Thinking of outsourcing your reciprocal linking? Think again. There are more benefits to linking than just getting links. Consider doing at least some work yourself.
First let's make a master list, all the usual ways we can think of to get quality, relevant links back to a website.
1. Fill out a form or email a webmaster, asking for a reciprocal link.
We'll assume for the purpose of clarity that we mean exchanging links to post to a traditional directory page.
2. Deep linking.
You embed your partner's link into relevant text on a page other than your directory page, and your partner does the same with your link.
3. Links from signatures.
This can be a signature you place at the end of every email you send out, or in forum posts.
4. Comments left on other websites.
This can be a blog or a comment form on any website. These will usually have your website url attached to the comment.
5. Submit your website to niche or general website directories.
These can be paid or free; I choose depending on what I need to do to get a link without having to put a link on my website. I prefer free, but it's a personal choice.
6. Write and syndicate articles and include your url link in the resource box.
Write exclusive articles for high-traffic sites that rank highly in search engine results.
Thinking Outside the Box
7. Mix up the above 5 ways.
For example, if you'd like a link from a site with a higher page rank than your own, ask for a link on their directory page in exchange for a link on your homepage as well as in your directory. Save this idea for one or two HIGHLY relevant but non-competitive sites, and only if their search engine results are on, say, page 1 of Google.
8. Write testimonials and reviews.
Communicate personally with webmasters. Write up a short review of their website or product rather than sending them a generic request for a link trade. Don't wait for them to ask for a testimonial, send them one anyways. For example, instead of saying "I visited your site and like it a lot, I agree with what you say about (blah blah) and thought we'd make great link partners, would you like to..." try summing up what it is about your business that relates to the other website. Promote your business in a way that's in XYZ's best interests to print as a testimonial- how their product benefits your business.
As a webmaster, I'd love to receive an email like that. I'd write right back and ask if I could use it on my website.
9. Write reviews where they're asked for.
Search around. Don't look too far ;-) The big names are the places you want to go. Take Amazon.com for example. People click over to Amazon with their credit cards ready. They are discerning shoppers and they are often repeat customers; they read reviews, they follow links to "what else purchasers of [a particular product] bought". So write reviews of products that relate to your website topic. Book reviews are the easiest; follow your nose to the bestsellers or new books in your category at the library.
10. Communicate with whoever you represent as an affiliate.
Create a product such as a user manual or report ("10 Tips for Succeeding as an XYZ Affiliate" or "How to Increase Your Productivity Using [XYZ's Product] in your Home Office")and imbed your url link(s) in it. Let the affiliate program manager distribute your report or manual to his affiliates. Or again, write a glowing testimonial to the program, product or owner's customer service, etc.
By thinking about how you can offer a benefit to your link partner, you'll not only be building relevancy and credibility in the eyes of the search engines, but you'll be building valuable relationships with your link partners and a reputation as an innovative, creative expert in your field.