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Reciprocal Linking Etiquette

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Reciprocal linking is of great importance to website owners who wish to achieve good rankings on the major search engines. As a result the internet has witnessed a growth in link’ sites where webmasters can find potential reciprocal link partners. In addition, webmasters are trawling the internet looking for link partners that can benefit their site either through complementary content or high page rankings.

However, as many webmasters can appreciate, when corresponding with fellow webmasters to reciprocate links it can be a very trying process. E-mails are not replied to, links are never added, your links suddenly move or disappear without notice or the proper link details are not used. Such actions lead to wasted time and frustration.

As with most things in life, if a little etiquette is shown and adhered to in dealings between people, matters become a lot easier. Etiquette provides a framework of behaviour within which people can act – drawing lines between what is acceptable and unacceptable. If webmasters begin to show a little etiquette to one another the reciprocal linking process will become a lot less stressful and irritating.

Below are some suggested etiquette guidelines for webmasters engaging in reciprocal linking campaigns:

Have a reciprocal linking policy: If you accept reciprocal links make it clear how other webmasters can submit their sites. Is it simply by e-mail or via link software? Ensure you ask them for all the information you need – i.e. link title, URL, description, reciprocal link page or HTML. If you have categories provide an option. Always provide your link details and state whether or not a reciprocal link must first be added by them in order to be accepted.

Respond to e-mails: When a webmaster sends an e-mail either exploring the possibility of exchanging links or pointing you to a link already added to their sites, respond to their e-mails within 24 hours even if you cannot properly address the issue for a while. This is good etiquette as it lets the webmaster know you have received the request rather than keeping them guessing.

Confirm actions: If you decide to reciprocate a link confirm it with the other webmaster via e-mail. A short simple e-mail providing the URL is enough and shows good etiquette. If you do not wish to exchange links, again send a short e-mail explaining why. This will save the webmaster valuable time either chasing you up or trawling through your links pages to try and find their link.

Stick to your word: If you say you will add a link, make sure you do so. There is nothing more frustrating than being told your link will be added then discovering two months down the line a link was never added. This is very poor etiquette and simply unfair as the other site has provided you with something and received nothing in return. If you plan to add a link let the other webmaster know in what time period it will be carried out even if it is a month away.

Communicate changes: As sites grow and links increase webmasters do occasionally need to rearrange their link pages. Links may be moved to different pages or removed. If either is being carried out let the appropriate webmaster know.

Identify yourself: If your e-mail address does not correspond to your domain name, make sure you make it clear what site you manage. There is nothing more frustrating than receiving an e-mail stating, “Your link has been added,” and not knowing who or where it is from. You are then left to trawl your link details to identify who the new link partner is.

Give others a chance: Many webmasters are busy people. This may occasionally means their etiquette in replying or acting upon a link request slips a little. When this occurs, be patient. If there has been no reply within a week send a polite reminder. However, if there is still no response then it is perfectly reasonable to remove any links you may have added.

Use requested link details: Webmasters have certain keywords they wish to target and therefore use them in link titles. If a webmaster provides you with their link details, pay attention to their request and do not simply visit the site and make up the link details yourself. If no link details have been provided, either provide a link and check whether they are happy with it or simply ask for their details.

Etiquette, etiquette, etiquette: Above all, when corresponding with webmasters be polite, helpful and courteous.

The above etiquette tips for reciprocal linking will hopefully ensure that those involved in the hunt for new links can do so easily and without frustration.

Neil Payne is Director of Kwintessential, a cross cultural communications consultancy.

Reciprocal Linking Etiquette
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