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Quick guide to finding reciprocal links

by Keith Thirgood

Trading reciprocal links is one of the best ways to build traffic at your website. A reciprocal link is where two websites agree to host a link to each other on their websites. These usually are placed on a special, 'links page', but sometimes in articles or other areas.

Often, people have a hard time finding sites to exchange links with. The following is a guide to the practice.

1. Determine the profile of your target market. Who they are. What sort of things they like and do.

2. From this information, determine where these people would go on the net. What sites they would visit.

3. Visit these sorts of sites and decide on which ones to approach regarding exchanging links. (Some sites will be more promising than others. Some will attract more traffic, some a more suitable 'class' of traffic.) -Determine if they have a section for links. (There's no point asking them to exchange links, if they don't have a link section.)

4. Approach each site individually. Contact the webmaster, or if you can determine who this is, the person 'in charge' of the site. -You must visit the site first, and in the opening line of your e-mail, comment on some particular point about their site. This will help immediately diffuse the suspicion that your e-mail is another piece of spam.

5. In your e-mail, make your case for the exchange. Point out to them, the reason you believe the exchange will be mutually beneficial. (You both attract the same type of visitors, each site will help the other with search engine positioning, etc.) -Include a suggestion of the copy you would like accompanying your link. (And of course, ask them what copy they would like you to include with their link.)

To find more potential exchange partners:

1. Visit the top five to ten search engines and search for the terms you think your target market might use when searching for a site like yours. (This is important. Use the terms your TARGET might use. Don't use your insider jargon, unless your target audience would use it too.)

2. Visit the top ranking sites on each of your searches and determine if their audience fits your target profile, and if they have links. Then go back and do step four and five with these sites.

With this technique, you should have a healthy selection of links with a few hours of work. A bonus to having a large number of sites linking into your site is, a number of the search engines give extra ranking to sites that are 'popular'. And they measure popularity by inbound links.

Keith is Creative Director of Capstone Communications Group, a marketing and design firm. He can be reached at (905) 472-2330 or e-mail him at .

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