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Getting Other Sites to Exchange Links Discover the best ways to get other websites to exchange links with yours.

By Jon Rognerud

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In his book Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website, SEO and online marketing expert Jon Rognerud shows you how to build a high-performance website and get top ranking on all search engines. In this edited excerpt, the author offers a few quick tips for getting links from other sites.

It's just as important to link out to other sites as well as work on getting them to link in to you. While some website owners feel that linking out to someone they don't know is a mistake, they're passing up an excellent way to drive traffic to their site. Imagine if this were the case in the social network platforms and the blogosphere!

Exchanging links with other, related websites is a good practice. Try to get links where the competition is getting them, too. However, don't pursue an automated link program for reciprocal links. It's not highly valued, and if not done right (lots of research needed), you could end up in an FFA (free for all) network, among other things.

If you're a local merchant or provide services locally, you should submit to your niche, local directories. Adding yourself to the local search engines Google Local, Bing Local and Yahoo! Local is a start. You can also try paid services like Neustar Localeze or Local.com.

Becoming a member of a local chamber of commerce and engaging there is a great way to create online and offline visibility (especially if you go to all the events and promote yourself and your services). Your local chamber and other trade organizations are intelligent options to include in your marketing strategy. Go to some of their mixers and luncheons. Some of them will let you introduce yourself and your company. It's a great way to develop personal connections, get leads and find customers or clients.

If you're trying to get links from hub sites, when links are coming back to you, (kindly) instruct the webmasters to use keywords for which you're trying to optimize. Make it natural and mix it up--link to the homepage, inner pages and deep/lowest pages in the website structure. Make sure the relevant links point to the correct pages; don't make the common mistake of just linking to the homepage.

The following are the types of links you could get:

  • Page rank (natural link equity; people enjoy your site)
  • Links by "aggression" (somebody might not like you)
  • Contextual and navigation
  • Bartered links (as a favor in exchange for something)
  • Link exchanges
  • Paid links (pay for a directory listing, links from partner and commerce sites). Be very careful with these. Google is out to get you if you don't do this correctly. Consider using the nofollow tag on incoming links.
  • Manufactured links
  • Automated links such as link exchange programs. Use these with caution.
  • Ripped-off links (spam comments on blogs, automated form posts, black hat strategy_

The goal of linking is to build relevant links. Links are like "votes" for your site, as each link functions as a "recommendation" from another site to check yours out.

So, now for the important question: What can search engines do with links?

  • Easily identify the links as two-way or three-way links
  • Adjust or apply metrics and weight to those links
  • Determine the type, the source, the target, the age of the link, etc.
  • Spot paid links
  • Filter by source (reputation passing and PageRank via outbound links, Google-specific)

The search engines also know a great deal about your site, and the technology continues to advance. The search engines know:

  • Age of site, domain name, history
  • IP and address history
  • Easy-to-find one-, two-, three-way links
  • Trust and authority
  • Topic and type (commercial/informational)
  • Default "link weight" (low quality may drag them down, or treat them equally)

Not every link is considered a "good" link. The weakest link types are:

  • Link farms
  • Link spam (comment spam) Web spam
  • Forums and blog commenting with the idea of just getting a link
  • Paid links
  • Run of site (more links on many different sites/pages than on one site; this includes heavy use of Footer links)

Remember that you're aiming for long-term success and not a one-time or short-term benefit. Choose quality over quantity. You're not simply building links for search engine position, but always keeping your customer in mind. Good links will bring you long-term success, so opt for authority and trust. Base your links on merit and editorial voting.

Jon Rognerud

Author and Online Business Consultant

Jon Rognerud is a recognized authority on SEO, who has spent more than 20 years creating and managing web and marketing projects from small to large companies, including positions at online giant Yahoo!. He is the founder of Chaosmap.com, a leading search marketing company in Los Angeles, CA. He plans, builds and delivers profit-making SEO, PPC and Social Media training, consulting as well as breakthrough speaking seminars. He also blogs on his website, http://www.jonrognerud.com

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