Google Affirms Reciprocal Linking Is Natural In Many Cases

Cross-linking isn’t always a bad thing from Google’s point of view. In many cases, it is normal for you to return to a site that links back to your site.

This was stated by John Mueller, Google Search Attorney during a Google Search Central SEO Hours Hangout recorded Jan. 28.

An SEO professional named Seth Mendelsohn joins the live stream with concerns about preserving the value of backlinks.

He asks if any value would be lost from inbound links pointing to his site if he linked to those sites in return.

Mendelsohn makes it clear that he is not looking to do this as part of a link exchange. Instead, he believes the links will be useful to visitors.

Would incoming links pointing to his site lose value if he were to link back to these domains?

Or worse, does Google see this as a form of unnatural link building?

Mueller says.

Reciprocal links aren’t always bad

Certain forms of cross-linking are against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which is why Mendelsohn takes extra care about the pages he links to.

Link exchanges, where two sites agree to link to each other in an attempt to manipulate search rankings, are strictly prohibited.

This situation, on the other hand, is not a link exchange as defined by Google’s guidelines. Instead, it is a natural form of mutual association.

Mueller explains:

“That’s totally fine. It’s also kind of normal. Especially if you’re a local business, you call your neighbors. Or if you get mentioned in the news somewhere, you kind of mention it on your website like ‘It’s here in the news’ and you’re in The basis is a kind of back-and-forth association.”

Although two sites linked to each other technically qualify as reciprocal links, Google can tell the difference between a natural link and a link system.

Mueller continues:

“It’s basically a kind of cross-relationship, but it’s a natural kind of correlation. It’s not something that’s there because you’re doing some kind of crazy correlation scheme. So from that point of view, I think it’s easy to overthink it. And if you’re doing something naturally, If you weren’t making weird deals, behind the scenes, I wouldn’t be so worried about it.”

For more cross-linking guidelines, see:

  • Are reciprocal or reciprocal links good with Google?
  • Reciprocal Links: Do They Help or Hurt Your SEO?
  • Link exchange violates Google’s guidelines – relevance is not important

Hear the full discussion of crosslinks in the video below:

Featured image: igor kisselev/Shutterstock

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