By James Harvey Stout (deceased). This material is now in the public domain. The complete collection of Mr. Stout's writing is now at http://stout.mybravenet.com/public_html/h/ >


Jump to the following topics:

  1. What is a webring?
  2. Advantages and disadvantages of webrings.
  3. Features of a webring.
  4. Resources.  
  5. Creating a webring.

What is a webring? It is a group (or "ring") of websites which have the following characteristics: 

  1. The websites have a common theme. For example, there is a "country music webring," in which all of the websites contain content which is related to country music.
  2. The websites have a banner which is linked to another website in the webring. By clicking on this "webring" banner, we can travel around the ring -- one website at a time -- to view all of the sites.

Advantages and disadvantages of webrings.

  1. Advantages.
    • A webring has no cost.
    • A webring reaches a targeted group. Most webrings have a specific theme, so all of our visitors are likely to be interested in our related product or service. In fact, we can join different webrings which are associated with our different products or services; for example, on my website, I have joined webrings which are associated with business (for Rapid-Fire Internet Marketing), psychology and spirituality (for Archetypal Fields and The Human Handbook), and music (for my songs).
    • A webring requires only a small amount of our time. We fill out an application, and then we copy-and-paste the webring's html code onto our website to create the webring's banner.
  2. Disadvantages.
    • A webring contains websites which pertain to the same subject, so we are likely to find our competitors in the webring. However, this does not have to be considered a problem; after all, our company's ads are often in close proximity to our competitors' ads -- in business directories, phone books, etc.
    • A webring has an image of informality, casualness, and web-surfing; this image might not be appropriate if our website has a crisp, professional look. Some companies join webrings, but most webring members are hobbyists with their personal web pages.

Features of a webring.  

  1. Cost. Webrings are free.
  2. The quality of the webring. Check for:
    • Dead links. If the webring has many dead links, people will not be able to travel from one site to another; each dead link is a "dead end" which requires the use of the browser's back button. If there are too many dead links, the webring is virtually unusable.
  3. The quality of the other sites. Our company will be judged by quality of the other sites with which we are associated in a webring.
    • General quality. The other websites might be ugly and amateurish.
    • Potentially offensive content. The webring might contain websites which feature pornography, illegal activities, businesses scams, and other content with which we do not want to be connected.
  4. The presence of other companies. If the webring is composed of non-commercial sites, we might not want to join. Or, contrarily, we might feel that we could gain many customers in a webring where we are the only business for this targeted group.
  5. The presence of competitors. As stated previously in the "disadvantages" section, we might not want to be in a webring which includes our competitors. (If a competitor is in the next position in the webring, we would literally be sending our visitors to that competitor.) Contrarily, we might be willing to accept this competitive environment.

Resources. These companies provide directories of webrings which we can join.  

Creating a webring. If we cannot find a webring which is related to our topic, we can create our own.

  1. Allow for the time required for managing a webring. We will need time for:
    • Publicizing the webring (as described below).
    • Instructing members in the process of cutting-and-pasting the webring banner to their website.
    • Maintenance of the webring (as described below).
    • Responding to miscellaneous questions and complaints via email.
  2. Create the concept of the webring.
    • The theme. For example, the theme might be "rose gardeners."
    • Membership qualification. For example, we might simply require that the websites offer useful, free information regarding the theme.
  3. Write the information regarding the webring. The description can be on a separate page of our website. On this page, we can explain the concept of the webring, the members' benefits and responsibilities, the method of cutting-and-pasting the webring banner, etc.
  4. Create the webring banner.
  5. Create the html code which links one banner to another within the ring.
  6. Publicize the webring.
    • If we register the webring with one of the webring services, the service will add our webring to their list. Visitors to the service's site will peruse the lists, which are arranged according to topic, e.g., travel, religion, etc.
    • We can describe the webring on our website.
    • We can publicize our webring with the usual forms of internet marketing: search engines, signature files, etc.

    Maintain the webring.  

    • Check for dead links.