Link exchange mythsScott J. Patterson
As competition among websites increase, close attention is being paid to rankings in major search engines. Since a high ranking in a keyword can "make or break" a business, webmasters are looking to find any method to increase their ranking. By examining the algorithms of Google and other search engines, it is easy to see that a high value is being placed on the number of links (and quality) pointing to a website. As a result, most webmasters have realized the importance of finding partners to link to their Internet business.
Although link exchanges are vital to any marketing plan, there are some myths that are perpetuated by many so-called "experts". To run a smart link exchange campaign, it is important to understand these myths and make sure that you do not fall for them.
Myth 1 - Link to every site
When I first started my link exchange campaign, I would link to every site possible. As a result, my rankings suffered. As I learned more, I discovered that I could improve my listings by linking to sites that complemented my own. In order run a smart link exchange program, it is important to focus on linking to sites that are closely related to your product or service without being a direct competitor.
For instance, my original site sells Ethnic Jewelry. So, I look for link partners among other jewelry stores that do not sell the same type of jewelry that is listed in my store.
Myth 2 - All people will add my site if I add theirs first
To receive a link from an Internet business, most people will usually add the site's link first. Unfortunately, not every potential partner will add your link even if you have already added theirs. Sometimes a website is just not interested in linking with your site. The problem is many webmasters will not let you know that they are not going to link to your site. So, you might be linking to a website that is not returning the favor.
A great way to ensure that you are only linking to reciprocal sites is to put each link into a "temporary position" until you receive validation that the site is listing your business.
Myth 3 - The name of my website should be in the title of the link
Another mistake I made when I first started out, was to have the name of my website in the links that were pointing to my business. Eventually I learned that many search engines, especially Google, pay attention to the title of the link pointing towards your site. So, if you are looking for top placement for specific keywords, then they should be used in the title of the link instead of your website name.
Taking the Ethnic Jewelry example from above, your link title would look like this:
Ethnic Jewelry Store: Here we sell evil eye jewelry and Turkish jewelry.
Myth 4 - Only link to sites with a high Google Page Rank
In my opinion, the biggest "Catch-22" for webmasters is that many sites will not link to an Internet business unless it has a certain "Google Page Rank". But at some point, every site has started out with a low page ranking. So how did they get a high ranking if no one would link to them in the first place?
Instead of focusing on a page rank, many successful websites look instead at the quality of the Internet business. If it is evident that the webmaster has taken the time to create a quality site, then you can assured that a high ranking will eventually happen! By linking to a well designed website, you can be ensured that the value of your link will increase as the website gains a high ranking.
Myth 5: Put all the links on one page in no particular order
When the Internet first gained popularity, webmasters used links as a way to help their visitors. Initially, they placed links as way to complement the content of the website. As the important of links increased, the focus shifted from helping the visitor to helping the webmaster.
Instead of dumping your links onto a single page, you can help both your partners and visitors by creating a directory. Here, you place each link partner into a specific category. This will help visitors (and search engines) navigate your site with ease.
Myth 6: I should avoid all types of "automatic" link programs
Many Internet marketers recommend avoiding automatic link exchange software. They feel that using these programs will actually hurt your rankings rather then help. But, there are a lot of great link exchange websites that automate the process of finding links hurting your search engine rankings.
For instance, http://www.linkmarket.net and http://www.gotop.com are two excellent sites that allow you to shop for link partners. When you find sites that are complementary, you add them to your "basket" and the link exchange websites sends out an automatic email requesting the link. These two sites allow you to save time, while avoiding the "black hat" techniques that are prevalent among many automatic-linking services.
While exchanging links can be a time-consuming process, it is well worth the effort. By taking time to properly link to complementary websites, you will find that your rankings in important keywords will improve.
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