Backlinks have always been one out of two top ranking factors for Google, but buying backlinks and doing link exchange is a truly bad idea. So how to get high quality backlinks for free? There is a way, it is described here in the text.
I run several sites in a broad niche and I receive offers for backlinks practically ever day. Most of the time this is about people who do this as a business and make enquiries so that they can sell such information to their potential clients.
But sometimes I get contacted with site owners directly who offer link exchange or reciprocal links.
So what is reciprocal link in SEO?
This is about links between two sites that are in the same or similar niche. Is reciprocal linking bad? I would say not necessarily, this is sometimes useful for readers, and such links may provide value. I have such links between my own sites which are in the same broad niche but cover separate sub-niches.
But this is all in Google’s hands. The only thing that matters is how Google sees the issue. Reciprocal link practice may become problem if this is frequently done, sooner or later Google will find this out. I have never participated in a business of that type, and I do not think my policy will ever change.
When you get an offer for links exchange or for a paid backlink, you will realize that such sites are usually of a very low authority. So even if you earn some money for this, in long term you lose because you ruin the authority of your own site.
But very recently, I was contacted by the owner of a really great travel site. This was about a couple who travel the world in their RV and write about their experience. The site was great, and out of curiosity I checked its status, it turned out its authority was far higher than the authority of my site.
So I could not understand why the author wanted a backlink from my site. In any case, I told him that backlinks exchange was not my business. Surprisingly, he said he was not necessarily thinking about two way linking.
In fact, he wanted a backlink from my site in exchange for a precious text which he would write to publish in my site and where such a link would be planted. This sounded a bit arrogant, but I concluded the discussion politely and rejected his offer, wished him all the best, etc.
Is link exchange good for SEO? Does Google penalize reciprocal links?
Google’s policy regarding link exchange is clearly outlined in their documents. Mueller from Google also said this:
“So… a link exchange where both sides are kind of like you link to me and therefore I will link back to you, kind of thing, that is essentially against our webmaster guidelines.
So that’s something where our algorithms would look at that and try to understand what is happening here and try to ignore those links.
And if the web spam team were to look at it they would also say this is not okay.
And if this is the majority of the links to your website like this then they might apply manual action.
So that’s something I would avoid.”
It is best to hear and see this directly from him, this part is at the 9:25 minute mark:
In other words, if you are paying for backlinks, you may be wasting your money. Sooner or later they will realize what is going on and your paid backlinks will ne ignored. In addition, your site may even be penalized.
The bottom line is, reciprocal links are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If you are trying to manipulate search results by exchanging links, your site might suffer.
So how to get high quality backlinks for free?
Let me describe a recent episode. I received an email which came through the contact form in one of my sites. The person thanked me for my texts which he used when researching for his own post. He also mentioned a few typos he noticed, and he said he added a link in his post pointing to my text that was useful and relevant for his story.
So indeed, I checked for the typos and corrected them. I also followed his link and realized there was indeed a link to my post in his own text.
Now, I felt obliged to do something in return, in other words to provide a link to his site. We cover similar niches and it is easy to find a place where adding such a link would provide value for readers.
But I told him that this is not what I normally do. He was too kind, he said he did not do this for a link exchange, he genuinely liked my text, and he said he himself would love to have readers pointing out possible typos and errors.
Wow. He bought me with this. So I have decided to add a link in my another site, and hopefully the whole matter will not be so obvious to almighty Google.
The bottom line is, the author will get a backlink for me. But hey, this is not an invitation to do the same and offer me links. This is not my practice and I am definitely not going to do this on a regular basis. However, if you do such things, you have seen the formula. It works.
So if you want to get backlinks for free, the essentials steps should be the following:
- Search around for a high quality site which is in your niche and relevant for your content.
- When you find it, check the texts and see if there is any that may be important for your readers.
- Check in the site for possibilities of improvement. A site is never perfect as you know. This can be a broken link, some typos, and anything similar.
- In one of your own posts, add a link to the post you found in the step 2.
- Get in touch with the owner of the site and let him know what you have done, and suggest improvements from the step 3. Do not request anything in return.
Thank you for reading. You might want to check around for more, I have a number of texts about search engine optimization. Read in my separate text how to write high quality product reviews to make Google happy. Let me know if you have questions or comments, there is a comment box below.