CogniText web development and online marketing

Specialists in Internet Web Sites Since 1995

Online Marketing for Book and Publishing Web Sites:
Step 3, Strategic Linking

© 2001 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

Strategic linking starts with research. We look for sites complementary to the site we are marketing, then we ask the Webmaster of each site to link to our site. These incoming links help to increase our traffic directly, because a percentage of visitors to those sites will visit our site. The incoming links will also increase our traffic indirectly, because many search engines use link popularity as one measure of the importance of a site.

Researching Potential Link Sites

If we were marketing the Matilija Press site at, we would start by searching out listings of publishers. Of course, that would be only the first step in our research, because we want to develop linking partners for each of the books published by Matilija Press. For each book, we look for sites targeted at the book's target market. For Matilija Press, we could start by researching sites appropriate for the book, The Mainland Luau: How to Capture the Flavor of Hawaii in Your Own Backyard. Potential sites for Mainland Luau would include Hawaiian sites, cooking sites, exotic food sites, travel sites, and even pork sites. Before sending the link request, we confirm that the potential link partner site does include one or more pages of links, and we note the best of those pages for our link. By finding the best page for the link to our site, we are confirming that the site has a links page, and we are simplifying our request to the site's Webmaster. These two actions on our part will increase the likelihood of receiving an incoming link from the site.

Writing the E-mail Request

In our e-mail request we state who we are and why a link would be appropriate. We ask for the link, state exactly where we think the link should be, and why our site is worthy of the link. Here is a sample e-mail for Mainland Luau.

Subject: please add a listing for Mainland Luau

Dear Cheryl,

I was admiring your site at You have a fabulous collection of information on Hawaiian food. Since my book outlines the steps to follow when preparing a luau, I'm hoping that you will add a link on your link page at to the book page for The Mainland Luau: How to Capture the Flavor of Hawaii in Your Own Backyard. The URL is This 80-page book is a complete and easy-to-follow guide to presenting a Hawaiian luau no matter where you live. It features 8 different methods of roasting a whole pig and offers decorating tips, fresh-flower lei-making instructions, recipes and even a Hawaiian language lesson. What they're saying about The Mainland Luau: "This is a wonderful volume, abundant with excellent information and outstanding recipes." Kay Sullivan, Kay's Treasured Kookbooks. Thank you for considering


Patricia Fry mailto:

Note that the main body of the e-mail remains the same for each request, but we must customize each e-mail to specifically address each recipient.

Swapping Links

If we are willing to include a links page on our site, we can offer to swap links with each of the sites we contact. It's easy and persuasive to start by adding a link to the other site on our own links page. When we take the second step of writing the e-mail requesting a link from them, we state that we have already added a link to their site.


Link Requests are time-consuming. If we want to be successful, we must carefully research the potential link sites and address each Webmaster individually. In addition, strategic linking should carried out for the life of our site. We should spend time every week searching for appropriate sites, then asking each for a link to our site.

All of this work will pay off after six to nine months. Our site's traffic will increase, and the visitors will be people interested in the book. Strategic linking is vital to marketing a site.

~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at

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