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Reciprocal Linking the Basics Part 1

By Joop Liefaard
Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Reciprocal linking is a powerful method to improve the ranking of your web site in the search engines and to generate more targeted traffic to your online business. This article explains the basics of linking to you.

In February 2003, 35% of the internet users arrived at web sites using web links and search engines (including text links and banners), and 65% through direct navigation ( entering a URL in the address bar of the browser or using a bookmark). Of the 35% for web links and search engines, the major part is by far for web links.

These figures show that reciprocation of links is a powerful and free tool to generate a constant stream of targeted traffic to your web site. They show that the influence of search engines on the quantity of traffic to your web site is not as great as one would expect.

Reciprocal links and link popularity also improve the search engine ranking for your web site. Search engines look for external links that go to and from your web site, indicating the popularity of your site.

A reciprocal link is a text link (sometimes a banner link) on a web site pointing to another web site, while in return, the other web site has a text link back to that web site.
Webmasters agree on placing the links on their web sites and commit themselves not to remove the link without notifying the colleague-webmaster. This is a matter of trust. When you don't have much time to check the links, you have to trust the commitment of your fellow webmaster to keep your link on his web site.

Finding Web Sites

The first step in the process of reciprocation is finding the right web sites. In this process you have to be selective. Avoid linking to web sites that offer similar content or a similar product. The visitor may prefer to do business with your competitor. You better select web sites that are relevant and complementary to your web site and not in direct competition.

Selecting the right web sites is a time-consuming task. A list of good keywords can help you to find the sites you need to build your directory.
You make a list of good key words by writing down on a sheet of paper as many keywords, relevant for your web site, as possible. Don't do this in a hurry. It is a very important part of your efforts, so take your time for it. When you have your list ready, you visit some web sites of competitors and try to find the keywords the webmasters of these sites use. In a well-designed web site you can find the keywords in the text of the index page, mostly at the beginning. You can also find keywords in the meta tags. I use Internet Explorer and in this browser you click on View. In the drop-down menu select Source and the source code of the page opens in a new window. In the head of the page you see meta tags. In the following ones you find the keywords:

<meta name="description" content=
<meta name="keywords" content=

Add the keywords that are relevant for you to the list you have made. When you are finished with your list, you have to find out how many times that a keyword was searched for in, let's say, the last month. You can do this with the use of the Term Suggestion Tool of Overture. Go to (http://www.content.overture.com/d/home/) and select Advertiser Centre. On the new page select Tools. One of the tools is the Term Suggestion Tool. Enter your keywords one by one and make a note of the number of how many times the keyword was searched for. When you are finished, you can make a ranking. Take the top 5 or 6 words and your keyword list is ready.

By entering the keywords in the search box of Google, you have a long list of web sites you can visit to see if they are suitable for your directory.

Make the directory

If you have found a web site that you want to include in your directory, you have to list it in a theme page. When you e.g. have found a web page that you want to include in the theme Business Opportunity, you have to make a theme page called Business Opportunity. On this page there will be included only links that match the theme Business Opportunity. You may add the web sites of competitors on a separate web page which you don't upload to your web hosting company. In this way, the web sites are not displayed on the internet but remain on your computer and you have a good view on who they are.

The main page of your directory holds a list of links to the different theme pages you make.

This is the end of part 1. In part 2 I'll explain how you contact a webmaster and how you do the follow up of your linking campaign.

About the Author
Joop Liefaard uses his experience as a human resources manager to help small business owners to better organize themselves and their enterprises. Visit his website at (http://www.compazz.com) , for information about "best-rated" home business opportunities, effective tools and honest support. Here you grab a FREE subscription to his ezine: Compazz.Com's Business Tips.