Reciprocal Link Directory
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Reciprocal Links

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Reciprocal links are a simple arrangement whereby a webmaster exchanges a link to another website for a similar link back to his / her website. The idea is to increase one's website traffic by providing more ways for "surfers" to arrive at the target page. In addition, (the theory goes) search engines will discover that the site is popular, and give it a higher ranking, resulting in even more traffic.

This may have been true in the early days of the World Wide Web, but this sort of random linking is no longer effective (if it ever was). For one thing, anyone with moderate CGI programming skills can automate the linking process so that the links they recieve are more likely to produce traffic than those they provide, which are lost in a sea of competing links.

More significantly, Google (and presumably other major search engines) can distinguish between high-quality content-rich links and gratutitous link-swapping so reciprocal links may actually reduce a site's search-engine ranking. See: "Our Search: Google Technology" for a brief discussion.

More detailed information is in these articles:

In the end, reciprocal links are only worhthwhile if they come from high-quality, relevant sites. You should link only to sites that provide information your readers will find useful. After the links are in place, drop a short e-mail to the webmaster of the site informing them of your link, and explaining how your site complements theirs and would be of value to their visitors. It is a slow process, but one that ultimately yields results.

Maintaining a reciprocal links database involves a lot of link-checking. Windows users should try Quid Pro Quo from:
Web Masters Loom - Enabling the architects and builders of the web. Information and resources for webmasters.

There are a number of "link exchanges" that facilitate this process in one way or another, and may be worth a try:

Webmasters who are interested in search-engine optimization will find many useful tipsand tricks in Google Hacks, and Google: The Missing Manual. .