Exchanging links: Good or bad?

Reciprocal Linking
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Written by Chris Hirst. Posted in Internet Marketing and Search on 09 April 2012.
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Reciprocal Linking or Link Exchanging

There are always a lot of "experts" telling us that "link exchanges are BAD" and Google will "punish you site" sic for engaging is such practices, in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Reciprocal linking is neither "good" or "bad", it is what it is, links between two URIs  where the owner/operator of the site considers the other page to be useful or interesting to their own visitors. Or rather that is what it should be ... ...

Certainly if you are simply swapping links with anybody and everybody, simply because you think it is good for "search engine rankings", you will be at risk of having the links themselves blocked from passing any value, your site won't really be "penalised", it will simply be that no value is being derived from those links pointing to the URIs, and the links on your site will not be passing value to any other "link partners" that you may have.

Link exchanges should be of a mutual benefit to both ends of the deal, link exchanges should be about document 'A' being of interest to visitors to document 'B' and document 'B' being of interest to visitors to document 'A'. It could be that complementary products are being sold on each page, clothes on 'A', accessories on 'B'

The common method of link swapping, that of a link buried deep in a "resources" section or on a "links page" pointing to the "home" page of another site really does serve little purpose, it is almost as if you are apologising for having the link and you would rather it not be seen by anyone. If you are going to exchange links MAKE THEM COUNT FOR SOMETHING that way they may just count for search engine ranking as well.

Next is the talk of "relevance" and how a "relevant" back link is more "important", but what is relevance? Many seem to assume that relevance means "in the same marketplace" or "on the same topic",  relevancy, in reality is much more complicated than that, and yet, much much simpler.

Relevant is what people make it and how people see it, it is a purely subjective view.  To a gardener, fertiliser and gloves are relevant, to a pet lover dog and lead are relevant, to a plumber, lead and copper are relevant, does that mean dog and copper are in some way connected? After all,  according to the spelling it is the same word.
So is link exchanging worth it or not? For the right reasons, certainly it is, the right reasons being the traffic that the advertising link could send to your pages especially if you do NOT follow the pointless practice of getting links only to your "home" URI.

Get the relationship between the two documents right and it will not matter whether or not there is any search engine benefit at all and the simplest way to do that is to behave as if it is an arrangement between two real world business partners.

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