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Google Affirms Reciprocal Linking Is Natural In Many Cases

Google doesn’t consider all reciprocal linking unnatural. In many cases it makes sense for two sites to link to each other.

Google Affirms Reciprocal Linking Is Natural In Many Cases

Reciprocal linking isn’t always bad, in Google’s view. In many cases it’s natural to link back to a site that links to yours.

This is stated by Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller during the Google Search Central SEO office hours hangout recorded on January 28.

An SEO professional named Seth Mendelsohn joins the livestream with concerns regarding preserving the value of backlinks.

He asks if any value will be lost from inbound links pointing to his site if he links to those sites in return.

Mendelsohn clarifies he’s not looking to do this as part of a link exchange. Rather, he believes the links would be beneficial to visitors.

Would the inbound links pointing to his site lose value if he were to link back to those domains?

Or worse, would Google see this as a form of unnatural link building?

Here’s what Mueller says.

Reciprocal Links Aren’t Always Bad

Certain forms of reciprocal linking are against Google’s webmaster guidelines, which is why Mendelsohn is being extra cautious about which pages he links to.

A link exchange, where two sites agree to link to each other in an attempt to manipulate search rankings, is strictly prohibited.

This situation, on the other hand, is not a link exchange as defined in Google’s guidelines. Rather, it’s a natural form of reciprocal linking.

Mueller explains:

“That’s perfectly fine. It’s also kind of natural. Especially if you’re a local business, you link to your neighbors. Or if you’re mentioned in the news somewhere you kind of mention that on your website like ‘I was featured here in the news’ and essentially you’re kind of linking back and forth.”

Although two sites linking to each other technically qualifies as reciprocal linking, Google can tell the difference between natural linking and a link scheme.

Mueller continues:

“It’s kind of a reciprocal link essentially, but it’s a natural kind of link. It’s not something that’s there because you’re doing some kind of crazy link scheme. So from that point of view, I think it’s easy to overthink it. And if you’re doing something naturally, if you’re not kind of making weird deals, behind the scenes, then I really wouldn’t worry about it.”

For more guidance related to reciprocal linking, see:

Hear the full discussion on reciprocal links in the video below:


Featured Image: igor kisselev/Shutterstock

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Matt G. Southern

Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

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