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Do reciprocal links still work?

Rumor has it that reciprocal links are not as effective as one way links. Some people in online discussion forums claim that one way links from a web site to another site work far better than reciprocal links. Is this true and what do you have to do about this?

What are one way links? What are reciprocal links?

If you link to another web site and the other web site links back to you, it's a reciprocal link. If you link to another web site and the other web site doesn't link back to your site, it's a one way link.

Why are links to your web site important?

Links to your web site improve the link popularity of your web site. If your web site has good incoming links, the ranking of your web pages will increase on major search engines.

Google has an official statement about this topic:

"PageRank interprets a link from Page A to Page B as a vote for Page B by Page A. PageRank then assesses a page's importance by the number of votes it receives.

PageRank also considers the importance of each page that casts a vote, as votes from some pages are considered to have greater value, thus giving the linked page greater value.

Important pages receive a higher PageRank and appear at the top of the search results. Google's technology uses the collective intelligence of the web to determine a page's importance."

Basically, this means that your web site will get better rankings if many other web sites that are related to your own web site link to your site.

So are one way links really better than reciprocal links?

No, reciprocal links and one way links work just the same. The reason why some people think that reciprocal links don't work is that many webmasters who engage in reciprocal linking don't care about theming but only about the number of links. One way links are usually from topic-related sites.

If you link to any Tom, Dick and Harry you'll end up with a links page full of unrelated web sites. The jumble of links on the page is the reason why the links don't have power, not the fact that you're linking back to the site.

What do you have to do now?

Just go back to the original concept of reciprocal linking. Reciprocal linking is about building partnerships with related web sites and about spreading your reach within a specific industry or topic.

When you build links for your web site, concentrate on other sites that have a similar theme like your web site. Links from related web sites will have a positive effect on your ranking, no matter if these links are one way links or reciprocal links.

Building high quality reciprocal links is one of the best ways to promote your business on the Internet. Focus on web sites that are related to your own web site and try to get links from these web sites. Our software tool ARELIS can help you to find these web sites.

By the way, don't focus too much on the green PageRank bar in the Google toolbar. Although Google uses PageRank for its ranking algorithm, it's very likely that the official PageRank of a web site that is displayed in the Google toolbar is not the real PageRank that Google uses for its ranking algorithm.

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February 2005 search engine articles