Thursday, September 25, 2008

Linking is dead?

For years, now, I’ve been hearing SEO gurus blather on and on about how “linking is dead”. Let me clarify a couple of points about this.

First of all, what they’re really saying is that reciprocal linking is dead. This old idea of “you link to me and I’ll link to you” is old and moldy and should be buried. The primary focus of their reasoning is that Google doesn’t give much credit to links in link pages, and so therefore, it won’t boost your search engine ranking.

Second of all, reciprocal linking isn’t dead, really, either. I want to talk about that a little bit, and then share a very recent example.

See, the whole point of internet marketing is to establish inbound links. That is, links from other web pages and sites to yours. There are three reasons to do this:

1. Search Engine Ranking

Google especially, but also Yahoo and others will rank the results based on how many inbound links a page has. More links equals more importance and popularity which equals higher ranking. While most search engine optimization gurus agree that reciprocal links don’t count as much as, say, an in-content text link, they still count. Most gurus also think that this is where there value ends. But that is also not so.

2. Spidering

“Spiders” are programs that the search engines send out to “crawl across the web” to update their information on old sites, and add new ones to their databases. If your site has lots of links coming in from lots of different places, your site will be hit (or “spidered”) faster, and more often. Reciprocal links work the same as any other links for the spiders.

3. Directly clicking traffic

This is the biggest reason to do reciprocal linking. If you find the right sites to swap with, and you make it work, then you can get lots of in-clicking traffic from them. Currently, about 15-25% of my visitors on any given week come from my reciprocal links. The traffic is targeted, and it bypasses the search engines entirely.

About two weeks ago, I was working on one of my sites, which is all about my church- and scripture-based card game. I was out looking for link exchanges and I found a site that had resources for families and Sunday school teachers. Perfect for my site’s theme and audience, I thought!

I emailed them and set up the link exchange. Soon after that, I noticed that I was getting an a lot more newsletter signups as usual. Pleased, I went into my site reporting and discovered that because of that one link, my traffic increased by a factor of ten that first day. Since then, of course, it has tapered off, but it has settled into a level that is still much higher than the original average by a factor of about 2 to 2.5.

In other words, because I set up one link exchange with one site, I got hit with an immediate flood of targeted traffic, many of which joined my mailing list, and my overall visitor count has doubled.

And the pundits and gurus say that reciprocal linking is dead.

Long live linking.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.


  1. Anonymous4:09 AM

    Alexa calls itself a web information company. No introduction is required to be given about Alexa. Alexa is one of the most prolific search engines more so in the use as against the rest of the world. There are rife speculations on and off that Alexa is a spy ware. The Alexa toolbar is often regarded as a spy ware by many vendors. However, the antivirus company Symantec describes the toolbar as a trackware. Antivirus company McAfee also assigns a danger to the Alexa toolbar. The tests conducted by the former on the Alexa toolbar showed downloads that are thought to be spyware, adware, or other unwanted programs. Apart from McAfee, that has marked Alexa toolbar as Adware-Alexa, a “Potentially Unwanted Program” even other antivirus vendors have done the same.

  2. Thanks for the education. I am new at this. I have alot to learn. Thanks to people like Mark it may not be too hard. Thanks again Mark.