With reciprocal linking you as an SEO consultant or web site owner have more control over the quality and quantity of the text links obtained.
Every low quality website owner and their dog seems to be the main users of reciprocal linking rather than the sort of websites you want links from. Those would be popular websites with reasonable PR webpages that have been online for years, good luck finding those link gems.
How to Ask for Reciprocal Links
“Saw your great site and thought you’d like to reciprocal link, blah, blah, blah… you sell shoes and we sell Viagra, perfect match don’t ya think” :-)
You look at the site and find your link will be part of a large link directory and your link is 10 clicks from the home page on a PR0 page (wonderful, sign me up!).
This is not the way to contact potential link partners, it’s a scatter gun approach and you are pretty much guaranteed a low response rate and those that do respond don’t understand the importance of QUALITY backlinks. When I receive a link exchange email like the one above I know the webmaster doesn’t understand basic SEO and I don’t want to build a relationship with a webmaster who is already making SEO mistakes that could drag my sites down with theirs!
When you get in the position I’m in (many PR4+ home pages) you can pick and choose who you link with. Personally I only setup reciprocal links with people I know and trust because I don’t want to have to check the links every month (I’m a lazy SEO guy :-)), hey I do own over 100 websites, imagine keeping track of all the reciprocal links I could setup!!
Means I rarely setup link exchanges.
What I advise is avoid the standard reciprocal link type schemes: I give you one link you give me one back! Instead find people you trust (look to your industry forums, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Twitter etc…) and setup multiple RELEVANT links between your sites.
Let’s Build a Link Farm!
I’m not talking about a text link farm here!
Just a reasonable number of pages from your site linking to another site and back again. I try to keep the number of links to well below 10% of the pages indexed or no more than 50 pages (from a large site >1,000 pages), so a 100 page web site could provide 10 links, 1,000 or more page website 50 links max.
Avoid sitewide links as a general rule (link from every page of a site is site wide linking) unless it’s a small site (well below 50 pages) AND relevant to your sites content. What we are talking here is both link partners go to the effort of researching each others websites for relevant webpages to link to/from and manually add the links into the content (contextual links). If I had a reciprocal link partner for this domain (I don’t), from this article I’d look to find a webpage about linking and link to it.
Reciprocal Links Pages
Don’t accept ANY reciprocal links pages, waste of your time and they won’t do much good. Some SEO’s think link pages are downgraded by Google, I don’t think this since there is no need for Google to go to an effort to determine a links page is a links page to downgrade the links, they already are low quality:
Reciprocal links pages tend to have very low PR (PR2 or less) and have a lot of links (less than 100 links is rare except on the really low PR pages), this means the links are low quality and pass little link benefit. Read about how link benefit flows through links.
Also doesn’t help that links pages tend to have no content focus, they tend to link to anything meaning if link theming/niching is important those types of links won’t help much.