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What are your experiences with this? Do you move links around in exchange for the partnership site moving your links around? Do you offer content in exchange for improved placement on the other site? Have you noticed a difference in banners versus text links, as far as traffic is concerned? What about how the link is placed and where?
So, the question is – how can we improve on our traffic from our reciprocal links?
If you can convince the other site to put your link on their home page or other high traffic page, you'll pull a lot more clicks. Conversely, if you are link #332 in a list of 547 sites on a links page, you might as well forget anyone ever finding you. In general, a well-placed, well-designed banner or graphic link will pull better than a simple text link. (Of course, that keyword-based link text is good stuff, too!)
This is all pretty obvious, I guess - perhaps the one non-obvious part is that you usually have to ASK for special treatment. When I confirm a reciprocal text link, I include a standard pitch to exchange banners. A modest number of sites then put up my banner, too.
I don't usually push for a home-page listing unless I can offer something in return. Sometimes, though, smaller sites will offer, or ask where I'd prefer the link. Then, I'm not bashful... :)
At the bottom of every page, I have "link" which gives the user a choice of several banners/buttons as well as text code to link to my site. Also at the bottom of each page, is "submit" which offers a form to add URL to my links pages, where the user is again requested to reciprocate by banner or text link. This method has worked well for me. It filters out those who just surf around adding their link indiscriminately.
I also diligently seek out high ranking, on-topic sites to trade links with. As mentioned above, some sites do bury my listing on back pages; I just think of them as Google food.
I have one membership game site that put my 1 - 10 rate it link on the post logout confirmation page. I get a lot of traffic from that. :)
keyplyr, does it automatically add the URL to the links pages, or is it sent for pre-screening before it's added?
In a case like that, I'm wondering how it would be handled if someone submits a link request, and it would be preferable not to add them - what kind of response to give them to refuse.
I do keep email templates for "Your link was added" or "Your link was refused." The refusal template has several reasons why the link may have been refused, which I manually check off as appropriate. It sounds like more work than it really is since I generally get only 3 or 4 link submissions per month.
I have gotten a lot of traffic from reciprocal links for one of my websites. None of the links are on index pages but are included inside the website.
Index page links are good but I agree with Brad, if you find a high traffic site this should help your traffic.
For this website of mine, I have been very picky who I link with and have only asked sites that I think would fit well with my website content. By doing this, I have really cut out a lot of dead links and really have gotten a lot of good traffic. This has worked for me and I think my link partners as well since they know they will not have to compete with hundreds of links from my site.
So IMHO your website's content and who you look to link with are really the two main factors in having a succesful (i.e traffic increase) link exchange
What a super topic! I have been working a lot on my own sites in tracking every little click to internal and external links, as well to people who link up with me.
I have been testing a program that lets me track every virtual foot step on my site, including search engine spiders. What is great about this - I get the following information:
Browser Wars (Netscape)
Operating System (Windows 98)
Visitor Top Level Domains (.com)
Visitor 1-level Domain (xav.com)
Visitor Full (dialup-123.xav.com)
Visitor IP Address (126.96.36.199)
Hits from Other Sites (Full URL)
Hits from Other Sites (Domain Only)
Hyperlinks Followed From This Site
Hits to Local Documents
Average Number of Hits Per Visitor
Hits By Day of Year
Hits By Day of the Week
Hits By Hour of the Day
It is GREAT!
I often even go a step further..
When a client contacts me, I can then look at their e-mail IP, or Server info, then look for them in my Stats. This tells me exactly where they came from, where they went, what they read - and how long . It really has let me get into my users virtual mind. I don't tell them directly that I tracked them - but I can tune my reply to them better.
There is much more to this application that I have not had time to apply. I am even working on a hack version of this script with more goodies which I plan to present to the company.
So what do I use?
SIMPLE AND FREE APPLICATION CALLED:
Hope this tool helps you all. I know I went off from the topic here a bit, but I am sure you can see how it fits in here.
(edited by: paynt at 11:17 pm (utc) on Mar. 29, 2002)
Absolutely - one of the most fruitful link partner strategies I know of. It only works when there is good communication with the linking site, a real collaboration. But we're learning to ask "Is there anything more we can offer that would be important to your visitors?"
With one site, we've developed a 10 page section of content just to get their deep link...well, that's not the ONLY reason. It is 10 pages of really good content, after all, and that has lots of value on its own. But we never would have thought of the project at all unless our link partner brought up the topic.
So, the question is – how can we improve on our traffic from our reciprocal links?
Great question, paynt, and tedster's reply touches on something I'd been thinking about.
If we're talking about "proper" links (rather than PR links) then how many people just ask for a link back to their home page? Why?
Say you get an offer of a link from a high traffic Widgets for Wombats directory. Why not create an entry page (or section) just for those people coming from the directory?
For example, links to branch offices in Australia, problems with widgets in hot and dusty conditions, a gallery of your widgets in use on Bondi Beach.
A well-designed entry page will be more appealing and sticky to those visitors than your generic home page. And, as a bonus, if the link is from a high PR page you can direct the internal linking the way that you want to and from that entry page.
The first way is a standard link exchange. I visit sites and e-mail exchange requests (and also try to point the webmaster to the details page for my other linking options).
The second way is the standard "content based links page". Every topic (in my case, a person, movie or band) has it's own links page. Anyone is invited to sign up and add their links to any relevant page on their site. (I say that a link back is appreciated, but not required and this seems to get me a few links back, anyway). Another side benefit to other webmasters is that if they have a good site, other members of my site often pop a link to their site in just because it's interesting and related to a topic on my site that they are interested in.
The third method (and probably most effective for webmasters of other sites) is my "content development" angle. Webmasters who sign up for my site and promise to add some relavant information to the database can check off the "I'm a webmaster" box and paste a URL of their banner into their user profile. If they add brand new information, they get their banner displayed near the top of the data entry on the main data page for the person or movie. If they "update" information, their banner will appear near the bottom of the results, but still on the same page. This probably helps webmasters more in regards to page rank than anything above as their banner is one of few external links on the page rather than one of many. (My internal pages have "estimated" ranks of 4, so it's not GREAT, but it's enough to probably send a tweak).
Finally, though no one has taken advantage of this, I'd suspect that it would probably do nicely... In return for adding regularly to the database and supplying a link to my front page along with any other link, I create a template hosted on my site that pulls all of my page header and banners off and replaces them with the headers and banners of the site in question. That way, people can link to a detail page on my site while enjoying every one of those pages linking back to their page (and, unless their visitor looks at the URL, the page fits the format of the originating site so the probably don't even notice that they left for a minute). Obviously, since no one has asked for me to do this (I've only been up since mid February) I don't yet know what it'll do for page rank on either side of the coin.
Various content things that I offer are search boxes, linking to the data (with my banners standard, or with your page headers/banners as an option), and a non branded access to my links engine (which is hosted at my site, but is accessed via an IFRAME or simple frame) - unfortunately, I haven't come up with a good way to hard code it into the pages of a remote site other than through ASP, so sites on the links pages don't currently reap the PR benefits of having their links on all of the sites who are using the link script). I'm working on it, though.
I'm certain there are similar things that can be done with just about any topic on the web. Articles you write/host can have a 'related links' section at the end of the page which not only helps interior PR if they link back to the article, but also helps in that there aren't going to be as many links for each article as there would be for an entire web site.
If anyone is interested, I'd be more than happy to post the ASP code that I use to allow ASP driven sites use my link engine and have it indexed by google and it gives PR bonuses as well. This would be good for people who have articles and want to encourage other sites (obviously, they'd have to use ASP on their site) to "embed" your article into their own site. It gives them free content (you could even have it change weekly, daily, or whatever) and gives you page rank benefits as your article will surely point back to your own site.
Hope this gives you folks some new ideas, or even refreshes some old ones!