Link building has been a valuable part of SEO for years. This strategy was most popular during its infancy when people relied on it to boost their search engine rankings. However, it was not until the early 2000s that SEO experts and webmasters alike started to rely on an SEO technique known as mutual or reciprocal link building.
However, as time moved, search engines like Google started to improve how their algorithms determine search results. This includes aspects such as the quality of web pages as well as their relevancy.
Although this strategy is technically against Google’s guidelines, experts believe there are specific ways you can use it to your advantage. This write-up breaks down all the essential details you need to know about mutual link building, including what mutual link building is, its importance, and how it can hurt or benefit your SEO.
Understanding Mutual Link Building
Also known as reciprocal or two-way linking, mutual link building occurs when two or more webmasters agree to exchange links with each other in order to boost their sites’ authority and SEO. Usually, websites that agree to exchange links cover similar topics or offer similar goods and services. Primarily, these links aim to connect someone’s page to their partner’s and vice versa.
For instance, a high-traffic blog related to your niche may use an anchor text link with your relevant keyword to mention your website in one of their posts. In return, you may also decide to use one of your blog posts to link back to the blog post where your site was mentioned.
Website owners see this strategy as a way of benefiting themselves and their visitors because it helps customers see both sites.
Link exchanges usually occur through SEO outreach, which can be facilitated by manual link-building service providers. Here are three ways links can be exchanged:
- Guest post swap: Two bloggers exchange links with each other.
- Direct link exchange: Website owners agree to exchange links.
- 3-way link exchange: A webmaster agrees to establish a triangular linking structure with a third party.
However, following the mythologies surrounding SEO, you might have heard that search engines like Google hate reciprocal link building. This begs the question of whether mutual link-building is worth your time. Let’s find out.
Does Mutual Link Building Still Effective in 2023?
The answer to this question depends on how you approach reciprocal link building. But generally speaking, backlinks are still a significant part of off-page SEO. As such, reciprocal links can be effective if used correctly alongside other SEO techniques.
Mutual link-building is a common practice in 2023. Website owners outsource manual link-building services from SEO outreach agencies to help with their backlinking solutions. According to Ahrefs, 43.7% of Google’s top ten search results comprise reciprocal links. This means backlinking is still a crucial part of off-page Google SEO in 2023 because it can help you generate traffic to your website.
For the most part, quality link building lets Google know that your site can be trusted as an authority site. That means you must get links from quality sites if you want to enhance your SEO and search engine rankings.
How Mutual Link Building Can Benefit Your SEO
Reciprocal links can be beneficial to your SEO if used in the right way. For instance, if you are thinking about reciprocal link building, ensure you approach it with the aim of enhancing the experience of people visiting your website. Now let’s look at some ways mutual linking can improve your SEO strategy:
- Enhance the experience of new and existing customers: The right manual link-building strategy can increase customer engagement with your content. As a result, search engine algorithms will notice this and rank you higher.
- Get positioned as a trusted authority: Reciprocal links can also help search engines establish you as a trusted authority. In that case, you must provide customers with access to related resources. This lets search engines know you understand your niche and your visitors’ problems. It also lets search engines know you are confident enough to send your visitors to other sources of information.
- Increase traffic to your website: An increase in website traffic can bring in potential customers who have no previous knowledge about the services you offer. This is another factor that can help search engines detect that you are receiving attention from visitors, hence moving you up in their search results. It can be beneficial for both customers and website owners and can bring a positive impact on your SEO.
Risks Associated with Reciprocal Link Building According to Google
Although Google is not entirely against reciprocal linking, there are specific risks associated with it. If done poorly, mutual link-building can be detrimental to your website.
For instance, according to Google’s Webmaster guidelines, the search engine considers any excessive exchange of links between sites to be some kind of “link scheme.” Google sees link schemes as a way of manipulating its ranking algorithm. If found guilty of violating these guidelines, Google may penalize you, which could render your links useless. One of the main reasons Google will penalize you is because it wants readers to read from reliable resources for them to get the right information and impression.
Google only encourages natural mutual linking. That means there must be enough proof of trust between websites linking back and forth to each other.
There are two potential penalties if found guilty of violating these guidelines; Google can de-index your website or downgrade it in search results. Here are some actions that can result in these penalties:
- Automating the backlinks generating process.
- Purchasing and selling of links that pass PageRank.
- Developing partner pages with lower-quality content for the sole purpose of exchanging links.
- Excessive exchange of links between sites.
Best Practices for Reciprocal Link Building Campaign
Considering the fact that reciprocal link building can be detrimental to your SEO if done poorly, it’s crucial to understand how you can use them to your benefit. Here are mutual link-building best practices that can help enhance your SEO and SERPs.
1. Link to Relevant Content
One aim of SEO is to help customers with their problems. If you link to irrelevant content, you may look bad to your customers and potential customers. Therefore, before linking, make sure the link is contextually relevant, it is a natural fit, and it benefits your content marketing strategy. In that case, you can link to higher-authority sites that are related to your content to enhance your customer’s experience while increasing engagement and SEO.
2. The Content You Are Linking to Must Add Value to Readers
Linking to valuable content helps the reader learn more and solve their problem quickly. Avoid focusing entirely on search results rankings and SEO. Instead, put yourself in your customer’s shoes to know how you can provide real value with quality content from another website. This form of emphatic marketing technique can help your site become a trusted resource. Besides, you can receive a reciprocal link in return, which can see your website rank higher as a trusted source of information.
3. Evaluate Important SEO Metrics of the Site you are Linking to
By checking the SEO metrics of the site you want to link to, you are sure to increase the effectiveness of reciprocal links. You can contact an SEO outreach specialist or use free/paid online tools to locate and filter websites depending on important SEO factors. These factors include;
- Organic traffic
- Keyword rankings
- Search Visibility
- Traffic value
- Organic traffic conversions
4. Establish an Authentic Relationship
As stated earlier, Google prohibits users from creating pages for link-exchange purposes only. As such, you must build an authentic relationship with the site you want to exchange links with. You can start by linking to a site offering relevant information that is valuable to your readers without expecting anything in return. If the other site decides to link back to you, you will have established an authentic relationship.
5. Do Not Link to Competitor Sites
While trying to establish an authentic relationship for mutual link-building purposes, ensure you don’t promote your competitors since they may not link back to your site. Linking to them will only make their sites rank higher than yours. Therefore, ensure you are not linking to a direct competitor and avoid using the same target keywords as your competitors when using this strategy.
6. Carefully Asses Mutual Link Requests
As you continue working on your website, you will start receiving manual link requests. Evaluate these requests carefully to determine their effect on your site authority and SEO.
- It is not a link scheme
- It naturally fits your content
- It offers value to your customers
- It can increase traffic to your website
Why Domain Authority is an Important Part of Mutual Link-Building Campaigns
Although Domain Authority (DA) is not an official ranking factor used by Google, sites with higher domain authority tend to rank higher in search engine results pages. As such, convincing websites with a higher domain authority to link back to your website can be very effective in your link-building campaign.
For the most part, a website with domain authority of 50 and above can give your site an effective backlink. Although achieving the desired results might take time and money, quality backlinks will ultimately bring traffic to your site once they are added to your profile. They can serve the purpose for years since they don’t expire or disappear.
You can increase your page rank by getting others to link to your page, provided you follow Google guidelines. However, mutual link building can be challenging since search engines have become sophisticated over time. However, you don’t have to do it yourself.
Outreach Bee understands that developing an effective link-building campaign takes time and hard work, which is why we are here to help. We will check the right SEO metrics of sites you can build authentic relationships for reciprocal link-building campaigns for you to ensure you get the desired results. We will also approach high-DA sites for you and convince them to work with us in building authentic relationships for mutual link-building purposes.
Feel free to contact Outreach Bee today to bring your link-building campaign to fruition: no commitment is required, and no risks are involved.