This is my second natural SEO post attempting to foster FUD-free approach to search engine optimization. This time it’s about two most overused (but still effective if done wisely) link building methods: reciprocal linking and interlinking.
Is reciprocal linking useless? Can it harm my site?
I would say, reciprocal links are natural. In today’s world of active online communication and idea sharing, it’s even inevitable. That’s the main reason (as I see it), they can’t be absolutely discounted. To look unnatural that should be:
- excessive reciprocal linking;
- simultaneous reciprocal linking (both links appear on the same day);
- only reciprocal linking (no other backlinks except those);
- brand new sites reciprocal linking;
- absolutely irrelevant reciprocal linking.
The worst that you may expect with your good natural reciprocal links is that SEs will stop counting them when evaluating your authority. Per my observations, this hasn’t happened yet by the way. I have a little celebrity blog that has only been promoted by reciprocal linking, is no longer updated but still enjoys 700 uniques daily (and is ranked very well).
Anyway, if you are trying to figure if you need to waste time on building reciprocal links, stop thinking about SEs at all, view it as a powerful social tool (that helps you to build connections) and another traffic source (people that will click the link are few but they are most often really interested in the topic and will turn into your loyal readers).
Can I interlink my own websites? They say if I interlink my sites I look like a spammer.
My tactic of interlinking is simple: if I do nothing wrong, I will freely show SEs and people that I have many more websites. (On the other hand, if I am going to experiment with ‘gray’ tactics for some of my sites, I refrain from interlinking in order not to harm my other sites.)
Probably I won’t interlink brand new websites not to put them under suspicion – but that’s all that I agree to do for search engines. All official Google blogs are interlinked by the way (yeah, they probably enjoy some special treatment but still that’s an example of proper behavior Google itself sets).
I won’t nofollow the links like Google suggests just because I think that’s stupid (and moreover unnatural). While SEs claim they might frown upon networks, that’s not at all that easy to really ban interlinking. Many companies have several official sites, almost all of them have multiple international sites, there are plenty of official blog networks and umbrella projects.
Interlinking is natural (even when being irrelevant) and no matter how much SEs might want to keep people from overusing it, the worst they can do is to discount the links in terms of authority and ranking. Interlinking might look unnatural if:
- you have too many sites (Matt Cutts once said that more than 2000 sites owned by one person may look unnatural);
- you have many interlinked sites launched on the same day;
- your sites share blacklisted IP address (i.e. the one often used by spammers);
- your sites have no other backlinks except for the ones from your other sites (or all your sites have same backlinks);
If you want to look even more natural:
- don’t use sitewide links (create a separate page “My other sites”);
- don’t interlink your sites in a day;
- don’t crosslink your sites (instead interlink by groups, based on relevancy) or just spontaneously.
Anyway, the less you are trying to hide from SEs, the more natural you look.