The Silly Myth About Reciprocal Links

“I would like to exchange links with you to maximize Page Rank on Google for both of us, but it is important not to link to the same site – they need to be different sites to count on Google” 

It’s not the first time some linking email message lectures me about how Google ignores reciprocal links.  Of course, that’s total phony bologna.  Google values links based on their value, not on whether the other site links back.  It is actually a very natural thing for two sites in the same niche to link to each other.  It is also good marketing to exchange visible links with non-competing, related websites.  And it is totally legitimate to show visitors and search engines alike that you are related in topic to another website that Google might also value.  Google has no interest in discounting legitimate reciprocal linking. What Google does want and even need to discount are links set up to mess up its results.  All links built solely for the purpose of cooking Google’s results are therefore discouraged.  Those that are aggressive enough to skew Google’s results must be stopped.  Google has that obligation, otherwise it will lose its clientele. In case you, too, are tired of receiving such misinformed emails, here is how I just responded to one: 

“I think you have been taken for a bit of a ride by some way-too-clever SEO charlatan who thinks that reciprocal linking is being penalized or discounted by Google.  At best, three-way link exchanges add some variation amidst two-way link exchanges; at worst, the search engines (who can easily read such schemes) would read this as an attempt to scam them.  I personally don’t think it makes a hill of beans difference whether there are two-way or three-way exchanges.  I do what makes sense for each website.”