The answer is not black and white. Essentially, some reciprocal links do have value - but only up to a degree. You're not likely to rank well for a very competitive query term solely on the basis of exchanged links.
What Google values most of all is links that are freely given, from the content area of a website that is independent to you. They really don't want to see a website ranking well based only on links that the webmaster places directly or through some mutual benefit (especially cash).
There are other problems with link exchanges - especially if they are done in quantity:
1. The websites often are not anywhere near the same topic.
2. All those outbound links need to be monitored regularly, and not just for 404s. You most of all want to be sure that the page you're linking to hasn't changed into some kind of "bad neighborhood".
it doesnt matter if the link exchange is a 2 way, 3 way or 100 way. gooogle computers can quickly figure out you are involved in a link loop.
as to the question of link exchanges being good or bad. it depends on what websites you exchange links with. 99% of link exchanges are no good because they accept links from all sites including unrelated sites, spam sites, malware sites etc. that type of link exchange is likely not going to deliver a boost and may even deliver a penalty. if you link out to sites with malware you shouldnt be surpised when you dont rank well.
i like the type of link exchanges that deliver significant traffic. i regularly exchange banners and links with relevant websites. occasionally after a link exchange i get a ranking boost but not always. i dont care since i am getting quality traffic.
to find quality link exchanges, do not search for "link exchange" and do not waste time with people asking for "link exchange". instead think about "cross promotion". when you cross promote your website with other quality, related websites then it is likely the google algo will reward you with something.
Here is just a thought:
How about thinking of the page that you want to receive a link from as an "outside" internal page.
Meaning, is it a page that you would want on your web site (if it wasn't already on someone else' web site) because it is relevant and has value for your visitors?
I am just thinking out loud here. don't have any evidence, but if it is a page that makes you say, "Man! I wish I had written that page," then it is probably a good page to get a reciprocal link from.
Just my two centavos.
If you're going to exchange links I'd focus on sites in your niche. Look for people who have quality content that would provide value to your customers. In addition, make sure you're site would provide value to the other webmaster.
Thanks to all for your replies.
I noticed many webmasters dont want to fo 3-way links. Are 3-way links worse than 2-way?
3-way links were "invented" as a way to hide linking relationships from search engines - years ago. Almost by definition that means it's an attempt nto manipulate rankings rather than rank "naturally". And today's engines, including Google, are much sharper at spotting this kind of thing.
In addition, there are more domains in the mix, meaning more potential for getting tangled up in bad neighborhoods. All that is a lot of downside.
|Today's engines, including Google, are much sharper at spotting this kind of thing. |
I regularly see things that suggest "just get the link, don't over evaluate it, and move along".
For example I know of a PR3 single page site that has exactly one post thanks to a single link it acquired when the site was made example of as being one of the first to adopt adsense parking for domains. It's an amazing editorial link to have but it pointed to the site when it was parked and the owner has only added one page since.
That to me suggests the link was deemed valid editorial at the time and hasn't been re-evaluated since.
I think most of your point of view is cool.It's worthwhile for newcomers to learn.
I am with freelistfool on this. I have always concentrated on building relevant links within my niche. My current site is in the top 3 for major search phrases and a previous site that I created ranked even more consistently at number one. The added benefit is that this means that a significant proportion of the visits are from people following the links.
Link exchanges work just fine. I'm just looking at ranking sites competing for a two word home improvement phrase worth a lot of money. The client has monitored the SERPS for a while but we're just getting underway with the SEO for their site. They know the market, they know who the other players are and they know the new sites.
There are sites who have come from nowhere to the top in 3-4 months using nothing but massive link exchanges and 'SEO friendly' directories.
In fact, in this niche and of the 20-30 sites of the 50 or so I'm looking through, not one isn't engaged in some sort of spam!
As an aside, in general the amount of spam driving ranking sites seems to be at an all time high. Not just spam blogs, but I'm now seeing networks of sites with huge 'articles' sections. Each short article is vaguely related to the site and then has a mini directory of vaguely related links underneath. These are real bricks and mortar businesses, not fake websites. Think this is perhaps a few of the bigger agencies teaming up to use their clients' sites to rank each other?