Sunday, May 18, 2008

Link Requests -- Part of Your Linking Strategy

There is a secret method of getting links to your website -- ask for them.

It sounds simple, but it isn't. Link requesting is all about relationship building. Websites that give you great quality links will be stingy with outgoing links. It's critical that you connect with the owners of quality websites and convince them that it would be mutually beneficial.

The anatomy of a quality incoming link
  • Websites with large traffic
  • Websites with similar audiences
  • Websites with similar topics
  • Websites with high page rank
  • Links to your page from the most relevant pages
  • Prominent placement of your link on the page
  • Links that use your keywords and title of your website as the anchor text
Do your homework. Investigate the website from which you'd like to request a link thoroughly. The more you know about the website the more likely you will be able to convince the website owner that it's a good fit.

Use tools such as Alexa to determine the size of recent traffic. I recommend downloading Firefox with the Google toolbar. (Please click on the link in the sidebar.) The Google toolbar has a page rank feature. It gives you a general page rank from zero through 10. Anything above three is considered a reasonably good page rank. This is overall page rank not page rank for specific keywords. Even a lower general page rank isn't bad this website is highly targeted to your topic.

Once you've found a good target try to get in touch with the webmaster. If it's a major website they may have many staff members, and usually someone who is in charge of their search engine optimization strategy. This is the person you need to connect with.

Here's what to ask for:

Since you're reading this article, you are probably a blogger. Offer to write a blog entry any exchange for a link to your website. Most websites enjoy it when a blogger writes about them. The benefit for you is that they will likely link to your homepage, while your blog entry will eventually be on an archive page. The outgoing link will have a minimal negative impact, while the incoming link could be very positive for your homepage.

Ask for an article or blog entry that reviews your website. Offer to write the review, or provide them with bullet points. Most websites don't mind your help writing your own review if it's reasonably honest and on point.

Ask them to use correct anchor text when linking to your website. The anchor text should either be in the exact title of your website or should use specific keywords. For my website I either want people to refer to read as "Jason Tweed, the million-dollar blogger" or "how to make money blogging".

Avoid getting links from pages with many outgoing links. Ask for a link from a page that has only a few.

If it's a website without much traffic or a high page rank, ask for a link from their home page. Even if they only offer a temporary link it's much better for your search engine rank.

Try to get as many links as possible to your home page, but if that's not possible how them link to specific blog entries. All of your individual blog entries link to your homepage, so linking to blog entries boosts their individual rank plus has a small impact on your homepage pagerank.

Text links are preferred, but if they use the graphic banner make sure it has appropriate alt text placed on the image.

How to ask for a link:
Make it personal. If you're requesting my e-mail, state your case about how you think it will help both websites. The very specific with your request.

Consider offering an outgoing link without expectation of reciprocation. This is a relationship building process. This can be effective particularly if the other website is much larger and more prominent than your own.

Consider asking by telephone, or even in person. Make it clear that you're a real person interested in building a relationship rather than getting them to contribute to your math equation.

If the first you don't succeed... try again. Reach out to them every few weeks offering to exchange links to boost both of your websites.

Use social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to find contact information and develop a network.

As you grow, people will be reaching out to you. Provide links to people who approach you in a professional manner.

Link requests can be one of the most important and most valuable portions of your overall linking strategy. And their relationship to build with other webmasters can help take your business to the next level.
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