Monday, January 08, 2007

SEO: One-Way and Reciprocal Links

A few blogs ago, I wrote about Search Engine Optimization and some of the strategies to help make your website more search engine friend. I also talked about the external ways of improving your SEO by getting other websites to link to you. Remember that there is essentially 2 main types of links:

1) One-Way Links
2) Reciprocal Links

(Yes, I know there are circular links, three-way links, etc, but these can technically be included in the "one-way" links catagories...we will talk about that in a second). First, a reciprocal link is one where you are trading links one-for-one with another person: "If you put my link on your website, I will place your link on my website." This is the foundation of what people refer to as a "link exchange." Mind you, a link exchange can be more than just apples for apples. This can include: "If you put my website link on your website, I will link back to your from another one of my websites." Further, some people trade in circular fashions. This is an extension of the last exchange I talked about. Let's take a step back for a second a review the first two:

Reciprocal Link: Website A <-> Website B
Three-Way Link: Website A -> Website B -> Website C

So the Circular link is as follows:
Circular Link: Website A -> Website B -> Website C -> Website A

Now the big question is: What does it matter? First of all, there is a lot of debate on whether reciprocal links are really worth anything? Do they cancel each other out? Secondly, what is the difference between the Three-Way link and the Circular link and does that matter?

Of course, there is really no answer to any of these questions. What I do know is this:

1) One-Way links are better are Reciprocal Links
2) Three-Way links are better than Circular Links. There is some belief that Google, for example, is smart enough to recognize the full circle of links.
3) Any link that points to your site (reciprocal or not) is a good link.

You will not be penalized for who links to YOU. With that in mind though, who you link TO needs to be given some consideration. Rememder, you are SHARING your page rank with whomever you are linking to. Further, if you are linking to unrelated, non-working, or banned websites, Google may punish you for it.

But at the end of the day, getting links pointing to your site is always a good thing. I will go over some great ways of getting one-way links in upcoming blogs. Until then...

- Matthew Bredel