Someone asked a question recently about whether they should try some link exchange scheme or other. I have little faith in them. I don’t think they generally add any value to links and they should be avoiding. Anything desperately artificlial will be obvious to visitors to the site and they’ll probaly lower their opinion of your site as a result.

If you want link exchanges then the best ones will be the ones which are the most work. Anything which promises instant success also is doomed to instant failiure.

First find sites in your subject area. Use a search engine or two to find some. You should probably also keep a database of info on sites, emails when you emailed them, if they replied etc to make sure you don’t repeat this method on the same sites. You could keep this in an excel form or on a piece of paper.

Write a review of a site you would like to have link to you. Spend some time using their site. Write about the best features. Write it up as a mini review, perhaps do a screengrab of it. Register on any forums and add the details into your database.
Find 10 good things to say about each site as a minimum. Struggling? Surely not! If its a good site then you will be able to write lots about it.

Navigation, is it easy to find your way round
Content, is it well written, well presented.
Photos, does it have lots of photos
Does it have a lot of articles? Are they all on one subject?
Topical, updated recently, frequently.
If it is a store does it have easy to find contact details?
Are there not too many ads and pop ups? (We think these are often used excessively)
Is information easy to find?
Is it original content?
Is there any interactivity? forums, newsletter, quizzes, polls etc
Does it load quickly? Even if you have broadand you don’t want excessively long load times.
Do all the links work? No “under construction” signs?

Put the review together with a screengrab, comment on the good parts of the site. Write as much as you can! Be honest, don’t exagerate. Don’t worry that your visitors might love this site more than yours if you praise it and write about it well.

Put maybe 3 of these mini reviews on a page – a nice static page too that’ll always be there.

Your listing index page of site reviews should anchor link to the appropriate review. (Or you might think of a different way of adding reviews to your site this is up to you)

Then once you’ve got a full page done email all the people on that page and tel them you’ve reviewed their site and if they have a links page and feel generous then they can link back to you but that there is NO obligation as you won’t remove the review you’ve written if they don’t.
Write a nice email avoid if you can the spammy headlines that you yourself receive.

They may or may not read the email and they may or may not link to your site.

If they do want to link back then you need to have some words written ready for them to use. Perhaps spend some time writing a page on your site about “linking to us” include a box with cut and paste code in for a standard text link, a small banner, a screengrab, some longer text and then a full review of your site that you’ve written. You could also include people’s quotes in this if you have user feedback!

They may well not link to your site. This is nothing to worry about.

Why should I not worry? I’ve just spent an hour reviewing a site and doing a screngrab and for no reward?

The main reason not to worry is you’ve just spent some time writing content for your site. Yes it is about other sites but its on your site, its unique content using keywords and phrases.

If you did one page of these links a day over an average work year you’d add possibly 600 mini reviews of other sites. That would start to make your site quite an authority on your chosen subject.

Your site benefits from

* increase in content
* reviews add to your users experience of your site
* you gain respect and repeated visits from people looking for your opinions
* you become an authority on your subject
* your site has more value than using “thin” links
* You pick up ideas from other sites and rework them in more interesting ways
* You’re aware of what other sites offer their users and make a better site for your visitors.

Even if you only do one review page a week then this would be about 150 mini reviews a year. That’s still quite a lot of additional content. Hopefully the experience of reviewing sites will encourage you tho add the best ideas and benefits to your own site. You’ll also keep up to date reading other people’s site and will find that you’ll learn interesting bits of info too.

Review what you’re doing every so often. If no one is linking to you then perhaps email a couple of people again to ask that they definately got your email about the review. Ask them if they’d like to change the review perhaps if their site has changed recently or if they’d like additional comments added. Asking for feedback may help you refine your email writing!

Most webmasters will want a link from a “good authority site”. If you work hard on the reviews then your site will quickly turn into an authority site and you should have people linking to your site without you having to ask them.

The reviews shouldn’t be the only content on your site, you should already have a site whcih you’re adding to.