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Vol. 1 issue #85  Oct 22, 2003


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Linking Strategies for Online Businesses
2003 By  Angela Wu

Building the number of relevant, inbound links to your website is an ongoing task -- but it can have tremendous payoffs in terms of increased traffic, more credibility, and thus additional profits.

Here are a few strategies to help improve your link popularity:


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1. Create a Links Directory.

   If you have a content-rich site, a quality, relevant, and comprehensive links directory is a great way to encourage repeat visits. It offers a convenient resource that people can refer to time and time again -- plus they may tell others about it as well. Don't underestimate the power of referrals!
   You can choose to ask for a reciprocal link from the sites that are listed in your directory. Hand-pick these sites and visit them first to determine whether or not they are suitable for your directory before you send a personalized reciprocal link request to the appropriate address.

   There are a number of tools that can automate the creation and maintenance of a links directory. However, if you allow people to submit their own links, consider screening each link manually before posting it on your site. You'll have better control over the quality of the sites listed, and help to minimize dead links while also providing your visitors with a valuable resource.

   Two tools that can you locate potential link partners are:

   * Web Ferret: http://www.webferret.com/
   * Zeus: http://www.cyber-robotics.com/

2. Write and Distribute Articles.

   Websites and publishers are always looking for quality fresh content. Offer reprint permission for your articles in exchange for credit and a resource box with a link back to your site. Submit your work to one of the many "article banks" online, as well as to any appropriate syndication channels.

  If your writing is popular, over time you will build a large number of links back to your site. Articles also have the advantage of building not just your traffic, but also your credibility as an expert in your field.



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3. Update Your Website Content.

   If you wish to allow other sites or publications to
use your content, display your publishing terms above or below each article. For instance, you might grant reprint permission if the publisher contacts you first. Or you may simply allow reprinting without notification, provided that your business gets credit for the article along with a link.

   You can make it easy for others to pick up your article by offering it, already formatted, by autoresponder.

4. Get Your Product or Website Reviewed.

   Some websites accept product or website suggestions, so get in there and suggest your own! You can also use site announcement lists, send press releases, or use forums (if acceptable within the rules of the forum -- ask for moderator approval first).

   A great review, particularly on a popular site, can generate a surge of interest in your business. Some of these people may even bookmark your site for later reference or sign up for your newsletter. So not only do you get a link, but you also get possible future sales!

5. Make It Easy for Others to Link To You.

   If you offer a valuable resource, you'll find that other sites will just naturally link to you -- often without telling you. You can make it as easy as possible with a "Link To Us" page that offers the graphics, text links, and HTML code they can use on their own sites. If you have terms or conditions for linking to your site, display those too.

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6. Build A Community.

   People like to feel as if they belong somewhere, and an online community is one way to do just that. For instance, message boards and discussion lists are popular -- if you have the time and the willingness to create, promote and moderate them. Other sites may link to popular communities, even to specific topics or pages within the community.

7. Submit Your Site.

   Many sites will accept free submissions. Go to a search engine such as Google ( http://www.google.com/ ) and type in:

   "search phrase" +"suggest a site"

Replace "search phrase" with a phrase that's relevant to your business - for instance, if you sell exercise tapes, you could try "women's health", "lose weight", or "health and fitness".

   Other phrases you can try in place of "suggest a site" include "add a site", "add URL", "suggest a URL", and so on. If you're not interested in trading links, do this:

   "search phrase" +"suggest a site" -reciprocal

   Take a few moments to browse each site to ensure your site is compatible with theirs. If they sell their own brand of exercise tapes, for example, they may not be willing to link to yours. View the other links that have been accepted to get an idea of who they're willing to link to. Aim to get linked on popular and useful websites, rather than simply on "as many sites as possible".

Increasing the number of inbound links to your site doesn't have to be an arduous task. Even an hour or two a week will help to continuously build your website's popularity over time.

Angela is the editor of Online Business Basics, a practical guide to marketing a business on a beginner's budget. This guide offers loads of instantly useable tips and links, in a down-to-earth style that even marketing "newbies" can understand! A helpful Online Business Dictionary is included too... visit: http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/article.htm
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