Google cares about the quality of the links pointing “to” your site! On the other hand, Google’s not a big fan of excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) methods.
“The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content… It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but also the quality and relevance of those links. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice.”
(Source: Google Webmaster Tools: Link schemes*)
Real-world example: ReidWalley.com gets consistent organic ranking on Google’s first page for “life coach sacramento.” No link exchange or reciprocal link methods were ever used – just posting quality content and linking to (voting for) awesome sites.
Vote for what’s awesome: Good-quality content and linking to (voting for) other quality sites are 2 ways to become a quality resource. And good-quality resources are worth linking to. If your site is valuable then other quality sites will consider linking to you. But your site must be “worth” linking to.
I always receive “link to me and I’ll link to you” emails from link exchange companies. Most of them are crap and not even relevant to my industry or category. If I think your site’s content is awesome then I’ll link to it – without asking you to return the favor.
If I vote for you on The Voice or American Idol, I don’t ask for a reciprocal vote. If you’re awesome, I’ll vote for you.
*Full Link schemes article from Google Webmaster Tools:
Your site’s ranking in Google search results is partly based on analysis of those sites that link to you. The quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating. The sites that link to you can provide context about the subject matter of your site, and can indicate its quality and popularity. However, some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results. Examples of link schemes can include:
- Links intended to manipulate PageRank
- Links to web spammers or bad neighborhoods on the web
- Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”)
- Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community. The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it. Before making any single decision, you should ask yourself the question: Is this going to be beneficial for my page’s visitors?
It is not only the number of links you have pointing to your site that matters, but also the quality and relevance of those links. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the buzzing blogger community can be an excellent place to generate interest.