The Internet is different from any other form of communication because you can find information around the corner or around the world by simply clicking on a link. A link consists of words or text that, when clicked, take the Web user to a new location, possibly your company’s Web site. If used properly, links can drive qualified prospects to your site.

Research has shown that viewers find a Web site in two major ways: through random Internet searches or through links. Thus, by linking or co-linking — swapping links with other reputable sites — your site and your business can receive much more attention and traffic. This added exposure then can translate into a larger sales potential.

Linking is not without its controversy. Some respected Web marketing experts oppose linking. They say when you offer links on your site, it allows viewers to quickly leave your site, losing a possible prospect. The solution to this problem is to use pop-up windows, which allow a user to click on a link from your site, allowing it to appear in a separate window, keeping your Web site open in the background.

Those experts that believe linking can be a powerful marketing tool , say doing so exponentially increases the ways in which people can find your company on the large and sometimes confusing World Wide Web, Your site also is seen as a clearing house at which to find valuable information through its links to other useful sites.

Places to link to include the sites of distributors, local business directories and business groups and associations in which you are a member. Even consider linking with some of your peers. Sharing links with other building service contractors that service different geographical regions or provide specialized services your company not only can increase your exposure but also be supportive to the industry and helpful to the client.

To promote your company as an information source, look into linking with private and public Web centers that provide information viewers may find helpful. Also check industry magazine sites as well as sites that provide information on related topics such as safety, indoor air quality, environmental initiatives, etc. Providing links on your site to well-designed Web sites of organizations for which you currently clean also may bring a referral.

Creating a link is very easy. But first, you must ask for permission to mention another entity on your Web site. Some organizations may ask where you will place the link and what type of content your own site offers, to make sure they are comfortable associating with your company.

To co-link with another site, contact the owners and discuss the benefits. Show how reciprocal linking can add value to both sites. Briefly tell them about your business and its history. If you already have collected several reputable links, point these out in your request.

Sometimes, the other party will decline your invitation to co-link but grant you permission to link to its site. If it is a respected or well-known organization, this still will add credibility to your site, even if they do not return the gesture.

Pick and choose your links wisely; too many links dilute their individual value. Fifteen links of high value and name recognition is about maximum. Also, check links from time to time to make sure they still work and the content is still suitable.

Robert Kravitz is a 30-year veteran of the janitorial industry and author of four books.