What Is Reciprocal Linking?
Since so many people think that exchanging links with sites is the easiest way to get them, new people learning about link popularity are under the mistaken belief that they “must” have links that are reciprocated on their site (e.g., "you-link-to-me-and-I'll-link-to-you"-type links). Still others are saying that reciprocal links are dead and you won't gain any benefit from them.
Both camps are wrong. You certainly don't need reciprocal links, but they may be helpful. Remember, it is links pointing TO your site that are helpful. Links pointing FROM your site to other sites are wonderful to have because they help your visitors find related stuff, but if your site doesn't lend itself to linking to other sites, then, don't do it.
Should I Care About Link Popularity?
In general, there's no need for the average site to obsess over link popularity. Yes, you'll want to keep it in mind, and yes you should make sure that your site is what Media Services likes to call "link-worthy." However, Media Services’ experience indicates that link popularity constitutes only a portion of most search engines' ranking algorithms. Arguably, Google places more emphasis than most other engines on incoming links. Media Services has found that just a few highly relevant links with strong anchor text can go a long way towards link popularity for many sites.
What Is Next Level Link Popularity?
For sites that want to take it to the next level and are trying to rank highly with extremely competitive keywords, it may be necessary to actively seek out links from other relevant web sites (a Media Services strength). In simple terms, this means you should look for sites that are related to your site in some way and see if they might be interested in promoting your site to their users.
Whatever you do, do not send automatically generated link requests to any site. Most Webmasters consider them a nuisance at best and spam at worst. Certainly, a personal e-mail may be welcome and it doesn't hurt to pick up the phone to begin a dialogue with a potential link partner. Remember, links from relevant sites will bring more traffic to your site than a high search engine ranking.
How Does Link Popularity Work?
Let's say that a Mike the Realtor Web site has a link (inward-bound link) from Joe's Clothing store site. If the link uses the keywords "Homes for Sale" in the anchor text (the clickable part), it may help. However, Mike would benefit a lot more if the same link came from a site that was related to Mike the Realtor - say a website about real estate in local communities.
Again, the key is in having that common thread between the sites with editorial and information that relates to Mike the Realtor. Media Services has many sites that will help any Realtor, builder, developer or mortgage banker achieve greater Internet exposure.
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