I read everything I can find related to linking, just to know what’s being said. Unfortunately, most of it is not worth the disk space it’s written on.
Back before Google existed, very few people said much about linking. It was considered to be unsophisticated, grassroots Web marketing, best left to hobbyists. The dot-bombs couldn’t have ignored it more if they had tried, which speaks volumes about their management’s understanding of the World Wide Web. Oh well. They’re gone. We’re still here.
Then Google came along, and people began to realize links were one way to the top of that search engine. Linking went from a backwater to one of the most talked-about subjects in the search-engine optimization world. Instant experts were created. Theories on how to “beat” Google with links grew like fruit flies in a biology lab.
What’s unfortunate is that the average reader can’t possibly differentiate between someone who writes about linking but only dabbles in this work, and someone who does a lot of it. To me, the dabblers inevitably give away their inexperience when they start talking about their process. They use the most inefficient methods possible. If they were good at this, or smart, or experienced, or serious, they’d quickly develop more sophisticated, efficient ways to get this work done. So, I have to discount their complex, contradictory linking theories, which usually don’t hold up under close scrutiny.
Skip Past the Hype
If you want to skip past all of that noise, here’s an alternative approach that works extremely well, and it has for years. Just link as if Google did not exist. Treat reciprocal linking as a branding function for your business. Set out to get as many links to your site from other appropriate, relevant sites as possible. Start now, and never stop. Eventually, you will be king of the link hill in your area of interest. And you will be very hard to knock down, unless someone else is as determined as you are. More than likely, they won’t be.
As a bonus, when anyone else in your realm of interest starts their own link campaign, they will most likely link to your site first — because you are out there everywhere, to be easily found. With linking, the big do get bigger, at a much faster rate than everyone else.
Data Management Core
Second, realize that linking seems very simple at the outset, but it is actually a rather complex data management problem. The gurus always seem to get it backward. They make their strategy complex but talk as if the process is straightforward. If you try to do this sort of work without a good process and a software tool, and you try to manually edit a link directory using FrontPage or Dreamweaver, you will quit after about two or three evenings of bug-eyed frustration.
Get a link management tool of some kind. These include desktop applications like Zeus or Arelis, an online tool like LinksManager or a server-side script (many are listed at www.cgi-resources.com). These will allow you to manage the process for medium- to large-size link campaigns. For a truly ambitious project, you probably will want the efficiencies of a homegrown solution — but don’t try to build one until you’ve tried the prebuilt tools, so you know what’s needed. Or hire a professional if you really want to offload this work in favor of focusing on your core business.
Back to Basics
So, that’s just two things to know about linking. One, link as if Google did not exist. Imagine that you had to survive on the traffic from links alone. And two, get a tool or process in place to deal with the considerable data challenges you’ll quickly encounter.
Sites that do this seriously over a long period of time are usually the ones at the top of their niche. Links are like a concrete-block building foundation. One or two don’t amount to much, but pile them up, and you have a rock-solid base on which to build.
Dirk Johnson Dirk Johnson is the owner of LinkStrategy.com.