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Linking Strategies for Online Businesses.
by Angela Wu  Copyright.

Building the number of relevant, inbound links to your 
website is an ongoing task -- but it can have tremendous 
payoffs in terms of increased traffic, more credibility, 
and thus additional profits.

Here are a few strategies to help improve your link popularity:

1. Create a Links Directory

If you have a content-rich site, a quality, relevant, and 
comprehensive links directory is a great way to encourage 
repeat visits. It offers a convenient resource that people 
can refer to time and time again -- plus they may tell 
others about it as well. Don't underestimate the power of 
referrals!
   
You can choose to ask for a reciprocal link from the sites 
that are listed in your directory. Hand-pick these sites 
and visit them first to determine whether or not they are 
suitable for your directory before you send a personalized 
reciprocal link request to the appropriate address.

There are a number of tools that can automate the creation 
and maintenance of a links directory. However, if you allow 
people to submit their own links, consider screening each 
link manually before posting it on your site. You'll have 
better control over the quality of the sites listed, and 
help to minimize dead links while also providing your 
visitors with a valuable resource.

Two tools that can help you locate potential link partners are:

   * Web Ferret: http://www.webferret.com/
   * Zeus: http://www.cyber-robotics.com/

2. Write and Distribute Articles

Websites and publishers are always looking for quality 
fresh content. Offer reprint permission for your articles 
in exchange for credit and a resource box with a link back 
to your site. Submit your work to one of the many "article 
banks" online, as well as to any appropriate syndication 
channels. 

If your writing is popular, over time you will build a 
large number of links back to your site. Articles also 
have the advantage of building not just your traffic,
but also your credibility as an expert in your field.

3. Update Your Website Content

If you wish to allow other sites or publications to use 
your content, display your publishing terms above or below 
each article. For instance, you might grant reprint 
permission if the publisher contacts you first. Or you may 
simply allow reprinting without notification, provided that 
your business gets credit for the article along with a link. 

You can make it easy for others to pick up your article by 
offering it, already formatted, by autoresponder. 

4. Get Your Product or Website Reviewed

Some websites accept product or website suggestions, so 
get in there and suggest your own! You can also use site 
announcement lists, send press releases, or use forums 
(if acceptable within the rules of the forum -- ask for 
moderator approval first).

A great review, particularly on a popular site, can 
generate a surge of interest in your business. Some of
these people may even bookmark your site for later
reference or sign up for your newsletter. So not only 
do you get a link, but you also get possible future 
sales!

5. Make It Easy for Others to Link To You

If you offer a valuable resource, you'll find that other 
sites will just naturally link to you -- often without 
telling you. You can make it as easy as possible with a 
"Link To Us" page that offers the graphics, text links, 
and HTML code they can use on their own sites. If you have 
terms or conditions for linking to your site, display those 
too.

6. Build A Community

People like to feel as if they belong somewhere, and an
online community is one way to do just that. For instance,
message boards and discussion lists are popular -- if you 
have the time and the willingness to create, promote and 
moderate them. Other sites may link to popular communities,
even to specific topics or pages within the community.

7. Submit Your Site

Many sites will accept free submissions. Go to a search
engine such as Google ( http://www.google.com/ ) and type
in:

   "search phrase" +"suggest a site"

Replace "search phrase" with a phrase that's relevant to
your business - for instance, if you sell exercise tapes,
you could try "women's health", "lose weight", or "health
and fitness".

Other phrases you can try in place of "suggest a site"
include "add a site", "add URL", "suggest a URL", and so
on. If you're not interested in trading links, do this:

   "search phrase" +"suggest a site" -reciprocal

Take a few moments to browse each site to ensure your
site is compatible with theirs. If they sell their own
brand of exercise tapes, for example, they may not be
willing to link to yours. View the other links that have 
been accepted to get an idea of who they're willing to
link to. Aim to get linked on popular and useful websites, 
rather than simply on "as many sites as possible". 


Increasing the number of inbound links to your site doesn't 
have to be an arduous task. Even an hour or two a week will 
help to continuously build your website's popularity over 
time.

===========================================================
Angela is the editor of Online Business Basics, a practical
guide to marketing a business on a beginner's budget. This
guide offers loads of instantly useable tips and links, in
a down-to-earth style that even marketing "newbies" can
understand! A helpful Online Business Dictionary is included 
too... visit: http://onlinebusinessbasics.com/article.html 
===========================================================


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