Exchanging links with sites of a similar topic is the most
effective free form of advertising I have ever found. It really
is the most direct way to improve your web presence. This is the
nature of the Internet... The more paths you have to your site,
the more traffic you will have. If you don't have a link
exchange program, start one today.
What? You don't want links to other sites on your corporate or
e-commerce site? No problem. I addressed that in another article
called "A Tale of Two Sites". You can find it here:
Now that you have an active link exchange program, I can get on
with the real topic of this article. I want to talk about the
importance of having an "Add URL" page and the important
elements of your own Add URL page.
What is an "Add URL" page? It is a page where you describe how
you would like others to link to your site and invite them to
submit a link to be listed on your site. Here is an example
which illustrates most of the points I'll make in this article:
It is a lot of work to get your first 200-300 inbound links to
your site by finding and soliciting link exchanges from other
sites. Once you do that work, you deserve a reward. Having an
"Add URL" page like this one is part of your reward. After doing
all that work, you will have enough traffic that you will start
receiving link requests from your own "Add URL" page with no
work to go find these sites. Pretty cool; huh?
Let's talk about the important elements of your "Add URL" page
that will maximize its effectiveness:
1. Place a link to your Add URL page on the navigation bar that
you use on every page of your site. This page is important
enough to warrant it's own place on your navigation bar.
2. Make your link say "Add URL", not "Submit Site" or "Add Link"
or anything else. Trust me on this. I have already performed all
of the click-thru analysis on every combination of words
imaginable. You will receive your best response if the links to
your Add URL page use the words "Add URL".
3. At the top of your "Add URL" page, use your major keyword in
a large heading. The major keyword for the example page is
"Marketing". You'll notice that it says "Marketing Index - Add
URL" in large type at the top of the page. This will help the
search engines know what your page is about. After some time,
you'll start getting traffic directly to your "Add URL" page
from the search engines for phrases like "<your keyword> add
4. Next encourage your visitor to link to your site before
requesting a link. You'll notice that the example page starts
right out with "First link to my site". Don't be tempted to
start making your visitor jump through hoops to prove that they
have already linked before going on. You want them to submit
their link even if they don't immediately link to you. If
everyone refused to provide a link before the other site linked
to them... well... no-one would ever link up; would they?
5. Guide them in how to link to your site, but leave it up to
them to create a link of their own if they want. There are as
many different kinds of webmasters as there are different kinds
of people. You need to recognize that some are lazy and are only
willing to copy/paste some code you provide... while others have
a very specific format for links on their site and want to do
everything for themselves.
6. For those who want to just copy/paste, provide them
options... but not too many options. You will want about three
text based links of varying lengths. You will then want at least
two standard banner sizes. The two most common are: 468X60
pixels and 125X125 pixels. You may also want to create 120X60
and 88X31 smaller banners. Stick to these IAB standard sizes
because many sites are laid out to require exactly these sizes.
If you don't provide exactly these sizes, the webmaster may pass
you over for exchanging links.
7. Provide an easy way for the webmaster to copy/paste the code
along with a sample of what the link will look like on their
8. In each text link, make sure your major keyword is in the
click-able part of the link text. Many search engines use the
click-able part of the link text for links on other sites to
determine the appropriate keywords for your site.
9. For the banner links, make sure the "Alt" tag contains your
keyword. This is what will be displayed for surfers who are
surfing without graphics capability (or who have turned off
their graphics capability). It is also what the visually
impaired will hear when they "read" the page with their
equipment. It is also what some search engines will use to
determine the topic of your site.
10. Also include a text link below each banner with your major
keyword. Many webmasters will delete this part, but some will
keep it. Text links receive a much higher click-thru rate than
banners. You want to give every opportunity for the webmaster to
give you a text link... without forcing the issue. You don't
want to give up a banner link if that's all the webmaster is
willing to offer.
11. Have a simple form to request a link on your site. Ask the
minimum amount of information you need to provide a link. The
example asks for URL, Title, Description, and Category. If you
don't need any other information, don't ask for it. Some
webmasters will turn away if they are faced with a daunting form
asking for a bunch of nonsense information.
12. EXCEPT: Ask for their email address. This is important. You
want the ability to contact them if your link disappears from
their site. You also want the ability to send them a reminder to
link back to you if they haven't already.
13. Add the link right away when you receive a link request from
your form. Send a confirmation email letting them know that you
added their link and where they can find it on your links pages.
Some webmasters have dozens of sites. They will submit your form
for just one site. When they see how fast you add their link,
they will be back to exchange links with perhaps dozens of other
14. Check the links you receive in this way periodically to
ensure that they are still linking back to you. If not, send
them a friendly reminder. Often dropping your link will be a
simple oversight during a site redesign. Don't assume otherwise.
15. Never use their email address for anything else. Trying to
sell your product to your link partners is NOT very effective
and will likely annoy them. You may lose your link on their site
or worse. Be responsible with their email address and only use
it to communicate about your link exchange.
That's it. If you follow all of these steps, you can start
receiving inbound links without doing any of the work to go find
sites to exchange links. Of course, you will have to do that
work in the beginning to get enough traffic to your "Add URL"
form, but then you can rest a little and reap the rewards of
your hard work.
About the author:
James D. Brausch, is the Vice President of Marketing for Target
Blaster, Inc., an Internet Marketing firm specializing in
targeted traffic. http://www.TargetBlaster.com