The Value of Networking
You've been doing all the right things to build your business, creating products/services, printing your business cards, brochures, you even have an Internet presence. You've even found the right keywords and have them on your website. Some of you even belong to groups dedicated to networking, such as BNI or other networks of small business owners. You have found that a lot of business comes in from networking and you are able to refer your customers to other businesses when you hear a need. This applies to the Internet when you start to build linking partners. While building linking partners is not necessarily as personal as when you are networking face-to-face, it does help to build your credibility and reputation on the web.
In its simplest form, the search engines look at the number of links pointing to your site from other sites and have a formula for determining where you should rank when people search for your keywords. We refer to this as Inbound Linking. The more inbound links there are, the better your ranking and the more visitors you'll be receiving. Well, sort of. A major factor that the search engines look at is whether the site or page where the inbound link is located is related or relevant to your site. If you sell watches, a link from a casino web site probably won't help you, it may even hurt your link reputation.
The incoming links to your site also determine what is called Link Reputation. This is what the search engines think your site is about from the point of view of the site linking to you. When you exchange links with another related site, request to have your keywords placed in the anchor text of the link. The anchor text is the visible text that people see and where they click. If your keywords are High Quality Watches, you must request that as your anchor text. When the search engines see this link, they will know that your reputation is High Quality Watches. Placing your domain name as the anchor text doesn't do anything for your link reputation, unless it really is, www.high-quality-watches.com (of course you would be selling high quality watches).
Online Strategic Partnerships
Back to relevance. The best way to view other sites to which you will be exchanging links is to see them as your Online Strategic Partners. Sites that are related to what you do are the best. You'll want to find sites that aren't your competition with which to exchange links. For instance a site that sells grand father clocks would be a great candidate for a link exchange with your High Quality Watches website.
Contacting potential link exchange partners can be a long process and should be built up over time. I would recommend building no more than 18-20 per month. Many sites have forms that you can fill out on-line, other sites you'll just have to email, call or contact by snail mail. These contacts should be more personal and indicate that you have actually looked at their site and would like to request a link exchange. Oh, yes and the most important part. Setup a link to their site from your site first and let them know that you have done this and where they can find it.
Over the next year you could have over 200 links back to your site. If they are quality links, it will only help your link popularity and increase the number of visitors to your website. So get started now and good luck. By the way have fun while you're at it.
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