Links, link exchanges and strategies
There's so much written about links, linking strategies, link exchanges and so much conflicting advice out there. How do you know who or what to believe?
Well, it's actually quite simple. Don't listen to anyone, not even me. When it comes to links and what you should do let's see what Google has to say. Google has a Webmasters section of their site which gives clear guidelines of what you should and shouldn't do. Read it. Do it.
On the subject of links this page is a good place to start: Creating a Google-friendly site: Best practices > Link schemes.
Google's advice: "some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site's ranking in search results."
In summary, links are important but it's about quality not just quantity.
Getting links is difficult. If people like your site's content they will link to it. The more people link to it, the more people see it and so on in a snowball effect. But... how do you get people to like your content when nobody is viewing it because you don't have enough incoming links - it's a vicious circle. How do you get your little snowball started down the hill?
Give it a little push. Here are 3 great ways to get going:
Add your site to directories, not any directory going but directories where the theme or content is relevant to your site. Try a Google search for your theme or industry plus the word "directory" or "listing" and see if you can add your site. You could also try "add site" or "submit your site" to see where you can get a free link. Before going too mad creating directory links remember it's about quality as well as quantity - it's all quite logical - a link from a site where you're allowed to add your own links isn't going to be worth as much as a link that someone else has chosen to add.
Get involved in forums or online communities. Find sites relevant to your site where you are allowed to contribute and join in. Don't be obvious and steam in advertising your site but get involved in discussions, try to help people out and, soon enough, if they're interested in what you've got to say they'll look at your site.
Blog. Write articles or posts, just like this one, and post it on your own site or submit it to a blogging or article site. Be sure to include an interesting headline and some links back to your site. Submit this to the right blog search engines (e.g. Technorati, Digg) and it will be read and passed around gaining you not only links but visitors in the process. Pssst - I know a very good blog designer.