Links are to the blogosphere as dollars are to the economy. They are a form of digital currency that is exchanged between blogs to both enrich content and improve the status of search engine results. In short, links are what makes the blogosphere go round.
To be successful a blogger needs to understand the importance of linking to other blogs and websites when creating valuable content. There is no reason for you to recreate the virtual wheel on your blog when someone else already has. Link to that content, and then focus on driving your unique viewpoint home with the reader.
Need to know how to create a link? Here’s an easy guide to linking to webpages and files.
Linking In Posts To Posts
When linking in posts its important to be sure to link to the appropriate content. If you are referencing a specific blog post or article, be sure to link to the permalink of that post or article and NOT the front page of the site. When that other site publishes new content, your readers will be looking at something that you originally did not intend to be referencing. Depending on the blog, permalinks can be found by clicking the post title, the time and date of the post, or even under a separate link that says “Permalink”.
Here is the specific format I use when linking in posts to posts:
Greg Friese (blog/blogger name bolded, link to their main blog page) has a great interview with author Barry Makrewicz (what the post is about, linked to the permalink of the post) about his book Triumph, Tragedy and Tedium: Stories of a Salt Lake City Paramedic/Firefighter, the Sugar House Years (italicized title of work, linked to the work’s website)
The Blog Roll
The infamous Blog Roll started at a time before RSS and RSS Readers came into being. During this time, the best way for bloggers to keep track of other bloggers they enjoyed reading was to create a list of links. They would put this list in their sidebar to share with their readers. It was a great way to keep track of and share your favorite reads. Eventually blog rolls dropped in their value for a number of reasons.
First, RSS Readers made keeping track of blogs much easier. There was no need to click through to the blog and wait for the page to load since the content was right there. Some bloggers actually became very upset at their loss of site visits and either truncated their feeds into summaries or removed the RSS option all together. Both practices, in my opinion, are bad choices to make for a number of reasons but that’s not the point of this post. With RSS Readers in action, bloggers were less likely to add new blogs to their blog roll.
Second, blog rolls would quickly become outdated. Since bloggers weren’t clicking through their links anymore they weren’t seeing when perhaps a blog moved or just disappeared. This lack of blogroll upkeep has in a way tarnished blog rolls for readers who really have no guarantee what they will find on the other side of the hyperlink.
Finally, some blog rolls developed a sort of quid pro quo mentality. If you link to them, they link to you. While this is a nice idea, it doesn’t necessarily add value. Sure, a link in may improve your search engine ranking but a link out may also decrease it since search algorithms look for link type farms and depreciate them.
When it comes to linking to other bloggers in blog rolls my suggestions are:
- Link to those blogs you actually read and enjoy, whether they link to you or not
- Don’t use a simple blog roll list but rather an RSS enabled blog roll that will show when the last time a blog was updated
- Finally be sure to maintain and curate your blogroll so that it adds value instead of just sucking up space
A Word On SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of those topics that I am not a huge fan of because, for lack of a better term, I am a blogging purist. I blog first for myself, then for the reader. I don’t blog for the algorithm.
I did mention a few basic linking strategies above that helps with SEO for the site you’re linking to. These are all basic “white hat” SEO tips, such as bolding the name of a blogger with a link to their main page and italicizing a work. Bolding and italicizing links are two ways of giving a link a little extra weight, so be sure to use them appropriately. Choosing a correct description for the permalink is another way to help with the SEO.
I highlight this fact because it’s important to be mindful in order to adhere to the golden rule of linking: Link unto others as you yourself would want to be linked to