The horrible truth about reciprocal links

Reciprocal links may never have been the most imaginative way to improve ranking of your website, but now they are a positively bad idea – here is why.

You see it less and less these days, but you still do see it: random links on websites, or worse, a list of ‘associates’ or a partners, which is a set of links off to sites that have agreed to link back to your site.

This sort of stuff might have worked on your search engine rankings in the past, it doesn’t now. There are a couple of reasons behind this. Firstly, the search engines are looking for this sort of reciprocal relationships and if there is no good reason for it (such as both businesses clearly working together in the same area), then it will rule it out in terms of relevance. Worse still you may be penalised for trying to manipulate the rankings in a false way.

External links in to the site was a powerful ranking driver in the past and a good way to boost the site rankings, but recent changes with the Google search engine means that the quality of the links coming in to the site are now evaluated much more critically. The end result is that some links are not only not effective, they now drag your site down the rankings. This has become such an issue that Google now has a ‘Disavow Links Tool’ which allows you to identify problematic links and actively ask Google to remove them from the site assessment.

ball_n_chain_linksIf you think this sort of stuff is a massive pain in the backsideĀ  – you are right. But it is much worse for those businesses that have in the past decided that external inbound links are the be-all and end-all of achieving rankings and have neglected other good practices.

If you want to start looking at this to see if you have been affected, you can start with Google Analytics if it has been installed on your site.

Login to your account, then under ‘Standard Reports’ on the left hand menu, choose ‘Traffic Sources’ then ‘Sources, then ‘Referrals’. This report will show you all the active referral websites linking in to yours. You need to identify all of the reciprocal links from your website as a bare minimum.

If this does not make sense, then get in touch with TTMG Internet, we will be pleased to help.