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Maintaining Offsite Links

Do you want an offsite links page? By 'Offsite links', we mean links from your site to other non-TIAS and non-Antique Arts sites. These are generally something that you 'trade' for -- the other site puts a reference to your site in exchange for the link you put to theirs.

Offsite links are one way to drive traffic to your site.   Early in the days of the Internet, web-rings were one alternative to search engines and it was found that these and other sorts of site-to-site links were attractive to casual browsers.

Our experience is that customer's usage patterns have matured; that customers are far more likely to find your online store by using search engines, reading advertising or using directory based references (one example of the latter is the TIAS main page, which serves as a large directory).  Once a customer are on your site, providing them with a link to leave is only an invitation for a customer to do so.

One of the arguments for links, however is the fact that some of the newer search engines (notably Google), rate sites partially on the number of links that the search engine finds to the site.  Using a links page may be one way to build popularity of your site on such engines.

If you are doing links, however, you need to be cautious about who you link to. Simply having links is not necessarily positive; Google and other sophisticated search engines evaluate the quality of those links and, if they are poor, will penalize your site. What is 'poor'? The best rule of thumb to use is 'what would a human like to see?' If the link adds depth or related content to your site that a human visitor would enjoy, then the link will probably be positively evaluated by any search engine. If, however, it simply links to another site full of links (such places do exist and are called 'link farms'), then it is unlikely that the search engine is going to consider it a positive. Google, for instance, not only considers this to be not positive, it may actually penalize your site if it finds useless external links there that appear to exist solely for the purpose 'stuffing' the Google rating. For more information on this topic, you may want to read the content on the Google site.

How Would My Links Page Look?

We've designed the links page to try and minimize customer loss while allowing you to have links. Note that this is a feature that you can override if you are sincerely convinced that its a bad idea.

As a default, when the links feature is activated, an extra option will automatically show on the navigation footer at the bottom of your page:

The link to the links is on your site footer

When the customer selects your links page, they'll see a list of links, each of which can have an image, an address associated with the link and a title: 

When the customer selects the link, they will see the linked page a "frame" where a footer for your site appears at the bottom of the page and your URL still appears at the top:

Sample linked page

This means that the visitor to the other site has an opportunity to return to your site, even if they are viewing someone else's page.  Clicking any direct link to your pages will terminate the frame.  The TIAS link that automatically appears on your links page is also set up so that if a customer does click it, that the frame is closed and the customer returns to TIAS.

You can, if you wish, override this feature and allow visitors to 'escape' to the linked site. This is controlled in your site preferences (on your site maintenance menu.) Note that this preference means that your links page itself is still in frames, but the pages linked to will not be in the frame. Some people feel this is a "better quality" link and that it will be rated more highly by a search engine. We have not found anything in the literature that suggests this is correct, but we offer it as a choice in case you are one of those who feels strongly about the matter.


How Do I Get a Links Page?

This is a free feature that you can activate if you wish. To do so

  1. Select 'Site Maintenance' on your members page menu
  2. Select the 'Other Pages' tab from the tabs at the top
  3. Check the box titled 'Activate Links Page.
  4. Click 'Apply Changes' at the bottom of the page
Click on the link on the left side of your members page that is titled 'Site Maintenance.' This will reload the menu and you'll now see a menu entry titled 'Links Page'. Click on this to maintain your links (procedure is below.)

When I have one, how to I add or change a link?

To maintain an offsite link, select the option titled 'Links page'.  You'll see a menu that shows your existing links:

Use the buttons to add, change and delete links as you wish.  The remove button will completely remove a link from your page.   The add button allows you to add a new link, and the update button allows you to change the image, title, description  or reference of an existing link.  When you chose the option to add or update a link, you'll see a page that looks like this:

You can enter the title for a link, an image (optional), the URL that the link should point to and a short description.

You can include an image with your link.  The images are sized automatically when they're uploaded, so it does not matter what size they start out to be.

To include an image, it must be located on your desktop; you'll need to browse it from there. Most people use the links image as a thumbnail. The maximum dimensions of the image are 72x72 pixels. We maintain the aspect ratio of the image when we size it, so if you start out with a square image, you'll end up with a square image. A common error, however, is to use a banner. The standard size of a banner is 468x60 pixels. After we size the maximum dimension (468 pixels) to 72 pixels (a division factor of 6.5), the other dimension is going to be about 9 pixels. At this size, most images are incomprehensible. Because of this, you should NOT plan on using a banner as a thumbnail on a link; pick an image that is more square.

The title length is 128 characters.

HTML is not permitted in the description or link URL fields (since we are generating HTML links from this, allowing HTML would really, REALLY mess up the output).

All changes to your links are immediately effective, there is no need to update your pages after changing your links.

CAUTION:  Not everyone who wants a link to your site is a friend and some may be hijackers who try and get you to insert malicious code on your site. Do NOT link any site unless you are familiar with it.  After you add a link, try it to make sure its really something you want associated with your site.  Particularly,  be wary of pages have names that end in anything other than .html, .htm  or .asp.  Be particularly wary of sites that try to get you to add code that contains the string "