Reciprocal Linking -- DEAD or ALIVE?
Some experts say reciprocal linking is "dead". Some experts day it is an unfortunate necessity.
If you are new to the internet and want to carve a niche out for your web site or your business you need to drive traffic to your website. But not everybody has lots of original content that is necessary or PPC and advertising funding to command the ideal situation, which is to have 'one way links from related sites without you pointing back to them'.
At this point you need to get serious about improving your search engine rankings with traffic from linking by developing a linking strategy. Here are three primary linking strategies:
1. Reciprocal Linking
2. Purchasing text links
3. Employing a link finding service
Reciprocal link means your website links to another website and that website links back to you. Search engines use link popularity to rank websites as one of their criteria. Exchanging reciprocal links with other sites will build a link directory that will motivate visitors to bookmark your website to get access to your link directory.
One of the factors search engines use to determine your relevancy to a search term is the number of websites linking to your website. This is an effective way to increase your search engine rankings.
Three key success factors for a reciprocal linking strategy are:
1. Quality of links should outweighs quantity
2. Link partners must relate to your site content
3. Partners should link to you from pages listing as few links as possible
Linking is what the web is all about. It helps you move from one document to another and from site to site while maintaining your focus on a particular subject.
Step 1 - Get people to want to link to your website. Generating quality inbound links to your website requires a systematic approach and hard work. But the payoff is worth it. To begin with you must have good original content on your website. Step one is to analyze the value of your content in relation to competitors. You will also need a page of outbound links on your website that visitors will find valuable.
Step 2 - Research websites that are worth linking to and that will bring relevant traffic to you. You need to identify the portals, directories, news sites, ezines, blogs, and other information sources specific to your industry. Let your fingers do the walking or you can purchase one of many software tools on the market designed to locate relevant sites. They also help collect email addresses and even prepare letters requesting that a site add a link to your site. Without making any recommendations you may want to look into the following tools:
Zeus Internet Marketing Robot
Linking 101 Linking Management Script
Duncan Carver's Link Management System
Majon Quick Link Pro
Make sure you visit the sites these tools generate. It validates your honest interest in what they have to offer. The best way to build long-term link popularity is still to offer quality, original content and features providing real value to your visitors. People will discover your website automatically.
Google helps with your research because it ensures your partners are properly indexed. Look for sites closely related to you in terms of anchor text and keywords. Google's ranking algorithm takes into account each link's importance along with other factors like the proximity of your search keywords in the documents. In other words, it's not just about the number of sites that link to a given page, but also the importance of those sites (measured by the links to each of them). Google has given a name to its ranking algorithm for determining a web page's importance; it's called PageRank(TM) .
Human based directories like Yahoo and the Open Directory project have a lot of influence over search results. List your site in the correct category with a good description.
Next, make sure you are linked to and from topic specific and niche directory websites. These are sites that provide information that is an exact match, as possible, for what you provide.
Don't forget your partners and suppliers from your business. Since you already have a relationship you are more likely to be able to request and receive a link from their websites.
Step 3 - Implementing your strategy. (like any marketing campaign you need a plan)
Set business benefit objectives for your Linking strategy. Think about what you are trying to achieve and write it down on paper.
Develop a content plan for populating your website with valuable, and whenever possible, original content.
Set linking policies, pages, and linking code you can give to link partners for your site.
Monitor the progress of your linking strategy so that you can see what results have been achieved and adapt or tweak what you are doing to improve results.
Benchmark your site's link popularity against competitors.
A Reciprocal Linking Program will require that you manage the following:
1. The URL
2. The name of the site
3. The name and email address of the person who runs the site
4. The date you contact the person who runs the site and the date he or she responds
5. The resulting deal (Some will say yes, some will say no, others will not reply at all, others will want a link back from you, some may want money for links, some will be on holiday and take weeks to reply, etc.)
6. Verifying that the link is in place
7. Check the site periodically for your link (Yes, some folks swap links and then pull yours for odd reasons.)
The most important benefit of a link exchange is the traffic resulting directly from these links. Search engines are highly unpredictable. They keep changing their algorithms to stay competitive in their own market. Your site is on the top 10 results today, but it may not be tomorrow. Linking is constant. It has been constructed by you and remains.
Naturally you don't want to exclude search engine optimization, but your main concern should be getting traffic from direct links.