Does Google Offer Unique Link Value For Certain Reciprocal Links?
Written by: Nick LeRoy
One key take away from Matt Cutts presentation at PubCon that Google has over 200 ranking factors but those ranking factors may have 50 or more variations within a single factor. With this said I want to readdress the value of a reciprocal link. The consensus thought is that one way links offer the most value and that in the right link profile reciprocal links will offer a little less value. As with everything in SEO things aren’t necessary black and white. All reciprocal links are not the same, with that said does Google treat every reciprocal link the same? I’m guessing not, hear me out now...
The Typical Reciprocal Link
When one thinks of reciprocal linking the first thing that comes to mind is an exchange of links typically on a links or resources page. For several years this was the key to ranking highly in the search results. Unfortunately (or not) it's natural that Google devalues any ranking technique that is blatantly gaming their ranking algorithm. After this update to the ranking algorithm you started hearing more about focusing on one way links for successful rankings.
Three Way Reciprocal Links
Most people got the hint after Google devalued the reciprocal link however some continued to push the envelope. If reciprocal linking was no longer effective then they would push their luck by creating a three way link. This technique is often argued that it’s not a reciprocal link because no two sites are linked together. However, the name of the game is natural links and not manipulated links. Google can smell a link scheme from a mile away and has configured a way to sniff out such manipulation. Some link builders swear by link networks and reciprocal links but it’s a dangerous line their walking on.
Exchanging Of Authoritative Links.
The best example I can give of this is with the link at the very top of this article. I am linking to Search Engine Land referencing the take aways from the coverage of a Matt Cutts presentation. Now if in the future any of the people over at Search Engine Land decide to link to this site how would Google look at this? Because I’m already linking to them is this considered a reciprocal link? I would assume yes, but is the value of each of these links weighted any differently then the first two examples of reciprocal linking mentioned above? What if I noticed Search Engine Land linking to me and I went back to this post and no-followed the link to them? Would this site get more value from that linking from Search Engine Land? That seems a lot more manipulative then simply passing maximum value between both sites.
Reciprocal Link Algorithm Variations?
I have a hard time believing that all reciprocal links are considered equal for all instances in which two (or more) sites link to each other. The first two examples show obvious manipulation in an effort to game search results. The last example shows an example of two sites referencing each other in two unique sources in which the link is found in the page content. In content links are suppose to be the most valuable of all links (another algorithm variation?) so could it be a possibility that certain instances of reciprocal links could be of more value then others?