Q: I recently asked a relevant website with a high Google PageRank value if they could link to a page on my website. They said they would gladly add a link if I could add one to their site somewhere on my website. Would this be damaging to my site? I have thought about setting up a links page with a noindex, nofollow tag so that Google will not pick up the link on our website. What should I do
A: Reciprocal linking can put your site at risk and is not recommended by Google. That said, you are talking about a gray area that you may be able to work to your site’s benefit.
We came across a recent quote from Matt Cutts’ blog (Matt is a “celebrity” Google engineer; he is Google’s unofficial ambassador to the SEO industry). Here, he talks about sites that he was reviewing as part of a panel for a conference:
“Several times during the session, it was readily apparent that someone had tried to do reciprocal links as a “quick hit” to increase their link popularity. When I saw that in the backlinks, I tried to communicate that 1) it was immediately obvious to me, and therefore our algorithms can do a pretty good job of spotting excessive reciprocal links, and 2) in the instances that I looked at, the reciprocal links weren’t doing any good. I urged folks to spend more time looking for ways to make a compelling site that attract viral buzz or word of mouth. Compelling sites that are well-marketed attract editorially chosen links, which tend to help a site more.”
See Matt’s full post here.
You say it’s a relevant site. In our opinion, relevance is the bottom line. Therefore, PageRank issues aside, if you think that the website would be helpful/useful/interesting to your visitors, we say go ahead and provide a link. If not, then don’t do it for the PageRank, because there are lots of other ways to drive targeted traffic to your site.