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Traffic Report Tables
Row 12 - Miscellaneous Inbound Links
Row 13 - Inbound Niche Links

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12. Miscellaneous Links - Average is about 3.70% of total visits. Range is less than 1% to 11% with several in the 6% to 8% range. Sites referring 49 or fewer total visits per reporting period are a miscellaneous link. These are usually free links but may also be low return paid links.

13. Niche Links - Average is about 2.5% of total visits. Range is less than 1% to 10%. Sites referring 50 or more visits that are not in any other category I classify as a niche site. A "niche" is a specialty site offering fishing, lodging, fly fishing, bass fishing, etc.Total visits from niche links should be from 2% to 5%.

The difference between a miscellaneous and a niche site is a little confusing.

Details

What Is A Niche Site?
Typically they are fishing, travel, RV, camping, and other outdoor recreation sites. If you can get these for free, take them. Many of these outfits will link you up free because they want to build a specific type of recreation directory. If they can get their readership high enough, then they can sell ads on their sites. Readers will visit these sites if they find them useful. These type of sites need links to be useful to their readership.

If you pay for niche links, and you get less than 2.5% of your total annual visits from one of the paid niche links, I'd think twice about renewing it. Of course it depends on the price and the demographics of the site's readers. If you think the few referrals you get have a good conversion ratio, then it may well pay to keep the link. If you get only 50 referrals in a year, and 25 convert, then the link will more than pay for itself. This is why I say it is all about conversions, not just plain visitor volume that matters. Again, let me play my old saw: It is NOT all about quantity. It is all about Quality.

What Is A Miscellaneous Site?
Miscellaneous links will run from a low of less than 1% to a high of 11%. Average is about 4% with many in the 6, 7, and 8% range. Any site sending 49 or fewer visits in a reporting period I lump into the miscellaneous category. This is because there are way too many of them in most traffic reports to sensibly count.

Thus the difference between the Niche and the Miscellaneous is simply that I do not individually count the total visits from any site sending less than 50 visits a year. It takes too much time. The sites sending less than 50 visits a year I call Miscellaneous.

I do count total referred visits from the Niche sites because they send 50 or more visits in a reporting period, they have a specialized focus of some kind that pertains to some aspect of tourism, and therefore we need to know they are working.

It is not unusual to have several hundred miscellaneous sites show up in a report. For example, in the 18 month 2Cooleys Ozark Mountains report there were 2,192 links that sent 49 or fewer visits. Of these, 1,839 sent 10 or fewer visits. Of the total 2,373 links that referred visits, only 115 sent 100 or more visits. So you can see why I just lump them into one pigeon hole!

Most of these low volume sites are family Web sites showing where they went for vacation. Or school kids linking to a homework project, or small company Web sites showing where they went for a retreat, etc. They can also be larger sites which just don't refer much traffic.

How To Get More
Most of the miscellaneous links come because people just want to link to you. You'll never know who they are. Just let them happen. There is not much you can do to get them. The better looking your site is, the more likely people are to link to it.

Niche links usually come from local fishing guides, small regional search engines and directories, specialty travel sites, and so forth. They can also be large national specialty sites. When you have nothing better to do, look for fishing, lodging, and other outdoor recreation related sites. See what their linking policy is. If they will give you a free link, or if they will give you a free "trial period", take it and see what happens. However, you will need a traffic report to see how many visits they send you. DO NOT rely on those little password protected statistic reporting sites they make for you. These always over-report click through counts.

Web Rings & Link Farms
Don't do any of these. Bad news. The search engines hate these sites. Don't let anyone talk you into participating in them.

Written August 2008 by Gary Cooley