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Link Strategies Ė To Build Presence and Gain Exposure
Starting with Reciprocal Linking
paynt




msg:420981
 1:16 am on Mar 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

I thought I'd start with reciprocal linking because it's probably the most common to everyone. It's also very misunderstood, at least by my standards.

I assume if you are planning on utilizing reciprocal linking as a branch of your strategy that you've considered all the risks/benefits. If not, it might help in your planning if you ask yourself a few questions.

1.) Do you understand the terminology? If I were to talk about crosslinking, interlinking, internal linking, external linking, canonicals, subdomains, directories, hubs, reciprocal, static links, dynamic links, or authority to name a few, could you follow? In other words, have you done your homework? Key: use the site search feature and take notes. Keep following the discussions and write down questions that come up and keep searching until you get your answers. Almost everything is here in one form or another. If you still have questions after all the research then bring those to the board where we can pitch in a figure it out.

2.) Why are you thinking about a linking strategy? Common ideas I hear are most often to do with Google these days and include PR (Pagerank). Other reasons are to build authority, increase traffic, generate targeted traffic and to build a strong foundation, including establishing a presence.

3.) Have you researched your online industry, competition, and opportunities? Are your online competitors who you really think they are? What are they doing about linking? Is there an industry presence, forums, newsgroups, or associations to name a few? What's the buzz?

4.) Do you know who your audience is? Have you researched where your audience does their business, where they search for their information, or what else they buy or are interested in when they think about what you have to offer?

5.) Have you thought about what you want from a reciprocal linking campaign? What are you willing to accept for an exchange? Are you exchanging banners, text links, affiliate links and in what form from static to dynamic?

6.) If you determine to follow a strategy that includes an anchor text, have you worked out what the anchor text would be? Have you considered all the risks/benefits and potential opportunities? Hint: Run a site search again and narrow in on ideas about anchor text and titles/descriptions, writing titles, link text, we've talked about this although I think there are more levels we haven't reached on this yet.

7.) Have you considered what you are willing to give to a reciprocal campaign? Hint: Please, move beyond the random link page and begin to establish a focus for how you host your partner's link. Are you willing to create a link directory, weave links through your site, create content as bait, or create individual pages for each partner?

8.) Have you established a linking policy, published it on your site as well a clear method for communication? Pet peeve: I visit your site and it appears you are following some sort of reciprocal linking but I you don't tell me right out what it is nor how to contact you.

9.) How much time to you have to put in to implementing and maintaining a campaign? Do you have any idea how long it takes to get even 10 good sites to link to you?

10.) Have you thought out your communications for establishing contact with potential partners? How are you going to handle the gathering information, record keeping and reporting?

Each of these questions will lead to dozens more. Just about everyone knows, at least around here, that you shouldn't be making decisions regarding your site without considering the pro/con and working from a plan. A reciprocal linking strategy can take on many levels, there may be risks, and of course we wouldn't even talk about it if it weren't for the benefits. I think we're just starting to get the idea that what once worked with reciprocal linking isn't working as well today and that there might be reason to take another look at reciprocal linking.

We know that reciprocal linking is not for every site and that sites that practicing reciprocal linking are offering it up without consistency and in many different packages. I wonder if we've as yet explored all the create ways to work reciprocal linking. It's refreshing to be tripping through sites, one site to another through their linking and see someone with a clearly defined policy and easy to navigate communications. I feel like sending them the paynt linking seal of approval.

I wonder what else we should be thinking about with regards to reciprocal linking. I spend a lot of time in the linking bowels of the net and it's an ugly place. What do you think about reciprocal linking? What kind of benefits and risks should we look at, what ideas for implementation? If it wasn't so ugly out there I wouldn't waste anyone's time bringing this up. I think people really need help with this.

How easy is it for you to find legitimate, clean links in your industry or audience? Are you happy with your reciprocal linking possibilities and opportunities and if not what can you do to raise the standards?

 

Skylo




msg:420982
 11:42 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Great thread, there should be interesting posts on here. I agree paynt that it is an ugly world out there as far as linking strategies are concerned. The company I have started at is an absolute mess. I thought I had fixed it until reading your thread. Already turned my strategy on its head.........watch this space.

Marketing Guy




msg:420983
 11:59 am on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Great post Paynt - agreeably one of the less-focused upon areas of web marketing and is becoming increasingly more important these days.

One small point I would note is that exchanging links / banners / etc with others gives you an opportunity to sell your site that often goes underused.

Most people (myself included) are guilty of creating template, key word rich descriptions and titles for our links.

But how many people take the time to read the message that they are conveying objectively?

"Widget World - widgets galore - blue widgets, red widgets, green widgets - all the widgets you need!"

This may seem like a good idea from a SEO perspective (er...or not - but you'll get my point), but it's not particularly attractive for a potential customer.

If your business was paying for a traditional advertising campaign (newspaper ads, posters, etc), they would take the time to design each one and come up with a distinct message for each, all fitting in with your corporate branding.

So why not do the same for a link or banner exchange?

Would you simply blow up a quarter page newspaper advert to be used on a billboard or would you design something new?

By taking the time (and it doesn't have to be that much time) to customise your adverts for the content and context of the site that they will be placed on, you can help to maximise the impact of your inbound links.

Also, from a SEO point of view, if you customise your text ads to the keywords of the page that they will be displayed on, it will help that page be viewed more.

It wont change your traffic overnight, but every little helps! :)

At the end of the day, even if you are getting inbound links for the sheer purpose of Google rankings, then it is still worthwhile to maximise the traffic you get from your efforts. :)

Scott

glengara




msg:420984
 12:21 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

I was always somewhat wary of reciprocals, and this increased when specific link text started being requested, it was mostly a gut feeling, too many recips looked like link artificiality.
So now I keep recips ratio well below the free one-ways, on both individual pages and sites; the recips are mostly in deep, within relevant textual content, and the free one-ways on "resources" pages.

glengara




msg:420985
 3:56 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Has anyone looked up "reciprocal links" on G recently?
A bit scary.....

paynt




msg:420986
 6:46 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

If this discussion helped only you Skylo, then it was worth my time. Itís a tough job for those of us hunting, looking to match up link partnerships.

I do have a long list of pet peeves. The first I mentioned were those sites acting as if they have a reciprocal strategy in place yet they donít tell me what it is, what the rules are or how to contact them.

The next level of frustration in my work, relate to those sites again who are Ďreciprocal linkingí, where Iíve taken the time to follow their instructions and then they never respond. I sent out requests for a client six months ago and I am still hearing back from some of those with an, ďoh, Iíve linked up your site.Ē I mean, thatís nice for me and for my client but really, was it necessary to wait six months? Pet peeve Ė if you are going to practice reciprocal linking then include the maintenance of it in your plan.

Recently in a discussion someone mention this could just be a site practicing an evil campaign to trick innocents into linking, never intending to link back, just using people and wasting their time. I say a big shame! Shame! Shame! to you if thatís your plan and may karma come back to bite you on theÖ.

paynt




msg:420987
 6:47 pm on Mar 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

Iím breaking up these long postsÖ

Thank you Marketing Guy for your contribution. Great point about the titles/descriptions, it takes on a different meaning when you include it in your reciprocal linking strategy. Especially good point about considering the Ďsalesí value and taking that into consideration.

I also want to note your comment glengara, ďÖwhen specific link text started being requested, it was mostly a gut feeling, too many recips looked like link artificialityÖĒ. This is exactly why people need to take a closer look at every aspect of their reciprocal linking strategy, right down to the title/descriptions they will use in requesting links, as well as the link code they include on their site for others to use as their link back. First, I canít figure why folks are limiting themselves to only one choice, and next as Marketing Guy suggests, if you are only using one, are you sure itís working for you?

Skylo




msg:420988
 7:29 am on Mar 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Okay I am still very new to this so do appreciate the help immensely guys. Go look at this post: [webmasterworld.com...]
Now I know you answered this paynt but from what I gather this is only a good start. If I had to answer all your questions truthfully and apply them to that strategy would that be the best thing to do? Probably?

May I add that paynt seems blimmin, patient. I get peeved when someone doesn't get back to me about a link request after like 2 weeks:)

Yes may I also add that karma will get all the @#$%*& webmasters and websites out there that take advantage of us newbies:(

paynt




msg:420989
 3:02 pm on Mar 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Skylo, the tongue in cheek response I have ready to your excellent question

If I had to answer all your questions truthfully and apply them to that strategy would that be the best thing to do?

you answered yourself

Probably?

Of course thatís what I would suggest Skylo and when you are through those let me know because I have reams more. Remember, I said I have a long list of Pet Peeves.

Seriously, I see so few good examples of really good reciprocal linking, across all industries. If you are practicing a reciprocal linking campaign to help increase your ranking, to gain exposure, to enhance the traffic flow, and you arenít there after months of work then Iím suggesting it might be time to clean house.

Yes, start by asking yourself these questions, use the site search and read up on what you donít know and start your own list of questions, keep searching. There are answers here. Many have contributed a tremendous amount of advice, tips, research that if youíre serious about developing a link strategy this is where you will begin to find your answers.

If you are going to use reciprocal linking in your strategy then think it out first and develop a plan, stay focused yet fluid and keep your eye open for opportunities.

Marketing Guy




msg:420990
 3:21 pm on Mar 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

A small thing ive noticed over the past few months, is that as your site starts to develop presence and exposure, it is much easier to get people to link to you.

But you find yourself spending more time in communication with larger sites negotiation exchanges that will have more of an impact on your site.

For example, I could knock together a small email to request a link exchange with a site in a matter of minutes.

But I recently spent several weeks negotiating a link / content / ad exchange with a single site. The site is now my top non-SE refer.

Regardless of the traffic from the site, the exposure my branding is getting will be good for my site in the long term.

The point is that there are things that you can do that are easily quantifible. A link from a PR5 page will have xxx impact / my time is worth xxx / i can spend xxx hours a week doing this / etc.

But there are also things you can do that aren't as tangible - branding / exposure / consumer awareness /etc.

A good marketing strategy (which will include your linking strategy) should take into account both.

They both go hand in hand to create a successful long term business.

Scott :)

paynt




msg:420991
 4:01 pm on Mar 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Refreshing Marketing_Guy, youíre ideas, input and experience will greatly add to the ongoing discussions I hope to start on the various branches of the linking tree. I hope people take note of what youíre contributing as I ramble along. What youíve offered here is what I like to refer to as ďLinking Outside The boxĒ. I think we can get folks there, certainly with your continued help and that of this incredible community, I have hope my pet peeve list will get smaller.

Presently I am very concerned about the reciprocal linking branch and what a mess it is.

I guess thatís why Iíve started this and am pointing out all my Pet Peeves. For me that is what Webmasterworld is about, learning and applying what weíve learned and then reporting back so we all can continue to learn. Each of our experiences will be different because our industries are different along with each of our knowledge, skills and ability to communicate. What follows is a little game I hope some of you will play along with me.

paynt




msg:420992
 4:04 pm on Mar 25, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just for fun use your favorite keyword and letís do a bit of research together and see what we find. In general terms Iíll share my experience with you and maybe in turn some will feel like sharing their general experience with this.

Now Iíll give you a little tip with this research game weíre playing, pick a keyword thatís closer to the top in importance for your industry, maybe not the most niched.

So, I have my keyword and what I am looking for in this round are people who are practicing some form of reciprocal linking. How am I to know that? Hopefully they will come right out and tell me.

I search first for the most common one we use

Keyword add url [Iím using a two word financial phrase, fairly common]

Surprise Ė the listing page is dead, as is its root, and the indented second listing.

The third listing then looks good. Iím taken to a page that works and initially it looks nice. Upon closer inspection though I see that although it appears the webmaster understands the concept of separating themes, theyíve done so all on the same page. Theyíve actually done a good job of differentiating three audiences and there are listings for each, but why did they keep them all on the same page? Lazy? Or maybe they just donít know, or they didnít take the planning a step further or asked themselves enough questions? Anyway Ė they show me right up front where they want me to go to add my site so I click on. Iím taken to a page that gives me a couple of ideas for code to use as an exchange and a form to use to submit my site. Thatís nice. On the form they ask for where I have placed their link.

Ok, this is a pretty good example of someone making a better effort than most to present a reciprocal linking program. Of course they didnít explain to me their policy. They didnít ask me use the code and link to well where on my site? And they donít tell me what types of sites they will link back to so I donít waste my time. Is it just the three themes they offered on the link page I came in on or are they willing to explore ideas for an additional audience.

I want a link to an email and a name. I donít care if itís a real name or something thatís been made up but I may want to write and it makes it more personable if you tell me who to write to. Yes, youíll probably want to protect your email on the other end from spam just donít hold back from me, give me a way to communicate. I like comment areas on forms to if not an email address. This is a site I would want to communicate with first before I waste my time linking with no good feeling that Iíll get an exchange. They do have a link to a form where I can communicate with them but itís obviously for their sales, not to answer my questions. I have to ask myself if the time and effort is worth it to pursue this. I have a preset list of what I consider risk plus effort versus benefit that I apply to each site I evaluate. While on the surface this site looks good, might be a great match for my client, on and on but is it worth it?

By the way, nice Pagerank on that site and they get another listing with an intent to their root. That brings us to the 5th listing.

This one takes me right to the page I submit to. I find a defined policy, which includes communication policy. Very nice format, although the font is way too small. No need for a reciprocal link, although they donít state that I assume it because they donít ask for the information on their form. So, I then go see where I might be listed if I get in. They really donít tell me what kind of sites they include but I can see from the navigation that the sites relate to my theme so I take the time to follow them around where I do eventually, three clicks later, find some listings, none with clean straight links, ugh.

Do you get they idea? I can go on and on and maybe thatís what we all need to learn this better. The process of research is incredible. After about 20 of these I might try another tack and try another search. How about

Keyword reciprocal

And so it goes. When I have time a bit later, Iíll be happy to play the game further with you all if you think it helps.

australiangirl




msg:420993
 2:02 am on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hello, Thank you so much for your thoughtful threads.
I am feel I am treading water here. As a business consultant I am directing a linking campaign, started from scratch with personal letters, offering of course reciprocity. Up to now, I feel I have been successful, having build a 70 partnerships all tightly themed, and many with high PR. As we had not done any SEO, and our PR went from 2 to a 5 in a week, I assume it was because of the linking. Btw our site went live only two months ago.

The feed back from prospects was great, we were written up in a weekly newsletter as featured site of the week, for another we will be featured site of the day this Friday, and was approached by yet another to barter, where we will get a free banner ad. My feeling is that everytime I send a request to link our site is visited, and that has to be a good thing. I have participated in "link to me then we will reciprocate" , and all but two have complied. Now I am interested in using SEO descriptions in our links, as we are now optimized and yes our link description is geared to catch the SEs. Maybe this isn't such a great idea, plus our links only go to the home page, as I don't know about the other strategies Paynt mentions.
I have noticed that as I search I constantly run into others in my industry who have a high PR. So when I visit the links page and see these familiar names I want to be in there too. I have also rcvd replies the instant they get my request posting our site, way before I can reciprocate, as I am not a web master.
I am concerned about the discussion of reciprocity, as a newbie I thought this was the goal, and as we have only been around a few months I thought this was the only way I could get things going. My goal is to catch the attention of a big site that matters to drive more traffic.
Am I not seeing the big picture and are the hours I spend searching worthwhile? I thought this was all part of SEO.
Am I wasting my time?
Thanks again in advance

WebRookie




msg:420994
 3:41 am on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Paynt, your posts are always exceedingly clear and excellent.

What do you think about reciprocal linking?...What kind of benefits and risks should we look at, what ideas for implementation?...I think people really need help with this.

This is an important topic as you stated. I am extremely careful about reciprocal linking and feel the future use of reciprocals could be a problem.

Finding variations on typical linking, thinking beyond the envelope and recognizing what makes sense for visitors are all important parts of discovering what works for your linking campaign.

fathom




msg:420995
 3:46 am on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

6.) If you determine to follow a strategy that includes an anchor text, have you worked out what the anchor text would be? Have you considered all the risks/benefits and potential opportunities?

Don't short change your query potential.

You may want something like >> blue widgets UK << but where the anchors with >> blue widgets UK << is highly relevant to the query >> blue widgets UK << so the greater number of anchors that actually used this keyphrase >> the greater chance you will rank.

But this is a double-edged sword. Most sites are not just relevant to one specific phrase therefore each anchor you develop for >> blue widgets UK << is less relevant to >> blue widgets<< or just >> widgets << as well as any other type or style of widget, or place within the "UK" or world thus binding you to a single keyphrase or less competitive phrases using >> blue widgets UK << like >> blue widgets UK brighton << but not so relevant to >> blue widgets brighton << because the "UK" dilutes the relevancy.

Therefore if your primary keyphrase is >> widgets << use it as all internal anchors pointing to that specific page where possible (the page with the most inbound internal links is best) and as many external links as possible, and you will become highly relevant for every variation of the query possible in association with "widgets".

Also <a href="widgets.html" title="widgets">widgets</a> is better than any other adaptation. Google also looks at information is close proximity to the anchor itself. With the "title attribute" you can't get any closer to the anchor itself. Also assuming since this is a higher level page (with many inbound links) this also usually means many outbounds links as well. As with my previous statement -- info in close proximity to the anchor add relevancy - so each page within a specific link hierarchy should have other links (above, below, left or right) of related topics going to different pages - thereby drawing relevant weight (and relevant PageRank transfers) from each other.

Also - it is believed that Google compares the Page Meta Title for link relevancy. Therefore if you are receiving links from an external sites/pages where the page title is called "Links Page" there is less relevancy.

This last point is the number one reason why sites that do lots of link exchanges don't improve much - all links to them are generally stuck on a non-relevant pages. (or less relevant pages).

In a link exchange campaign - sharing "free" knowledge with another website owner gets you the best possible exchange... and each of these links will be far more valuable to you than "any old link on any old page".

In the greater scheme of things it's more about who is pointing to those pages that are pointing to you and what those third party pages are saying than what you are saying about yourself.

businessezines




msg:420996
 4:04 am on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I thought any link within your industry or theme pointing to your site was a good idea (except of course if that site has been penalized or is a link farm). Why should putting a link back to that site be discouraged? Are there any down sides to reciprocal linking?

coconutz




msg:420997
 4:27 am on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>In the greater scheme of things it's more about who is pointing to those pages that are pointing to you and what those third party pages are saying than what you are saying about yourself.

Google Quotes [labs.google.com]:

"Google WebQuotes annotates the results of your Google search with comments from other websites. This offers a convenient way to get a third party's opinion about each of the returns for your search, providing you with more information about that site's credibility and reputation."

paynt




msg:420998
 5:40 pm on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

I took a day off for work yesterday and the forum is hopping, oh my gosh! Ok, I do have comments but first, thanks for all the posts, itís invigorating to see the sharing of helpful information, plus the questions coming in are great. When my sticky box and email starts filling up like this I get excited to play whatever part in all this learning weíre doing with each other. Iím working on my responses but it will take most of the day, along with work so Iíll be along as I can with my input, but donít let that stop anyone from posting.

paynt




msg:420999
 6:29 pm on Mar 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Australiangirl, first itís hard to determine where things are going with PR in such a short time, two months. The incoming linking though sounds great initially, not knowing the specifics.

I have basic rules I set for myself regarding anchor text and then I use those to guide me through as I develop a strategy for each site. For this discussion on reciprocal linking specifically I donít mind sharing a few things I think about when planning a strategy that involves them.

Again, I take my client or myself back to what we expect to get out of the reciprocal linking campaign. The answer to that sets the path. Then I begin to evaluate the risks/benefits. Are there risks? Yes, as has been mentioned previously and I agree the repetitive use of the same title/description can be a risk and is in the very least not working to benefit the site. There can be other risks, I question using a single keyword too often, thereís that line remember where a strategy that works very well becomes the opposite. Where that line is changes for each site.

I also look at how I can maximize my use. What does that mean? Well, it depends on all the variables that have been brought into the analysis. I look at the keywords. I assume that by the time weíve gotten to this part of developing a linking strategy that I have already done all the keyword research/analysis/themes etc. The use of the anchor text then is an extension of this initial keyword/theme work. These are not arbitrary or random decisions. As fathom and Marketing Guy have both shared here some of the process they go through to work up a title/description, especially if you intend to rotate a series of them.

I miss the focus on meta tags there once was. I think of those as training ground for learning how benefit from title/descriptions. Many of us cut our teeth on them. Remember, unless you spell out for people how you want them to link to you they will often start with your meta tags for ideas, I know I do. Certainly if I canít figure it out from the content (which does not work to the potential partners benefit and slows my work down) then the meta tags are a possible start.

Editing in a directory is also good experience for learning about title/descriptions and the effects of anchor text. If you are not editing then take a category of a directory and research each listing and follow those trails to get some ideas.

Think of all the ways we are using and can use anchor text in our reciprocal linking strategies. Iíve found that the more thought and analysis I give to how I will use them in my strategy the less risk I experience and the greater benefits I gain.

What good would this be though without a pet peeve? If you are going to beat me over the head with a keyword and use your anchor text to support that then there aught to be the content on the other end to earn that.

paynt




msg:421000
 3:30 am on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Öcareful about reciprocal linkingÖ WebRookie

You have to be donít you? Careful doesnít mean though that you canít utilize a reciprocal linking campaign.

People for one thing totally lack imagination. A reciprocal link campaign does not have to be boring. Maybe that will be good for a discussion at some point. Right now my purpose is basically that I want people who are considering starting a reciprocal linking campaign to first give it some thought and create a plan. There can be many benefits but there can also be risks and every site and industry is different so reciprocal link campaigns can take on many forms. True, the more creative and interesting the better but weíre far from that.

ÖIn the greater scheme of things it's more about who is pointing to those pages that are pointing to you and what those third party pages are saying than what you are saying about yourself. - fathom

I want to make sure that doesnít get lost, itís a very important point.

Content. The solution is to develop content that draws relevant linking. Again, what is relevant linking? As fathom suggests itís attracting links from sites that other sites link to because they believe your new partner is about your theme. Thatís really cool stuff. If you doubt me go back to my #1 from above ďDo you understand the terminology?Ē Then search for everything this site offers up on themes.

Big tip. Building a reciprocal link campaign around themes considerably reduces the effort while maximizing on the returns. This is not a bad business deal in my book.

paynt




msg:421001
 3:48 am on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Welcome businessezines to Webmasterworld and thanks for posting.

Ö down sides to reciprocal linking? businessezines

Good question. Yes, there can be problems, usually from lack of current information (hint Ė stay current).

The most common problems I see people getting into involve linking to bad neighborhoods (not the same problem it was, at least for legit sites Ė spam sites and those walking the edge should approach with caution Ė not for the faint of heart). My caution relates more to those deciding to approach their linking by creating bad neighborhoods. Thatís when youíre working with what I consider disposable domains or networks. <risky - crackheads>

Another hint Ė if you are wondering what I am talking about use the site search and narrow in on previous discussions where weíve talked about these things before.

Other problems, whenever you start mirroring pages, content, title/descriptions I think you can draw problems.

The rest of my issues arenít problems really but more along the lines of misinformation, laziness, and lack of priority and accountability. So much wasted efforts and those not maximizing on the possibilities. Itís frustrating, wasteful.

paynt




msg:421002
 4:18 am on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Iím having a blogging moment with this discussion tonight.

Weíve talked a lot about problems and there are more that come in, depending on how you develop your strategy.

Have we talked enough about the benefits? And what about concerns? Have we worked through all those so everyone that is reciprocal linking or thinking about it feels confident and strong? Iím positively sure everyone is going to spend the next few days cleaning house before the next spidering <hint hint>.

We havenít talked much about that, cleaning house. What does that mean? Where do you start? For folks reciprocal linking Iíd start with the links themselves, are they all still functioning? What type of links are they? Weed out the junk, no need to keep them if they redirect, are set in frames, or dynamic. Give me nice clean straight static links, no fancy stuff. Clean them out and cut them off and if you want write and let them know why. Keep the doors open if they decide to clean up their own house, or if you really want the link tell them what you really want for an exchange.

What else then? I would look at the structure set to display the link partnerís links. Ok, Iíve posted recently my feeling about ďlink pagesĒ, which is ugh <always exceptions>.

I like directories because they are easy, flexible, can be very interesting, plus useful and the list goes on. Iíll start a discussion at some point about ďdirectoriesĒ, Iíd like to know more from those using them, we can all cough up a few tips.

Cleaning house, once the structure is determined and themed, it comes down to the plan for the actual page the reciprocal link is on. Oh my, that will have to come later, enough for now. Are we all lost or is that this helping anyone?

warlordbb




msg:421003
 5:58 am on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Until I started reading this thread, I was a little discouraged about our potential to proceed with our "Link Campaign". I participate in an industry that is filled with "mom and pops" and we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we should be glad if a prospective recip could even get a banner link right. We despaired of even getting close to link text or page title relevancy.

This thread has help me realize that a) sites that can't "get it right" probably aren't worth the effort, b) sites that can, well, are, c) we have the cart before the horse.

Our "Link Campaign" has been maintained by someone who has no web savvy herself. I mean this as no slight, she's done well with what knowledge she has, but, frankly, we are in violation of most every pet peave paynt has shared and probably many more he hasn't yet.

What I once saw as a source of discouragement has now revealed itself as an opportunity. An opportunity for us to lead by example. First, we do some serious house cleaning ourselves. Then, when we have the proper structure, policy, and plan, we'll be more able to explain what we mean by Page Title, Theme, Link Text, etc. to our potential partners. We'll just say, "look at our site".

Frankly, I'd be embarrased if anyone that knew what they were doing did now.

Gotta go, got lots of work to do....

:)

paynt




msg:421004
 6:20 am on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Ah warlordbb, I can hardly wait to bump into your fresh and clean sites, makes the hours here worth it. Honestly there is so much good stuff here in the forums with members sharing, just please don't cut short your planning. Proceed slowly and with caution. Yes, letís all clean house most certainly, but with a plan. I just throw out bits and pieces at a time, whatever moves me in the moment but honestly as much as weíve shared here we need to remember that each industry, each site, each mission and purpose differs from the other. What can we do but embrace that, make it each of our projects individually our own?

I am so glad to hear you describe your plan forward as ďAn opportunity for us to lead by example.Ē Those are words worth repeating.

See, Iím not telling anyone ďthe planĒ. I donít have ďthe planĒ. Each plan is dependent on a series of unique pieces of information, individual to the site, the industry again the purpose.

RosemarieJ




msg:421005
 1:13 pm on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

I just came in on this thread, after having spent the last week trying to improve the way I organize links on my own website. What an informative thread! I would be considered a "mom & pop" website, but I try very hard to do things right and learn as much as I can, but it's a learning process that takes time, with things constantly changing. My site has only been live for a few months, and I'm now getting to the point where I have enough links that I need to start thinking about organizing them. I have two comments/questions:

1. I divided the links I have into categories to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for. However, they are still on one Links page. I have a very small website in a very small niche market. I'm not sure I want to have a separate links page for every category. I do, however, have a page for "blue widgets", "green widgets", etc. Would it help if I put a link on each of those pages, something like "Click here for links to other blue widgets websites" -- the link would take you to the appropriate category on my Links page.

2. Here's another pet peeve: I have been asking webmasters to link to specific page on my website. I give them a Title, a unique URL (for example, to my "blue widgets" page), and a description appropriate for that particular product (which is directly related to the website I'm asking for a reciprocal link with). The webmaster still uses my home page for the URL, even after requesting they use the more specific URL. It's happened many times. What's that about?

Thanks, as always, for your expertise everyone!

sean




msg:421006
 2:37 pm on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Great thread! I'll add...

11.) Have you considered how real people will read and respond to your link requests? Will it pass the "yeah, right..." test? Does your copy differentiate you from autosubmitter robots? How much time you are going to spend finding sites vs. how much time are you going to spend converting partners?

jamie




msg:421007
 5:02 pm on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

really good thread paynt, you've just 'ruined' my weekend, as i won't be able to rest until I've cleaned up our links pages ;-)

i feel as though a light has just gone on. we are guilty of just about every 'bad' practise - and yet i myself cuss and swear every time i go to a site and find similar practices ;-)

talk about pot call kettle black.

many thanks!

(and to all the others for the valuable feedback)

paynt




msg:421008
 6:44 pm on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Very good, thanks for the feedback Jamie. Sorry if the weekends ruined but hey, the work youíre doing now may make my work easier in the future so I canít say as I mind too much ;) <grinning>

I'm now getting to the point where I have enough links that I need to start thinking about organizing them. - RosemarieJ

Welcome to Webmasterworld RosemarieJ and thanks for posting. I really love your solution to your linking situation on #1. I call that weaving the reciprocal links through the site and itís a great strategy. I pulled your quote above out only to suggest the planning come before you start getting them. If not for you with this project then for others reading this. To be really good at this you would reverse the sentence to,

ďIím going to think and plan first for how Iíll organize those links that I am going to go out and get.Ē

Ha, but seriously thank goodness youíre taking a look at it now, for your benefit and the benefit of your linking partners.

As to your second problem RosemarieJ, you might want to take the time to explain in your request that you are deep linking for a reason and would appreciate the direct link. People might think you made a mistake, or they think they have to link to the root, itís hard to tell. Make your letter personal. If your reason is the link leads them to more focused content they probably will understand. If youíre sending them to an affiliate link then that probably and rightfully wonít fly.

rogue




msg:421009
 6:54 pm on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Great thread paynt! You have made me get off my *** and restructure my links as I knew I should.
Don,t know if this is sound but this is what I have done so far. Start with reciprocal links from hubs or authorities within my theme and go out from there. I prefer to ask for links manually by visiting each site, check it out, and send a personal e-mail if required. This shows the other webmaster that you have at least taken the time to look at their site. This method works almost 100% of the time, including the anchor text that is desired; which for me is always an internal page. I let the auto and links programs link to my home page which is branded, carries the main theme of the site, and has proper meta titles and descriptions. They can use the URL or meta tags as link text which are my favorite keywords. This works great for me.

paynt




msg:421010
 8:01 pm on Mar 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

Thanks Sean for the next questions, very cool to bring this up.

How much time you are going to spend finding sites vs. how much time are you going to spend converting partners? - sean

Finding sites to link to - It really helps to take the time and first research the industry online [webmasterworld.com]. Also of course, research the competition [webmasterworld.com]. Next, determine who your Ďlinkingí audience is. This may differ from your Ďsalesí audience (the visitor you want to sell to).

Letís say youíve done all this planning, strategizing and analysis and youíre all ready to find those partners. First sit down and determine what you want from a partnership. Set your standards now before you go looking, it will save the weeding through time considerably. As you begin the process of weeding through sites keep a spreadsheet open and set up different columns. The sites you are looking at today may not be right for this part of your strategy but may have something else to offer down the road. If there is something you like, maybe for advertising, for an article submission, to even team up on a project save it now.

Whatís your Ick list? I have my pet peeves yes but I have an even longer Ick list of what I will not link up with. We start from hate, thatís out as well as adult content, plus I want no fancy linking just give it to me straight. I want content and I donít see a list of 200 unrelated links as content. I donít want my link on a page with a bunch of banners and advertising. Like the game above, the process of finding sites worthy of linking is tough and messy, the ugly underbelly of the net. Give me a nice simple page in you must, with a bit of related content, simple navigation and a few other links if you must, I have very simple tastes when it comes to these basic reciprocal linking campaigns.

Converting partners - The whole reciprocal linking phenomena, to be really successful with it I think requires a refocus. I mentioned audience above. When we consider a site and the traffic we expect to draw, most of us are thinking of our service or product and finding visitors that convert. Thatís one audience. We have another important audience visiting for an entirely different reason.

The linking audience - Now we know there are as many different linking audiences as there are strategies developed to attract them. This discussion is about reciprocal linking so just who is your potential reciprocal linking audience? How can you draw them in to want to establish a link exchange? What are you willing to give? If you know your audience and have researched their industry (not necessarily the same as yours Ė probably a peripheral) then you know what they are offering. Certain industries are improving, because they know thatís what it takes these days, a fuller campaign, which includes some form of linking. I picked on a financial keyword earlier with my game but honestly, those folks are starting to get their act together. I do have pet peeve industries, ugh. The ma and pa hobby sites are usually better themed than many Ďprofessionalí industries. Perhaps itís the passion behind it.

This whole discussion is about reciprocal linking. Iíd like to explore other link strategies as we go along but since reciprocal linking is such a popular campaign strategy I thought we should really take the time to root it out, try to make it better than it is now. I really feed off comments and input, it winds me up so if thereís more on your mind about reciprocal linking I really want to hear them.

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