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Negotiating Links

If you've heard about "text links" or "anchor links" as being the answer to all your problems and expect to read here how to profit from "linking strategies" or "link farms" then you're in the wrong place (sorry).
What I will describe is:
*   a sensible way to provide your visitors with high quality cross references and distractions;
*   how to handle email requests from people wanting you to link to them (and vice versa); and
*   how to establish mutually beneficial relationships with other sites (yes, okay, that means getting links from them!).

A sensible way to provide your visitors with high quality cross references and distractions

I guess my classic example of this is again my first labour of love, my Grandfather's letters. There are probably well over 100 out-going links from that site to other sites on a very large number and diverse range of subjects (and the job is only half done).
Why are those links there? What was my motivation?
I wanted the site to be a journey through our world of the 1920's (particularly the US and London) and the best way to supplement my Grandfather's words and images was to provide links to either regionally and historically specific pages (and sites) or topically and historically specific pages. Some times I simply linked to exceptionally good sites that were only slightly relevant.
I avoided sites hosted on free services (because of the pop-up ads usually) and I also opened the links in new pages. (In fact I went one step further - again in the interests of not annoying my visitor - by reusing the same "new page" window over and over again - rather than having lots of new windows. More of this on the page about Javascript.)

How to handle email requests from people wanting you to exchange links with them

This one's pretty simple. In most cases you simply press the delete button.
Most of them aren't even from people, they are just robot generated and designed to confirm that your email address has a sentient being on the end of it.
If you are interested in finding out more about them then the first thing to do is look at the website it came from. If there's a link to it with a long string of letters and numbers at the end (or even a relatively short one) then... hit the delete button.
Failing that, simply type in the website address in your web browser (this is probably a better idea than clicking on the link).
I use the same criteria as that described below for deciding if I want to pursue the relationship further.

How to establish mutually beneficial relationships with other sites

The whole idea of getting links to and from your site is, really, to provide your customers with quality. This should be the highest priority when looking for sites to link to. "Does this link provide my viewer with something of value?"
You need to be discerning.
Again, Harry's letters are a good example. In the process of looking for subject specific sites to link to, I came across sites that had the same kind of feel to them as mine.
Firstly I put a link from my site to theirs. I did this because I thought my visitors might be interested in the site. I found a page in their site, where I thought a link to a page of mine might be useful.
I sent a polite email telling them that I was researching (describing a little bit about my site) and that I had come across their site and liked it (the truth, in other words!).
I advised them that I had linked to them and I thought they may find page xyz interesting and if they'd like to link to me I'd be grateful (or words to that effect).
End of story really. If they link back or not does not really matter. My motivation for adding the link still holds (useful to my visitors) and if I get a return link so much the better.
Simple idea but,
*     firstly it takes time to find the sites;
*     it needs good email & writing skills (the two skills are not the same), and it takes time to write the emails; and
*     if you're in business this implies that you'll be getting links from your competitors (in theory at least). You may want to consider businesses on the other side of town, or in another state. Businesses up and down the supply chain are also often good candidates.
[Content of this page last reviewed: 9-Jul-2004]
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