The Pros and Cons of Reciprocal Web Traffic and Links
Over the years, reciprocal links have been crucial to building web traffic among like-minded websites and have often been “traded” as a way to increase mutual exposure to visitors, clients and customers alike. While reciprocal links can be useful when it comes to driving traffic to your site, they can also be detrimental to your PageRank if it appears to a search engine that the link relationship exists solely for manipulating how search engines rank the page. In order to avoid these types of pitfalls and to make sure your site is properly indexed by all search engines, consider the following advice on how to maintain healthy reciprocal web traffic without penalty.
The Pros of Reciprocity
The best known reason to engage in reciprocal web traffic is the added traffic that can potentially be driven to your site. If two sites with similar subjects engage in reciprocal linking, both sites stand an equal chance of receiving a portion of the other site’s visitors in addition to the site’s existing traffic base. This type of partnership can be one of the easiest ways to increase the traffic and sales of any website without having to consider more intricate forms of search engine optimisation.
The mutual friendship of two websites can also have a positive impact on how each site ranks in search results. With search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, sites of similar persuasion that have links with one another tell the search engines that your sites have related content and are part of a “network” of productive sites offering users information. There is a limit to how much this technique can be used and if used too much, can actually have a negative effect on the sites. The best way to prevent the search engines from “penalising” you on links is to make sure that any reciprocal links are on one page (as opposed to every page), preferably in a directory or links section.
The Cons of Reciprocity
As briefly mentioned, excessive or inappropriate linking can cause your site’s rankings to be downgraded, leading to less traffic than you had before linking with another site. Google, for example, does not tolerate links to spammers or questionable content, excessive reciprocal links or any links intended to manipulate its PageRank software. It never makes sense to engage in reciprocal linking with sites that have nothing to do with the subject of your website; most search engines will intuitively spot the differences in the site and identify this practice as manipulation, leading to both sites being downgraded in search results.
It is rather easy to avoid reciprocal links with sites that are of a different nature than your own (simply do not agree to reciprocity if the site in question is not valid to your site’s interests) but making sure the links you do have are active and not excessive is just as easy. Pingler has a reciprocal link checker that gives you the ability to check which sites have your links and how many links there are to your site on each of these sites.