Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me A Link
by LinksManager.com/LinkPartners.com Staff © 2007, Reproduction without permission strictly prohibited.
A Guide On How To Find Relevant Quality Link Partners
All company and product names in this document are the property of their respective copyright and/or trademark holders.
That question is this: What's the best way to find potential quality link partners?
Truthfully, there is no "best" way. There isn't even any "one" way that will give you the kind of robust, healthy, truly useful link and resource pages needed to impress today's highly selective, sophisticated web surfers and search-engine ranking algorithms. There are numerous ways to locate optimal linking partners - and to encourage them to find you - and while you won't have to use all of them to build an awesome linking empire, you will need to employ more than one.
The first step in acquiring good links - reciprocal or one-way - is to put your house in order, to make your website (to steal a slogan from the marketing gurus at the Pentagon) all that it can be. To negotiate successful link exchanges with winners, to encourage winners to link to you even without reciprocation, you have to present potential partners with a winning website of your own.
That doesn't mean your site has to have a six or seven page rank or thousands of unique visitors a month.
|There are some webmasters who won't link to a new site without much of a track record, most make their decisions on other factors -- such as the relevancy and the quality of the site requesting the link..|
All small and medium sized business sites start pretty much equal, without great page rankings and search-engine return positions and
with very few visitors. And while there are some webmasters who won't link to a new site without much of a track record, most make their decisions on other factors -- such as the relevancy and the quality of the site requesting the
link. The theory is that a truly superior site will eventually earn a high page rank and lots of traffic so it's better to link up early and stay linked.
So, absent a URL guaranteed to draw an immense amount of traffic (think microsoft.com), what constitutes a "superior, winning" site that webmasters will want to link to?
Pretty much the same things that make a site one that customers will want to buy from.
Good, solid, factual information about the products and services offered. Nice, but not necessarily spectacular, graphics with a clean interface and logical menus that allow customers to navigate around the site easily and intuitively. Good spelling and grammar, crisp well-focused pictures and high-quality outbound links to other resources that help the end user learn more about your own product or service. There's nothing, really, you need to do to make your site more inviting to potential link partners that you shouldn't also do to make it more attractive to customers.
End of step one. You're site's all polished up and gleaming and ready to go linking. An obvious first step is to visit LinkPartners. It's free, it's neatly categorized, it's got tens of thousands of listings of websites who are looking for link partners in every field of endeavor from "A" to "W" (no "X," "Y," and "Z" categories yet, drat it) and, best of all, all the sites listed have been individually vetted by human editors to make sure they live in decent neighborhoods and don't harbor spammers or other lowlife.
A visit to LinkPartners.com, however, is just the first step on the road to link dominance. With close to 100 million (or is that 200 million) websites on the Internet, a listing of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of possible link partners leaves an awful lot of potential link partners still at large.
There may be many other ways to filter all those millions down into a nice handful of 50, 100 or 200 potentially great link partners to send link requests to, but we only know of one: Intelligent use of search engines.
Before starting your first search, consider your demographics. Who are your potential customers? It isn't enough to say, "I sell fishing gear." Google returns over 4,000,000 hits for fishing gear out of which the 1,370,000 which return for fishing gear sales are your competitors and probably not the kind of link partners you want.
What kind of businesses would be good, non-competitive link partners for your fishing gear site. How about fishing resorts? People from all over the world travel great distances to get to these resorts and most of them are better off financially than anglers who haul off to the nearest stream during their lunch break to troll for dinner. For you, guests at fishing resorts are probably a highly desirable demographic.
Unfortunately, Googling fishing resorts still brings in over two million hits. And using quotes - "fishing resorts" -- only gets it down to a bit over 200,000. You could narrow the search down geographically by specifying a country or region or you could limit your search to a specific kind of fishing like "fly" or "bass." But maybe there's a better way. Maybe it would be easier to take the path more traveled.
|Since search engines look suspiciously at hordes of links appearing on a site in a very short period, it's best not to add more than 10 or 15 at a time.|
Visit a bunch of sites listed in the fishing lodge directories, decide which ones would be the best fit for you and look for a link to the site's suggest link form (if they publish one). Always use link request forms (also called add link, suggest link, recommend a link - forms) when provided because many webmasters will ignore link request email when they publish an easy to find link request form. If you do not find a link request form, then send a concise link request email. When using a link management system such as LinksManager, make sure to include a link to your add link form page in the email so that potential link partners can simply click and request their link. If you don't know your add link form URL, it's usually hyperlinked from your links menu page.
The next step is easy: Stop and do nothing for awhile. Wait a decent interval for responses from your first emailing before sending out a new batch of requests. There are several reasons for this. First, most of the people who accept your requests will want the link established at once. Since search engines look suspiciously at hordes of links appearing on a site in a very short period, it's best not to add more than 10 or 15 at a time.
It's also possible that your first batch of link requests won't get as much positive response as you would like. In this case, you should take another look at the content of your request email and try to improve it, perhaps by making it more personal or specific. In that case, delaying sending out your second mailing will have prevented you from approaching a lot of good potential partners with an invitation that wasn't working.
You could also try this extremely useful technique for increasing the percentage of webmasters who respond positively to your link requests: Add the words add link or suggest link to the end of your search query. This will give you a list of sites that are relevant to your site AND include integrated "submit link" forms. Since webmasters who post submit link forms are looking for link partners, these sites are really needles - actually gold nuggets - in the search return haystack. Another way to look at it: Link request forms = low hanging fruit! Webmasters who publish forms that exist solely to receive link exchange requests are more likely to reciprocate a link request.
Googling "fishing lodge directory add link" (without the quotes this time because you are looking for a combination of these keywords, not the exact phrase), for instance, delivers an easy to manage list of 25 relevant sites at the top of the search results most of which are actively soliciting link partners. Try different variations such as "fishing lodge suggest link" or "fishing charter recommended links". When you consider all of the variations, you will quickly realize there are virtually limitless options for locating quality link partners in your market segment.
You might be thinking "I don't have time for this. I need someone to do this for me". Be careful when outsourcing link building to a third party. Look for a reputable company that has years of experience in the business before outsourcing something as crucial as link development. LinksManager.com is now offering managed service. Contact the LinksManager sales group to inquire about their managed service.
The truth is that link building can't - and shouldn't - be rushed. Trying to get hundreds of links in a short, frenzied period of hyperactivity can easily lead to trouble with the search engines as irrelevant links and - worse - unethical sites graft themselves onto your link page like barnacles. Link exchange should always be viewed first and foremost as a long term branding function, and secondly as a search engine optimization function. Never the other way around.
|Link request forms = low hanging fruit! Webmasters who publish forms that exist solely to receive link exchange requests are more likely to reciprocate a link request.|
Once you've got your link exchange "snowball" rolling downhill, it's time to start considering ways to encourage other site operators to link to your site without asking you for a reciprocal link. Like reciprocal links, one-way links can drive traffic to your site and are one of the line items on most search-engines' scorecards. There are many ways to attract one-way links. Some of them, like regularly posting exclusive content about politicians' malfeasances or celebrities' romances, are wildly impractical for 99-something percent of all webmasters. Others, like setting up affiliate programs or purchasing links from a broker, can be expensive and counterproductive search-engine wise.
Fortunately, the ever evolving nature of the web has provided some excellent vehicles for causing other webmasters to one-way link to your site: link-bait articles, blogs and electronic media releases. All of these elements have two things in common. They are part of the reason why the phrase "Content Is King" has become the mantra of the search-engine optimization business and they are about sharing unique, compelling information. A link-bait article is exactly what its name implies, something on a website that is so interesting or important that it is picked up as a discussion topic on web forums, gets cited by bloggers, referenced on other websites and, eventually, because of all the organic links from the forums, etc. achieves a high return in search-engine queries.
|The ever evolving nature of the web has provided some excellent vehicles for causing other webmasters to one-way link to your site..|
Going back to our example. As an expert in fishing gear, you're aware that the salmon fishing industry in the northwest, which once generated several hundred million dollars a year in tourist revenue, has been virtually non-existent since the Army Corps of Engineers built a series of dams that prevent fish from swimming up the Salmon River to spawn. You also know that there has recently been agitation by sportsmen, environmental groups and the tourism lobby to have at least some of those dams demolished. An authoritative article - or series of articles - on this controversy would be excellent link bait for your site.
Particularly if posting the articles was accompanied by an electronic media release announcing that a definitive article on the "endangered species" nature of salmon in Idaho was now available. Unlike printed press releases, electronic press releases distributed to online publications, forum and newsgroup moderators, and news sites almost always have hot links to the site which originated the release. If a hundred sites "pick up" your release and publish it, that's 100 one-way links to your site. Quickly and economically.
Blogging, the latest Web prodigal child, is an excellent way to improve search-engine visibility both directly and as link bait. Here again, the key is making the blog postings interesting and on topic. If you've got a fishing gear site, it does you little good to write a wonderful blog about the glories of Paris. You may get some links from other travel bloggers and some hits when people Google "left bank," but how many of the people who see those links are likely to visit your site and spend $3,000 or so dollars on a Winston bamboo fishing rod?
There is one other crucial element in using King Content to attract non-reciprocal, one-way links to your site: Quality. The effectiveness of a link-bait article, blog or e-media release is directly dependent on how well it is written, how intelligently it uses keywords to keep it in focus for end users and search engines, and the degree to which it is unique from other articles on the same subject circulating throughout cyberspace (just like this article you are reading now which was written by a professional copywriter).
For more on creating effective web copy of all types, visit our sister site GetWebContent.com.
Obtaining links is an important subject, making this one of our longest Linking School articles, but don't be daunted by all the words. The important thing to remember is that when it comes to finding partners and exchanging links, search engines are your friends, not your enemies.
When your site is new and just starting to make its almost invisible way in this virtual world of ours, the search engines make it possible for you to locate prospective partners who are a perfect fit for your particular business. Once your site is up to speed and has achieved a good degree of visibility, the search engines will guide potentially advantageous link partners direct to your portal without any effort on your part.