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Link Development Forum

This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39 ( [1] 2 > >     
In the Real World, Who Exchanges Links?
Recips Not a Strategy for Many Commercial Sites
digicam




msg:3142103
 12:15 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I keep reading everywhere that websites like to link to each other but I just do not get it.

If you have a nonprofit - for fun website then I can see the point.

But if you have a commercial site then the last thing I want to do is link off the site - why let a customer get away and see something else?

Even if I find a really good article on a topic related to my website I still would never link to it - as it is better then mine - so how do I benefit, I would be more likely to rewrite the article and put a new version on my own site.

As far as I can see the only honest reason to link on a commercial site is because Google likes it and no other.

Am I missing something?

 

jakegotmail




msg:3142151
 1:25 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

This is typically why commercial sites have to buy links.

topr8




msg:3142166
 1:50 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

well in my case in my industry, it is not such a big world and i know several of my competitors personally, there is a degree of interlinking ...

... because if i haven't got what a customer wants, then one of my competitors might have it, so i lose a sale but the converse is true as well.

this may not work in all niches but it does in mine.

i'd say there are a dozen main players worldwide in my niche (and 100s of smaller players) - half of us link to each other, in a way it reinforces to potential customers how we are the 'main' guys and keeps some of the others out - if you get what i'm saying you get it, if not then you don't :)

aleatrix




msg:3142348
 4:29 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

I have a commercial site and I post links in a separate links partners section of my web site. I have never bought or requested a link to another site; others usually ask me for links. Because my field is a very competitive one, I won't link to a direct competitor but I will link to a quality site selling related merchandise.

I'll be the first to admit that most of my links partners are completely worthless. However, there are 10 or 12 legitimate links partners from whom I get from 10 or 30 visitors a month. Because of sites like these I still consider link exchange requests.

sugarrae




msg:3142523
 6:30 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well, it depends on how narrow minded you are looking at the process of exchanging links. From a general standpoint, you don't want to link out to or exchange with direct competitors (i.e. you sell apples, they sell apples). But, there are definite ways commercial sites can exchange links or even link out to "authority" sites one way in ways that make sense.

One way I've used to link out to bigger competitors (considered authorities in the particular industry) is to compare my offerings, prices, services - whatever the site is aimed at selling, with those of the competitors in nifty chart form showing how much better my own site is. When the link to the competitor is shown in that light, I'm not really worried about losing sales.

As far as reciprocal linking... if you sell apples, exchange with places that sell baskets, gardening supplies, seeds... obviously, someone who sells everything, like Amazon, won't need recips, but Joe's apple shop and Tom's basket shop certainly can see mutual benefit. Recip relationships can work for commercial sites, depending on the context and reasoning behind them.

>>>why let a customer get away and see something else

It's called customer service. I went to Home Depot the other day and they were out of stock on a particular item I wanted, and informed me that only they and Best Buy carried the items locally. They wrote down the model numbers and prices and I headed to Best Buy, who had them in stock, and bought them there. Home Depot lost that particular sale. They will also be my first stop in the future because I know if they don't have it, they will help me find it. They make me happy, which gives them my loyalty. They'll make way more in the long run by being concerned about me, the customer, and not that one particular sale they lost.

My local nursery has business cards on the counter for people who install ponds, landscapers, pressure washers - essentially, what is real word reciprocal relationships that would take the form of a link online and a business card being displayed offline.

Can reciprocal links work for commerical sites? Yes. But, it depends on how you are defining your concept of reciprocal links. That said, no, I don't think a site can survive solely on reciprocal linking. And I think commercial sites with pages and pages of reciprocal links look cheesy. But, a few solid partnerships is smart business. Link development has a lot more to it than an email requesting a link these days. Put the same thought into a linking campaign that you would into any offline *marketing* campaign - because effective link development boils down to good marketing.

My two cents...

martinibuster




msg:3142557
 6:45 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

For many websites, establishing trust and credibility is paramount. This includes spending thousands of dollars on site design, not to mention all the time that goes into developing the content.

A reciprocal links page is what you expect from an up and comer. This makes a recip directory incompatible with a site aspiring to project authority. It sends the wrong message.

Adding a reciprocal links directory to an authority site is like framing the rear window of a Lexus with pink dingleballs and making the car blast a few bars of "La Cucaracha" when you honk the horn.

Many webmasters have walked away from reciprocal links. The last time I conducted a poll at a link building session, less than a handful out of several hundred in the audience raised their hands to indicate their enthusiasm for reciprocals. Virtually everyone wanted to know how to obtain one way inbounds.

In the real world, who is exchanging links?

[edited by: martinibuster at 6:51 pm (utc) on Nov. 1, 2006]

sugarrae




msg:3142565
 6:49 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

>>>Adding a reciprocal links directory

Agreed. To clarify, I agree that reciprocal link directories have no use on a commercial site aiming to be a contender - but a few well placed relationships, I think, can be beneficial for all involved.

martinibuster




msg:3142573
 6:58 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

a few well placed relationships, I think, can be beneficial for all involved.

Right. A well planned Partners Page will actually help raise your credibility by demonstrating you are comparable with the top companies in your industry. Not necessarily your competitors, but companies that share synergies or audience, but not necessarily within the exact same business.

Car_Guy




msg:3142649
 7:50 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you have a commercial site, then the last thing I want to do is link off the site.
Why let a customer get away and see something else?


There might be some code you could add to your site that would prevent your visitors from leaving. :-)

Years ago, I saw a site that said, "You have reached the last page on the Internet. That's right, the Web stops here."

When someone visits your site, if they like it and you seem credible, there is an element of trust involved. If someone is really impressed, they might consider you to be a "friend" of sorts. When I make friends with someone, I like to introduce them to some other friends with common interests.

When I put my site together back in 1996, all it was was a few dozen different pages of links. But they were the links that those of us in my niche were interested in, and finding them any other way was difficult for us newbies, and too time-consuming. (The site has evolved a lot in ten years, and now it's a lot more than a directory.)

My reason for bringing this up is to point out that an excellent set of related links can be a big help to your visitors - something that they will appreciate and keep coming back for, especially if you keep it current. Providing them might help create the impression that you're enthusiastic about your niche, as opposed to just being in the business.

treeline




msg:3142661
 8:02 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

Links to other sites can help you sell to your customers.

A common example: a small hotel (or B&B) puts links on their site to many other local businesses, especially restaurants, golf courses, whitewater rafting, surfing, local shops and others. The idea is to show others that you are part of and connected to an enticing place to visit.

aaudette




msg:3142664
 8:06 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

But if you have a commercial site then the last thing I want to do is link off the site - why let a customer get away and see something else?

Makes sense in theory, but you can't force your visitors to behave the way you want. They can always leave your site, by any number of ways, and they don't need a link on a page to do it.

"Locking" visitors into your site by having no outbound links is pretty shortsighted. It's also directly contradictory to the way the Internet works. Embrace it, don't fight it. Notice how authoritative sites link out freely to quality resources that are helpful for visitors in their niche. As was said above - customer service - at least a version of it.

snofoam




msg:3142682
 8:20 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you have a company that is a member of an industry association for your industry, they may have a page linking to members and a link to the association could be an appropriate link to have on your site.

BillyS




msg:3142759
 9:23 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

At one time I welcomed the opportunity to exchange links wtih other websites and some of that came from Brett's paper on how to build...

I stopped worrying about PR and linking nearly two years ago. Since then I've moved up from a PR3 to PR6. My "links" page is now a "resources" page. I link to resources that my visitors would consider valuable.

weeks




msg:3142760
 9:23 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

There are two web sites I go to once a week or so because they have a great links page in an area I track. I use them instead of a bookmarks/favorites in my browser since they'll sometimes add new sites.

The Washington Post is experimenting with contextual linking into the entire web as as added service and to build their outbound links. They are using a technology that "reads" the article and builds links automatically. This was unheard of a year ago and few other news website are trying it.

The Post also will put news headlines on your website at no charge as well. You can even select a category.

cnvi




msg:3142787
 9:44 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

A reciprocal links page is what you expect from an up and comer. This makes a recip directory incompatible with a site aspiring to project authority. It sends the wrong message.

I respectfully disagree... I see plenty of sites that are not "up and comers" exchange relevant links with other sites. I see lots of authority sites publish exit links to benefit their end user's experience. Some of those links might be reciprocated, some might not. When linking for the end user, reciprocation should not always be the primary goal although a returned link is always appreciated.

Do not look at reciprocal linking as an SEO function. Linking should never be conducted as an SEO function. Linking should be conducted as a BRANDING and learning gateway function.

When I say "learning gateway function", I mean when you link out to other sites that are related to your own product or business, you are helping the end user learn more about your own product or service. Think of linking as a way to help end users learn more about the subject matter, product, or service that you your site offers, and not as a game to inflate link popularity.

Many webmasters have walked away from reciprocal links. The last time I conducted a poll at a link building session, less than a handful out of several hundred in the audience raised their hands to indicate their enthusiasm for reciprocals. Virtually everyone wanted to know how to obtain one way inbounds.

True, reciprocal linking got alot of bad press in recent years because so many webmasters abused it to game the search engines and that upset decent webmasters like you guys who are trying to market your sites ethically. I understand that sentiment.

Reciprocal linking is alive and well primarily among small businesses that cannot get one way links from authoritative sites with ease.

As click fraud becomes more of a problem, I think you will see more webmasters gravitate back to relevant link exchange that benefits the end user.

In the real world, who is exchanging links?

I do! On over a dozen web properties. All of the properties combined have over 80,000 inbound links fueling the majority of our traffic to those sites. That kind of linkage takes time.. over ten years of work. We have stopped most of our pay per click campaigns and link buying campaigns (with the exception of Adwords) because the traffic is so good from our link exchanges.

When link exchange is conducted in low/natural volume with high relevancy for the end user, it's a low cost great way to establish free links. There is no proof that I know of that search engines penalize you for RELEVANT reciprocal linking so why ignore a relatively easy way to obtain free traffic and help end users learn more about the website's genre? It's a win win in my opinion.

I will agree that there are some poor looking reciprocal link directories out there run by webmasters who link in high volume to irrelevant sites. Maybe those webmasters are ignorant and will read this thread eventually and then change their ways.

But there are webmasters out there doing this work diligently with relevancy that benefits their end users. Link exchange strategies can be good or bad.

I think Sugarrae said it well above:

Link development has a lot more to it than an email requesting a link these days. Put the same thought into a linking campaign that you would into any offline *marketing* campaign - because effective link development boils down to good marketing.

ken_b




msg:3142796
 9:56 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

What does what happens in the "real world" have to do with any but the newest member of WW who just happened to search for an answer to some basic webmastering question and ended up here?

I seriously wonder if anyone who has been a member here for more than a very short time can any longer speak with any authority about what happens in the "real world" of the average webmaster.

It seems to me that it's all too easy for the people who hang out at places like this to lose touch with the "real world".

So who exchanges links in the "real world", my guess is a bunch of webmasters who are attempting to build their own vaiable presence on the web, or maybe having one of their employees or kids do it. People who have neither the time or inclination, and maybe not the need, to hang out at places like WW.

You know, the guy with the hardware store on Main Street who links to the lumber yard over on 5th Avenue because he knows the owner, and it's helpful for his customers.

That kind of guy.

austtr




msg:3142890
 11:31 pm on Nov 1, 2006 (gmt 0)

For the first time in a very long while we have just seen some of the leading lights on these forums all participating in the "White Hat Getting Me Nowhere!" discussion.

The overwhelming message? Get links because without them your site is just flotsam bobbing around on the internet high seas, being glimpsed only occasionally by the passing audience.

Google has made links the currency of the internet and each of the thousands of new sites that arrive every day all need to acquire some of that currency before they can enter the playground.

It's all very well for those of us, with an established base of sites that can provide one-ways to kick-start the new sites, to proclaim the virtues of one ways or that we no longer do reciprocals. Fine.... but the other 99.99% of the internet isn't that fortunate and doesn't have the established link buddy network that took years to build.

I don't think Google gives a hoot if a link was aquired by a reciprocal exchange or organically. What they do care about is that the link is relevant, does not involve a bad neighbourhood and even better if it involves authority/trust rank/PR and any of those things that say "quality"

For all I know 20 new sites hit the web today that are perfect matches for my sites. I want the opportunity to give my viewers access to those sites to improve their viewing experience. Declining those links simply because a reciprocal was requested just doesn't make sense.... IMO

It's the quality of the link that should be paramount, not the way in which it occurs.

So "In the Real World, Who Exchanges Links?".... nearly eveyone either still does or did at one time.

greenleaves




msg:3142926
 12:00 am on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

But if you have a commercial site then the last thing I want to do is link off the site - why let a customer get away and see something else?

That is the wrong attitude. If you sell widgets and your customer is reading an article on your site about white widgets, and in the article you mention widget care, they will want to find out more about this. Now you can give them two options:

1- They can click a link about widget care from your site, and if you link to a top site him/her may feel you made a good recomendation (and maybe remember you; "I remember I found a widget care place when looking at from whitewidget.com")
2- They can go to google type in widget care and forget about you.

When I link to somewhere, I first check to see if they have an affiliate program, if not I ask for a reciprocal link. I always make it clear if they don't link back their link will stay up, as I find it valuable for my users. I am amazed at the amount of sites that link back.

Sugarrae said it best
but a few well placed relationships, I think, can be beneficial for all involved.

too much information




msg:3142927
 12:04 am on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

I exchange links but I don't link to just anyone, you have to have a site that relates to something on mine and I don't link to my competition but that is just because of the industry I'm in. Here's how I see it:

If I want to sell round widgets, and you sell widget holders I'll link to you partly because I know my clients will want a widget holder, but also because anyone looking for a widget holder might find the page I've dedicated to your link and links like yours and that's where I also try to sell them on buying a new widget from me!

It's not just giving a link as far as I'm concerned, it's giving a link to you and giving me a chance to add more content that might bring a visitor closer to my "buy now" button.

I guess in reality I do more link giving than I do link exchanging, but in the end my competition and those that refuse to link off of their sites have no chance of competing with me when it comes to online marketing because I not only show up for my keywords, but for tons of searches that relate to my site and the content is legitimate which helps my credibility.

Just remember that your visitors are only 1 click away from a new search, so the only way to keep them and make them come back is to make sure they don't have to leave to find what they are looking for.

graywolf




msg:3143014
 2:08 am on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Maybe Big Celebrity Name is coming to your store for a personal appearance or autograph session for their charity. You might link to the celebrities website and the charity, and it would be perfectly proper to ask for a link back. If it's reputable charity nice way to get a trusted ".org" link.

Maybe you're a catering hall and will be having a fashion show featuring a hot designers gowns on display, another perfectly reasonable opportunity to give and ask for a link.

Setting up a table for your athletic clothing at your local children's bicycle safety event, another perfect opportunity to give and ask for a link.

Giving/getting an interview, speaking at an event, on TV, on the radio, or on a podcast why not give and ask for a link?

Notice how I am GIVING links BEFORE I ask for them ...

ispy




msg:3143226
 6:21 am on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

It would be a positive if your site were better in some way then the site you are linking to (prices, better design, etc) and if it was a reciprocal link relationship. This could potentially bring in customers from the other site and if you could figure out what their weakness are you could "steal" their customers.

rj87uk




msg:3143387
 10:04 am on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Me?

I do 4 or 5 well targeted reciprocal links when im starting a new website as well as one ways. In a reciprocal link exchange I use the keywords I am targeting in they're text / title so that the link on my website search engines would see it being on topic and help me / the other website.

Works for me, works for google and works for msn.

Whos yahoo? ;)

randle




msg:3143778
 4:44 pm on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

Am I missing something?

Depends, the core question is how do you rank? If you’re satisfied with where you are then stay the course. If you want to rise up, then you will need to get comfortable with the concept of obtaining some quality in-bound links, (one way is better) and with placing outbound links on your site, to authoritative sites that are on topic. These actions will improve your ranking whether your commercial, hobby or whatever.

But if you have a commercial site then the last thing I want to do is link off the site - why let a customer get away and see something else?

If your visitors don't like your site their going to leave any way, whether you have links at their disposal or not. That little “X” sits at the top right hand corner of every visitor’s monitor and their not afraid to use it. No one is trapped on a web site.

A basic formula you may wish to consider is if adding outbound links, causes you to rise in rankings resulting in 50 more visitors per day, but the out bounds do cause you to lose 10 visitors per day, you’re a head of the game.

All of this does not pertain to links that are placed on “links pages”, the above thoughts are for links placed on content pages of your site. I know it’s a fairly controversial topic these days, and everyone has their own valid theories, but creating staged areas where all linking is carried out, both inbound and outbound, will help, but you will need vastly more links to be effective with that method.

adybee




msg:3143790
 4:56 pm on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

I look at this way - if a visitor is going to leave your site they will anyway - at least with a relevant link you have a chance of letting the visitor go with a positive experience from your site. They may not have got the product or service they require from you but they may have got the information to find what they require.

That's a positive that will stay in the visitor's mind. Digicam - how many times have you used a site as a point of reference to find into about a subject/service? How many times do you use that site afterwards? :)

netmeg




msg:3143824
 5:19 pm on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

One thing I have never quite been able to get a handle on is how to develop useful links to one of my clients, who has a B2B Ecommerce site. They're in a few industrial directories, but other than that - I don't know who would link to them. Plenty of people bookmark them - but there would be no reason to link to them. There are no real "related" industries that aren't competitors, and while they are a large scale vendor for everyone from the government/military to churches to schools to casinos to small businesses, their customers wouldn't be likely to link to them. People just don't link to places like Office Max or Sears or whatever. They resell some of their products to distributors, but most of those distributors don't want THEIR clients knowing where the products are coming from, lest they try to end run the distributor.

I have come to believe that some sites, even popular and successful ones - just don't get legitimate inbound links, because there's no reason for anyone to link to them.

sublime1




msg:3143854
 5:41 pm on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

In 2003, we had been pretty tight fisted with our links (going so far as to 302 them with a nofollow, opening a new window so the user would come back, etc) a while back. We did a links page for a few selected partial competitors, and a reciprocal links page for some marginally related sites. And we did some other things now considered evil. It worked brilliantly.

So in mid/late 2004 we started a similar site with a nearly identical architecture and strategy. It has been and still is nowhere. We have since cleaned up our evildoing ways (link buying) but that didn't help, Now, we're allowing outbound links, even encouraging them in user contributed content. They are straight links to lots of sites, even our direct competitors, whatever will help our user. Essentially we abandoned the practice of "PR hoarding" and assume that just being an up-and-up good site, with a community of users, with interesting content will turn the trick for us. Links are beginning to trickle in from blogs, niche sites, etc, as well as a few from big sites. Emphasis on "trickle".

Yet the site is still nowhere, even though any of the sites ranking above ours provide way less value. We have tested and seen users (and press, etc.) say "wow, this is a great site -- I wish I had know about it". But only a trickle of links, and we're nowhere in the SERPs. Will 2007, the site's third year of constant effort and improvement be the year it gets any recognition?

Go figure.

AjiNIMC




msg:3143880
 6:10 pm on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

As a customer I have hardly seen such things where competitors are linking to each other. Some people can do that which is also known as co-opetition (competing with co-operation) in marketing terms. It is very difficult to happen on a commercial way unless both are of same strength.

Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use with online marketing and search engines.

[edited by: martinibuster at 6:29 pm (utc) on Nov. 2, 2006]

[2][edited by: AjiNIMC at 6:30 pm (utc) on Nov. 2, 2006 - deleted some lines to keep it ontopic][/1]

[edited by: AjiNIMC at 6:43 pm (utc) on Nov. 2, 2006]

Car_Guy




msg:3143888
 6:17 pm on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

adybee said, "If a visitor is going to leave your site they will anyway. At least with a relevant link you have a chance of letting the visitor go with a positive experience from your site. That's a positive that will stay in the visitor's mind."

That's an excellent point.

Providing links to helpful, relevant resources certainly won't detract from the impression your site makes on its visitors.

AjiNIMC




msg:3143953
 6:52 pm on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

adybee said, "If a visitor is going to leave your site they will anyway. At least with a relevant link you have a chance of letting the visitor go with a positive experience from your site. That's a positive that will stay in the visitor's mind."

That's an excellent point.


At a philosopical level it is ok. But isn't it same as putting LG TV in Samsung's showroom. Person coming to Samsung's showroon is because he want to explore samsung TV or to buy Samsung TV. Samsung has done a lot of marketing to get this visitor to their showroom, after that talking about LG Tv will a little too non-commercial. Is any real world doing it, if the stock is not there the case is different?

IMO putting links to competitor is like offering options. Why is the visitor on your site? Because he thinks you will offer the services. He finds that it is not good he leaves and clicks on next on google. Let google offer other relevant links.

Car_Guy




msg:3144016
 7:40 pm on Nov 2, 2006 (gmt 0)

The suggestion was not linking to competitors, but "Providing links to helpful, relevant resources".

This 39 message thread spans 2 pages: 39 ( [1] 2 > >
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