If you manage a website, then you know that trading links with other sites is said to be a valuable method of promoting your website, and getting more traffic. But the true value of it really depends on how you go about it.
We receive at least one or more "form letter" emails every day, telling us that one of our sites has been visited, and our link has been added to their site, with a request to return the link. These are from automated link trade programs that list hundreds, even thousands of sites, categorized in various ways.
My guess is that these pages of links are not perused very often. I don't spend any time looking through them. Do you?
In fact, when I received the most recent "form letter", I went to the page to check out my link. I found it after scrolling to the bottom of the page. It was there, alright. But the description was the first 3 or 4 lines of text off of the main page of my site,which, in that context, used as a description, did not really describe my site at all. Some of the descriptions I saw there for other links made NO sense whatsoever, as they had just been harvested off of the site by the automated harvester.
So, do I trade with them? To tell you the truth, I won't even consider a link exchange, unless the person requesting the trade has called me by name. Then I know he, HIMSELF, has REALLY visited my site. My name and contact information are easily found there. Secondly, I wouldn't consider it a "fair" trade, since the link trades placed on my site are of a different nature. They are more valuable!!
If you are serious about promoting your site by trading links with other sites, then take the time to do it right.
1. Find sites that complement your site, and that you would feel confident in recommending to others. (Quite frankly, if a site doesn't meet the criteria that I want my visitors to look at, it won't stand a snowball's chance in the hot place of getting on my site! )
2. Contact the webmaster with a personal email, telling them about your site, and asking if they would be interested in trading links.
3. Ask them to write their own description of their site, as they would like it explained to your visitors.
3. Set up a page on your site for these links, and call it something BESIDES "link trades." Call it "Recommended sites", or anything creative that will tell your visitors that it is worth looking through. Because it IS worth looking through. You have chosen these sites specifically for a trade with your site! You are recommending them to your visitors!!!
4. List each site name and their short description. ( Yup, you'll have to do this yourself, by hand, individually, one at a time!)
5. Strive to trade YOUR link exclusively with sites that use these same guidelines.
Your goal in every aspect of your e-business and website should be to give VALUE to your visitors. REAL VALUE! This method of trading links creates a much greater value for your visitors, not to mention the increased value of the link you have traded on the other end.
It always comes down to the same basic idea. The best results rarely come from the easiest method. Building a successful e-business will take work, which takes time. Looking for an automated business? Time to get over it. And get on with reality!
Gail Hornback is owner of WebWorksAtHome.com and partners with Michael Smith in Coyote Marketing, (CM/YMTC)