Backlinks are still important in the world of SEO, even in 2017. Nowadays you usually have to give something to get something, like paying to list in a directory, so here are 5 tips for giving good Backlinks from your website to others.
1. Yes, reciprocal backlinks do kind of cancel each other out, your site is verifying the other site as a source as is theirs to yours. Website visitors can still follow a backlink (sending traffic to their website) but Google will follow the link to their site and hopefully follow their link back to you which stops the SEO leak.
2. Having a backlink is telling Google that your site looks to those other sites for information etc. therefore making them gain SEO relevance. Don't waste a good backlink on something not worthy.
Regarding guest blog posts specifically:
3. Guest bloggers post on other websites to gain backlinks, website visitors and subscribers. If you post guest blog posts on your site, keep the number of backlinks to 1. Having multiple backlinks from your site to theirs is great for them but not when you are competing for the same website traffic on blog topics.
4. If new guest bloggers ask for a backlink for their blog post then I would recommend that they have to have a link to your site saying they are a guest blogger and then you have one link from each of their blog posts to their blog or social media accounts. Establish reciprocal links up front.
5. If you are giving backlinks as payment to your established guest bloggers then I would just keep the one link to them in the blog post, but never multiple from the same post.
Basically, view it as backlinks are currency. The more website traffic your website gets the more valuable your backlinks become.