You will see a marked improvement in the quality of your traffic, not to mention a surge in search engine rankings, when you spend time weeding out the wheat from the chaff. Ask yourself, “Who is my audience and where would they hang out?” Once you have targeted your audience, you will start to build a themed link directory. Make a point of only trading links with a website that:
- Shares an Interested Audience
This is extremely important. If your website is about fly fishing in Montana, then linking to a site that sells Viagra is not going to do you any good. Just as importantly, when you do get offered a link from a site that shares your audience, make sure they are not linking to those Viagra sites!
- Has a Clearly Visible Text Link to its Link Directory
I can’t tell you how many times I get proposed a link trade with a site that has told me they have already placed a link on their links page. 50% of the time they have not placed a link and secondly there is no clearly visible link to their links page from their home page. What good is that to anyone? I can’t get traffic from their site and Google won’t index either, as it can’t spider the page.
- Has a Links Page With No More Than 50 to 60 Links Displayed
Many webmasters have no idea that search engines abhor link farms and will ban a page with an excessive amount of links. More importantly they may not know that their links page is presently percieved as a link farm. They have simply added too many links on one page. Keep a links page to a minimum of say 50 links per page along with a keyword-laden title and description and only link to others who follow this principle.
- Has a Google PageRank Not Less Than Your Own
This is a good rule of thumb. Clearly, we would all love to trade links with a 9/10 site. It simply ain’t gonna happen if you are still at 1/10. Take a few baby steps and climb up the ladder; once in a while you might get a good 5 or 6 during the early stages. Just make sure you don’t link to zeros, especially if their page is chock full of links. It may have been banned anyway.
- Has a Static HTML Links Page
Google doesn’t rank pages particularly well that move around so try to stay away from these! Be cautious of .asp or .php scripts even though they may appear to be static. My rule of thumb is I will only link to .html pages if the pagerank is worth it.
I have one or two pet peeves as far as link proposal etiquette is concerned. Here are a few things to take on board when proposing a link trade:
- Place a Link Before Asking For a Link
If you are going to propose a link trade to someone then add their link first before you shoot off an e-mail. It shows you are serious, professional and will give the recipient an incentive to trade back.
- Give an Exact URL
When you propose a link trade, state the exact page that they can find their link on your site. I can’t tell you how many times I get link requests from people saying they have added a link back to me and when I go to their directory I am hunting for 10 minutes trying to find it! Very often I can’t as they haven’t added it yet! When you propose a trade, don’t simply give the URL of your links directory index page and say “you can find it in the appropriate category.” No no no! Give them the exact path so they can get to it in one click. Time is precious.
- Don’t SPAM for Link Requests
Don’t simply get a mailing list of websites and send a blanket e-mail requesting a link trade. If I don’t see my personal e-mail address in the header of a link trade request I know it has been spammed and they haven’t even been to my site. I also know they haven’t visited my site because I have link proposal contact forms on all of them. If they actually went there they would have filled out my form. Spammed link requests don’t go down well because they are usually from webmasters who are trying to cut corners at every possible turn. Send a personal e-mail to a site that you personally visit. (You can still use software like Arelis to help you find the sites and automate everything else).
- Keep Your Proposal Short & Sweet
Long convoluted e-mails explaining “how trading links benefits everyone” really aren’t necessary. Keep your e-mail short and to the point. Tell them where their link is, and exactly how they should link to you.
- Don’t Delete Without Good Reason
Once you add a link it should remain on a static html page unless there is good reason to delete it. If your partner has deleted his link then by all means send an e-mail and give them an opportunity to repair. If this is fruitless then go ahead and delete.
- Link to your partners index page AND reciprocal links page.
- Link to a site map that displays all your links pages.
Let’s look at the first idea. No one has really adopted this idea yet and I’m very surprised. The idea is that you link to your partner’s home page and next to that link you also add a link to the page that contains your reciprocal link on your partner’s page. In effect you are boosting the popularity of the page that links back to you. If everyone did this then links pages would rank higher, in turn giving more weight to the link pointing back to you. I personally use Arelis to trade links, a fantastic tool that actually puts the fun back into an otherwise tedious task. At present, there is no way to automate this process using Arelis (or Zeus, as far as I know), but I have mentioned it to them and they are considering updating. As of now if you use either of these programs you would have to manually add these links once the pages are generated.The second idea to boost your links page ranking is to create a new page that ALL your internal pages link to. Let’s call this new page /site_map.html. On this site map web page you will display text links and descriptions to every one of your themed link directory pages (making sure that you keep the number of links around 50 per page – otherwise you will need to create a second site map page linked from the first). Also include links to all your other internal pages. Now place a little text link to your site map on every page within your site. A good place to do this is at the bottom of each page where you can link from a little copyright sign. Something like this: © website-promotion-secrets.com. Effectively you have boosted your links page ranking even though it is only internally, something that is still extremely valid to search engines. Now make sure that when you create reciprocal links with external sites that you request they link to your home and your links page. Something like this:
Used Cars for sale – Domestic and imported pre-owned cars by George Smith & Co. Link back
Get the idea? The “Used Cars for sale” points to their index page and the “Link back” points to the partner’s links page. Easy. However, this whole new idea might take a little time to get around and until the big software programs adopt the principle, it might not be anytime soon. Until then you might have to manually add. Happy pagerank!
About the Author
Chris Standring, Studio City, CA, USA
Chris Standring is the author of “The Ultimate Website Promotion Handbook”. He is also a jazz recording artist and marketing guru for musicians. His search engine optimization wizardry has enabled him to see major successes on every website he promotes. Visit him at: