The reluctance to link to directly competing websites is certainly understandable, but experience has shown it to be also very unwise.
If you choose your reciprocal link partners wisely, your competitors will be the best link partners you will ever get.
Why? In a word, relevance.
Let's take a look at a common example: Two visitors click through to your website that sells purple widgets. One of the visitors arrived via a link on another site that also deals in purple widgets. The other came from a site offering blue gadgets.
Which visitor is more likely to buy your purple widgets? The answer of course is the one that came from another purple widgets site. He has pre-qualified himself simply by clicking from one site selling purple widgets to another one. The chances are pretty darn good that he is looking to buy a purple widget.
For this reason, a link to your site from a direct competitor provides the most highly targeted traffic you can get!
Of course you're probably saying to yourself "But I'll be sending my precious visitors to a competitor's website". Yes, you certainly will. But your competitor will also be sending his precious visitors to your website!
What's more, the well-selected anchor text in a link from a perfectly matched on-theme web page will provide a search engine rankings boost which will result in even more traffic!
So again, if you select your reciprocal link partners wisely, you will always receive more net traffic than you send away and that traffic will be the most highly targeted traffic you can get!
Now, for an explanation of the "linking wisely" part:
I have been following this strategy quite for some time, and each and every month my traffic increases along with comparable increases in search engine rankings.
- Insist that your link can be easily seen on a popular web page with decent Google PageRank.
- Give your linking partner a good value in return for the link by doing the same with his/her link on your website.
- Don't accept a link that is buried on a "links" page. Demand a prominent link, preferably on your competitor's homepage and be willing to provide one in return.
(Note: The reluctance to link out from the homepage is another big mistake for exactly the same reasons).
- Be very selective with your link anchor text and description. Give the search engine spiders healthy food and your reciprocal link partners' visitors a reason to want to visit your site.
And guess which visitors convert best - it isn't the traffic from the search engines. It's the traffic that comes in from the links on my competitor's sites!
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