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Site Promotion Tutorial
Part 5 - Reciprocal Links

Introduction

In the last part I explained how to use Free For All Links Pages. In this part I will tell you about one of the most powerful ways of promoting your site. This one will require you to do some hard work but will pay off in the end.

How To Start

Before making some reciprocal links you should understand what they are. A reciprocal link is when you make a link to another website and they make a link back to your site. In this way you will each be able to benefit from each other's traffic.

There is no 'reciprocal linking Yahoo' (although there are some links pages and directories who require a link back to them). You will actually have to find the sites to link to and contact the webmaster yourself regarding a link.

Before you start making links, though, you must be prepared. You should have at least one 468x60 pixel banner, one 88x31 pixel button and a short text link about your site, for example:

My Site - Information, links and communites for webmasters

Or something similar. It will be different depending on your site, for example someone selling computers might have:

The Computer Store - Great bargains on computer hardware and software

You should make a page on your website which has these links and the code used to add them to someone else's site (you can copy it from your WYSIWYG editor's HTML code window if you are using one). You must test this before putting it on the internet and make sure the code will point to your image from anywhere on the internet.

Write a little paragraph on this page inviting people to exchange links with you and give them an e-mail address to contact. Then link to it from your site.

You might also want to set up a 'Links' section of your site for you to put all your return links on.

Finding Partners

This is where the real work is. You have now got to go out and find link partners. To get the most out of link exchanges you must target the right sites. There are three things you should look for:

  1. Similar but not identical content. For example, if you sell CDs you will want to exchange links with some bands and entertainment sites but don't exchange links with another CD shop.

  2. About the same size of site. For example, if your CD shop gets 10 visitors a week you should not try to exchange links with huge entertainment sites getting 10,000 visitors a day.

  3. Sites which have other adverts and links on them. For example there would be no point in your CD shop trying to exchange links with a guitar manufacturer who have no banners or buttons on their site.

One excellent way to find sites is to search on the search engines for something to do with your site. Then start visiting the pages until you find one which looks like it fits all the criteria above. Now you can try and exchange links.

Exchanging Links

The first thing you should look for is a section on this site like the one on your site which asks for link exchanges (it could be called 'Link To Us'. If you find it then choose one of the links and copy the code. Paste it into your site and then upload it. You have now linked to their site. Now you must contact them.

If they provide a form on the website to fill in then just fill it in and submit it. More often than not, though, you will need to e-mail the webmaster. This is an art in itself as you want to give the webmaster the right attitude. If they like the look of a link exchange they are more likely to put your link in a better place on their site. Send them an e-mail like this:

Dear <Name> (Try and find out the webmaster's real name. Personal e-mails work better)

I have just visited your site and I think that the information about <information> would be of interest to my visitors.
(Put something abou
t their site in here so that they realize it isn't just a generic e-mail. If they are selling a product you could mention this instead.)

I have placed a link to your site at <link location> and I would appreciate it if you would link back to my site at <site URL>. You can use the following code:

<insert code>

(For this section include the URL of the page where they can find the link to your site. The URL of your site so that the webmaster can look at it and the code for the equivalent link to the one you have placed on your site. For example if you placed a text link to the site then offer the code for your text link.)

Thank You

<Your Name>
<Your E-mail>

This e-mail is just a sample and you should adapt it depending on the site you are linking to. Reciprocal linking requires a bit of thought. It's not as easy as submitting to a search engine.

Maintaining Your Links

It is a good idea to visit the sites you have exchanged links with occasionally. There are two reasons for this. Firstly you should make sure that your link is still being displayed and if it isn't e-mail the webmaster and ask why. Secondly it is sometimes a good idea to sign the guestbook or post a message in the other websites message board. This is not really essential but if you remember that a webmaster who likes you will place your link higher. Webmasters like feedback and message board messages so this might get your link placed higher.

If you have a lot of links it might be a good idea to make a database or spreadsheet listing them all. Include on it the URL of the site you have exchanged links with, the type of link and any other information. Every few months all you have to do is run through this database and check all the links etc.

Part 6

In the next part I will show you how you can increase you visitor numbers by posting messages on newsgroups and message boards, writing articles and using e-mail signatures.

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