Reciprocal Link Building That Works

We all know the value of getting links to our site. Links bring you traffic from related sites and boost your search engine rank, which brings you, umm, more traffic. So, basically, links = traffic.

However, gone are the days of simply asking for a link (in exchange for a link from your site) and actually getting one. These days, bland reciprocal link requests such as these almost never yield any benefit because they are simply ignored. Think about this old-school approach from the email recipient's point of view to understand why your link requests are ignored.

Webmasters of quality sites, the ones you want to get links from, are constantly dealing with link requests. 9 times out of 10 the webmaster simply sees "Link Exchange" and deletes the email. I know I do. I have more important things to do than to entertain requests that are most likely for sites that are not even relevant to mine.

And like most webmasters, I don't give the link requester the chance to even prove if it is relevant (meaning, I don't read the email). I've seen so many of these emails that they seem to hit the "Deleted Items" folder as fast as the Viagra spam emails.

So, this is the first hurdle, getting your email read. If your subject line resembles a link request at all, busy webmasters will see it as such and simply delete it. You have to put yourselves in their shoes. What would get you to read the email?

Well, how about starting off by telling them what YOU can do for THEM, instead of the other way around. This simple tactic works much better. Which one would you open:

A) Subject: "Exchange links with xyz.com"

B) Subject: "Love your site! As my way of saying thanks?"

In the body of the email you can introduce yourself and your site, and explain what you are trying to accomplish with your site.

Now, the following method varies slightly depending on what type of site you have that you are trying to get links for. Most sites fall into 2 categories: content sites and e-commerce sites. Is your site offering valuable content to your visitors (such as information on the best local golf courses), or is your site selling something (software or an ebook or something)? Your site will be one of these types.

If it's a content site then the process of acquiring links is much easier, because you simply have to convince the potential link partner that your site would be of value to them and their visitors. You could use an email such as:

"Hi there,

I just saw your site at _______ and think it's a great resource for our new _____ site. Our _____ site is unique because ______(here is where you would stress the value of your site)_________. Check it out at _________. Since our ____ site is like nothing else on the net, and we are quickly becoming the favorite resource for ____.

I am going to add your link to my site in a prominent location (with few outbounds on your link page) and was wondering if you would do the same.

The traffic we can send each other will be highly targeted and both of our visitors would appreciate and benefit from this link swap.

Again my site is at _________. Check it out!

Let me know if you would like me to add your link to the site.

Thanks!

____ (name)"

This type of email works well, and should net you a bunch of links if your content site truly is of value to the email recipient and his/her visitors.

Now, if your site falls under the second category, an e-commerce site, you need to put a little more work into your requests using the following approach. The body of the email would go on to explain that, as your way of saying thanks for a great site, you would like to offer them a complimentary copy of your ebook?or a copy of your software?or provide a service to them (copywriting, ebook design, graphic design)?whatever?in exchange for a link from their site. If they link to your site, you will provide them with something in return, other than simply a link back from your site.

And it doesn't have to be your main product either. You can put together a valuable little bonus for link partners, or you can acquire master resell rights to something that you think would be of interest to them and offer them this. The key is to be creative. If you think about it just a little bit, I'm sure you can come up with something to give away in exchange for some highly valuable links.

I have used this tactic successfully several times and it always works beautifully. People love this because there's actually something in it for them, unlike the dozen other boring reciprocal link requests they simply deleted. Trust me, it works.

But the key is that you have to approach the right sites ? RELEVANT SITES. I can't stress this enough. You cannot simply use this tactic as a blanket approach and send out as many emails as you can. If you do that, there goes the personalization and credibility you are hoping comes across in your email. You have to find only relevant sites that are truly valuable to you as a link partner.

And if your goal is simply to get top search engine rankings and not just the desire to have a ton of links pointing to your site, you don't have to send out hundreds of these requests - if they are properly targeted. This is especially true if you are in a relatively untapped niche market, because only a handful of the right links will get you top search engine rankings. After you get these links you will get listed at the top of MSN in a couple days, Yahoo in a couple weeks, and Google in a couple months. They all index and rank pages differently, but they share a common trait in that they all place an extremely high value on relevant backlinks. More so than any other SEO tactic out there, in fact.

So, how do you find relevant sites? Well, ideally these sites would not only be relevant but also would have a decent Page Rank as well as few outbound links on the page you would like to be linked from. As a rule of thumb, the higher the Page Rank and the fewer the outbound links the better. The PR Prowler program does exactly this. It allows you to enter in the keywords that relate to your site and specify a minimum Page Rank for your potential link partners, then it returns a list of highly valuable and, more importantly, relevant link partners for you and shows you the value of each one as a link partner. It can also email these sites from within the program (and customize each email), so you just have to craft your message and click "Send".

Bottom line: You have to be smart when you approach sites these days. With all the spam laws and email regulations in place, not to mention the resource drain on all those involved, you must only contact relevant sites to get links back to you. And by doing this in a creative fashion whereby the email recipient actually gets something of value in return for a simple link on their site you increase your chances of landing these valuable links tenfold. Not only does this boost your link popularity and search engine rank, but these relevant links are great traffic generators in and of themselves. It's a double-whammy, and an internet marketing tactic you should not take lightly.

Put some work into your link requests, and it will pay off in the end.

Shawn Pringle is the owner and founder of TopNet Solutions, and he has been promoting various web sites online for over 5 years using a variety of clever tactics. His PR Prowler http://www.PRProwler.com software is used by hundreds of savvy webmasters to find highly relevant link partners. He can be reached at [email protected].

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