I often receive emails with requests to trade links at my company site; geysermarketing.com

It's amazing as to the types of 'Link Partnership' requests that I get on a daily, if not weekly basis. Anything from Insurance sites to Real Estate sites to Auction sites and Travel sites that have mostly nothing to do with any of the content or proposition that I offer or blog about.

Clearly these people don't get it. Isn't the point of link building to increase visibility in search engines and directories with internet users that actually might be looking for what it is that you have to offer? At least I thought that is what it was about.

I understand the importance of trading links and partnering with others sites and agree that it's a great way to build awareness and drive traffic, yet what kind of traffic are you trying to drive? What should you be offering up to your visitors, members, users or customers and where should a link to your site be placed exactly? This is a strategic and time consuming process and can only work if done the right way.

If you are thinking of building Link Partnerships, then follow the following 5 STEP process:

STEP 1: Develop some criteria (Brand, Offering, Reputation, Traffic, etc...) for your sites and other sites
STEP 2: Evaluate the market based on your criteria
STEP 3: Select sites that will likely want to partner with you based on your proposition, traffic and other key metrics
STEP 4: Take the time to prospect them and to strategically discuss opportunities
STEP 5: Be realistic in your negotiations for placement and strike the right balance

Mass link building efforts will not pay off in the end, as they may drive some traffic as of improved SEO rankings, but they will not ultimately drive quality traffic with users who will want to spend time on your site and visit your site regularly and engage with your brand and offering. Getting an endorsement from the right site takes time, smarts and the ability to execute and ensuring that ongoing maintenance occurs to keep the search engines like Google correctly spidering you and your partner sites. It requires various skill sets from messaging to business development to account management and you need to be 'Partner Friendly' to begin with. It's worth pursuing if you have all that going for you.