Keywords and Ad Words aren’t the only way that search engines
score relevancy; links to other similar sites are another important
factor. Keywords have been so abused by some webmasters that links
are winning much more relevancy points. Google is said to love them.
It might sound strange to suggest that your users should check
out your competitors, but they probably know about them anyway.
If your competitors have a higher ranking than you, linking to them
can often give you a higher relevancy score with the search engines and
the subsequent increase in traffic will make it worth your while.
Alternatively, you can link to your own site by creating a subdirectory.
This is like building another web page, but the URL will include your
keyword. So if you were selling stuffed toys, the new URL
would be YourDomain.com/stuffed-toys/stuffed-toys.html.
You could then write a short paragraph on the home page, describing
the new page and including a link. You’ll get big relevancy points for this!
Reciprocal linking means forming partnerships with other sites
who place a link from their web pages to yours. You give them a
similar link in return.
When you look for people to swap links with, make sure that you
don’t reduce the quality or content of your own site. You don’t want
users to click straight through without reading your content; you want
them to buy first. One way to stop them from running away too
quickly is to create a Resources Page and link to that page from your
homepage. This doesn’t take away from the content on your
homepage and the links are just one click away rather than being
buried deep within the site, giving value to your partners.
In any case, you want to be sure that your site is more than just
a page full of links. If your site contains more links than content, it will
not be attractive to webmasters, search engines or users.
Picking Your Partner
Your link partners should be sites your target market will visit.
Think about your product and its subject area and brainstorm to
determine where people interested in your product might be looking
online. For example, if you’re trying to sell a book about blackjack
strategy, it makes sense that the people visiting online casinos would
make great customers. Online casinos then could be good partners.
Identify top-ranked, high quality casino sites and find the email
address of their webmasters. You can also identify your competitors,
see where they trade links and then follow suit.
Tips for Talking to Webmasters
Before you contact webmasters, place a link to their site on your
home page or resource page to assure them that you will actually
provide a high quality link. Create a subject line that will encourage
them to read your message rather than deleting it. You don’t want
them to think you’re message is Spam. (Something about their site
or product is sure to capture their attention; they will probably open
and read it, thinking that you’re a potential customer.)
Begin your message by talking about your visit to their site and
what you found interesting about it. Detail your product or service in
one line and ask them to exchange links with you.
Tell them in detail where you have placed their link and
emphasize that it is only one click away from your homepage.
Tell them that if you don’t hear back from them within 2 weeks,
you will consider that to be a negative response and that you will
remove their link from your site.