What works ... in my humble opinion
I am always perplexed by what some webmasters and business owners believe are sound linking policies. Reciprocal links, outgoing, one way links and incoming, one way links all have a value and all have a purpose provided they are on topic and useful to your clients. The wrong thing to do is obsess about getting links instead of focusing on building a good website which is useful to your potential clients.
The following is an example of what I believe is a sound linking strategy for Pamís Bed & Breakfast in Maine:
General linking strategy
In Pamís case, I think her links should become a static ďconciergeĒ of sorts. This also gives her plenty to write about and build good content around. She can provide detailed information about her favourite restaurant providing steamed lobster or roast beef or New England Clam Chowder. Heck, she could even provide recipes and links to the best recipes she finds on the net if she likes.
Swapping reciprocal links with a travel site in Timbuktu is just silly and it doesnít help her clients at all. It is a self serving attempt to grab some PR and it is NOT a sound business practice! Why clutter up your site with a bunch of irrelevant links your potential customers have no interest in?
If she takes a camera along to her favourite places, that will also help her to build content. People want to know what there is to do and see if they stay at her B&B ... so she should show them!
Sites Pam should link to: The local Chamber of Commerce (becoming a member is a good idea too!)
Maine Tourist Board site
Sites providing good maps of the area indicating locations of tourist attractions, art galleries, museums, etc.
Sites offering the history of the area
Malls & Shopping areas of interest in the surrounding area
Restaurants, Bistroís & Cafťís in the surrounding area
Car rental agencies she recommends in her area
Taxi companies she recommends in her area
Boat tours or rentals in the area
Wedding Coordinators in her area
Convention centers in the area (for business travellers)
Night Clubs in her area
Internet Cafťís in her area
Information about local beaches
Local gymís, raquet clubs and other sports facilities
Local service clubs such as Rotary, Lionís Club, etc.
Local churches, temples, etc.
Local movie theaters & playhouses
Airports and airlines serving her area
On Topic Links Other B&Bís
OK, so some webmasters and business owners might think this is nuts ... but it isnít! There are all sorts of B&Bís and all levels of tourists to appeal to. If Pamís is an upscale place, charging $500.00 per night and people wanting to spend $100.00 per night find her site ... I see nothing wrong with linking to other B&Bís which might be more suitable for them? I would consider this very helpful and a good business practice.
She could build a page with designated price ranges and list each of the B&Bís in specific categories according to price and detailing the amenities each one offers. She may even be able to work out an agreement with other B&B owners to pay her a referral fee for sending people to them if she wants to take the inquiries and manage the bookings herself.
The only B&Bís I may not link to in this example are direct competitors in my area offering very similar accommodations at a very similar price. All others would be fair game! Pamís would become a directory of sorts. Hotels in the area
Again, some of you may think this is nuts, but if Pam doesnít have a swimming pool and the people searching are looking specifically for a swimming pool, why not help them find what they are looking for?
Other B&Bís and local hotels would all provide a good potential for reciprocal links. All she has to do is convince them that she is not their competition and explain why. I could go on with more suggestions, but I think this is sufficient to get the idea across.
My advice on Linking
Donít be stingy with outgoing links. Its what makes the internet work! If you provide the content and use sound business practices, incoming, one way links will eventually be realized without having to go looking for them. If webmasters would spend half as much time building good, solid content for their target audience instead of trying to find ways to get links, (relevant or not) ... their time would be much better spent.
Many directories which charge for links will link to the best resources for free in order to get their directory off the ground and to show their potential clients that they are credible!
A good website is all about show and tell! The more you show and the more you tell, the more natural links you will accumulate over time. :)
Thanks for a good post. I wonder if I've stayed at Pam's B&B? There's a lot of good one's on the Maine coast.
People visiting Maine and staying at a B&B will mostly be looking for fun things to do in the area. If you've got the most exciting, colorful and complete directory of activities you'll be bookmarked as the site they come back to over and over as they plan. This can only work for you.
May get your site recommended as the "go to" one in news articles as well.
Very sound advice. I think that those of us who have been around for a while and have websites that link freely and hence are seen as authority sites 'get' this concept more readily than people who started building during the heyday of PR. These people seem to hoard PR and discourage the visitor from ever leaving their site. My opinion.
|I wonder if I've stayed at Pam's B&B? |
LOL ... if you did, get out of my head 'cause that's where it exists! :)
Let me play devil's advocate here for a minute... ;-)
Inbound links have monetary value to a business. A good inbound link can result in high quality traffic, improved rankings in SERPs, or both.
If I see a link to a taxi, restaurant, or tour site on a B&B site, I have to wonder if that's a real "vote" for the other site, or an indication of a business relationship that might involve payment for the link or the referrals that it generates.
At some point the B&B site could begin to become a directory. Directories are often given preference in SERPs, so trying to be a directory can be tempting for some ecommerce operators. This becomes especially true when their ecommerce site is outranked by some local (possibly sleazy) directory operator.
We're all at the mercy of the search engines algorithms and can't help but try to maximize our standings. Hopefully advances in their technology will make it more difficult to manipulate them in the future, but until that time...
In the meanwhile, I say that there's nothing wrong with paying for good inbound links, especially when they are able to prove their value by supplying high quality traffic and improved rankings.
|If I see a link to a taxi, restaurant, or tour site on a B&B site, I have to wonder if that's a real "vote" for the other site, or an indication of a business relationship that might involve payment for the link or the referrals that it generates. |
Unfortunately, surfin2u ... yours is an all too familiar suspicion. That's a sad testimony to what has happened to the internet don't you think?
Links to restaurants, taxis and car rental agencies are helpful for anyone visiting an area with which they are unfamiliar and (in my opinion) would represent a bonafide "vote" for those businesses.
Yours is exactly the kind of suspicious response I would have hoped not to see. My point is that too many webmasters are happy to swap links to that travel site in Timbuktu, but reticent to give an honest, one way link to Joe's Taxi Service in Maine. Who cares if she sold the link or not? But since I made Pam and her B&B up in my head ... I can state categorically that she didn't sell the link and doesn't take kick backs for referrals. Pam isn't greedy! ;)
But really, which link will serve Pam's guests better and who is the site written for?
I honestly believe that webmasters in general need to stop worrying about bleeding PR and link pop! I also think we need to stop cluttering up our sites with a lot of irrelevant links our readers/customers have absolutely no interest in. Let's get back to good solid business practices. Give your customers information which is useable and pertinent to your site. That includes who and what you link to.
|We're all at the mercy of the search engines algorithms and can't help but try to maximize our standings. |
I think the point is you can try toooo hard and suffocate what you're trying to protect. Kinda like 38 Special's song:
You see it all around you
Good lovin' gone bad
And usually it's too late when you, realize what you had
And my mind goes back to a girl I left some years ago,
Who told me,
Just Hold On Loosely, but don't let go
If you cling to tightly,
you're gonna lose control
Your baby needs someone to believe in
And a whole lot of space to breathe in
If you cling toooo tightly to your PR, you end up with less than if you'd been generous and sort of hung on loosely.
PR, kinda like love, grows through generosity.
|Unfortunately, surfin2u ... yours is an all too familiar suspicion. That's a sad testimony to what has happened to the internet don't you think? |
The fact that so many links are really swaps, and the fact that links that work can be purchased, is the proof that links on the Internet are often not "real votes".
Do I think it's sad testimony? Yes and no. I live in the real world, not the one that I wish it would be. Links from some sites have monetary value. Businesses exist to make money and will often do what works or is easy, as opposed to what is right in an ideal world. That's just how it is.
|Yours is exactly the kind of suspicious response I would have hoped not to see. |
Sorry, but I don't see why you wouldn't want to have that sort of perspective in this thread. The title of this thread is "Linking Strategies - What works ... in my humble opinion." I've given you my opinion.
|I honestly believe that webmasters in general need to stop worrying about bleeding PR and link pop! I also think we need to stop cluttering up our sites with a lot of irrelevant links our readers/customers have absolutely no interest in. |
Ok, but who's going to go first? If a webmaster believes that this clutter has monetary value, and that webmaster is fighting hard to make a living, then will that webmaster remove what seems to be producing income, in order to help make the Internet a better place?
How about if you are locked in a competitive battle with another website that engages in these "bad" practices? You can do it too and beat them, or do what's "right" and be beaten by them. What will you choose? Looking more like a directory has value in PR and traffic for an ecommerce site and that has motivated many to add lots of "helpful" links.
The problem will solve itself eventually, but not by acts of selflessness on the part of webmasters like yourself. The solution will arrive when there is no payoff for webmasters, who engage in the practices that you would like to see stop.
|PR, kinda like love, grows through generosity. |
That's the concept, but it doesn't always work out that way. People get funny when money becomes involved, and sometimes the love gets lost and greed moves in. People give links to other sites for all kinds of reasons. Voting for a site as a good resource is one reason. Helping a new friend, who sounds in need, is another, and I suppose that's not a good practice in your thinking, right?
You see it all around you Good lovin' gone bad And usually it's too late when you, realize what you had And my mind goes back to a girl I left some years ago, Who told me, Just Hold On Loosely, but don't let go If you cling to tightly, you're gonna lose control Your baby needs someone to believe in And a whole lot of space to breathe in.
Thanks Treeline. I didn't think much of that song when it came out, but seeing the lyrics in print...it's pretty good. And, though it's a pop hit, somewhat deep in it's own way. I'm off to download it.
Oh about the thread, I'd just like to add this: for all the areas I watch, everything seems to come down to links, links, links, and more stinking links. Everything is about getting links, so much so that the development of content can truly suffer. It really sucks. Google doesn't seem to care what kind of links you have or how you get them, as long as you have lots of them. Yes, quality links are better. And sometimes you can't get to page one without really good ones. But over and over I keep seeing that quantity often trumps quality and sometimes quantity is all you need. If google can't figure out relevance without a freakin' ton of links, then I don't think it can figure out relevance very well at all. And that brings me to something else: googleguy/matt cutts---you guys need to get better on the spam reports, as in actually DOING something with them other than wistfully examining them while you consider how to tinker with your algorithms. Spam is growing so fast on google it might as well be popping out of rabbit holes.