Tips / Tutorial: How to make a successful Link Exchange Directory


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question: is contacting other websites for cross-linking considered as spamming?
answer: no, not if it's done properly, please read below




Making websites (about reggae/music/travel/friends bars or shops...) has been my hobby for about 8 years now and I quickly understood that cross-linking was one of the keys to getting up in search engines
I've been playing with all kinds of free or serious (coslty) applications...
I lost more than a lot of times find scripts, trying them, modifying, transferring... then re-building directories, I hope that reading this will make you gain precious time

1/ link exchange script:
making a link directory online, you'll first need to install link pages.

Making the pages:
You want html pages because they are very search engine friendly, but you don't want to have to re-code them individually each time you update your directory, so you need a script to do that.
Loads of scripts do this and if you're using PHP Nuke, Joomla or Wordpress, they already have link managers plugins built in

Back-link checking:
Also each time you want to see if the website you link is linking back, you don't want to have to check yourself each referrer so you'll need a directory that has a backlink checker.
Luckily there are several scripts do this:
Swapware (free)/ autolinkexchanger (free) / skalinks (free) / jv-linksExchanger (Pay / joomla only) / Advanced Link Manager (Pay) / autolinkspro (pay) / LinkMachine (pay)... and many many many more
Problem with the free scripts are that they are very unreliable (all of them), usually have unsafe scripts that allow spammers to post

Self Register website (submit your url) for new Link partners:
Most of these scripts propose self registration for link partners but this is VERY DISCOURAGED:
You're going to get all the spammers to post links to you from useless/banned/spam/unrelated pages and your ranking will drop IMMEDIATELY
(as per today I'm still licking my wounds from this practice) (swapware has a small anti-spammer system but overall is very unsafe)

Database and script safety:
Watch out! for most of these scripts keeping the data is a problem.
targetted email contacts are the most valuable information to steal on the internet after credit card numbers so your database will attract nosers and hackers
Most of the software that allow link exchange directories have this weak point (they use PCI files, require 777chmod directories... or need access to your central database which you really don't need)
Only one sofware is "out-of-the-box" safe, it's Advanced Link Manager... very simple, it allows you to keep your database on your computer (with easy backup facility) and it creates the pages directly for you through ftp... all your info is kept safe at home
... also beware of free scripts... they are free because usually the script owner will use your hardly gathered database for his own as well...

2/ Gathering Links:
There are several ways to gather link partners

What's a good link?
a good link will be from a website that has the same scope than yours.
The home page should have good overall rankings (Alexa, Google pagerank, Yahoo pagerank...)
The link page should be as near to the index page as possible in the link structure of the website (from 1 click from the main page is best after the main page itself)
The link page should have text or other links that relate to your website topic (your preferred keywords should be present in that page, together with your link text)

Finding Link exchange partners: where?

Search Engines:
You can make search on Google or Yahoo, but don't forget Hotbot, MSN Search, Excite, Ask and others...
Just make a search with the keywords that reflect your website's activity, and open results that look similar to ur activity
(press Ctrl+click to open them all in a separate tab in your browser), then you'll have to contact each website admin one by one
This way you'll get the best quality link, but it'll be DEAD SLOW... and you will really sweat for your ranking, but it will be quality.

Some programs exist that allow you to make list of emails from websites or searches: you give them a starting point and they go and collect emails for you.
Dozens of application, some more serious than others such as GSA-Online or Super Email Spider (nothing free in that area)
Problem with these applications: They collect emails that are put up by major email handlers and if you mail one or more of these addresses, your website will return straight to the "sandbox"
You still can use such applications but you'll have to filter the email one by one to look for the hidden mails (most of them are easy to spot (they usually enclose the words junk, spam, abuse... or similar and are for major sites such as AOL, Yahoo, Aol, googlemail, Microsoft, msn, AOL, Youtube, myspace... watch out for emails such as billgates@micorsoft or any unusual thing)
But at the end you'll still be collecting some bad mails...

PageRanking Managers:
Best tool to gather emails are Page Ranking sofware
In this area there's no competition, there's only one application that is constantly updated to gather safely information without being blacklisted by major internet profiders, it's Advance Link Manager.
Advance Link Manager (I only use AdvanceLinkManager now ^_^), just like applications that gather targetted emails, will go on the internet and gather relevant websites (not emails) for you
then the program will get all information you need about each website referrencing and get you the email address of it's owner... pretty cool

*** special note about Advanced Link Manager while we're at it

Advanced Link Manager has been the best link exchange application available and if you decide to pay a little for a quality script, take a look at this:
Advanced link Manager, as I said
- is constanly updated in order to keep the search scrollers up to date with ALL existing search engines
- makes automatically your link directory's html pages on your computer and uploads them on your website
- checks for backlinks online and allows easy management of multi-category links
- allows you to manage all your link directories from the same location (without any online script)
- is super safe because it keeps all information on your computer
- is easily configurable to allow scheduled tasks to manage email reminders
- has it's own built-in mailer that also keeps track of email history with all your referrers
- you need about 5 different applications (free or hacked or paid) to do what Advanced Link Manager can do
- ALM allows detailed (sometimes too detailed but that's customizable) tracking, logging and reporting of user and website activity
.... there's more but i don't have that in mind just now... like gathering of who links to what site, advanced filter searches, auto-stop searches to avoid detection from search entines... it's all-in-one really...

3/Mailing and Following Up
Be careful at mailing time... Not talking about your email prose, this is up to your skills and the market you deal with (but usually you'll deal with webmasters and these guys don't like to read long letters)
more specifically be careful of several things:
- first and upmost (and said before): filter your mailing list one by one and remove the moles (list them up separately in a txt file so you can remove them automatically later)
- target your mailing list or you'll be marked as spam from people who receive the mail
- include a "unsubscribe" link, this is a standard and also minimum courtesy... keep track of the people who unsubscribe
- sending through automated mailer (the best I found ever was Turbomailer which has also escellent list filtering functions but offers no email and referrers management at all)
- sending mass mails with automated mailing sofware check your server's email limit and stay below or you'll have a hell of a time completing your mailing (usually limit is 500 per hour, can be increased if you're on VS or VPS, but I'd stay below 1000 per hour or you won't be able to monitor your mailing properly)
- include a "reply to" address and monitor the return of your mails while you're mailing, if you get more than 30% return (with a more or less clean mailing list) you got a problem and need to check (open return mails and see messages, contact your host if necessary)
- don't include images and attachements in your email, rather insert the image source code
- organise properly with the mail returns to ensure best follow-up and maximum efficiency of your campain (once again Advanced Link Manager offers the best suite of tools for this)

This is it more or less...
I hope you'll use all this first hand (I made all the mistakes possible I guess) experience on website cross-linking promotion campain
and dont' forget that it's not spamming if it's really well targetted and followed-up

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