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Reciprocity is a lovely concept, which can be defined generally as mutual action, interest or exchange. The idea of a reciprocal link is based on this concept of mutual interest or an act that may benefit two separate people and their websites at the same time. Simply explained, reciprocal linking is an agreement between two website owners to link to each other’s pages, at least once, which may be of advantage to both in increasing page ranking.
Some misunderstand what it means when told that links help in determining ranking, and ranking means the page shows up earlier in search returns. This translates to greater likelihood that people visit a website. It’s true links are helpful, though they’re not the only determining factor of how a page is ranked. Not all links are equally valuable. Links on a person’s website elsewhere don’t improve rank; instead people need others to link to them.
Sometimes another website provides this, linking to a person’s site without solicitation. More often, people have to search for somebody else to provide that outlink to their site and one way to elicit this is through a reciprocal link. Two webmasters provide links to each other’s sites and both derive benefit.
There are a lot of ways to find a reciprocal link partner. One way is to search for websites that have related but not identical content. Some people insist that webmasters check out page ranking first because a higher ranked site providing a link may more significantly improve personal page rank.
Suggestion for the personal approach is that people first create a link to the site they have targeted for a reciprocal link, and then send a note to the owner of the site suggesting a reciprocal link. The request is made better by specifically commenting on the targeted site and suggesting the exact relationship between the two sites. If the owner never responds, the person seeking the link could take down the outlink to the owner’s site after a few months.
There are other ways to get a reciprocal link or many of them. People can pay others to search for and request these links, and might get a lot this way. Alternately, there are few clearinghouse sites that offer information about people seeking a reciprocal link or many of them, and these could be of use too. While most people think specifically of Internet resources, they ought to consider their own network of friends and family.
The reciprocal link can be important, but it must be stressed that it is not the only way to improve page ranking. Good content, use of keywords, website layout and other features are all a part of search engine optimization (SEO). Moreover, owners really want to develop their sites to the point where links occur without having to work for them. This means building a good site with an excellent reputation.
When I was new to the Internet commerce world, I was all about reciprocal links. I figured that was the easiest way for customers to find my site. I'd find all the websites that sold products similar to mine and submit a link. I even used a free reciprocal link exchange to find even more sites. Someone told me that many sites used a reciprocal link checker to make sure I was putting up their links on my page as well.
I'm sure I got a fair amount of traffic because of these reciprocal links, but it's hard to determine that without really good analytics. I don't demand reciprocal links myself. I have a page on my site that is basically a free-for-all advertising spot. I provide several different reciprocal link scripts, but I don't remove posts unless they are clearly spam or link to pornographic websites.
It seems to me that the practice of reciprocal links has fallen out of favor in recent years. I can remember when I put up my first website back in the late 1990s that everybody wanted, or even demanded, a reciprocal link in order to promote your site on their site. Nothing would get published until that site owner confirmed the reciprocal link was live on your page.
I don't think I've run into that situation very much lately. There are sites that strongly encourage reciprocal links, but they don't require them. Sometimes people will submit a link to my new website and I'll just post it without asking for anything in return.