Exchanging links with sites of a similar topic is most effective free form of advertising I have ever found. It really is most direct way to improve your web presence. This is nature of Internet... The more paths you have to your site, more traffic you will have. If you don't have a link exchange program, start one today.
What? You don't want links to other sites on your corporate or e-commerce site? No problem. I addressed that in another article called "A Tale of Two Sites". You can find it here: http://www.edu-marketing.com/newsletters/
Now that you have an active link exchange program, I can get on with real topic of this article. I want to talk about importance of having an "Add URL" page and important elements of your own Add URL page.
What is an "Add URL" page? It is a page where you describe how you would like others to link to your site and invite them to submit a link to be listed on your site. Here is an example which illustrates most of points I'll make in this article: http://www.edu-marketing.com/links/addlink.html
It is a lot of work to get your first 200-300 inbound links to your site by finding and soliciting link exchanges from other sites. Once you do that work, you deserve a reward. Having an "Add URL" page like this one is part of your reward. After doing all that work, you will have enough traffic that you will start receiving link requests from your own "Add URL" page with no work to go find these sites. Pretty cool; huh?
Let's talk about important elements of your "Add URL" page that will maximize its effectiveness:
1. Place a link to your Add URL page on navigation bar that you use on every page of your site. This page is important enough to warrant it's own place on your navigation bar.
2. Make your link say "Add URL", not "Submit Site" or "Add Link" or anything else. Trust me on this. I have already performed all of click-thru analysis on every combination of words imaginable. You will receive your best response if links to your Add URL page use words "Add URL".
3. At top of your "Add URL" page, use your major keyword in a large heading. The major keyword for example page is "Marketing". You'll notice that it says "Marketing Index - Add URL" in large type at top of page. This will help search engines know what your page is about. After some time, you'll start getting traffic directly to your "Add URL" page from search engines for phrases like " add url".
4. Next encourage your visitor to link to your site before requesting a link. You'll notice that example page starts right out with "First link to my site". Don't be tempted to start making your visitor jump through hoops to prove that they have already linked before going on. You want them to submit their link even if they don't immediately link to you. If everyone refused to provide a link before other site linked to them... well... no-one would ever link up; would they?
5. Guide them in how to link to your site, but leave it up to them to create a link of their own if they want. There are as many different kinds of webmasters as there are different kinds of people. You need to recognize that some are lazy and are only willing to copy/paste some code you provide... while others have a very specific format for links on their site and want to do everything for themselves.
6. For those who want to just copy/paste, provide them options... but not too many options. You will want about three text based links of varying lengths. You will then want at least two standard banner sizes. The two most common are: 468X60 pixels and 125X125 pixels. You may also want to create 120X60 and 88X31 smaller banners. Stick to these IAB standard sizes because many sites are laid out to require exactly these sizes. If you don't provide exactly these sizes, webmaster may pass you over for exchanging links.