Small businesses often trade referrals among each other. It's a smart and easy way to attract new business.
Now, more small firms are doing the same thing on the Internet. The concept, known as "reciprocal links," is easier than you think.
At its most basic level, you agree to put a link on your Web site to another company's site. In exchange, that company posts your company's name and Web site address somewhere on its site.
Reciprocal links help in two ways: First, they deliver traffic—and potential customers—to your site. Second, they improve your Web site's ranking on search engines, such as Google, that use "link intensity" as one measure of your site's popularity.
To negotiate reciprocal links, identify companies that might trade links with your business. (See suggestions in box at right.) Then e-mail or phone that company to suggest the exchange.
You can collect ideas on possible linkages by using search engines such as Google or Yahoo to discover which companies link to your competitors' sites. Here's how: In the search box, type "link:" before a company's Web address to discover which Web sites link to that site. Example: link: nibm.net.