I should really do a full page on this, but it’s super late so that will have to wait. I just spent some time reading and writing on the Search Engine Watch forum, and ran into a couple posts from people still caught up in the idea of reciprocal linking as a means to better search engine visibility, better PageRank, or whatever. I tried to offer some help there, and want to repeat the message here. Some basics:
1) Linking is good. Getting links from other sites is good. Linking out to other sites is good.
2) Not all links are created equally. The motherlode is a one-way inbound link from a high-quality, trusted web site to your site. At the other end of the scale are links from FFA (free-for-all) sites and “link farms”, where anyone can get a link. Those are useless.
3) Reciprocal linking, or trading links, is fine, as long as the trade is with a quality site that’s relevant to your site. In other words, trade links with another site if you think there’s value for your site users/visitors, but don’t do it expecting some kind of boost in the SERPs.
4) Outbound links — it’s a good idea to link to authority / trusted sites in your market / industry. Linking is all about the neighborhood — you want to try to place your site as part of that trusted neighborhood of sites.
There’s really so much more, so I will make a note to develop a page on Link Strategies.