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Crossing The Links Rubicon...

Forget Your Predjudices And Look At Reciprocals From A Different Perspective!

If you frequent the forums of WebmasterWorld, or read some of my other articles, you'll know that there is a lot of debate about about the effectiveness of reciprocal linking, but unless you can pay for an adwords campaign, or are willing to wait years for organic one-way links to develop (by which time your pages could well be out of date) or your content is so brilliant and original that sites link to it in droves, reciprocal linking is the only real way forward to market your website.

Some 'experts' argue that one way links are the way to go - but these are notoriously difficult to get, you'll probably have more luck with organic links being created.

Other experts say that there is no point bothering with a link campaign, but these are usually the people who already have well established sites that attract natural links and link requests, or want you to buy links.

So what do we do and how do we do it?

First we have to cast away our preconceptions about reciprocal links and embrace their potential benefits.

Links were the cornerstone of the web before search-engines. If you found a good site, to find other related sites, you'd visit their link page and surf from there. Two things have stopped this happening, we're lazy and just click back to Google, and too many sites links pages are either poorly organized or unusable.

Google is now trying to get back to basics by detecting and down-grading paid links, so for your amateur webmaster reciprocal links are even more important.

So what we need to do is organize our links pages in a logical order, by category and topic. Then we need to populate these pages with one way links to quality sites that are leaders in those particular categories. Now we can start finding potential link partners, the best way I know is to visit the links pages of top sites, then visit the sites listed there. If they are good sites that your visitors would benefit from looking at, link to them in the manner they describe, and contact them with your details.

If those sites don't link back, no problem, they're in you links directory because they are a resource for your visitors, not to gain Google Page Rank.

Eventually you will start to get reciprocal links. Remember to make sure the links to your site are being listed on pages that have links to similar sites to yours (or the page on your site that they're linking to).

So this means that links to your site from off topic sites are ok, as long as the links page they are listed on are on-topic, and the site itself, in your opinion, is a good and reputable one.

This is a quite controversial view, many think that links to your own site from off-topic sites, no matter how relevant the page, is a very bad idea, and will damage the rankings and traffic for your site from Google and other major search engines, so don't do this without bearing that in mind.

Now a little background. Google ranks sites on a page by page basis, depending on the search string, not the site. That is the secondary basis for getting reciprocal links from non-related sites (but related pages). The primary reason is that you simply don't know what other topics your visitors will be interested in, so why exclude links from your directory, as long as they are well organized and sorted by category.


While we're on the subject of links, lets talk about the links we have on our own internal content pages. I am very guilty of writing content as I would for a newspaper or magazine, I write copy away from the PC, usually on my xda mini s, as an independent piece of text. The article will have no hyperlinks embedded into it; I just copy and paste it into a blank template from my website.

This is a very poor way of writing a website. The internet and html is all about hyperlinked text - the surfer should be able to click text to take them between internal pages and external ones with ease - and we're not talking about navigation, we're talking about reference. An example could be a review of a TomTom Sat Nav. Surely that page should have a link, within the text, to TomTom's product page? Surely every reference to other Sat Navs should link to those related pages. If I know of other similar pages or great reviews surely I should share them with my visitors?

So I should have a lot more links within my content that go to internal and external sources.

My only caveat is that external links open in new windows. I know some people think that isn't a good idea, but I just have to do it!

So there you are, my ramblings on reciprocal and internal linking. Go on, cast aside your preconceptions and cross the linking Rubicon.

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