What do I mean by “Reciprocal Link Ultimatums”?
I receive reciprocal link requests all the time. The pitch usually follows this line of reasoning: “If we link to each other, both of us will benefit.”
In many cases, this is true. We will both benefit. So why do people like me almost always delete these offers? How come this tactic almost never works?
Obviously, you don’t want to participate in massive link exchange schemes, but that’s not what I’m talking about in this post.
I’m talking about how I routinely delete seemingly legitimate offers.
For example: I will trade a link from my PR-1 website for a link on your PR-5 website and both of us will benefit.
In this situation, both parties will benefit somewhat, but one party will benefit much more than the other. (Inequitable outcome) So what? If both parties will benefit, then why not accept the offer and receive the benefit? Who cares? Something is better than nothing. Right? (Well… Not really)
Human nature dictates that even in seemingly self destructive situations, people tend to resist what is perceived as inequitable, yet positive outcomes. It sounds crazy but market-oriented societies tend to have a very high inequity aversion.
This is how you play the ultimatum game:
The first player (Sender of the link request) proposes how to divide a sum of money (Link Juice) with the second party. If the second player rejects this division, neither gets anything. If the second accepts, the first gets hid demand and the second gets the rest.
If I have $10.00 and I offer you $5.00 and you accept, we both get $5.00.
If I have $10.00 and I offer you only $2.00 and you accept, you keep the $2.00 and I keep the other $8.00.
Most people will reject the second offer even though it’s $2.00 free money. They will reject the offer sometimes just to punish the person making the offer.
I’ve read in the book The Wisdom of Crowds where even people in third world countries will reject an inequitable offer even if it means not keeping real money in an impoverished environment.
So what can be learned about linking from these experiments?
Usually… People will reject reciprocal link requests unless the trade is equally beneficial.
Sometimes a website like a niche directory will want to link to you anyway but doesn’t know you exist. However… More often than not, you should do your homework and appraise the value of both your website and the target website and then evaluate the trade before you do anything.
Ask yourself if it’s a fair trade? If not, what can you do to make the offer more equitable? What kind of incentive can you offer? Cash usually works. If you don’t have cash, you can try some of these methods.
Don’t waste your time sending inequitable reciprocal link ultimatums. Do something that has a better chance of working.