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Power packed linking strategies

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If you’ve been sitting and wondering why the traffic to your website is trickling in to your website ever so slowly then this article is intended to help you add some much needed oomph to your marketing campaign by using a linking strategy.

You may have heard that linking to other websites can benefit your website. Here are the three main reasons:

Traffic. By linking to sites with similar themes to your own you can develop a hub of traffic that will always remain constant. There’s an old saying that “a link lasts for all time” and it’s essentially true. There are short termers, shysters and hucksters that try to tilt the playing field but ultimately they are the biggest losers in the link strategy game.

Once links have been placed they generally remain for years to come, feeding your site with a steady stream of reliable traffic. In fact it often happens that some domains which have been given up by their previous owners have thousands of links still pointing to them after many, many years. It may be a slog in the beginning to set up a linking exchange program but you will be rewarded with quality traffic which lasts well into the future.

Popularity. When search engines look at how highly to rank a site on their search engine results pages (serps) they follow an in house algorithm which determines where your site gets placed in the results page. On page factors such as page titles, headings, Meta tags etc all have a bearing on how your page gets ranked but also important is the “popularity” of your website.

The popularity of your site is determined by the links that point to your site. Not just any old links either. The type and quality of the link is also under scrutiny here and so there is no point rushing off and trying to get as many links as possible, you need to track down quality links to your site to gain the best benefit from a linking campaign.

Partnerships. Growing your business in the wired world has many similar facets to establishing a business in a traditional manner.

You need to cultivate and establish your partnerships with other sites to enable growth. Trying to do everything in an insular manner by relying on one method (for example “pay per click”) is certain to end your hopes of building a successful website prematurely. It’s essential that you seek out like minded businesses and work with them to satisfy your customer.

It’s unlikely that you will have all of the necessary requirements in place to satisfy every customer, so just as in the high street, it makes sense to partner with other businesses that can provide the missing components to the overall solution.

Viewed in this way it makes complete sense to seek links with related sites.

For example. A site that specialises in tailored suits would be in a particularly niche market. Saville row tailors are much in demand these days but who would they partner with online?

Traditional linking strategies would have you seeking out similar tailors, maybe from other parts of the country so that you were not in direct competition.

However, thinking laterally, it makes complete sense that someone doing a search on Google for “tailor” would want to see other tailor related sites so that they could compare services.

So an improved linking strategy would be to provide links to related services. For example, one of the most common reasons for getting a new suit is a wedding. So wedding organisers and marquee companies would be good to approach. High class catering services and wedding limousine companies would be other good avenues to explore.

The strategy should be to link with partners who will actually be able to provide a service to your website visitors rather than just linking to a site because you can. As well as the value of the link in your popularity stakes you will also benefit from the increased traffic that the related links provide.

Here is my guide to a linking strategy that packs real punching power.

Link strategy number one:

The Front Page Link Swap.

The most important page on your site is naturally the home page and as this is the page that is most often pointed to by internal and external links this is the page that carries the most “linking power”. This is more usually called “page rank” (Google) or “Yahoo Web rank” (Yahoo).

Important note: If you are promoting an e-book, guide, tutorial or you are using a similar marketing technique then you should make your links come back to the promotional page and not your home page. As this is the page that you will want to go out and compete for you in the search engines.

The way that linking algorithms is of course a closely guarded secret, however it’s known that the more links that you have on a page the less “linking power” is assigned to each link on the page. Thus a links page with 75 links on it is going to give little benefit in link boost and also a small amount of traffic, it is after all competing with 74 other links.

This is where the front page link swap is such a powerful strategy.

By swapping a link from your homepage with a link from another site of equal or greater linking power you are getting a far bigger return in terms of both the link value and traffic than you would for exchanging links on a buried links page.

The downside is that to find willing and co operative webmasters to do the exchange is very time consuming.

Just as you would in your regular business dealings you should make time to seek out potential front page link swap partners. The traffic rewards will really pay dividends.

Link strategy number two.

The One Way Directory Link.

As the power of the link goes up as more and more search engines use it as a method of ranking sites so directories are cashing in on a charge to be listed. What was once a free resource has now become an expensive link gathering exercise.

Still the most important free directory entry is http://www.dmoz.org but these days the waiting list seems to be forever. Seek out directories and place your links at every opportunity. Industry portals are a great linking source.

Link strategy number three.

The Strategic Article Link

This type of link packs the biggest punch of all.

Writing an article on your favourite subject can give you many benefits not least in credibility and giving you recognition as an authority on your chosen subject. It is by far the best way of gaining links and traffic to your site.

The technique is to write an article of five to six hundred words on a subject that you are knowledgeable about. Get several of your trusted friends to proof read and contribute and then refine it into a readable style.

Remember that writing for the web is totally different than writing for other media types. Surfing is a solitary experience for most and it’s important that you capture your reader’s attention and imagination.

For this type of article don’t worry about stuffing it with keywords in your page title and headings, you are not writing for search engines. The aim is to make a highly readable piece that will be distributed throughout all of the websites related to your subject matter in your industry.

So you can’t write? It’s well worth your while to hunt around and find a good copywriter that you can work with. The return on investment is 1000 times what you would ever get from advertising in your local rag.

Link strategy number four

The Reciprocal Link

The classic reciprocal link should be the staple diet of your linking campaign. By linking to other sites of similar interest to your visitor you provide a service and in return you get a link back to your site for your trouble. It’s a win/win situation.

There are several good software packages that can help you manage your linking campaign and I’ve listed several in the resource box at the end of this article.

Link strategy number five.

The Paid Link

For larger corporate companies and for people who simply don’t want to get involved with exchanging loads of links then it’s possible to purchase links.

Why purchase links?

There are several reasons. Firstly if you are putting a lot of time and money into a new site development then you really need good linking power out of the gate. Otherwise you are going to have an expensive site with no traffic.

Purchasing links can give you that jump start required to quickly build a successful site. Try and purchase links from sites related to your site subject. There are several link brokers who can help you find this type of link.

Of course companies who have already built successful internet sites can use their existing real estate to give a leg up to any new start up.

And that’s an added benefit of building a successful internet business; similar to high street chain stores you can pass a proportion of your existing power to help a new business development. This is one major reason why some search engine optimisation companies can really work wonders for your site and others struggle to make any impact.

One useful way of using paid links is to temporarily improve your linking power so that you can garner links from other sites of a similar stature. Many sites that have a high page rank will refuse to swap links with a site of a much lower page rank. Artificially enhancing your page rank will allow you to swap links until your site is big enough to stand on its own two feet and compete. Then the paid links can be dispensed with.

The big drawback with the paid text link approach is that they are expensive. A single front page text link from a high page rank site can cost $2,000 per link. So you better have deep pockets if you want to do it this way.

The cost can become very expensive if no page rank updates occur for a while and you have to keep paying for your links until an update happens. Ouch! Then it becomes a serious drain on your marketing budget.

Linking strategy number six

Use your “anchor text” wisely

If you take anything away at all from this article then you should know this.

Search engines and Google in particular place a high level of importance on the text in your link. It’s one of the most powerful and yet most overlooked part of any linking strategy.

Take this text which a customer could use for their link exchange text:

A: Celtic design studio, we produce handmade Celtic rings and jewellery.

And compare with this

B: Celtic jewellery, Celtic design studio produce handmade Celtic rings and jewellery

Which would you use?

If you chose example A then you are on the path to search engine wilderness. You are only using half of your linking power that you have available.

If you chose example B then you are well on the way to dominating your market sector!

How can such a simple contextual change make such a huge difference to your linking campaign?

It’s to do with your keyword research and the way that the link is presented. Here is how it works:

Taking Google as everybody’s favourite example, we know that a link from site A to site B counts as a vote for that site (B), which means that it must be popular. In turn a link from site C which is an industry portal to site B means that it must be even more popular because site C considers it to be so and is already an important site itself.

Next we examine the text in the link itself. In the first example we have “Celtic design studio” as the text displaying in our link. This means that the votes from our two linking sites are saying “this site is a good resource for Celtic design studio”.

However in our second example we have “Celtic jewellery” as the link or “anchor text” and so our linking sites are now saying “this site is a good resource for Celtic jewellery”!

Does the penny drop for you?

Now, this is where the keyword research comes into play. If you choose your anchor text unwisely then it could take you forever to play catch up with your competitors. If they have been gaining links for several years then you have a lot of catch up to do. However by choosing an alternative keyword phrase that is not so competitive you can swing the link strategy in your favour.

Suffice to say that only one or two inbound links with your keywords in your anchor text can make you rank right up with the leaders – that’s how powerful it is!

Make sure you incorporate the full power of your linking text into your link exchange strategy.

Tony Cooper is the Internet Marketing Manager at http://www.keywordmarketing.com Building web sites that achieve tangible and accountable results.

Power packed linking strategies
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