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Reciprocal Linking

Reciprocal Linking

Every Webmaster wants to have traffic or increase the traffic to their web sites, with out endless streams of surfers visiting a web site there are no sales, no visitor recommendations, and in essence no web site. There is a lot of money being spent for search engine listings, pay-per-click engines, web site optimization, submission services, banner advertising, affiliate programs, and many other different types of promotion services. Some are effective and some are not.

What has been overlooked until recently is reciprocal links and links from other web sites in general. The reemergence of reciprocal linking could be due to the fact that the majority of small business, start-ups, and everyday site owners cannot afford to spend huge amounts of money on advertising and prime promotion services to get their web sites the exposure it will need in order to be successful. On the other hand, it could also be that a lot search engines are now also using a web sites' link popularity to determine their overall popularity and worth to the Internet public, which can give your web site a better search engine ranking.

If other web sites and webmasters are linking to your pages then your web site must have beneficial information. That is what the search engines and directories want populating their indices. In theory, it is a sound concept, but keep in mind link farming programs put a damper on the worth of that theory. The search engines changed their ranking methods to see if the incoming links were actual links or link farming programs. Now the quality and the relevance of the incoming links are also under scrutiny.

Having quality web sites link to you that also have a relevancy to the overall theme of what your web site is about can help your search engine rankings and also send traffic your way. That is enough reason for me to search out link partners, not to mention it's all free.
With reciprocal linking, you can build traffic to your web site with little or no money. If you exchange links to sites that compliment your own site, you can also build targeted traffic.

I am not trying to sell you a dream. This is not magic and it does not work over night; there is a lot of tedious work involved in making it produce results. However, the traffic generating capabilities will make up for all of it.

Properly structured reciprocal link swapping is a great source of free promotion that can help a web site gain much needed online popularity. A popular web site is popular because it has exposure. The more exposure your web site has, the more popular it will be; more exposure will also mean more traffic. If you have your URL on one million other web sites you have a lot of exposure; you have the means to getting your web site visited a multitude of times daily. Because of those 1 million links, there is no need to promote your web site online unless you absolutely want to.

You must keep in mind that one million reciprocal links is a far cry from what the majority of webmasters attain. It can be accomplished but there is a lot more to it than just asking a Webmaster to exchange links with you. You would have to ask thousands of webmasters for a link swap everyday and most of us do not have the time or resources to do that on a daily basis.

Even several hundred incoming links will give your web site exposure a boost but you should always strive for more. Just make sure to only link to quality web sites that have some relevancy to your own site. You want all the exposure you can get but you do not want to go overboard with swapping links with every site that requests a link or every site that you find. Always make sure the sites you are exchanging links with have quality information that will assist your visitors and that also have some traffic of their own. If you swap links with a site that has no traffic, expect to receive no traffic.
If you've noticed, quality web sites or quality links has been mentioned several times and will be mentioned again and again. It is because this is one of the most important criteria you have to follow. If you fail to follow this important rule of reciprocal linking, you are going to have a lot of problems and problem solving ahead of you.
Linking to web sites that have been labeled as spam or that have unethical promotion practices can lead to your web site also being labeled in the same spam category.

It cannot get anymore straight forward than that.

But let's get the basic stuff out of the way first.

Your Link Directory
Create a directory or categorized web pages to house your links. If your links are categorized, visitors to your web site can search through them a lot easier. Your links should also have descriptions. A single page filled with a jumble of links is not a pretty sight and the majority of people will not want to search through the links. No page should have more than 50 links; there are a number of reasons for this. The main one is the dilution of the web pages importance and your visitors' ability to search through the links.

Why is it important for people to search through the links?
Because that is why the links are there in the first place. You are not swapping links for enjoyment; you want them to be a source of traffic to your link partners as well as valid a resource for the visitors to your site, you should also expect the same. If you are sending your link partners traffic, they will want to keep a good link partnership with you; just as you would like to hold on to link partners that send your web site traffic.

You need to be aware that all web sites that swap links are not as enthusiastic about it as we are. Some webmasters have their link pages hidden (no links from other pages in their web site or the links are buried on secondary pages within sub directories in their web site) or housed on other web servers and yet they want you to link to their main web site.

Look at it in realistic way; the main site would more than likely be the site they are actively promoting so it would be more popular than a secondary web site located elsewhere. It is not advisable to exchange links with web sites that adhere to these practices but it is totally up to your discretion whom you share links with. When link pages are hidden, visitors cannot find the pages so the odds of you getting traffic from these types of web sites are not good. The excuse I have heard for this practice is that when the search engines crawl this type of page, it will bump up your link popularity.

Yeah sure it will…and money grows on trees too. Is the reality that these sites are afraid of losing traffic to their link partners so the link pages are being hidden?

Why not prominently display your links so your visitors have the choice to visit your link partners and also bump up your partners link popularity too? Another ploy is placing your links somewhere else and asking that you link to an entirely different location. Could that be fear of the link page drawing away visitors as well?

Whatever the answer, it is not a good practice to exchange links with sites that carry out these types of practices. If your reciprocal links are visible and located on your main web site then you should seek the same.

Getting the links
There are many different ways to get other sites to link to your site. One way is by having an expensive pay-out affiliate program in which you pay for traffic sent to your web site or sales brought to you by your affiliate members. A prosperous affiliate program will work wonders for your traffic but it depends on too many variables to always be successful. A major variable is the amount of money you will have to pay. It has to be a lucrative prospect for others to want to join, link to you, and then promote that link. Also, your link popularity in the search engines will be greatly affected due to the fact that most affiliate programs use special hyperlinks that do not always contain your web site link.

Another good way is to have an information rich web site with the type of content people searching the Internet want. They will link to your web site without you even knowing about it. Of course, this too is not always 100%.

The best way to get links to your web site is to ask other owners or webmasters to swap links with your web site. However, be aware that not every web site wants to exchange links. It will be a waste of your time to ask if their site does not have link pages or a link directory. If you do not see a reciprocal links page do not even bother to ask for a link partnership.

The hardest part about this is actually finding the web sites to exchange links with. Use the search engines and directories to search for potential link partners. One good way that will only cost some of your time is to get yourself a copy of WebFerret, Coppernic, or any of the other desktop search tools. You can search several engines/directories all at once. You then generate a search file and keep it in a folder or on your desktop for easy access. You can obtain a list of thousands of web sites this way. Visit the sites you found at your leisure and send e-mails to the ones you feel that are beneficial to your site and the people visiting your site.

Sending the link request
There are a lot of e-mail templates you can find on the WWW and there are some reciprocal linking programs which also include a basic e-mail template that says it all for you. I do not advise anyone to use e-mail templates because any Webmaster with a few reciprocal links has heard it all before. You do not want to sound redundant; you want to be as original as possible. It gives a personal touch to asking for a link exchange. Do not disrespect another Webmaster or site owner by giving them the same line as so many others before you. Just visit their site and write them an e-mail requesting a link exchange. Believe me, if the webmaster feels you have personally visited their site before asking for a link exchange, it weighs better in your favor than if he gets the impression you are just sending a generic link request generated with an e-mail template or a linking program. Even if you are using a reciprocal link program, customize the e-mail as much as possible and put some personality into the creation of your link request e-mail.

Getting Link Happy (Oh no!)
Building a good resource of reciprocal links is a tedious, time consuming, and tiresome job; especially in the beginning when you are just starting out and have very few links. Even though you are making a serious effort to get quality web sites to link to your web site, you may get turned down more than once or you will find that a lot of web sites do not fit your criteria and you are getting more and more frustrated with the whole thought of link swapping. It's a hard project to do and the benefits will seem nonexistent in the beginning.

You may tend to get a little "link happy" and jump at any and every chance to exchange links with every web site you find or that requests a link exchange with you, by doing so you also go against all the rules of effective link exchanging. The site may not even be relevant to your own site but that does not matter. You keep thinking you cannot let one link get away; the more sites the more traffic, and the higher your link popularity will be. This type of thinking will lead you down the wrong road and inevitably you will either find that others will not exchange links with you because your links are no longer a resource but rather a mishmash of different links about everything from pets to bathroom fixtures while your main web site is about Internet Marketing.

That is not the worse that can happen.

Since most of the big search engines rank a web sites popularity on the overall theme and give credence to the sites that link to you and vice versa, they cannot figure out what is the overall theme of your web site. So what comes next?

You start over from the beginning or you give up completely. If you give up, then you could have just missed a good FREE promotion opportunity for your web site. Starting over is also a real pain in the neck. E-mailing webmasters, requesting they remove your link because you are removing theirs. Cleaning up the link pages to make sure that your remaining link partners are relevant to your web site, etc. Then you start all over again requesting link exchanges. It seems like a waste of time when you could have done it correctly from the beginning.

All of this could have been avoided by following a few simple rules.

  • Only link with quality web sites.
  • Link with web sites that compliment what your web site is about.
  • Make sure the link will be a valid resource to the surfers that visit your web site.
  • Never exchange links with anyone without first visiting the web site to view its content, quality, and visible link pages.
  • Keep your link pages free of dead links, 404 errors, and periodically check that your link partners are still linking back to you.
  • Always customize and add personality to your link request e-mails when requesting a link exchange.

More Information

Good Luck And Happy Linking!




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