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If we talk about this we'll have to do it without discussing specific products or dropping url's. Additionally you'll find many of us frowning on the automated programs that are available and who wants that?
I'd love to hear how folks speed up the process of link campaigning. All tips will be smiled on ;)
It really is worth the time to establish the linking relationships yourself. I am directing a linking campaign and have a template email that goes out to all my prospects, but sometimes requires a few revisions. But this way you have the control, your own voice and can specifically ask about the look and format of the link.
I have also heard that Google may screen out links found thru an automated system, which is counterproductive as we link to improve Google rank.I find what is most time consuming is finding the right prosects, as I stongly believe you want to keep your links closely themed! For ex. I am in the food space so will not solicit an e-commerce site selling car accessories.
Does this make sense?
1) make sure you have made it easy for someone to request a link FROM you and that you have automated your side of things ...
2) For My link REQUESTS: i set aside some time for surfing around, not aimlessly (but that's OT) bookmarking suitable candidates and entering the details into a database, i'll usually be surfing around one area/subject in a session so that i get a good feel for it
... don't really know of a quicker method of finding/checking potential links as i have to assess suitability (whatever the criteria) manually
... once the potential links are identified i try to make my site as attractive as possible for these suiters - after all i'm pitching them! - this is a REAL TIME SAVER because every link that is declined is a waste of my time, so the higher strike rate i get the more time i've "saved"
then the simple mechanics ...
if your pages are static, use an offline database to build updated links pages to upload to the server.
By semi-automated, I mean a CGI script that allows them to submit their link to you for consideration, but they have to post the text link you specify to your site first. This allows me to veto any XXX sites or others that just don't belong on my pages at all. I've obtained some very nice, high PR links this way, for very little work, so it's a nice bonus.