This article assumes that you are also a smaller business and that you have your own website. It also assumes that you know a little bit about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). You do not need to know much, just a few of the things you should not do, and the potential consequences of breaking the Google rules on SEO.
You have your website, and you know that backlinks are helpful for SEO. They help you to rank up through the search engine results pages. So, you ask yourself if you should go swapping backlinks with other smaller businesses. For a starter, if you are going to go around doing this, then make sure that you do not advertise it. Google does not like websites that solicit for backlinks, or ones that offer backlink swapping of any kind.
If you are going to swap backlinks with another company, then talk about it over email or over the phone. Do not post your conversation on a social media website or make any reference to link swapping agreement on your website.
Can it be a good thing?
If you have a reciprocal link, then Google is likely to think it is a good thing. This applies up to the point where you have too many reciprocal links. If you have too many reciprocal links then Google is going to figure that something is wrong and will start to suspect your backlink profile.
An example of how it can be a good thing
Google does feel that websites that share the same user base will probably end up linking to each other. It works similar to this scenario: let’s say you are a single mother who works a full time job to get by. You are likely to visit lower priced online shops for children’s clothing, and visit “things to do in town” websites online. If these sorts of websites attract the same sort of person, then Google would appreciate that they are likely to link to each other.
They may link because the “things to do” website links to the “children’s discount sportswear” page from its outdoor activities page. The discount website would link to the “thing to do” outdoor activities page as a suggestion for where people may use their discount sportswear. It stands to reason that these websites would link to each other, so Google may even like the fact that they are reciprocally linked.
Be careful of their SEO mistakes
They are going to make SEO mistakes. Hopefully, they will just make small ones that we all make. But, if they make some big ones (intentionally for black-hat SEO or not), then there is always a potential to bring you down with them. Now, do not start worrying too much, as one bad apple (bad backlink) is not going to spoil the bunch when it comes to backlinks. But, it is not going to do you any favors either, especially if you have a lot of backlinks from them. So, be wary of their SEO, and consider keeping an eye on their search engine ranking from time to time. If their website is going up in the rankings, then it is going to benefit you too.
Smaller businesses may act out of desperation
You may wonder why some companies take part in black-hat SEO, but as a small company they may act out of desperation. They may consider it worth the risk of getting caught if they are strapped for cash. They may even think that a month being placed artificially at the top of the Google search engine results pages is a welcome reward for the risk of getting banned for life from Google.
It is a good idea if their website is related to yours
If it has some sort of obvious connection to your website, then the linking process becomes more valuable. An obvious connection may be a building firm linking with a planning permission and housing design firm. It would be a farmyard shop business linking with the farm website it buys its goods from.
Do they attract people who are interested in your website?
This is the theme that this website has been pushing towards all along, so ask yourself if their websites is going to attract people that you may be interested in your goods. If it does then the benefits of reciprocal linking are obvious. It is not a great idea if you go linking with your competitors, but otherwise, if their website is going to attract your target customers then a reciprocal link is a good idea.
Cultivate cross promoting with other small businesses
You do not need to stop with reciprocal linking. There may be lots of other ways that your companies may cross promote each other for a bit of free publicity.