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Linking your web site
Search engines use links as one of the criteria for ranking your web site. They look at how many sites with the same type of content as your site are linked to your web site. This counts for outside web sites (external links) as well as for other pages on your own web site (internal links) but more weight is given to outside web sites who link to you because you cannot create these links yourself. It is up to the webmaster from the other site to create the link to your web site.

You should, therefore, make a list of any professional organizations to which you belong who might provide a link to your web site as a courtesy. Contact the webmaster of each (or update your profile online if you are able) to get your web link added to their site.

Once your web site is up you may begin to receive email requests for "reciprocal" links. The message will say something like "I noticed our sites have similar interests and I'd like to exchange links with you. Our web sites will get higher placement in the search engines if we do this."

Why not?
First of all, these other sites are usually of no value to you because the "similar" interests are usually either nothing like your site or would be in direct competition with your site. Why would I want to provide a link from my site to my competitor?

Second, you have invested a good amount of time, money and resources into the development of your web site. You will probably be counting "hits" to track how many people are visiting your site, with the objective of bringing more and more. Why, then, would you want to bring someone to your web site only to send them off to other web sites you are linking to?

When your site is a Resource
If the primary purpose of your site is to be a resource for your visitors you might choose to provide links to other sites that provide more in-depth information on a topic or product.  Keep in mind that you want to do the best job you can in providing the information on your site first, so that visitors begin to think of you as the first stop on any information search.

Membership organizations provide links to their members' web sites because they then become the first stop for visitors looking to find services. A realtor might provide links to partner services such as mortgage brokers and to local chambers of commerce, schools, etc. This type of linking increases your credibility and your reputation as the web site to visit because you provide the answers.

What is it worth?
My rule of thumb is never link to another web site unless you get a direct benefit from the link. That benefit might be credibility, reputation, commission from a sale, or even making yourself feel good, as in the case where you link to a friend's web site. Only you can decide if it's worthwhile to send your visitor away from your site, knowing he or she may never find their way back to you. How many web sites have you bookmarked to return to later, and never visited again?

The Bottom Line
Once you have brought visitors to your web site, you want to keep them there as long as possible.

Web sites hosted with Trinity Web Consulting, Inc. on TierraNet provide detailed site statistics including where your visitors are coming from and how many pages they are looking at while they visit. For information on site statistics for your site, please contact us.

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