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When I was still new to the field of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), I always thought that links were everything, the more links you have the better… that is when I came across Reciprocal Backlinks.

What are Reciprocal Backlinks?

These are two blogs that are connected via a two-way link. You can go back and forth between the two blogs via the link connecting them.
A<-> B

In most cases these are located in the Blogroll along with other blogs that the author likes.

Does Reciprocal Links Work?

That actually depends on how you define “work”. If you mean that if a person from one site can visit another site from this link then it does “work”. But if you are speaking about gaining an extra backlink to up you in Google rankings then it does not “work”, it has a positive effect but not in that way.

People have since found out the importance of Backlinks and began exchanging links just to gain one and not because that person really liked the other blogs. When Google detected this phenomenon, it put a dramatic decrease on link exchanges by cancelling them out. If two blogs were connected via a link, that will not count as a Backlink.

If it was only one-way, where one site links to the other and not anymore vice versa, then this has worth.

But doesn’t Link Farms work?

No. You see, since you are taking their button in exchange for a link, this is in fact a Reciprocal Link. Even if Google did not cancel out Reciprocal Links, it would have still been a very unfair deal. You see, Page Rank transferred from one site to another diminishes as there are more links coming out from the page. That means, since Link Farms have thousands of sites in their page, you would get next to nothing out of it, while the Link Farms would get lots of Link Juice from your site that is legitimate and only have the right amount of links.

There is also a very small chance that traffic will come to your site from the Link Farm site seeing as you have over a thousand blogs to compete with. On the other hand, they might get traffic from your site via the button you took from them to be included in their directory.

To top it all off, you may even be penalized by Google by Google for helping these Link Farms propogate. Google would want to eventually kill these Link Farms off that are just polluting the web and will not be very happy if it sees you helping those out. You might in turn loose some rankings or get to the back of the Search Rankings.

There is definitely no upside in using Link Farms. You get no Link Juice, you might get penalized, and the button will just make your site look crappy.

What’s so useful about Reciprocal Backlinks now?

Even if you do not gain a Backlink with worth, you would still be able to gain traffic via the link from the other blog. If someone from the other blog feels that the Anchor Text is interesting enough then that person may in fact click it and enter your site. For this to work, the blogs linking to each other should of course have the same niche, to make sure that one person visiting one blog will also be interested in the other.

In most cases people would want to trade links with a site that has a Page Rank equal or higher than their own site. This may somewhat assure that there is a fair trade of traffic. If one has a lower page ranking, then the smaller site would be benefitting more from the bigger site and this is not mutualism. It is wise to actually grow your network of connections within the same Niche so you can participate in various link exchanges and gain traffic from a variety of different blogs.

Can I use Three-Way-Links instead?

As far as I know, Three-Way-Links are considered Black Hat Techniques or are despised and penalized by Google if found. Of course, that is if Google actually finds it. It’s actually a lot harder to detect Three-Way-Links compared to Two-Way Links so they don’t really cancel out for now. For those that don’t know what Three-Way-Links are, it’s actually almost the same league as a Two-Way Reciprocal Link but involving three blogs that link to each other but not back at each other.

A -> B -> C -> A

There can actually be Four-Way-Links, Five-Way-Links and so forth. The more blogs involved the less chances it can be detected. What method you will use will actually depend on how much effort you put into finding blogs that will consider linking to you even if it is a Black Hat Technique. Of course if one goes down all goes down, and the more blogs involved, the more will go down with you. (but if it looks natural, chances are Google won’t find out).

Hope you learned something here, do comment if you have any questions and please come back for more tips!