Thanks Sean for the next questions, very cool to bring this up.
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 ‘linking’ audience is. This may differ from your ‘sales’ audience (the visitor you want to sell to).
Let’s say you’ve done all this planning, strategizing and analysis and you’re 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.
What’s 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, that’s out as well as adult content, plus I want no fancy linking just give it to me straight. I want content and I don’t see a list of 200 unrelated links as content. I don’t 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. That’s 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 – probably a peripheral) then you know what they are offering. Certain industries are improving, because they know that’s 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 ‘professional’ industries. Perhaps it’s the passion behind it.
This whole discussion is about reciprocal linking. I’d 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 there’s more on your mind about reciprocal linking I really want to hear them.