If you have looked into the subject of Internet Marketing at all, no doubt you have come across numerous recommendations to participate in link trading and link exchange, including ours. But what good does it really do?
Frequently, when I am researching a market niche I am about to work on, or reviewing myself by doing searches for terms that, ideally, will bring up the sites of my clients, link pages with links to competing interests or my clients themselves, come up in the search results. If I were a consumer, looking for information on that subject, a good link page with links to five or six companies offering the goods or services I was interested in, would seem to be a valuable resource. If your link appears on one of these types of pages, the chances that someone will end up coming to your site and eventually becoming a customer, have increased substantially.
Consider how people shop online. People want to find accurate information as quickly as possible. Web users tend to love sites where they can click on a classification, and instantly find several companies that are related to their current wants and needs. People like to "Click on their state and find a painter near them", or enter their zip code and "Find a Dentist Near Them". When a website has a link page that is focused on one particular heading and it is easy to find from the website home page, this is a good potential link partner. When a site has a well organized and categorized link directory, this is also a good potential link partner.
There are websites that are using the link exchange scheme to try and attract more traffic and better search ranking, but they do not provide a good organizational scheme, or the subject matter of linking sites is not focused, or the link page, itself, is not readily accessible from the rest of the website. These are links that will probably not help your site very much.
Search giant Google recommends that people do not submit their site directly to them (though they do allow it), but that they find quality websites to link to them. From there, their search engine programs will find your site by following those links. Yahoo!, Google, and other internet search providers try to keep a lot of their information confidential, so as to prevent people from manipulating search results, but there has been indication made public that links to a site, will be considered when determining whether a website is on page one or page six of any search results. The considerations are both quantitative and qualitative. Look for sites that are:
There is a site called Linkpopularity.com where you can enter a web address and poll Yahoo!, Google, and MSN simultaneously to see who is linking to it. Enter a competitor's web address and see who is linking to them. Go to those sites and see how they handle their link trading. Many sites have an automated process right online. Other sites may require that you send an email to request the link exchange. In a case like this, the normal rules of business communications apply:
Another good way to find potential link partners is to search for the keywords you are targeting in your search marketing campaign. When the results come up, take a close look at the descriptive blurbs below each listing. You may find that it says things like "links to jewelers", or "jewelers in New York", or "helpful information about Jewelers". These are probably link pages. The exact web address normally appears between the main title of the listing and the descriptive blurb, or immediately beneath the full listing. If the address contains something like "links.htm", "partners/links", or "home_and_garden/home_improvement/index1.php", it is probably a link page.
There are also sites on the internet, that help site owners and web masters to trade links by operating as "link trade brokers". At these sites, you can set up an account with them, log in, and view a directory of potential link partners. You can visit the sites and evaluate the quality of the sites for yourself and request links as easily as clicking a link or pressing a button. Many offer both free and paid levels of service. In either case, they do help to save many hours of time while participating in a link trade program. Two examples of link trade brokers are LinkMarket.net and LinkPartners.com
Chicago Creative Design is devoted to maintaining the internet as an accessible marketing tool for small to medium sized businesses, meaning that the first recommendation will never be "spend thousands of dollars". There are many, many free resources on the internet, and probably enough that you can do pretty well just using them. When you consider your budget and the cost of a link on a certain page, apply the rule of one: If I get one customer from this, will it pay for the investment? Also try your target search keywords on several search engines, and see if the page asking for payment comes up on them, as well. If the rule of one applies, and the website comes up high on numerous search engines, it may be worth it. Chicago Creative Design uses a combination of paid and free programs.
The Basic Business Website provided by Chicago Creative Design includes a control panel where site owners can enter link information into an online form and add links to their link page, along with instructions on how to use it. This way, you can participate in free link trading without having to call your webmaster or incur additional charges. Internet Marketing features are built in to all of our websites to help keep your costs down.
Link trading is a worth while endeavour, as long as you use good judgement and budget your time and money wisely. It can lead to better search ranking, and direct website traffic generation.