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Finding and Managing Quality Reciprocal Links - A Tutorial for The Newbie

All of us want to increase traffic to our web sites. It helps our search engine rankings, and is a very cost-effective way to provide us with potential new customers. One of the best, and certainly least expensive, ways to do that is by exchanging links with sites similar to our own, or that contain content our own visitors are likely to find interesting and useful.

It is important to restrict our exchanges to such sites because if we indiscriminately exchange with everybody and anybody we become what is known as a "link farm" and wind up being banned by the search engines. No one wants to be banned by the search engines, so this article will discuss how to find relevant sites with whom to exchange links, and how to keep track of them after you have exchanged the links. Even though there are software programs that will do most if not all of this for you, they have various flaws and inadequacies. If you are one of those people who prefer the personal touch, this article is for you!

The first thing to do is to type your key words or phrases into a search engine and see what comes up. The sites you see on the first few pages have made it to the top of the search engine rankings. Go to these sites and look around on the home page for the phrase "links exchange" or sometimes just "links." Some sites now use "resources." They will have instructions for how to place a link to their site on your site, and instructions on the information they need from you in order for them to place a link to your site on theirs.

Some have a form for you to fill out; others want you to e-mail it to them. Have your information (your site Title, URL (your home page where you want them to point their link), Description, and the URL of your links page where you have placed their link, your name and e-mail address) saved in a document ready to cut and paste into both forms and e-mails. It will save you tons of time. Always remember that the Golden Rule applies here. You want them to place a link to you on their site so you need to reciprocate. If you are uncomfortable with the content of their links page and would prefer not to be associated with that site, then just move on. There are plenty of others.

Some of the higher ranked sites will have non-content related restrictions about with whom they will exchange or will not links. They will only exchange with you if your site and/or links pages have achieved a certain Google PageRank. Even if you do not have such a page rank yourself, you can request an exchange with such sites but do not be surprised if they decline or ignore you. If your site is new, be sure not to stop looking after the first page or two in the search engines. There are many wonderful sites not on the first few pages and most of them would be more than happy to exchange links with you.

Repeat this search frequently because nothing is static on search engines; you might get different results every day searching for the very same word or phrase!

Once you have exchanged links with a site check out the other sites on their links pages. Some sites have links pages loaded with other sites that would be a good match for you. Go ahead and offer to exchange links with them, also. Beware however that some sites may not have been very discerning in their choices of exchange partners. You, however, will be very discerning and will choose wisely the sites with whom you will exchange links! Be careful not to be too narrow, though. Remember that you want to exchange with sites that have content your visitors may find interesting and useful. If you only exchange with clones or near clones of your site, nobody will be interested for very long.

For instance, if your site is about a particular breed of dog, donít limit your exchanges to other sites about that breed, or even other breeds. Try sites that deal in dog food, dog care in general, grooming products, training methods, dog accessories, shows and other events, etc. Set your site up so that each category has its own page or set of pages, and alphabetize the links on each page by site title if your software does not do that automatically.

What you want to avoid are sites that have nothing whatsoever to do with the main topic of your site. In our example of a site about a breed of dog, avoid exchanging links with sites offering bargain vacations on the other side of the globe, casinos, real estate, music, etc. You get the idea. Remember that people who visit your site are looking for dog related information, not that other stuff.

Now that you have accumulated several pages of links, you need to be able to keep track of them so that you donít request exchanges from the same webmasters more than once. It would be embarrassing for them to respond to your request with "I exchanged with you two months ago" or something like that. So, what do you do if your software does not do it for you?

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