Google Changes its Link Ranking in Big Daddy

Reciprocal Links Lose Value

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The recent Big Daddy update at Google has changed the way Google ranks reciprocal links.

Well Matt Cutts just opened a lot of webmasters' eyes about why their pages were disappearing from the Google index (and it appears that we were right on in our thinking). However, Matt did go on to add more information about inbound, outbound, and reciprocal links. You can either read his "long blog" with its 261+ comments, or our condensed version:

The sites that fit “no pages in Bigdaddy” criteria were sites where our algorithms had very low trust in the inlinks or the outlinks of that site. Examples that might cause that include excessive reciprocal links, linking to spammy neighborhoods on the web, or link buying/selling.

It appears that reciprocal links have been greatly devalued, and any sites that solely rely on reciprocal links for PageRank are going to suffer the most. It also appears that Google has adopted the "birds of a feather" attitude in regards to linking from your site to sites that have excessive reciprocal links or buy/sell links. You've marked yourself if you are doing this. So beware before you sign up for that next reciprocal link. He continues:

It’s not that reciprocal links are automatically bad. It’s more that many reciprocal links exist for the wrong reasons.

Off-topic links wouldn’t cause a penalty by themselves. Now if the off-topic links are spammy, that could cause a problem.

In other words, if you reciprocate with every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there regardless of what the site is about, the quality of that link has diminished. He also comments that your site will be indexed less often if you are a heavy reciprocal linker. This comes from the following:

  1. Your web page has mostly reciprocal links
  2. Reciprocal Links are devalued
  3. Your PageRank falls accordingly
  4. Lower PageRank mean fewer pages indexed
  5. Fewer pages indexed + lower PageRank means lower rankings
  6. Fewer pages indexed also means more supplemental results (read old and yucky)

In short:

Google is less likely to give those links as much weight now. That’s the simple explanation for why we don’t crawl you as deeply, in my opinion.

We have a finite amount of crawling that we can do as well. Bigdaddy is more deep, but we still have to make choices about whether to crawl more from site A or site B.

So here are the main things you should learn:

All in all, it appears if you had taken our advice on reciprocal links losing their value as we mentioned back in Nov of 2005, BigDaddy wouldn't have been such an upset.