The internet is quite obviously built on links. One page leads to another and so it goes. We take these digital stepping-stones for granted, in many ways, but we shouldn’t. Linking is really important, although when you read some blogs you’d think they never really clicked about on the internet that much… 😉
I think it’s REALLY important to use your blog not only as a platform for your own adventures and expression, but also as a platform for promoting other things. Nobody wants to read a blog that’s centred solely on the insular life of its writer. We want the bigger picture… we want to know more. Influences, heroes, passions, causes, loves, worries… these are the stuff that blogs are made of.
Linking not only provides a more rounded out view of who you are and what you feel/think/want/dream about. Linking is a simple way to foster community and make friends. That’s not to say you should approach linking as some kind of strategic challenge. Rather you should know that it’s an essential part of a great blog (and lovely blog manners too!)
I’ve had a lot of traffic to my blog from bigger blogs, because they have been generous enough to link to me. Nice. Blogs and sites like Craft, WhipUp, Decor8, Bleubird and The Day Book are just a few who have helped me build my blog by sharing their readers with me. I follow the lead of these guys. I think if you link generously, others will follow suit. That said, always link unconditionally! Don’t assume that because you link to someone they are obligated to do something in return. They are not. Keep it unconditional and generous, peeps.
If someone does link to you, be sure to send them a thank you when you realise. You can do that in the comments of the post or privately. It’s up to you. (Your Blog Stats are a good way to find out who has linked to you!)
Here’s some more about linking and a few ways you can approach it:
When you write a blog post about something and it contains just ONE LINK to something relevant to that post, I like to call that a POWER LINK. That link is a potent one because it’s the only click-out option for that post. If your post piques the reader’s interest, all that curiosity is condensed into one link which promises to tell more. If you want to be sure to send your readers off in ONE DIRECTION – one link within the post will maximise your ability to do that. If you provide lots of links within the post, that’s also super interesting, but readers will tend to choose ONE link to click-through to, so you dilute the traffic you send elsewhere. It’s good to think about this if you want to send traffic to a favourite blogger or friend or business. Just provide ONE power link and give them all the clicks!
If you’re spending time with other bloggers (online or off) LINK TO THEM! It’s really important to do this for all kinds of reasons.
You want to share the traffic from your blog with your friends.
You want to create a feeling of intimacy and talk about your friends to your readers, in a way including them in that friendship.
You want to be a cheerleader for your pals.
You want to model great linking behaviour.
Sometimes the very best thing you can do for your blog’s traffic is to create a LIST POST full of links. Not only is this really useful, it’s good for SEO AND it’s a great way to push traffic out to other blogs if your post goes viral. Some of the busiest posts on my blog are list posts. They provide useful information and are SEO friendly. This means the title and text of the post includes phrases or words that people often search for on Google. This helps people who may never find you otherwise to land on your site.
Posts like… 25 ways to make a book by hand – has links to 25 book making tutorials on other blogs – is ranked highly if you search Google for ‘make a book by hand’ or similar. This post was written in 2009 and is STILL one of my busiest posts on a daily basis!
If you DO want to get smart and strategic about this kind of ‘list post’ you can gather some accurate data in a few different ways. The site Google Trends shows you what is being searched for right this very minute on Google. Wordtracker can help you find keywords and phrases to use and build list posts around too. (You type in the word/phrase you’re interested in writing about and it’ll give you suggestions and data to show you the search demand, keywords and phrases around that topic.) Google has a new keyword research tool here. There is a Bing version here.
Of course, this may NOT be your blog style at all, but it’s worth thinking about if growing your readership is on your list of priorities. Just be sure your LIST POST is relevant to your blog. If you write about craft you probably don’t want your list post to be about smartphones, for instance. Keep it relevant. Don’t get weird!
Have you seen these about the place? Linky lists are reader generated. You insert some html code in your post and a signup box appears once the post is published. These linky lists are used to gather a bunch of people who want to take part in project together. Perhaps it’s a 52 project like Che and Fidel’s. It might be a charity drive. It could even be a sporadic link list to reader’s own favourite blog posts. Linky lists can be used in lots of ways. They show as thumbnail images or text links, depending on how you set things up. I use this site to create mine.
In the comments:
Do you try to link to someone/something in each post?
Have you had anyone link to you (and benefitted in some way?)