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Webrings

webring One of the more interesting ways to add some targeted traffic to your site is to join some webrings. A webring is an interesting idea in that it allows people to surf through sites which are related in one way or another. For example, you could have a "Playstation Gaming" webring which is comprised of a dozen sites all about the Playstation. If you surfed this webring you would go from site to site through the ring. This is a much more tailored experience than random surfing through search engines. You have some choices when it comes to webrings:
  • Bomis
  • Bravenet
  • Looplink
  • RingLink
  • Ring Surf
  • The rail
  • Yahoo! Webring
Each webring is created and maintained by a person known as a ringmaster. This person (who can also grant those same rights to others, something that is absolutely necessary in very large webrings) accepts site submissions, validates that the site meets the topic of the webring and that the site has installed the webring code properly. The ringmaster is the sole arbitrator of whether or not a site belongs in a webring - after all, it is his webring. If you maintain a site, than it is a good idea to investigate webrings. In fact, my recommendation is to join as many webrings as possible. Search through the webrings looking for any rings which seem to fit your site. You are virtually sure to find at least one, and probably many more. I tend to only apply to webrings that have more than a dozen members, but occasionally apply to those with less because they seem very targeted to what I want. The cool thing about well run webrings is that they tend to deliver highly targeted visitors to your site. If you have a Playstation site, you can be sure that you will get visitors from the Playstation webring which are actually interested in your site. Generally, I've found that these webrings do not deliver anywhere near the traffic of the major search engines, but they are massively better than FFAs and other similar advertising methods. Another great thing about webrings is that they continue to deliver targeted traffic day after day. Once they are set up they tend to stay set up with little further maintenance. Each webring has something called a "webring fragment" associated with it. This fragment is some HTML code which allows people to proceed from site to site through the webring. It usually has a graphic or two as part of the fragment. Okay, so once you find a webring that you want to join, you proceed to their "join" page and enter your site information. You should enter the URL where the webring fragment is to reside - I tend to put the fragments right at the bottom of the pages to which they apply. The idea is that a surfer can surf right through your site without having to look around very hard for the webring fragment. Once you've submitted your application you will get an email with the fragment code. Copy this code to your web page and download the graphics locally to your server (this is very important as you don't want to steal bandwidth - that's bad form) and modify the ring code to include those local graphics. Once you are finished and you are sure it's correct, upload the new page to your server. Now send an email to the ringmaster letting him know you have completed this step. Generally you can just reply to the email that you got when you signed up to the ring. The ringmaster will examine your page and let you know of any changes that need to be made to the fragment. He will also judge your site as to whether it is suitable for the ring. If your site is acceptable you will get an email back from the ringmaster informing you of your addition. Generally you should not expect to hear back at all if your site doesn't meet the grade. And that's about all there is to it. You can expect an occasional email from the ringmaster (I've found these to be very rare) with data pertinent to the ring. It's usually wise to occasionally make sure that the "next" and "prev" still work (if they don't remember to email the ringmaster). Other than that, it's a self-maintaining traffic machine.

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