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To link or not to link? That is the question we face when we receive e-mail from people asking us to make a link to their website, or when we are looking for link partners ourselves and find a prospective site. How can we decide if it is worthwhile to take the effort to make a link for such site? If we look at the fundamental reasons for making link exchanges in the first place, then it is easy to decide which link possibilities we should pursue and which we should drop.
So what are the most important reasons for exchanging links? They are as follows:
1. To get more traffic to our websites:
People just love to follow links on the Internet. They love to poke around and follow their interests and see where it will lead. I know this from my own taste but more importantly, when I look at traffic logs for various websites, I see that link pages are very popular on many sites. So, if your site is well placed on link pages around the Internet you can definitely expect some additional traffic from these links.
Keeping this in mind. When you are reviewing the site of a potential link partner, take a look at how that site displays the links. Is the links page visible, and linked to the other pages of the website? Some people want to exchange links but they don’t want people to leave their website through links to other websites, and they do not even provide a path to their link pages or make it very difficult to find. You can never get any additional traffic from a listing on a site like this, and if this is the case, you should just forget about linking.
Also, if the links are haphazardly arranged, 200 links on one page with no apparent order, your chances of getting traffic is also reduced. Will your link be buried in a huge directory, many layers removed from the main pages of the site? Look at the possible placement of your link, and judge it from the standpoint of visibility and its capacity to generate traffic to your site.
2. To add value to your website:
Your website is valuable to your visitors if it provides information that they need. The articles, products and other content that you publish is your first source of material for satisfying the needs of your visitors, but the links you provide can also make your site an important source of information and a convenient place for people to visit and revisit.
Accordingly, choose your links from the standpoint of satisfying the needs of your clientele. If your site is offering web hosting, for example, then it is likely that your visitors will also be interested in web design, graphics, software, website promotion, etc. By providing a directory of links to such products and services you will be adding value to your website.
Just as you carefully consider what products you are offering or what your own information articles contain, consider the value that the various links offer. Do the products or services look shoddy or below the standard of your website, if so then do not go after the link. Is the product or service completely unrelated to your website? If so, then it doesn’t really add much to the site.
A well constructed directory of valuable resource links that complement your own offerings should be your goal, and you should judge potential link partners on how well they fit into that picture.
3. To Build Link Popularity and Boost Ranking in Search Engine Results:
Results in search engine queries are determined by the material you have presented on your web page, and by other off-page factors, such as, how many other sites link to your site. The concept of link popularity got a huge boost from Google whose Page Rank system, not only weighs the amount of links that point to your site, but the quality of those incoming links.
Indeed, if you make a query on Google as follows: link: www.yoursite.com . You will get a list of sites that link to you. But in this list are not all the links that you have. Currently they are only from web pages whose Google Page Rank is 4 or higher. From this standpoint, in order to increase your results in Google, you need links from sites whose main pages have a high Google Page Rank and whose link pages are similarly well ranked.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t link to sites if their Page Rank is less than 4? Not necessarily. Remember, a page that is 0 today, can get higher ranking tomorrow. Also, just as you may be starting out from scratch, other sites are similarly beginning their life on the web and we should take this into account, and be generous.
Finally, weigh all the factors when considering link candidates, and balance it against the time you have to do for this task, and choose your link partners. If you do this work diligently and carefully you will be rewarded for your efforts.
Donald Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. Hehas been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the director of A1-Optimization (http://www.a1-optimization.com), a firm providing low cost search engine optimization, submission and web promotion services.