powerful purpose – to find potential link partners – and can add the links to their sites manually.
Arelis checks your links
Arelis also checks to see that your reciprocal links partners are still linking to you – another really useful time-saver.
There's a free trial version. Highly recommended.
Beware of “nofollow” links
Some links pass “link juice” and help your PageRank. Some don't. The links that don't pass PageRank value have rel=”nofollow” in the HTML.
In Firefox, here's how to discover if a link is “nofollowed”:
1. Go the web page that contains the link.
2. RIGHT-click anywhere on the web page (NOT on a link).
3. Click on “View Page Info”. (In Internet Explorer, click on “View Source”.)
4. Click Edit.
5. Click Find. Search for the link. See if it contains rel=”nofollow”. If it does, it doesn't pass “link juice”.
Fortunately, there's a much easier way to find nofollowed links… You can easily check for “nofollow” links by using a free tool called SEO for Firefox. It's a Firefox extension from SEOBook. This free tool also gives you a lot of other useful, competitive data. More than 500,000 webmasters use it.