If you've promoted a site online by getting links from other sites, you may well have come across the claim that reciprocal links are of no use, or in fact are dead.

This statement is based on the fact that search engines either discount or no longer use reciprocal links inbound to a site when calculating that sites' search engine rankings. Due to this, it is a common opinion that reciprocal links are now worthless.

Not Totally Worthless

Reciprocal linkThis is true up to a point. Although a reciprocal link will have little if any effect on improving your search engine rankings, this does not make them worthless. A claim that they are is missing the point.

Simply trying to rank higher in searches is not the objective when a site is being promoted, the actual objective is to increase traffic to the site. One way of achieving this is by improving a sites rankings, but it is not the only way, and a promotional campaign shouldn't solely judge links on this merit. Considering  a link worthless for not achieving this fails to consider any traffic that might also be generated from the link.

Many links, reciprocal or otherwise, may not generate much in the way of traffic themselves, but a good quality reciprocal link from a relevant site, preferably related but not in direct competition with your own may well be a good source of traffic in itself, possibly an even better source of traffic than a search engine. This is because there is an increased likelihood that a visitor who clicks on a link is looking for your precise product or service.

Be Selective

Don't just go out and swap links with any site that says yes though. You want to be looking sites that are relevant to your product or service and, as mentioned earlier, preferably non-competing sites. If you are a web designer, consider looking to exchange links with SEO and web hosting firms, as it's highly likely that a user of one of those services is going to use the other two also. Try and look for link partners that are of a decent quality too, but your site must be worth exchanging links with also.