Reciprocal Shares, Likes and +1′s to Replace the Link Exchange?

Posted on 30. Sep, 2011 by in Thoughts

For years websites have exchanged links with one another to enhance their search engine rankings, but are we about to see reciprocal shares, likes and +1′s replace the reciprocal link exchange.Facebook Thumbs Up & Thumbs Down

Back in the early days of search, reciprocal linking between websites was a worthy tactic to enhance ones websites rankings. That was until Google released an algorithm update that detected and de-valued the links between both parties.

Yet ranking hungry webmasters still spend hours sending out reciprocal link exchange emails, mainly using machines now.

With engagement signals with content and social increasingly influencing the search results, will webmasters shift tactic and begin to exchange shares, likes and +1′s to try and artificially enhance their websites rankings?

Imagine it, rather than receiving an email asking to exchange links, it’s shares, likes and +1′s instead:

I found your website while searching on Google for [xyz business] and think that our websites have a similar theme.
Would you like to exchange shares, likes or +1′s with my website? In return, we will share your website on our social networks.
As you know, shares influence your Google search engine rankings, benefiting your websites traffic. Once you have shared our website, take a screengrab and send it to us and we’ll do the same.

Basically, you +1 my website and I’ll +1 yours. For confirmation, webmaster asks you to send a screengrab. It haven’t received an email like this yet, but it pains me to think this will occur. More unsolicited email’s draining resource.

Search Engine Stance

Stepping into Bing and Google’s shoes, should I be worried? Will people be able to enhance the search results without merit? I don’t think so.

The main difference for me between exchange links and engagement like +1′s and shares is that it’s in public eye. Reciprocal links are often buried, out of the click-stream – another reason search engines don’t’ value reciprocals.

Shares on the other hand are very public. For example, sharing another’s website on Facebook is publically vouching for that website. You’re saying to all your fans that you like it. If it sells drugs, wants to enlarge your man-bits, or is generally low quality and poor, you cannot hide that deep within a websites architecture – everyone who follows you may end up changing their opinion of your website. That isn’t good reputation management. I could be wrong here; this may actually be going on now and i’m just not cool enough to know about it.

What do you think, will the reciprocal link exchange evolve with modern day search engines and change tactic looking at exchanging shares, likes and +1′s instead?

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