|by Pamela Heywood|
In an article I wrote recently, called Five Point Plan for Promotion, I suggested swapping links with people already linking to your competitor's sites and this generated a few questions about how to do that specifically, which is what I shall attempt to explain here.
For the benefit of those of you who have come in half way through this conversation, swapping links benefits you in two significant ways. Firstly in generating highly targeted direct traffic from those links and secondly in making you "popular" to the search engines' algorithms, thus improving your rankings.
Don't worry about the technicalities of this, just know that the more links you have back to your site, the better off you are with some of the engines. They all work differently, they all change their way of working - develop - so it is impossible for those of us who come under the heading of "average" to keep up with the finite detail.
Don't get me wrong. It would be a mistake to go out on the net with the attitude of beating the competition into submission with unfair tactics. That is not what this game is about. The net has opened up the possibility for more bartering, sharing and cooperation and in the long run that will get you further. It is a method especially suited to low-budget marketing.
By all means study who is popular at what you do and strive to be better than them. The top reason I suggest linking to those who link to your competitors is because, intrinsically I am lazy! I am assuming that it will be less work to persuade those people - who are already in the business of linking - to do so again.
Nuts and bolts ...
So how do you do this exactly? First, find out who comes up at the top for the keywords you use to find your site. Do this by searching several search engines at once using WebFerret or Copernic2000. You'll soon see who keeps scoring again and again. Now you want to find who links to them and those will be the people to whom you write requesting a link-swap.
One way you can try it is by using the little add-on that Alta Vista provides. That kindly adds an option (in Internet Explorer 5) to the Tools along the menu, called "Find pages linking to this URL" - thus go to your's or your competitor's page and hit the button.
Download the tool here: http://doc.altavista.com/help/search/linksearch.shtml
There is also specific syntax you can enter into each search engine's box, which will make it look for a URL, rather than for keywords. They all seem to have different requirements.
Many of those are listed in an excellent article, Web & Search Engine Facts You Need to Know to Win the Marketing Game, By David Gikandi. The article has a lot of information on each of the major search engines and how they work, including "How to check how many pages link to your site". David is a programmer at SearchPositioning.com.
A copy of the article can be found at: http://www.tucats-design.com/news/issue9.html
Also, there are several of these specific syntax requirements listed in Boogie Jack's Webmaster Tips program, FREE download and well worth it, from: http://www.boogiejack.com/tipaday.html
Once you have found your targets, visit the sites, find the webmaster's email address and write offering a link swap. Personalise the email, stress the benefits to the other party - it will benefit their traffic and search engine rankings too - and you should have a reasonable success rate.
One quick boost, following along the priciples above, is to participate in a simple system called Search Engine Beater.
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