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How To Make NetLinking Work For You          Print the current page
by Brian D. Chmielewski

It's commonplace. If you know even the most basic HTML, you know how to create a hyperlink to and between web pages. This concept is the same one behind the now massive web site classification and search tool industry.

Getting links on other web sites works to bring you traffic. Earning targeted, and even better, privileged or principal link real estate on web sites can deliver greater, more responsive traffic. Beyond bringing direct traffic to your web site, links can also improve your relevance for certain keywords within the search engines. Often, this promotional strategy requires little more than your time to perform research, send personal email messages and build relationships. Today, i'll share some basics from a lesson plan on strategic linking in my Certified Internet Marketer workshop, illustrating how to build a successful linking campaign.

Basic Linking Strategy
Marketers have a fixation with search engines and directories. Where am I ranked? What am I ranked for? How can I improve? In every situation, supplying the why's for positioning and the how's for improvement can differ, depending on the time of day and who you speak to. With linking, there is no nebulous unrevealed process, there is just a way to earn links and a better way to earn links. When done properly, contacting web site owners directly via email for the purpose of obtaining a hyperlink relationship is not considered spam. Perhaps it is the petition for an alliance or link, rather than the request for a purchase or business transaction that defines the difference between the two. Despite the reasons, strategic linking is one of the most important tools available to marketers. The tactic requires only a marketer's time in research, message development and distribution and sometimes their willingness to add a reciprocal link. The benefits include a new source for targeted traffic and improved search engine popularity. Here are the basic steps for success.

1. Perform research, looking for those sites that would like to have a link on. Make this your wish list and be exhaustive in your efforts to think of new places on the Web where you might find traffic. If you are the manufacturer of light weight, compact umbrellas made from space age polymers, you would seek links on sites focused on weather, luggage or travel, but targeting sites related to golf, corporate or business gifts, or geography's with a high propensity for precipitation would also be warranted.

There are several ways to find potential linking partners. You can:
a) search by keyword at the search engines, visit the web sites, find the email address and contact the web site owner.
b) Use a product like Atomic Harvester by Impact Email to search the Web by targeted keyword and supply the URL's for linking. You should visit the URL's on the list to ensure that the web site meets your requirements. You should aim for sites with a nice layout, good content and existing links. Although, you may not have the flexibility in list size to be choosy.

2. In a Microsoft Excel document of piece of paper, create five columns, which will contain the web site name, contact email address, URL, something neat about the specific site and date of initial contact.

3. Having researched the sites that you will contact, write two or three email message templates. These will be used for first contact. You may feel it more appropriate to have one type of message for a small or home business and another for a large corporation.

4. Using the information in the Excel document, fill in the template with the web site name, something neat about the site that you liked and a reason why this link will be beneficial to the recipient's web site visitors. Thank them in advance and ask if there is something that you can do with your web site to return the favor.

5. Keep track of which web sites respond to you over the next two weeks and try to strengthen your alliances with those who react positively since you never know where the relationship might lead.

6. Upon confirming links, send thank you emails showing your gratitude.

7. Now send a second inquiry to those sites that didn't initially respond. In it, confirm your interest in earning a link on the recipients web site and request the contact information of the web site's decision-maker. Repeat steps 5 and 6.

Challenges:
* Web site owners have become pretty sophisticated when it comes to getting something for nothing, so be prepared to add reciprocal links on your web site for those that request this. Don't be afraid of giving a visitor to your web site a way to leave, rather be encouraged by the fact that they found a useful resource on your web site. Your visitor is going to leave you eventually, so why not help your visitors. If you prefer, you can always add the TARGET tag in your <A HREF= anchor. This will open up a new browser window upon clicking on that link, keeping your web site alive in the original window. Since some users don't have sufficient RAM or use an older browser version, you could be the reason that their computer crashes. Can you live with that?

* Even if you make the offer of a reciprocal link, some recipients won't oblige you. Since you're competing with their affiliate member links, you may need to develop your own affiliate program. For instance, an international telecommunications provider is presently building a system that tracks the number of clicks on links to outside sources. If those clicks reach a certain threshold, the program is triggered to send an email to the link owner, sharing the traffic statistics for the log and asking for payment of the link if it is to remain there in the future. If the payment is made, the link remains, otherwise the software places the link in a queue to be removed from the site. Is this the future of linking?

* The process of soliciting for a link is a delicate one. With the amount of spam mail being passed about, you must make ever attempt in your subject line and in your message to dissuade the recipient from thinking that you're a spammer. Serious measures require you to pick up the telephone.

Expanding Link Popularity
One you confirm the link to your web site, visit the major search engines and submit only the page < http://www.thelinkedsite.com/specificpage.html > where your link appears. This will get that page indexed and along with it, the link to you. Since some of the search engines derive relevancy from link popularity, it is in your benefit to get all of your link partners indexed in the major engines. Furthermore, if sites you have established a linking relationship with are listed properly in the search engines and they share similar keywords, it can improve the chances of finding your business.

A Final Note
If your web site has distinctly different sections within it, it's in your best interest to perform segmented strategic linking to get targeted sites to deep link to the exact location that will suit their audience. For instance, a sporting goods web site would be able to perform several segmented strategic linking campaigns to take advantage of targeted traffic. Rather than approaching web site focused on fishing with a http://www.sportinggoodsexample.com, it would be more appropriate to offer them the linking URL, http://www.sportinggoodsexample.com/fishing . This is a simple strategy that can drive substantial amounts of targeted traffic and shows the linking host that you’ve thought about a resource to help them in their efforts.

Of course, if you're more comfortable having a professional perform one of many strategic linking campaigns for your Web business, feel free to visit http://www.upromote.com/netlink to learn more about our NetLinking service.