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Link Trading Do's & Don'ts - Part 6

The keys to successful link trading with other more established websites is to:

  1. Have your site ready to accept links. Your site needs to be or at least appear to be finished and useful. Nobody is going to want to link to your site if it looks crappy and unfinished. You should have a section setup where the links will go on your site and don't just call it Links. It should not be obvious that they are traded links. Name the section Resources or Partners or something similar. If you plan on doing more than 20 link trades then the section on your site should be divided up and organized into categories. Do not do more than 20 links on any one page and don't do multiple pages of any category. If you have 5 - 10 different categories and each has it's own page with no more than 20 links on it then you have 100 - 200 quality link trades and that is much more effective than 1,000 links clogging up your site. You'll probably never need more than 50 unless you're in a highly competitive business.

    You will eventually get to a point where you won't want to trade links anymore. However, because your site is so professional looking and well listed in the search engines, other people will start soliciting you for link trades instead of the other way around. When you get to that point, just ignore their requests. It is better for you not to respond at all regardless of whether you want their link or not. If you tell them you're not interested then they go to their site and take your link out right away. If you don't say anything then they'll wait a week or two before removing the link to your site or they may forget and not remove it at all. You reap the benefits for however long it is there without having to give anything in return.
  2. Be selective. Don't link to just any site and don't ask just any old site to link to you. Your first choice of sites to trade links with should be sites that have content, products, or services that will complement your own.

    *Note - Do not trade links with sites that are your direct competitors on the search listing pages where you are trying to get your site listed. You want complimentors, not competitors. Also, do not trade links with sites that have also have traded with a significant number of your competitors. By doing that you are only helping them out and making it harder for yourself. If they link to a few (3 or 4) of your competitors then that is fine. But a link to your site that has any more than that also on the same page is useless to you.

    Stay away from other sites that have alot of banner ads and / or popup windows. By linking to another site you are basically endorsing it in some way both to your own visitors and to the search engines. Do us all a favor and don't endorse any junk sites by linking to them. You have no control over who links to your site. So if a crappy, junkie, unprofessional website links to you then don't worry about it. You are not obligated to link back to any website if you don't want to and their link to your site can't hurt in any way.

There are several tools you can use to help determine whether or not you want to get a link from or link to another website. They can also be useful in deciding whether or not to buy links on other sites.

Google PageRank - The Google search engine offers a toolbar that attaches itself to your Internet browser. It has many neat features available and one of them is known as the Google PageRank meter. You download the toolbar and install it. The PageRank feature is not enabled by default. You have to go into the toolbar settings to turn it on. The PageRank of a particular page you are viewing is displayed as a small, green horizontal bar in the toolbar. A page can be ranked anywhere from 0 to 10, 0 being no green showing in the bar and 10 being the bar fully green.

The more green in the bar, the more important Google thinks the page is. So when you trade links with another site, you want your link on that site to be on a page with the highest PageRank and the least number of other links to other sites on the same page. By doing that, some of the PageRank is transferred to the page on your site that the link is set to. The more links there are on the page where your link is placed, the less PageRank you get from it because whatever there is to get is evenly distributed to all the links on the page.

This tool is also useful when trying to find where in a directory site to submit your site information. Sometimes there could be more than one category of a directory where a link to your site would make sense. The Google PageRank tool helps you to know which category link would give you the most benefit.  

Alexa Toolbar - The Alexa Toolbar does many of the same things that the Google Toolbar does. It is provide by Alexa.com. The toolbar keeps track of all the websites visited on the computer that it is installed on. It then sends that data back to Alexa.com where it gets compiled and displayed to anyone in the form of traffic rankings and statistics. Those rankings and stats are not 100% accurate because they are only compiled from Internet users who have the Alexa toolbar installed on their computer. But you can get a reasonable overview of the amount of traffic any website gets over a set period of time.

The toolbar itself displays a number ranking of any webpage you are viewing. The number is the page's or the overall site's number rank as compared to other pages or sites that Alexa has visitor data on. For example, Alexa currently has Yahoo ranked as the #1 site in terms of visitors. So if you go to the Yahoo home page with the Alexa Toolbar installed with your Internet browser then you'll see 1 in the toolbar. Our website home page is currently ranked at around 86,000. You would see that exact number listed in the toolbar. What that means is there are 85,999 other sites that Alexa Toolbar users have visited more often than ours. It doesn't mean any of those sites were better in any way. It just means that they had more visitors over the last 3 months.

Alexa rankings beyond the top 500 sites can and do tend to fluctuate wildly. Our rankings over the years have gotten has high as the 30,000's. Remember, the rankings are based on visits by by people to the site who have the toolbar installed on their Internet browser. So be wary of any site who claims to have anything better than a ranking of 100,000. Make sure you go to the Alexa website and look at the website's historical data for the last year or more and if there isn't any data available that far back then they are likely doing something dishonest to skew the rankings. It's not very difficult to do with a little experimentation.

Alexa rankings are nowhere near as important or accurate as the Google PageRank (commonly referred to as PR) and the Alexa rankings do not have any affect on how your website is listed by any of the major search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo). It's just a tool to help you and others to determine the amount of traffic a particular website might be getting so that you can decide whether to link to them, to ask them for a link, or whether to buy a link from them and what that link might be worth.

Using the Google Toolbar will not have any affect on the PageRank Google gives to your own site. PageRank is based on links from other sites, which are kind of like votes for it. However, you will get to a point where your PageRank stops increasing because it is partly based on sites that have a higher rank than you. For example, Google ranks itself with a 10. You'll never get a 10 rank because you'll never have as many backlinks as Google does. So don't get obsessed with trying to increase your own PageRank by getting as many backlinks to your site as you can. Your rank will naturally climb over time and will eventually stop at a logical number that is comparable to other sites of equal importance regardless of the number of backlinks you get.

Using the Alexa Toolbar is different. By using the Alexa Toolbar while visiting your own website and while editing your own website you can influence your Alexa Traffic Rankings. Alexa has no idea who you are or which website belongs to you. All they do is count how many times website are visited. So if you have their toolbar installed and turned on while you edit or visit your own site then you are helping your rankings go higher. With a higher traffic ranking you may get requests for link trades from a better selection of other sites. You may also get requests to sell link space on your site because some link dealers think high Alexa rankings are valuable.

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