Why Reciprocal Links Could Kill You

I wish I had a dollar for every person who has asked me about linking to another site or directory in the past 10 days.  I wouldn’t be able to pay my mortgage or anything, but sure could have a nice dinner out at McDonalds. 🙂
On a more serious note, I wanted to take a moment and explain to you “Why Reciprocal Links Could Kill You” in the search engines.
A Long Time Ago (about a year, maybe?) a practice known as “Reciprocal Linking” was a good way to make the search engines notice you.  Not only notice you, but if you were linked “reciprocally” to another site with relevance to yours, and ESPECIALLY if that site had a decent Google PR (Page Rank), then it would, by design, help you obtain more crawls from the search engines.
You see… what USED to happen was… those sites you linked to (and they to you) would be crawled by Google Bot, or Yahoo, or one of the other engines.. and would (hopefully) find that link to you, follow it over to you, and crawl and index your site too.  MAGIC!  Everyone was linking back and forth like a bunch of lunatics!
Then, one day, Google, Yahoo, and MSN (not necessarily in that order, but quite possibly) figured out what was going on.  They began by banning or de-indexing Link Farms.  Next, they started looking for Directories that had nothing but tons of links outgoing to other sites.  If those sites also happened to be linked back to the directory…. TROUBLE!!  BOTH sites ran a very high risk of the engines crying “FOUL”… and either sandboxing you (a practice of TEMPORARILY removing you from their listings while they watched you to see if your site changed any)… or worse, just plain De-Indexed your site completely.
Trust me when I say, if Google decides to completely de-index your site, you may as well PACK IT IN as far as EVER getting that domain indexed with them again.  It has happened on VERY RARE occasions, but not very often.
You see… the search engines have only ONE GOAL (other than to make money)… and that is, “Deliver Content Their Users Are Looking For”.  What they discovered with all these site owners just doing reciprocal linking was, most of them (NOT ALL), were trash sites with little or no relevant content.  Only because they had obtained hundreds or thousands of reciprocal links, they managed to get rankings temporarily, despite their lack of content worth anything to their users.
When the investigative teams from the engines began their mad search and destroy mission about 6 or 8 months ago to clean up their listings… one of the first things they did was to start penalizing sites that had a bunch of links going to a site, with that site linking back to them.
Now… please understand…  this practice USED TO WORK and it used to work VERY effectively.  But I’m here to tell you folks, STAY AWAY FROM RECIPROCAL LINKING.
I recently attended a conference in Orlando, Florida where several Search Engine experts were in attendance.  I had the privilege of speaking with one of them during one of our breaks, and he told me (very confidentially) (and he asked me NOT to broadcast his name or company for security reasons) simply this… “Ed, if you’re doing reciprocal linking…. my advice to you would be to cease and desist immediately, because our technicians are on a mission to clean up the engine, and that’s one of the places they are starting to purge sites now…”
He also told me that if you were simply linked to a site that got purged, even if you had done nothing wrong… it could cause you to be de-indexed, sometimes permanently, sometimes for only a 4 to 6 month review period.
Seems quite unfair, doesn’t it?  But as I told the “Mr. X” from “the unknown engine”, it’s like everything else in life… seems that a few crooks cause everyone trying to conduct and honest business, undue hardship.  In other words, a few who abused the system, caused the rest of us to have to pay the price.
Look… I don’t make the rules.  I don’t decide what works and what doesn’t.  I’m just the messenger, so don’t shoot me.  I am spending literally thousands and thousands of dollars each year, attending conferences and seminars, staying on top of the most current trends… and trying to stay one step ahead of the game…  and if reciprocal linking still worked.. do you really think I would be telling you to stay the heck away from it??
You can find dozens of sites on the Internet that advocate reciprocal linking, and even teach you how to do it.  Just realize, much of the content you find on the web is VERY outdated stuff.  Some is only 6 months old… but when it comes to the Internet.. 6 months today is like 6 years used to be.
Linking still works, but the safest and surest way to have successful linking is by getting ONE WAY INCOMING links to your site.
How do you do that? 🙂
Enter  “The Blog”.  🙂
Ever wonder why – when setting up your Blogs, we put a link from your blog to your site, but not from your site to your blog?  Getting you blog indexed will eventually enhance your regular web site. It’s just the way it works.  Your site and your blog are relevant.  Your blog is full of changing content.  The engines love it… and if they find the link from your blog to your site… they are just going to follow it… no way to avoid it.
That, my friends, is a “one way incoming link.”  Search engines LOVE ’em!!
For those of you with blogs… if we set them up for you… they are set up with exactly what the search engines are looking for.  If you don’t have a blog already, you are on the edge of “losing the game” as far as any hope of search engine ranking.  I’m here to tell you (remember where you heard it) that if you don’t have a blog… your site’s days are numbered in the search engines.
There will soon be a day where the top 20 or 30 pages (not listings… PAGES) of search engine results… will all be blogs, or sites linked from blogs.  Plain and simple.
I understand wanting page rank and leads yesterday.  I understand wanting to “hurry up the process”… but please… take my advice… don’t look for a fast way to riches with your web site via linking.  Not reciprocal linking.  It really could kill your site’s chances in the engines.
Have a great weekend!  We’re off to our youngest son’s high school graduation at Camden Military Academy this weekend… then Monday, he begins work with us!   Yippee!!  J

Also of Interest  Cheap "Trash" Traffic