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How to get reciprocal links
By David Callan
First things first, always personalize the email you send to any webmaster. This means actually visiting his or her site, noting anything significant details about it, finding the correct email address and the name of the webmaster if possible.
This shows you're serious about exchanging links, that you really do value a potential link with them and separates you from the non-serious people who couldn't be bothered to personalize and might as well be emailing hundreds of sites with link exchange proposals.
Secondly many online email accounts and desktop email programs are set up with advanced spam filters and if an email is not directly addressed to a particular person it'll be automatically deleted and hence will never be read. Personalizing emails by sending them one by one will enable your emails to get into the inbox.
Thirdly many webmasters are spammed on a constant basis, this is because marketing spammers have sent out email extractors to extract email addresses from sites under a particular keyword or keyphrase. Webmasters therefore regularly ignore messages they suspect as spam. Having their name or website name in the subject will ensure your email is not dismissed as spam.
If you do personalize you'll see a much better response than if you didn't as you're making the webmaster feel special. Look at it this way, if you don't care enough to find out some relevant details and send a personal email to your prospective linking partner, why should he or she care to link with you?
Many webmasters particularly on high traffic sites are weary of others trying to get something for free off them, when you email them your proposal they might think you're one of these people.
What can you do to put them at ease and to show them you're offering a fair deal? Well I consider this one a bit of a golden rule, it is this, always put a link to them first. Do this even before contacting them, this seems to them more genuine and makes them believe that you do really value their site as you've already linked to it. Another advantage of this would be the fact that they might already have seen in their logs that you're sending them traffic and want to make sure this continues by linking to you. It is a good idea to give a little description of perhaps a line or two which makes the site out to be great. Everyone loves flattery and this should increase your chances of getting a return link from them.
Now on to the main body of the email. Tell the webmaster who you are, give them the address of your website and tell them a little about it such as what services and products you offer from it.
Inform the webmaster that you liked their site and found it very useful, tell them why you thought it was useful and mention which sections you found particularly interesting. Always include the URL of the website you liked as many webmasters have more than one website.
Next you want to tell them you liked it so much that you've added a link and a description for their site to your links page already. This will increase your chances as many webmasters feel obliged to repay a favor to someone who has said lots of good words about their site. Make sure you give them the URL of the page where their link can be found.
With that out of the way you need to suggest to the webmaster that they add your site to their links or resources page, mention once again that you've linked to them as you think your visitors will be interested in and benefit from their site, then ask if they'd consider doing the same for you. Have a couple of lines or two explaining how this will benefit their visitors, direct the webmaster to particular articles or areas of your site which would be of interest his or her visitors.
By now they should be interested. Next you need to give them the extra push by including the exact HTML code needed to add your link to their page, you should include a little description of your site in this HTML code. Remember the easier you make it for them the more likely they will link to you. Make it clear that you can change the description of their site if they wish.
Last but not least thank them for taking time to read your email and say you hope to hear from them soon. Include your email address and phone number.
Most webmasters will go to your links page to verify that you have actually added their link like you said, with this in mind a technique I have used in the past which you could also imply is to deliberately misspell their company name or place an incorrect URL into the hyperlink which is supposed to be pointing to their site. The point here being that the webmaster will email you telling you that the link doesn't work or that their information is spelled wrong and once they do that the lines of communication are open and it is now much easier for you to get them to reciprocate the link.
Following the above advice usually brings a 20%-40% success rate, which is really good. It's best not to rush in and email 100 or 200 sites at once. You should be seeking to add about 10 good sites to your links page every week, this usually requires emailing about 30 or 40 sites depending on your sites properties like contents and traffic.
One thing is for sure though, it'll take time, usually from six months to a year to develop really good traffic from reciprocal links. It's well worth it however as your securing free long-term traffic for your site.