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Webrings

One of the more interesting ways to add some targeted traffic to your site is to join webrings. A webring allows visitors to surf through sites that are related in one way or another. They are free of charge to the owners, members and visitors. Currently, more than 1.3 million websites are connected, making them members in a collection of more than 80,000 different webrings.

Benefits of Joining Webrings

  1. They deliver targeted traffic day after day
  2. Once they are set up they tend to stay set up with little further maintenance

Definition

Animation of the Navigation Process through a WebringA webring is a continuous, yet expanding group of linked websites that have common interests. They are arranged to form a circle by special software that sits on 1 site (a hub). It is through this software that the hub connects the pages together to trace a circular path.

Each site on a particular ring shares a common navigation that a visitor uses to move around the webring. If you were to start on a particular site and go through the entire index of sites on a webring, eventually you'd end up back where you began. Users can elect to go forward or backward through the ring, skip a group of sites at a time, visit other sites in the ring randomly, or see an index of all the sites that belong to that particular ring.

How It Works

Each webring is created and maintained by a person known as a ringmaster. This person 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/her webring.

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Steps To Joining Webrings

  1. Search for any rings that seem to fit your site. The best way to do that is to visit Ringworld, a comprehensive listing of every webring currently in use. Ringworld is divided into general categories and then further subdivided into more specific areas of interest. For example, a complete list of health-related webrings is available at: www.webring.org/ringworld/health.html. The site also has a search engine that lets you find webrings that contain the exact type of information you're looking for. Generally, apply to webrings that have more than a dozen members, but some with less members may have more targeted visitors.

  2. Apply for admission to the ring. Each webring has an online application form that new users fill out to be added to the ring. Among the information you'll need to provide: the site owner's name; the title of your site; the web address where your ring will be displayed; your e-mail address; keywords/description of your site and a password (so that you can go back and make any changes to the ring as needed).

  3. Code for the navigation bar will be emailed to you after applying. Copy and paste this code to your web page and download the graphics. Most application forms also give instructions on how to save an image and upload it to your website. Once the code has been cut and pasted onto your site, you may need to edit portions of the code to include personal information, such as your name, e-mail address and an ID number. Once you are finished and you are sure it's correct, upload the new page to your server.

  4. Let ringmaster know you have completed step 3. 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 code you inserted. He will also judge your site as to whether it is suitable for the ring. Most webrings have an automated response form that lets you know when you've been added to that particular ring and provides you with instructions on what sections of your ring's HTML code need editing. Usually, this process takes a couple of days, depending on the size of the ring and the number of users applying for admission. Once you've been admitted to the ring, it's just a matter of plugging in the right information.

  5. Receive email of acceptance 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.

  6. Occasionally check for broken links. 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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Why Webrings Are So Popular

  1. An alternative to search engines. Most webrings are very topic-specific. If you had to choose between 10,000 or so Elizabeth Taylor websites on the internet versus browsing only 50 sites on the Liz Taylor webring, chances are you'd choose the webring.

  2. No "dead" sites on a webring. Because search engines continually receive new web addresses, it's virtually impossible to keep up with the amount of net-related garbage that floats around in cyberspace.

    Most search engines don't update the information they're given. When you submit a site to Infoseek, for example, that search engine sends a program called a "spider" to verify that the address exists. If the address is a match, the search engine keeps the address in its database until it is notified otherwise. This means that if you conducted a search for "Stephen King," for example, you'd receive every reference about him - no matter how outdated or incorrect that information might be.

    Webrings, on the other hand, are small enough that they can be monitored by a single person (or group of people) who repeatedly checks the address of each site in the ring to make sure it's still a viable website. If it isn't, that website is removed from the list, and the webring no longer recognizes that site as part of the ring. This saves users the frustration of ending up at a dead end by entering a site that no longer exists.

  3. Moreover, in a webring, every site is equal. There are no favorites or hierarchies at work here. Meta tags and keywords mean nothing when your site is part of a webring. Sites can be viewed at random, and the possibility of happening upon a truly remarkable personal website makes the experience that much more enjoyable, instead of having to plod through a series of cookie-cutter educational or commercial sites for the same information.

Please contact Sue Studios if you would like any help in joining webrings.

Sources of information for this article:
http://wow.sourceforge.net/?doc=webrings
http://www.chiroweb.com/archives/18/01/04.html
www.internet-tips.net/Advertising/Webrings.htm

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