Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Buying Links.

What a hornets nest this whole linking tactic has caused over the last year or so. Most links are bought and paid for in some way, even swapping links has an assumed value (or people wouldn’t do it) so I’m not sure what the fuss is about. Whatever the controversy, buying and selling links is part of the marketing mix and works to increase link popularity and drive traffic if you buy smart.

With link buying, my recommendation is to stay out of “typical” link buy areas (navigational areas) and focus instead on negotiating for space in content areas - (think infomercial). Site wide links still work in some cases but usually not for long and not like they used to. You might as well color them neon to the search engines they’re such a dead giveaway.

(Tip) Bill sent me links to the Microsoft and Google papers on content matching. Neither document comes right out and says they’re discounting links in nav areas but as Bill put it….."

The closest patent I can find to that concept doesn't talk about
discounting links from sections of a page, but it's a very very (deserves more than one very) obvious next step after they break down a page into sections, and can easily recognize which sections are the nav links, the header, the main content, and so on.”

Getting people to sell space in content areas is easier said than done – but not impossible. Pull together your tactics and then search for compatible sites to contact. Consider buying space in online publications such as newsletters, ezines, reports etc. I look for publications that will insert ad copy throughout the content areas and archive past editions.

(Tip) A great place to buy targeted ad space is in an online conference handbook. They offer content areas, actively look for sponsors, are archived on busy and usually well ranked sites.

Another tactic is to offer link embedded copy (some firms call them presell pages, hosted marketing pages, or content swapping) to sites in exchange for space or money. The premise is good and highly desirable as your links are placed in content areas and surrounded by optimized verbiage. But…the reality is unless you have a network of decently ranked sites in place that will agree to do this, it’s a time consuming tactic at best. **

(**Hey....): when I use the term "network of sites" I'm not talking about sites you've created to host links or content or whatever. I'm talking about sites you've developed relationships with inside your community.

Again, the key is in the research. You need to find sites that rank well, have content to compliment yours and seem open to offering space. Be prepared to spend a bit of money here as most website owners won’t just create new pages or rearrange content to accommodate you because they’re good guys. They’re looking for compensation in some form!

If you’re short on time and money, consider contacting the link brokerage firms for info on their services. I’ve referred their services to clients who have been happy with what they got and the customer service they offered. If you don’t have a link staff they may be the way to go.

If you go ahead and buy text links on your own, consider staying away from sites that have sponsored ad boxes. Nothing draws attention to a paid link like an ad box!

And finally, mix up the type of links you buy to include those that don’t affect rank. Buying links strictly for traffic and exposure is a good thing as advertising to your demographic tends to affect your bottom line in many ways. ;)

This spiel is getting long so I'll stop here. Let's do the content generation thing tomorrow and then start looking at tools, link types and where to find link partners.

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