Developing a linking strategy and building a logical structure and design for your linking directory is a bit difficult and time consuming. Sure,Linking Strategies for beginners Articles you know linking is important, but how to start? In the following article I will try to give some tips and advise.
Let’s suppose you have a brand new website up and running. You have the original content, your structure is ok, your have optimized your site for some interesting keywords, you are confident that there are no irritating html errors and your spelling has been checked. You have put some advertising and some news feeds and you are ready to promote your site.
You want to promote your site through search engine optimization (SEO) and linking. The best part is that both can be done for free and you can get a lot of help doing it. But when you start linking, most advice will tell what NOT to do and it will not help you in any way how to get your first links. Actually, it is impossible to do it right from the start, so we will have to find ways to bend the rules a bit and to find the permissible limits.
Should you use a link manager or linking software?
I would strongly advise against starting with those. Linking software and managers are all very pre-fabricated and not very easy to personalize. Of course it is easy if you have a scripts that allows visitors to send their link request to you, but when you still do not have a lot of traffic that will not mean a lot. And when you still do not have a lot of links (less than 100) you can easily manage them yourself. Use the advantage you have to build your own system and build your own pages. It is very important that your linking pages look the same and have the same design your content pages have: it shows your dedication and you can optimize them more easily. The only advantage you have when you start is that you can invest quite some time to get your links and take a personal angle and approach.
Now let’s see what you SHOULD do when you want to start linking and that is in your own hands to do.
First of all: your linking directories should be themed. If you can put the links to your themed directories on your home page, that would be great! But most people already have a lot of links on their home page and it is not wise to exceed 50 links per page, so most of us will have to create a links directory page. Give it a descriptive name (friends, partners, interesting sites etc), but do not use the “reciprocal links” or “theme index” names because some search engines don’t like them. Your linking pages should be 1 or (at the most) 2 clicks away from your home page. A “search my site” box should be added to further help visitors because most people hate it when they cannot find their link easily.
Think a bit about those themes before you make your pages. What kind of themes would interest your visitors? What kind of sites would be willing to link to you? Find some competitors and complementary sites and take a look at the themes they have in their linking directories and use those to build your own themes. Of course these themes should be related to the content of your site. Mostly these theme directories have names reflecting the BIG keywords like “web hosting”, “work at home” “freebies” etc that target those sites, but that of course depends on the content of your site and your target group.
You need a page telling people how you want them to link to you. Normally that page is called “link to us” or “add your site” or something like that. This page should be directly accessible through your home page, with at least a further link on the link directory page. Most people already know the benefits of linking, but you might add some links to interesting articles about linking on that page!
Now, about your link description! You need to provide your potential partners with a title, url, description, possible categories and main keywords of your site. You will want to include your name and a form to contact you.
The title should include your main keyword phrase, but should not be too long. I would also use one a bit more obscure keyword, one that isn’t used a lot, in your title. Now why would I (or you) do that? Actually it is quite easy to get a high ranking for an obscure keyword even before you have some page rank… Assuming you have submitted your site to some search engines (after you did some SEO) you can type in that keyword (phrase) and easily find the sites that have linked back to you! Another thing is that your title, your text link, should be changed slightly every now and then. When you have a number of links, you should do this to fool the search engines a bit. If (and when) you have hundreds of links to your site that all have exactly the same link description, the search engines could start to think that you use link farms or reciprocal linking sites to inflate the importance of your site (which probably is exactly what you are doing) and they will punish you.
Make a database of your linking efforts. Use a spreadsheet with the following entries: date added, link description (or url), reciprocal url, where found, how contacted, other notes.
Let’s say you have about 20 – 30 theme hidden wiki pages for potential linking partners. Probably you already know some sites you would like to add anyway and you should start adding those (even if they are not likely to link back to you). Choose about 5 of the most important themes you have, type them in a search engine box and link to some on the first page. Just be sure you have SOME links in some of your themed link directories before you start contacting potential partners.
Now you are ready to promote your site with a linking strategy!
Of course you know that one way links are a lot more valuable than reciprocal links, but when you are starting, reciprocal linking is the way to go. Type keywords in your search engine box and start visiting competitors and complementary sites. Take a look at their linking directories and start visiting these sites. Most of these sites are interested in reciprocal linking. You still do not have any Google Page Rank, so you will not be able to impress them with that and you should try other incentives to attract their attention and interest.