For those of you that have been in the game (Internet marketing/SEO) for a while, just reading my title will be enough for you to guess what this post is about. Yep, you guessed it – Reciprocal linking emails and other link building offers you get in your inbox. I get these everyday too, almost as much as the spam I get on my blogs!
The reason I wanted to do a post about it is because of an email I got from a client, who happens to be a really smart guy (a contract lawyer in fact) but still to new to Internet marketing to have a clue about the things to embrace and the things to toss out. He received the usual email that started off “I visited your site today, and really liked it” – and went on to flatter more – then the question came to me:
We got this early this morning and thought it was cool but do not want to make any mistakes. Should we link to people like this or is it to risky? I will look at his site today but don’t know if he is trying to help us or just promote himself or both. What do you think and how does this work?
The fact that he even mentioned it might be to risky (red flags flying around) makes me know that I have been teaching him well, but it also worries me that he’s so confused what to do. (hit delete key now)
A Voting System …
I do not, and never have preached (or practiced) reciprocal linking, but that does not mean I don’t have some reciprocal links in certain cases. I try to help people understand linking as a voting system. If I vote for you and you vote for me, our vote cancel each other out (in general). This would be the rules I follow for the practice of – “general reciprocal linking” by gaining a ton of links that are not related to your site or content through reciprocal linking programs or email spamming.
For the most part the sites that are contacting you via email to reciprocal link, are sending the same email to thousands of other people that don’t have their permission either. Most of these links are not targeted either, and the sites they want to put you on don’t have any pages indexed in Google. It does not mean all opportunities are bad, but you just need to do some research and be careful.
How To Test …
If you want to be sure, or test if the link might do you any good, just take the URL to Google and first, see if the page is indexed (just type in the actual URL in Google – does anything come up?), and then find out what the cache date is (go to the Google search bar and type in cache:www.whateversitehere.com), and that should give you a pretty good idea if you want to pursue the link. If the site is legit, looks legit, is targeted, or close to your industry and has many pages indexed in Google with recent cached dates it might be worth getting.
The Problem …
Most of these businesses (marketers) who are emailing you for a reciprocal link, own sites that are not worthy of linking to, or getting a link from. In fact in some cases if they have linked to you, I would (and have) reply back and ask them to kindly remove the link (especially if it seems spammy). Just look at the site, and use your better judgment – its not rocket science!
Now if CNN offered me a link on their homepage, and all I had to do is link to them, I would do it in a heartbeat, but lets be honest – that will NEVER happen! Just think about quality people!
The point here is to be choosy about the reciprocal linking you do, and remember to try and get as many votes for your site as possible without having to vote for someone else. Also make sure that you are focusing on the quality of those links because its not who has the most links, but who has the most quality links.
In conclusion …
I do not think you should be greedy in linking out – that is different then reciprocal linking, in fact I recommend it in a site co-citation way, but that would include linking out to big players in the industry that are related to what you are doing in the post, article, press, web page etc. This will for sure help you in your efforts. Hopefully this gives those of you who are new to the game some tips or things to look for the next time you get email offers of reciprocal linking.