It is a well-known fact that the number of important relevant inbound links to any site counts in its Google PageRank and position in search results. Hence the quest for inbound links from other webmasters is the beginning of wisdom. This has spawned a whole new industry with experts in tow. The Webmaster world is abuzz with linking campaigns. Every Webmaster wants his site to show up on page one of search engine results.
Getting quality inbound links takes a lot of effort. Quite a number of link exchanges have sprung up to make the job easier for busy webmasters. Like a dating agency, you register and seek, or wait for suitors. Within 24 hrs, they arrive in droves. Wish that was the end of the story. Sadly, it is not, in my experience so far. Practically 100% of my suitors come from a different planet. Our sites are totally unrelated. What has financial freedom got to do with renting a holiday bed-sit in Acapulco? Well, it may come in handy for dreaming.
It makes me wonder, do these webmasters fire before they aim? What is the purpose of link exchange by the way? Let’s go back in time
Once upon a time, before Google made linking Holy Grail, links were simply additional resources for the audience, on topics which are not core to the theme of the site, but complimentary. For example, a site on fish farming would feature links to sites that deal with fish food as a core theme etc.
Before adding the links, the Webmaster would have checked out the site, see what it offers, and make a judgment based
on the best interest of his audience. “Does that site offer quality fish food?” He will check out the fish food on offer. As a matter of fact, the Webmaster can take it further and negotiate a discount for visitors from his site who may wish to buy fish food from that site. Then he can boldly say, “Recommended Link”. This means he had taken time out to check out the site, and certifies it fit for his audience. His “trust me” then comes from the heart.
Nowadays, you see bold disclaimer notices on link pages. Something to this effect:
“Visit the sites listed hereunder at your own risk. If you believe what you see on these sites, you are on your own. You have only yourself to blame”.
Funny and sad; makes one wonder, if a site’s content is deemed harmful to your audience, why link to it in the first instance? If you have managed to gain the trust of your audience as an expert in your field backed by integrity, why send them to a site you cannot vouch for?
Am I against link exchanges? NO!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am for it. But I believe the Webmaster should put on the table, a tiny little bit of his name and integrity behind every link he features in his link pages. His audience should be able to relax a bit and drop their guard once they click on a link from their favorite site. Otherwise, I believe webmasters should weed off all links they cannot vouch for to some extent. You may not be able to take full responsibility for what stunts the other Webmaster may pull, but you should be able to watch out for the interest of your guests visiting that site, and yank of that site from your link pages (alongside warning folks that have already landed there) if you find out something questionable about that site, no matter how much traffic that site sends you or boosts you Google PageRank. That spells integrity.
Some “experts” recommend; “if you link to a guy and he does not link back to you, remove his link and move on”. Hey! Are you saying if a site has content your audience may be dying to see, and the Webmaster of that site does not feel like linking you, then no matter how good and valuable that site is, yank him off your link pages? What is the issue here? Your ego or your audience?
Who loses? Your audience of course!
For the rookie Webmaster, do not be enamored by the number of links to your site you have been able to garner. Apart from the quality of the links and how they complement the content of your site, you should always have at the back of your mind, THE BEST INTEREST OF YOUR AUDIENCE. If you send them to a site where they get their fingers burnt, they will not trust you anymore, your PageRank notwithstanding. More than anything else, you need to inspire trust in your audience. If you fail on that score, then you can have your PageRank for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The temptation is great to jump to the top of search engine rankings a few days after opening day. If you cut corners to get to the top, your site will be among the first to be axed when major search engines like Google tweak their algorithms, which they do often. You will appear on page one for a season, and when you come back, you are off the radar. You’ve had your 15 minutes of fame. If you are a marathoner, you will go the distance.
Getting quality and important inbound links to your site takes a lot of patience and perseverance. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time, and keep at it, even when the results are not obvious. Before long, you will show up at the top. The big sites that throw their weight around for practically every word that appears on their site have been around for a while. Some of them even have link managers; a fella whose sole job is to source for links and manage their link pages. If you are a small guy, you may not beat them at linking, but if you have a high quality unique content site, when content counts, you will overtake the big boys.
So, don’t go about requesting for link exchanges from every Tom, Dick and Harry. Research the site you want to approach. Determine if it has unique quality content that complements your site, and is useful to your audience. Take it step-by-step, day-by-day. Before long, your link pages will overflow to page two etc., and sometime soon, you will appear where it matters for valuable keywords that will bring targeted traffic to your site and boost your conversion ratio. And when you get to the top, you will remain there if you do not relent in your efforts. You will not suffer a stroke when Google and Co. tweaks their algorithms. Slow and steady wins the race.
Another fact webmasters often overlook is that if you have a high quality site, other webmasters will link to you, sometimes without asking for a reciprocal link. I have seen some strange links to my site in my traffic logs, from sites I never requested for a link from. If you are the best in your field, the world will make a beaten path to your door. That saying holds true also for linking. As a matter of fact, visitors to your site may feel so inspired by your site that they suggest your site to other sites and directories without your knowledge. They go beyond “tell-a-friend”. They tell other sites about you. People are tired of low/zero content affiliate sites that litter the web and jump at you as pop ups, pop unders, pop sideways and pop overs etc. They pop at you, and before you know what has hit you, you have two or more new windows open in your browser. Some are funkier. They slide like ice skaters into your view from all directions. After getting mauled by popping sites, a high quality site with unique content is like a breadth of fresh air.
So as you go about scouting for links, stop for a moment and take a second look at your site. Go out the door and come in as a visitor. Is your site the type of site people will willingly link to if Google and Co. does not care a hoot about links? Is linking to you a pleasure or out of obligation?
Best wishes in your linking campaign.
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