Using reciprocal links – sometimes referred to as “traded” or “exchanged” links – was a popular method of link building in the early 2000s but has decreased in popularity in recent years.
Reciprocal links are still a relatively common occurrence. They’re a natural byproduct of owning a website, after all.
However, the way reciprocal links appear on sites today is different from 20 years ago.
In my research for this article, I found an insightful link building study done by Ahrefs, which states – and I must agree! – that developing relationships through authentic outreach, and linking to sources without expecting anything in return, are the most proper and natural ways to build reciprocal links.
This graph shows that only 26.4% of the authority domains used in Ahrefs’ study are not using reciprocal links:
So, yes, reciprocal links are still quite common.
But the question still begs an answer: Do reciprocal links help or hurt your SEO?
What Are Reciprocal Links?
A link exchange occurs when an agreement is made between two brands to trade links to boost SEO and site authority by essentially saying, “you link to me, and I’ll link to you.”
In essence, a reciprocal link is a quid pro quo, or a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” situation.
Does this sound shady?
Is it shady?
It could be. That all depends on how – and how often – you’re using reciprocal links on your site.
In the third paragraph of this article, we linked to Ahrefs. The link sets us both up for a helpful, naturally occurring reciprocal link situation. Whether Ahrefs chooses to reciprocate by linking back to this article is entirely up to them.
Now let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum.
Here’s an example of a shady link exchange offer, found on a site that exclusively hosts link exchanges:
Not very appealing, is it?
Are Reciprocal Links Good for SEO?
If you want to grow your authority and rankings (and reduce the risk of penalties from search engines), the key is to focus on less risky strategies and tactics.
Above all else, your link building methods should enhance your customer’s experience on your site.
Rather than focusing on SERP rankings and your website’s link profile, focus on providing something of value to your readers and customers by producing high-quality content.
Including some external links on your site can be helpful to SEO, but they aren’t the driving force behind your site’s ranking.
How to Use Reciprocal Links to Help Your SEO
Linking to quality sites that are relevant to your content enhances your reader’s overall experience on your website.
Content is king, and consistently delivering original and valuable information to your readers will earn your site a spot on the throne.
When you link to high-value content, you can establish your site as a trusted source of information. In this case, if the other site reciprocates the link, consider it a bonus – the content matters first.
If you’re going to request reciprocation, check the site’s SEO metrics to ensure that you’re exchanging links with a high-authority website.
When reciprocal links occur naturally between authority sites, both sites may benefit.
Here are a few things to consider before you pursue a link exchange:
- Could the external site potentially improve your site’s traffic?
- Does the site produce content and share information related to your niche?
- Is the brand or business a direct competitor? (The answer to this one should be no!)
One example of reciprocal linking that is almost always OK is the use of online directories.
Ensure that the directory is related to your industry or niche and include a link back to it on your own site.
4 Ways Links Can Hurt Your SEO
There are some benefits to naturally occurring reciprocal links, but when you don’t use common sense, exchanging links can harm your site’s authority and rankings. Here are four ways that links might actually hurt your SEO:
1. Site Penalization (Manual Action)
Simply put, reciprocal links are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
If your site is abusing backlinks – if you’re trying to manipulate search results by exchanging links – your website runs a high risk of being penalized by Google.
2. Decrease in Site Authority & Rankings
If you’re linking to external sites that aren’t relevant to your content, your page might experience a drop in site authority or SERP rankings.
Before linking, ensure that the content is relevant, and check the site’s Alexa ranking.
In some cases, it’s OK to link back to low-authority sites, but excessively linking to these sites will not improve your own website’s authority.
3. Boosting SEO for Direct Competition
When linking to sites with the same target keywords and phrases as your website, your chances of having that link reciprocated are low.
As a result, you’re only boosting your competition’s SEO, not your own.
Link exchanges or reciprocated links should be between sites with similar content and themes, and not between directly competing sites.
4. Loss of Trust
You never want to lose the trust of search engines. But reciprocal links can cause this to happen in two ways:
- Your site has a ridiculously high number of 1-to-1 links
- Your link’s anchor text is consistently suspicious, or unrelated to your content.
Developing Relationships Is Key
Building relationships in your industry is a crucial part of any effective link building strategy.
Linking to relevant, trusted resources is an excellent way to build trust and authority and develop relationships with brands in your niche.
By linking to authority sites, your site has higher chances of being seen by those site owners, which could lead to links from them in the future.
Timeframe: Start at month 6
Results detected: 12 months
Average reciprocal links per month: 1-2, but this depends on the frequency of engagement
Tools: Alexa Site Info
Benefits of reciprocal links:
- Enhances reader’s experience on your site
- Establishes your site as a trusted authority
- Increased site traffic
Featured Image: Paulo Bobita
All screenshots taken by author, October 2019
How is the Blockchain Shaping the Digital Marketing Automation Tools?
It is no doubt that most of us are aware of what blockchain is and how it has shaped the future of digital marketing automation. If you are reading this article, then you might be wondering what exactly is the difference between blockchain and digital marketing automation?
What Exactly Is Blockchain? The blockchain is a decentralized ledger system that records transactions between two parties. A block stores information about previous transactions, so each block contains a link to its previous transaction’s record to prevent double-spending.
The users will have their copy of the record on their device so they can keep track of all the changes made in that particular chain by any member of the network.
The Blockchain Is Creating a New World
The blockchain is a new technology. It’s based on the idea of decentralization and peer-to-peer networks, which makes it different from traditional centralized systems. Blockchain technology uses a distributed ledger to store information, making it impossible for a hacker to modify the data stored on the network.
The blockchain can get used in many ways, including cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. But it also has applications in other industries such as digital marketing automation tools where marketers need fast access to information about their customers or prospects without having to go through an intermediary (like Google Analytics).
Some companies have started using this technology as part of their product offerings by providing users with access to their data through APIs that they can use however they wish (for example: visualizing trends over time).
How Digital Marketing Automation Tools Work
Digital marketing automation tools work by task automation like sending emails, creating landing pages, and tracking the performance of your marketing campaigns. These tools can help you save time and money by automating tasks.
For example, let’s say you want to reach out to more leads on LinkedIn but you don’t have time to send them an email every day. With a digital marketing automation tool like HubSpot or Marketo, you can set up an autoresponder sequence that will send out emails automatically so all you have to do is check-in once in a while and make sure everything’s running smoothly.
Prepare for the Future of the Blockchain Marketing
As technology continues to evolve, the blockchain will play a pivotal role in digital marketing. This is because it offers a secure and reliable platform that marketers can use to communicate with their audience. In addition, it also provides better transparency than traditional marketing methods because of its decentralized nature.
Below are some of the ways that marketers can benefit from using blockchain:
- Security: The blockchain offers greater security than traditional methods of digital marketing since it doesn’t rely on central servers or third parties.
- Efficiency: Using blockchain technology means there’s no need for middlemen or intermediaries when conducting transactions online. This improves efficiency by cutting out unnecessary steps between two parties looking to transact business with one another; this saves both time and money for both parties involved!
Secure Digital Marketing Tool Designed on Blockchain
A digital marketing tool designed on blockchain will be more robust and secure. Blockchain technology is a decentralized, distributed ledger technology that helps in recording transactions between two parties efficiently.
It also ensures that the records cannot be tampered with once they get recorded. This means that if you buy a product from an e-commerce website and pay for it using cryptocurrency (a form of digital currency), then no one can hack into the system and change your transaction record to avoid paying you the money.
In general, blockchain offers marketers several benefits:
- It allows for better data sharing and storage than traditional databases
- It offers enhanced security features because there is no single point of failure
- It can help companies boost productivity by integrating both humans and machines
Blockchain Protocol That Ensures Safety, Security
Don’t worry, you can still use digital advertising. You just need to trust the blockchain protocol that runs it.
Ad-blocking software has made digital advertising ineffective already and will soon make all digital advertising completely ineffective. You see, if you are using ad-blocking software on your computer or mobile device, then you’re not seeing any of the ads being served to people who aren’t using ad blockers.
This means that advertisers must pay for each impression (or view) of their ads, even when those impressions do not get seen by anyone at all!
By adopting a blockchain protocol for their digital advertising campaigns, marketers and publishers can verify which impressions are being seen by humans and prove whether or not they were delivered effectively before paying for them.
It is worth mentioning that the benefits can be multifold as is already visible from the other spaces like the cryptocurrency markets. Numerous traders are gaining from the rising cryptocurrency prices. So, digital markets too must watch out for this technology.
The entire industry benefits because everyone is working together instead of trying to scam each other through fake views on fake websites with fake content created solely for financial gain without any real value-added back into society whatsoever!
Digital Technology Is Changing Everything
You probably already know that digital technology is changing everything. But what you may not realize is that blockchain is one of the biggest and most important digital technologies to come out in years.
Blockchain can be a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s worth learning about because it’s changing the way we do business, marketing, and advertising—even as we speak! The best place to start learning is by understanding what blockchain means. It’s essentially a decentralized database that allows information (such as financial transactions) to be stored on multiple computers rather than in one location. This makes it more secure than traditional databases which are usually stored on just one server or computer system.
As you can see, the blockchain is changing the way we interact with technology. It’s also changing how we experience marketing automation tools, and how they work. The future of digital marketing will be shaped by this new technology, which means marketers need to start exploring how it can be applied to their jobs now.
How is the Blockchain Shaping the Digital Marketing Automation Tools?
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