Developing a Dynamite Link Strategy


One of the most crucial elements in Internet marketing is the development of your link strategy. Although it is a time-consuming task to undertake, you will benefit from it in the long run. Links are important for a few reasons:
  • They can build traffic if placed appropriately
  • Link popularity is used by search engines to determine your ranking
  • Spiders have more opportunity to find you with more links


1. Tips

Chances are if you have ever posted a message to a newsgroup or mailing list that you saw an increase in traffic to your Web site while the post was current. As more people post, your message appears farther and farther down the list until it disappears and the traffic subsides.

This is not the case with links. Because links generally stay active for a long time, you will notice that traffic will not go away as in the previous case. As long as the site that contains your link has new traffic, you will continue to receive traffic through it. Having a link to your site on a high-traffic Web site that is of interest to your target market will undoubtedly bring traffic to your site, which will also have a major impact on your ranking in some of the major search engines because some use link popularity in their ranking criteria. Some of these search engines include: 

Some things to keep in mind:

  • It is usually considerate to provide reciprocal links on your site to those who have your links on their sites.
  • Links to external sites should be located two or three levels down in your site so visitors do not leave your site as soon as they arrive
  • Regularly check all links to make sure they are active and are going to the appropriate locations

Other ways to generate links to your site:

  • In a prominent location on your site place a link that states "Would you like to provide a link to this site? Click here." (The link would lead to a page detailing all necessary information and provide any banner ads that could be placed on their Web site. You can also provide a thumbnail icon, the HTML and your tagline, which they can copy and paste into their HTML code on their site.)
  • Provide an incentive for those who provide a link to your site. It could be something as simple as offering a ballot in a monthly in exchange for a link. (Having a giveaway also allows you to be listed on the various Web sites that provide giveaways.)
  • Another variation is to have a "Provide a Link to Us and Win" where you include all those sites linking to you in a draw once a week or once a month, depending on the size of the prize. 

Remember to leverage...for example "for every link to our site, receive an entry for our monthly draw for a ski trip for two", "for each link to our site receive a ballot in our monthly draw for a 2 night stay at our resort" or "link to us and we'll enter you automatically in a weekly draw for 2 tickets to any play at our theater"...you get the idea...

Once you have your link strategy in place you should see an increase in the number of links to your site as well as an improvement in your search engine ranking. 
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2. Tools

There are a number of tools available online to aid you in researching what sites are linked from a particular Web site. Its interesting to know who is linking to your Web site but even more interesting to know who is linking to your competition. Determining what sites your competitors are linked from is key in being competitive and you should consider being linked from those sites.

Web Site Garage

Use Web Site Garage's link popularity checking tool to find out how many sites are linking to you or to your competitor.
http://websitegarage.netscape.com


LinkPopularity.com

Use this utility to find out how many links exist to your site (or your competitor's) and where they are from. Just type any URL into the search box and a report will be generated telling you who exactly is linking to the site. 
http://www.linkpopularity.com

Search for Competitors' Links in major search engines

You can search for competitors' links in the major search engines by entering their URL into the search box using the following methods:

AltaVista - link:competitorsdomain.com
Google - link:competitorsdomain.com

3. Techniques

I have developed two link strategies which will do wonders for your site once implemented. 

Link Strategy One

Step 1 - Gather URLs from competitors and leaders in you industry

  • direct competitors
  • indirect competitors
  • sites selling same products/services
  • leaders in your industry
  • sites selling to same target market non-competing products and services
  • others

Step 2 - Find tools that provide link information

  • WebSiteGarage - Link popularity check
  • LinkPopularity.com - Link popularity tool
  • AltaVista - in the search box type link:competitorsdomain.com
  • Google - in the search box type link:competitorsdomain.com
  • HotBot - enter competitors URL in search box and change "all the words" to "links to this URL"
  • Excite, WebCrawler and other search engines - enter competitors URL

Step 3 

  • Use tools like Web Site Garage to find out links to competitors' sites
  • Check all links for appropriateness
    • take first competitors URL from Step 1
    • put it in link tool from Step 2
    • copy and paste the results into a Word document
    • enter second competitors URL in link tool
    • copy and paste results adding to list
    • continue until you have found links to all competitors identified in Step 1
    • You now have your "Potential Links" list
  • Arrange reciprocal links
  • Follow through and follow up

Step 4 - Develop a Link Request Letter - see Example 1.0 (at the end of the techniques section)

  • let them know you viewed their site
  • compliment the site
  • think your visitors would be interested in their site content
  • think his/her visitors would be interested in your site
  • let's trade links
  • info on linking to your site

Step 5 

  • Visit sites on Potential Link list
    • Good site link?
      • Copy and paste link request and send 
    • Not a link you are interested in?
      • Delete it from your list
    • Duplicate?
      • Delete it from your list
  • When complete your list has changed from a Potential Links to Requested Links

Step 6 

  • Follow through
    • provide link to their site
  • Follow up
    • ensure a link to your site has been put on their site
    • ensure the link works...no http://404 errors
    • ensure link is pointing to right page

Step 7

  • Optional - Submit the Internet address of the page that provided the link to you to the popular search engines to ensure your link popularity score improves with that search engine.

 

Link Strategy Two

Step 1 

  • Make a list of your most important keywords
    • go to your master keyword list you created for search engine friendliness
    • check your meta-tags

Step 2

Step 3

  • Go to each of the 30 Search Engines and input your most important keywords as identified in Step 1
    • copy and paste the results into a Word document
    • at the end of this process you will have 900 potential sites for each keyword
  • You now have a Potential Link list

Step 4 - Develop a Link Request Letter - see Example 1.0 (at the end of the techniques section)

  • let them know you viewed their site
  • compliment the site
  • think your visitors would be interested in their site content
  • think his/her visitors would be interested in your site
  • let's trade links
  • info on linking to your site

Step 5 

  • Visit sites on Potential Link list
    • Good site link?
      • Copy and paste link request and send 
    • Not a link you are interested in?
      • Delete it from your list
    • Duplicate?
      • Delete it from your list
  • When complete your list has changed from a Potential Links to Requested Links

Step 6 

  • Follow through
    • provide link to their site
  • Follow up
    • ensure a link to your site has been put on their site
    • ensure the link works...no http://404 errors
    • ensure link is pointing to right page

Step 7

  • Optional - Submit the Internet address of the page that provided the link to you to the popular search engines to ensure your link popularity score improves with that search engine.

Example 1.0

A generic link request email should look something like this:

Dear Web Site Owner,

I have just finished viewing your site and found it quite enjoyable. I found the content to be very valuable, particularly [customize here]. My site visitors would appreciate your content as I think we appeal to the same demographic group. My Web site http://www.yourdomain.com, focuses on [your site content] and would likely be of value to your visitors. If you have no objection, I would like to add a link to your site.

Sincerely,
Susan

Once you have your list of potential sites to be linked from and your link request letter you can begin sending emails. So, who do you send it to? Usually this information can be found on the site. Webmaster@theirdomain.com is usually best or any variation. If the site does not list an appropriate contact you might try feedback@theirdomain.com by sending your request there or ask for the appropriate address. If no address is listed you can try visiting a domain registration service such as Network Solutions (http://www.networksolutions.com) to find out the contact information for that domain name. Most sites have a "WHOIS Lookup" link. Simply submit the URL in the WHOIS search to do a search on the domain in question. The results should give you the technical as well as the administrative contact for the Web site. The technical contact is likely the best.

4. Resources

I have included a couple of resources for you to check out when developing your link strategy. For additional resources on a variety of topics, I recommend you visit the resources section of my Web site at http://www.susansweeney.com/resources.php. There you will find additional tips, tools, techniques and resources.  

Virtual Promote

This tutorial covers how to promote traffic to your web site with reciprocal links. This is a free service for all web site developers who want to learn more about announcing their web site and promoting more traffic to the Internet.
http://www.virtualpromote.com/guest6.html

An excellent article detailing what your reciprocal link request letter should contain and the logic behind the various components.
http://www.clickz.com/linking/build_links/article.php/831971



Visit my Web site at http://www.susansweeney.com