Building A Rapport
Before asking for anything beyond the time of day, a new webmaster would be wise to build a rapport with the community members they’re going to be propositioning. Posting on message boards is a convenient way to introduce yourself to the masses, but requires careful planning and execution. Crashing through the doors with drive-by spam or nonsensical messages (as we’ve seen great examples of recently) will only earn you the disdain of your fellow webmasters. Well thought-out questions and pleasant introductions will ferret out more friends than foes.
Remember that for all of the flesh and hardcore action, our industry is still a personal one, in many ways a family. Before introducing your site and/or products, we want to hear about the person behind them. There’s no “set in stone” formula for this introduction (and, obviously, everyone’s story will be different), but ensure that you make yourself out to be a human being as often as possible. This will engender support and camaraderie.
Strengthening Your Hand
Before you can reasonably ask for a hard link on someone’s site, or much of anything else, you’ve got to have the goods to offer in exchange. This means bulking your site up with inbound traffic. Luckily, we’re in the middle of a miniseries on promotion (funny how that works out). One important thing comes to mind at this juncture of our travels: pay heed to the article on honesty, and never misrepresent your traffic stats. If you’re only going to send a handful of visitors every day, make sure you tell people that. Nothing will get you blacklisted faster than receiving 20,000 visitors in exchange for 5, if you promised many more.
The Initial Contact
Your initial e-mail, private message, or ICQ to another webmaster mustn’t come across as a form letter, or even worse, as spam. You might include something you like about their sites, postings, or any number of other things. Demonstrate that you took the time to learn about them and their work. With many webmasters, this will go a long way towards making sure your contact information doesn’t end up in the wastebasket. Personally, I make it a point not to give a personal reply to any webmaster I feel has just added to me a pseudo-mailing list.
As the conversation progresses, be specific about the things you feel might be mutually beneficial. Don’t leave it in the other person’s hands to come up with partnership opportunities. Approach it with the attitude of, “I am not looking for handouts. I have something to offer, and would like something else in return.” You will be more successful with specific offerings than nebulous “I can do it all” mailings.
After you’ve begun a link trade or other partnership with another web site, make sure you stay in touch with that webmaster. You may be able to find additional opportunities to expand your initial agreement, or, at the very least, give the webmaster a reason not to look for a replacement right away.
The ABC’s of SEO
Many great articles have been written about search engine optimization. Next week’s piece won’t be one of them. Instead, we’ll concentrate on search engine strategies and getting the most out of the SEO resources that are already out there.
Stay tuned for more!