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How important are reciprocal links?

By David Callan

In my opinion reciprocal links are second only to search engines as a way to get traffic to ones site.

Reciprocal links are links with other sites which are generally related to the theme of your website. The concept is simple, you link to a site and that sites webmaster returns the favor and links back to your site. For some reason or another you always receive a lot more traffic from doing link exchanges sites than you give out.

This method of traffic building is very important and it's free, it's simply a matter of contacting the right webmasters and getting the right links. A full blown 'link-hunt' however can be time consuming but the benefits it can bring are huge. Among them are:

Highly targeted visitors
Better search engine rankings
The visitors that come from related websites are highly targeted and you've a much better chance of selling them your product or service Since they've come to your site through a link on a related website you know they're interested in your sites theme, otherwise they wouldn't be on a site that is linking to you and furthermore they definitely wouldn't click through if they weren't interested. These visitors are prime prospects for your product or service and best of all you don't have to pay for a single one.

It's worth telling you that it is very unlikely that once a link is up on someones site that it will be taken down. This means that once a link is up, chances are it'll be sending you free visitors for its lifetime, free visitors equals free sales which in turn equals more profit.

Reciprocal linking is my personal favorite form of marketing even though a good search engine campaign will bring in much more traffic than any number of links can. I say this because it's ideal for sites just starting out as you can see the visitors and sales coming in within days of contacting webmasters for links, especially if you can secure any high traffic links.

Apart from getting visitors from the linking site itself more recently some major search engines are using the number of links to a site as an important factor in establishing a sites relevancy. The idea behind this is that the more links a site has to more valuable it must be.

This method of using the number of links as a relevancy factor helps the search engines defeat doorway pages. Why would anyone link to 'bare-bones' keyword filled doorway page? To that question there's a simple answer, they wouldn't and the search engines know this.

Google is the most prominent of the big boys to use this method. It brought me a lot of visitors to my hobby site. Hobby site? You may ask. Well you may be interested to read that I was the webmaster of http://www.irishboxingnews.com for three years.

I have recently discontinued http://www.irishboxingnews.com to concentrate on this site, but I remember checking backward links on Altavista and Google during its operation. I had 275 sites linking to Irish Boxing News.com and was ranked number three on Google for the search term 'boxing news', which is a very popular query. I got between 40 and 70 visitors a day from Google for this search term alone.

Before Google introduced the number of links to a site as a ranking factor with its patented Pagerank system I wasn't even in the top 20, because however I had so many quality sites linking to Irish Boxing News.com Google felt I deserved position three when the Pagerank system was put in place.

More search engines are likely to come around to this method of evaluating sites as Google has shown with its tremendous growth that it's a very effective method of ranking search results.

Hopefully you can see why reciprocal linking is so important to any 'serious' webmasters. My Irish Boxing News.com site got about 150 visitors a day through reciprocal links alone, not bad for a site without a budget plus it was a niche information site and didn't have broad appeal. Just Multiply 150 by 4 or 5 for a website with mass appeal like an Internet Marketing themed one and you can really start to see the power of developing links with other sites. The bottom line is - get linking now, you'll be glad you did.

About the author
Article by David Callan. David is an Internet marketing professional and webmaster of http://www.akamarketing.com/webmaster-forums/. Visit his webmaster forums for the latest discussions on search engines, website authoring and Internet marketing related issues and topics.

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