Putting Reciprocal Links to the Search Engine Marketing Test:
Most people site the Florida update as one which de-valued the role of the reciprocal link. Most of these people however, are SEO’s who want to charge big money to clients, SEMs who think that clients should go the paid advertising route and avoid SEO altogether, and well-meaning SEOs who don’t know better.
• However, this doesn’t mean the reciprocal link is bad or that Google will penalize you for a reciprocal link. Why else would people have blog rolls? Why else would people link to other people in their industry? Sure you need to watch how your link equity flows, but you don’t have to be overly paranoid about strategies that won’t hurt you. The alternative would create a race to the bottom of people on real estate sites linking to education consultants linking to door to door salesmen, which doesn’t provide a (fair and relevant) way for Google to assign value to links. Googles tactic was merely to stop the practice of mass spam emails (often via automated processes) to webmasters for the sole purpose of getting unrelated reciprocal links.
• Second, Google uses your link based relationships on the web to determine where you belong. Here is the caveat: as long as your link is a) with a trusted site by Google b) in your marketing niche or a closely related niche c) has good anchor text, and d) is legit (ie no no follow) you should be fine 95% of the time.
• Third, linking out to trusted sites actually builds link equity. This is SEO 101. And Michael at SEO Theory is the minority of one who doesn’t agree. Surprisingly, my bet is on the Aaron Wall theory of SEO here. (see also: Outbound linking for fun and profit)
I eventually want to build a site at least 1/3 on just reciprocal links to prove that these SEOs are either lying through their teeth or just not bright.