Are reciprocal links OK if they are relevant and useful?
 by Stephen Mahaney

Are reciprocal links OK if they are relevant and useful?

  • I have a question about reciprocal links and link exchanges. If the links are relevant and useful, are of high quality and related in topic, will Google penalize for these? Ignore them? ...or would they actually help a site rank?


John Mueller recently answered that question in detail. In summary he said that a link exchange where both sides have agreed to link back to each other is against Google's webmaster guidelines. So...

John Mueller Avatar

...that's something where our algorithms would look at that and try to understand what is happening here and try to ignore those links.

He went on to say that, if the web spam team were to look at it, they would also say that it's "not okay" and if the majority of links to your website are like this then a manual action penalty might be applied.

As such he made it crystal clear that you should avoid such link arrangements even when they are topically relevant — especially if it would appear that you're systematically doing this regardless of whether or not the links are useful.

The reasoning is that these are not natural links. From Google's point of view they only exist because you're "doing this deal with the other side."

John did add, however, that it's fine to contact people and tell them that you have this great content and maybe it's something that they would appreciate linking to from their website. But, "anything beyond that" where an exchange of links and/or money takes place is considered unnatural, is against Gogle's guidelines, would likely be ignored, and could even trigger a manual action penalty. You can listen to the discussion in the video below.


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