One of the best ways to get consistent traffic to your site is by getting other Webmasters to add your link to their pages. This results in direct traffic from people clicking on the links, and indirect traffic because modern search engines use links to determine how to rank a site on the search engine results page.

The more “quality” links a site has, the higher it appears in the listings (quality is defined as other higher ranking sites). But why do Webmasters want to provide links to other sites anyway? On the surface, this seems to be counter-intuitive, as a link is a way to leave a site.

Why would anyone want to make it easy for someone to leave a site? In other words, why do Webmasters add links to other sites from their own pages?

If you understand the reasons behind this phenomenon, then you will be able to get others to link to your site.

To get links you have to give links 

This is a very critical piece of information that you would do well to remember. If you freely add links to your own site, and those links strongly reinforce your theme (or themes), then you will find that more people want to link back to you.

 Adding value for visitors 

Perhaps the best reason for adding a link is to add value for your visitors. Let’s say you have written a page about sewing with a nice article, some graphics, and a good layout. To enhance your visitor’s experience of your site (and to increase their knowledge) you might include a few links (one to half a dozen) to quality pages about sewing.

These external pages should provide additional information supporting your own page and most definitely should fit in with the theme (the subject) of your site (and page).

It’s usually wise to open these links in a new browser window. This allows your visitors to get additional information without leaving your page.

When they are finished reading the referenced material, they simply close the window to return to your site. In these instances, you are typically not interested in a link exchange, per se. Your primary motivation is to add value for your visitors.

 Reference material 

If your site contains good reference materials, it is very possible that other Webmasters will want to link to your pages in order to aid their own visitors. Thus, it’s important to have excellent quality content, both for your own visitors and for the visitors to other sites.

 Articles 

It’s quite common for Webmasters to write articles that are available for free publication elsewhere. In exchange for the free content, a link back is usually required. If you write quality content that is of value to many Webmasters, you will find you can get thousands of links back to your site.

One of the biggest benefits of this method is it is NOT a link exchange. You do not return the link to the sites which publish your articles. An additional side-effect of this promotional method is you can get huge (and I mean huge) spikes of traffic for very short periods of time.

I’ve personally seen my articles published in major (2 million-plus subscribers) and received 500,000 hits in a single day.

This can be very exciting (it is a lot of hits) but very disconcerting, especially if you unexpectedly exceed your bandwidth allocation.

 Graphics and sets 

In a manner similar to publishing articles, some artists create with is known as linkware. These are images and sets of images that may be used as long as a link is returned to their site. Again, this is NOT a link exchange.

It is exceptionally good as a linking method, as it’s quite common for people to find a graphic they like and follow the link back to the artist’s site to see what else is available.

Affiliates 

If you’ve created a good product, it is an excellent idea to also form an affiliate plan to get other people selling your products for you. Each of these salespeople will be adding links to your site so they can sell your products and collect their commissions. This has the obvious linking benefit combined with the possibility of making some money.

Exchanging links 

Perhaps the most overt reason is also very simple: two Webmasters simply agree to add a link to each other’s site to their sites. Exchanging links just to exchange links is perhaps among the worst reason of all. This is often done just to increase search engine rankings.

Usually, the traffic from this form of linking is very poorly targeted and produces few return visits or sales.

 Link farms

Quite some time ago, some intelligent people figured out they could boost their search engine ranking by creating pages of links, then distributing those pages to as many other Webmasters who could tolerate them. This worked for a while, but eventually, the search engines caught on. In fact, they now will often drop a site from their index entirely if a link farm is discovered.

At best, the link farm pages will be dropped from the index. At worst, the whole site will be banned.

 Link Automation products 

Several products exist which allow Webmasters to manage their link pages. These are intended to promote link exchanges by automating the search for sites of desired themes, as well as handling the administration of emailing other Webmasters.

The problem is that these programs have now become associated with spam (both email and search engine spam) due to poor documentation and abuse by individual Webmasters. In addition, the purpose of the products is to create link exchanges, which is not the best form of linking or promotion.

There is also a large amount of anecdotal evidence that some search engines will penalize or ban entirely a site that uses them in an unchanged form.

Conclusions

Getting links to their site is one of the most critical tasks that all Webmasters will confront. It is so critical that it must be done correctly or a site’s traffic will suffer (and sometimes drop dramatically).

A very good link could mean tens of thousands of visitors who click on it directly, as well as tens of thousands more from the higher search engine rankings that result. So work on both getting and receiving links, and remember there is no need to “do a link exchange”. Simple add appropriate, well-themed links to your site, and give others some incentive to add your links to theirs.