If content is one of the most important elements of a web site, links are probably the next. Most search engines now look at links to a web site â€” both those that lead to the site and those that lead away from the site.
In an effort to take advantage of the authority that links give a web site, many web-site owners have banded together to take create link-trading or reciprocal linking strategies. These are â€œYou link to me and Iâ€™ll link to youâ€ strategies.
For a long time, those strategies worked pretty well. You could send out an e-mail to a company and suggest that the two sites create links, each to the otherâ€™s site. By doing that both sites gained a link into their site and a link out of their site.
Then some people began taking advantage of the strategy and rather than exchanging links with other, relevant web sites, they began to exchange links with anyone who would allow it. Then those same unethical people began building dozens, hundreds, and in some cases even thousands of web sites with the specific intent of cross-linking with the one page for which they were trying to artificially raise the ranking.
And thatâ€™s when search engines began to take note. They noticed that people were manipulating link trading schemes to boost their search ranking, and some added to their guidelines that reciprocal linking and link-trading strategies were unacceptable. The result? If you use these strategies, you could be banned from the search results.
So does that mean that you can never link to a page thatâ€™s going to link back to you? No. What it means is that search engines are now paying more attention to the places that you link to. Theyâ€™re looking at the sites to which youâ€™re linking to make sure theyâ€™re relevant and have something of value to offer to users who might click through the links.
If your links do meet those requirements, you wonâ€™t be penalized for them. If they appear to be links just for the sake of linking, though, your site will be penalized and in some cases even delisted from a search engine. So if you plan to exchange links with other web sites, make sure those sites are relevant to the topic of your web site or the web page on which the link appears.