Reciprocal Linking is Bad for Your Business Website Health

As small business owners, we need to find traffic for our websites from wherever we can get it — assuming, of course, that the source is relevant traffic. Irrelevant traffic actually HURTS your website rank in the search engines so we don’t want that. For that reason, we are not fans of reciprocal linking schemes, link farms, etc.

Case in point. I recently met with a new client in Los Angeles who needed to market their small business website. They had previously enjoyed a Page Rank of 5 for their website. Over the past two years, it has dropped to a Page Rank of 3. This was due to a number of factors, but chief among those was the fact that they had been forced into a reciprocal linking arrangement with an unscrupulous vendor. It benefited the vendor tremendously, as they were able to show the search engines that their site was being ranked to from a PR5 website; it made the vendor’s site more “buoyant” (it made it rank higher) in the search engines. The moral of the story is, be very careful if someone offers to do you the “favor” of creating a link to your site, in exchange to linking from yours. It could be detrimental to your website’s Search Engine health.

Nevertheless, you should look for opportunities to receive links from relevant websites whenever possible. It might not seem fair to “take” a link without giving one back, but there are other ways you can help the linking website. If they have a satellite website, you could consider linking to that in the body of one of your posts — relevant topic / contextual link / deep link to the satellite site. Just be careful that the link partner understands that directly linking from the satellite site to their main site will not be nearly as good as if they link in a broad circle of 10 sites before returning to the main site. This is somewhat sophisticated SEO / linking strategy that we’re sharing, so it’s not for everyone to implement on their own. It also implies that you have up to 10 web properties that are all somewhat related that can be daisy chained together… Again, not for everyone. But definitely for businesses that want to insure being on Page 1 on Google. 😉

It requires a lot of time, attention and planning to implement a 10-site daisy chain strategy, and we encourage you to go into that with plenty of forethought. Take the time to not only analyze and eliminate any chance of reciprocal linking or neighbor linking possibilities in the chain, and also insure that whomever in your organization will be managing your website network understands this strategy. A small business SEO Policy is a very smart investment in resources. It takes relatively little time for a website to fall in page rank, and a significantly greater amount of time to gain rank — especially after it is lost.

The underlying issue of Page Rank has been said to be overrated, and it’s largely a symbol of the site’s overall bouyancy in the search engines… it’s not necessarily a goal for a web owner to achieve a particular page rank; it’s more of a barometer or guideline than a definitive benchmark or landing point. The website owner with a page rank of 0 would certainly agree that a page rank of 5 would represent that his/her traffic has achieved more traffic (visitors), more conversions and more leads & sales. That’s really the benchmark we’re aiming for.