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There is a bigger problem with authority sites.
I believe it's good to link to on-topic authority sites - both for users and for Google. I often link to related DMOZ categories and high ranked sites that are authoritative sources of information in subjects my page covers. This way, Google can be sure about the subject of the site, and users can find additional information.
Sometimes, I manage to get listed in DMOZ or other directory, or get a backlink from a niche authority site.
Should I worry about reciprocal linking in this case?
Recipricol linking is often a stitch up with no regard for quality. I'm sure this fact has not gone unnoticed by Google.
I can see that it can be a natural and logical thing for two sites to recipricate, but if this occurs, its logical that Google will be wary and credit 'less value' to the links. The sites will have to rank well on other factors, which if they are any good, will be present. One way links are more likely to be honest.
The idea that getting a link from a great site becomes less great because you decide to link to that great site is irrational voodoo thinking.
I can see that it can be a natural and logical thing for two sites to recipricate, but if this occurs, its logical that Google will be wary and credit 'less value' to the links.
I see I was right to start this thread, as there are so opposite opinions.
I agree with steveb, that this idea is absurdous. I will keep this linking, because they are logical and good for users, and their values in algo - both getting PR and on-topic link from authority and putting link to on-topic authority - would ovecome the penalty if there were any.
I agree with MHes, that there can be penalty for reciprocal linking in general. In original PR formula, reciprocal linking extremely boosts PR and protects it from flowing out of the network, so it's reasonable for Google to be careful with this kind of manipulation and penalize it.
But wouldn't it be good for results, if such a penalty, if exists, were not applied if one of the sites is real authority and links are strictly on-topic? I'd really like to hear GoogleGuy opinion, as I remember him saying that linking to on-topic authority sites is a good practice. I wouldn't expect good practice to be penalized in any case.
That's about what should be done in this matter, but going back to facts, has anyone notices how such a situation affects rankings?
One way links are far more likely to be garbage, to a degree of probably 100 to one. The rare exceptions are normally huge and obvious, like linking to a news story on a cure for cancer or something. But for the most part, on the Internet of today, hundreds of millions, billions, of one way links are blog comment garbage.
Getting lots of one way links, without a huge amount of otherwise positive algo elements, should be (to an algorithm) the #1 sign of a rotten domain.
The point as always is that it isn't the mode of links, it's the genuine-ness of those links (or on the other hand the shorterm ability of links to fool the engine into thinking a page is more valuable than it is).
With your point about blogs it makes it hard for google to now recognise any good links.
With due respect to you and to Steve B, I think you are getting above yourself if you think that one small post in Webmasterworld makes it hard for Google to do what they darn well like.
I admire your self-confidence, MHes, but it's hardly a reasoned argument.
I'd much prefer you to comment on Google's attitude to links based on something far more reaching.