Are You A Link Whore?

January 3, 2009


Are you a link whore? Do you link your your blog posts to anything you read, in the hope of receiving inbound links? Most of us know that good, relevant, inbound links can help with search engine optimization. But some linking strategies aren’t worth a toss.

I’ve made plenty of linking mistakes myself. And recently, I read this post on Wesleyism.com, which made me realise other people are suffering the same linking mistakes and frustrations: I cleaned out my blogroll.

Wesley has been blogging for three months. And recently, he set up a blogroll in his sidebar to link to other blogs he reads. Trouble is, when they didn’t link back to him, he got pissed off and removed them all from his blogroll.

I can understand Wesley’s frustration. And I know how it feels to be in the same position as him. But it’s easy to make linking cock ups. And here’s a few things I wish I’d known about linking, a long time ago.

Blogrolls Are A Waste Of Space: When I built my first website, you simply had a page of links and you would trade links with other people and add them to your page. But a blogroll appears in the sidebar of your blog. And once you’ve added a whole heap of folk you like, you wind up with little space to fit in anything important, like ads, or space to promote your own stuff.

Folk Are Not Going To Kiss Your Feet Just Cos You Linked To Them: Merely linking to someone won’t get you an automatic link back. For a start - folk want to know you’ve linked to them because you genuinely like what they’ve written, not because you want something in return. And if most of your posts are links to other people, or diary type stuff, you’re not giving anyone much to link back to anyway.

People Are Wary Of Linking To Potentially Bad Neighbourhoods:
Link to spammy crap and you’re likely to get penalized by Google. So, if you have a new blog, folk might be cautious about linking to you, until they’re confident that you’re going to continue producing quality stuff.

If You Want Folk To Appreciate Your Links - Do It Right:
If you want to link to something someone has written, don’t just link to the text - “click here”, “blog name” or “writer name”. Google puts more value on relevant links, so use the keywords they’re actually writing about when you can.

For example, heaps of folk link to my name. Now that’s ok and if they’re just mentioning me in passing, it’s fair enough but those links are pretty worthless. I own the domain for my own name - I’d have to do something drastically wrong to get booted off the top of Google for that name. What I’m looking for, is inbound links for the stuff I’m actually writing about.

So, if you want folk to appreciate your links and you’re not sure what keyphrase to link to, use the words in their post title, or ask them.

Don’t Send Patronizing Emails Asking For Links:
If you have a new blog, don’t send patronizing emails to established blogs explaining why it would be beneficial to them to exchange links with you. If they’re getting a decent amount of traffic - they already know this.

Also don’t lie about your Google Page Rank, if you send link requests. If it is zero, the person you’re asking to trade with will know. And don’t do what a lot of people do and insist that if they provide a link from their homepage, you’ll link back. I get heaps of these requests and I just ignore them. Why on earth would I give up valuable space in my sidebar to link to some new blogger I’ve never heard of?

Personally, I think it’s a waste of time emailing a perfect stranger and asking them to do something for you - but lots of people do it.

Don’t Link With The Expectation Of Getting Something In Return: This goes for anything you do online, or anywhere for that matter. If you’re only doing things because you want something in return, folk will see right through you.

Be Useful: Link to articles that will be useful to your readers. If you constantly link to crap, they won’t bother clicking through. When I do huge resource posts, I make sure I link to excellent resources. And I do often include useful things written by people I know - but you can bet that it’s good stuff.

Don’t Get Too Obsessive About Inbound Links:
Inbound links are useful but don’t waste too much time trying to get them. If you keep writing excellent articles, people will link to them eventually.

There’s plenty other things you can do, aside from getting inbound links, to get more visitors to your blog and learning a bit about search engine optimization is a good start. And if SEO is a bit of a mystery to you, SEO School is easy to understand and it will show you how to do it properly.

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Social or Google Traffic - Where’s The Money?

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Comments

23 Responses to “Are You A Link Whore?”

  1. Stevieboy66 on January 3rd, 2009 1:59 pm

    Thanks Cath - that helps a lot. I was unsure where to go with my blogroll so now I just won’t bother! Any linking can be done using good anchor text from within my posts as you say. I have also stopped worrying so much about inbound links and just got on with writing good content.

    Stevieboy66’s last blog post..Small Business Christmas Wish

  2. Brad Shorr on January 3rd, 2009 3:45 pm

    Hi Cath, I’ve found some great blogs by perusing blogrolls, so I kind of like them, at least ones that display carefully chosen links. After a couple years I set up my blogroll on a separate page to keep my sidebar clean. I like to think it’s a good resource for my readers.

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..Odds, Memes, and Ends

  3. Marelisa on January 3rd, 2009 4:21 pm

    Hi Cath: I know what you mean about e-mailing complete strangers to ask for stuff. I put on my 35 Creative Ways to Market Your Blog post that you should e-mail A-list bloggers, but only after you have laid the groundwork by commenting frequently on their blog, sending in a guest post that does well, answering their questions on twitter, and so on. I have to be more careful about linking to the name of people’s post instead of just putting “go here”.

    Marelisa’s last blog post..Creativity Whacks to the Head - Roger von Oech

  4. Kathy -Virtual Impax on January 3rd, 2009 5:25 pm

    Yet again, another hearty AMEN!!!! You should never link to another blog expecting a link back. You link to another blog because they have something to contribute to the “conversation” at hand in your blog post.

    I believe it was Dale Carnegie who said, “Get what you want by helping other people to get what THEY want.”

    When it comes to links - no one owes you a link. You will earn each and every incoming link that your blog receives by writing GREAT content - PERIOD!

    This blog gets many incoming links from me because - well, it’s another way of saying “A Hearty AMEN” to what is written here!

    Kathy -Virtual Impax’s last blog post..Here’s to a Better [insert object of resolution here] in 2009

  5. Davina on January 3rd, 2009 6:19 pm

    Hi Cath. I didn’t know this about linking. I thought just getting linked to in the first place was a good thing. In hindsight, it’s a happy thought, but not good for blog biz.

    I linked to a number of people in my last post on Loving Pulse, but I was linking to their blog and not a specific post with keyword titles. I guess in that case I “should” have either chosen a post and linked to it, or at least linked to the title of the blog rather than the person’s name.

    I don’t use a blogroll and I’ve rarely clicked on a link in a blogroll. I’m more apt to click on a link of an active commenter, and on the title of a post that catches my eye.

    Love your title on this one BTW — I’m quite sure that I’m not a link whore :-)
    Davina’s last blog post..Seduced By Snowmen

  6. Vered - MomGrind on January 3rd, 2009 7:40 pm

    Wesley forgets that these are business decisions. He’s taking these things too personally. If my blog has a PR4 and his has a PR2, it just doesn’t make sense for me to add his blog to my blogroll. It would be a bad business decision. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like Wesley as a person or that I don’t find his blog interesting.

    Plus, if I added everyone to my blogroll who has my blog on theirs, my blogroll would be ridiculously large.

    I completely agree with all the other points you made. Linking properly took me a while to learn, but now I finally got it, and it always saddens me a little when someone links to “Vered” instead of using “mommy blogger.”

    Vered - MomGrind’s last blog post..Last-Minute Holiday Shopping? May I Suggest The Perfect Gift

  7. Mrs. Micah on January 3rd, 2009 8:51 pm

    Great post. I’ve had a lot of trouble with this, since my PF blog is fairly popular. I ignore some link exchange requests, others I respond to with a short paragraph I wrote about how I don’t do link exchanges, best of luck with their blog, all that. I’ve still got a blogroll on MM, it’s rotating so I can have more people on it with less space. I don’t know what I’ll do in the long-term, maybe create a page of blogs I recommend?

    I’ve actually never done exchanges from either end. Too much commitment if I stop liking it, too much pressure. I do get amused by some of the BS though. One guy had public sitemeter and I saw that over the last 9 months his traffic was the same as mine in a week and PR0. Can’t blame him for wanting to improve his traffic and promote his site, but his e-mail made me laugh with its promises that this would be a mutually beneficial exchange.

    And reading your post, I just realized that I don’t care anymore about link backs. I like it when people, especially bigger bloggers link to me…but I don’t sit around hoping people will link to me (still totally a traffic whore). I got a lot of readers through commenting and having people decide to visit my site after reading the comment.

    On the new site I’m building, I hope my short blogroll will give readers more of a flavor of the sites that inspire me (yours included) rather than make the people feel they owe me links.

    I hate having pressure put on me, so I hate putting it on others too.

    @Davina, I think if you’re linking straight to the blog’s homepage, then using the person’s name or blog title makes sense. But if you choose a post, then a relevant phrase is worth a lot more than the title. You did them a favor by linking at all. :)
    Mrs. Micah’s last blog post..Amazon Gift Card Giveaway on Your Money Relationship

  8. Derek on January 3rd, 2009 9:44 pm

    Do you think people are really that weary about linking to bad neighborhoods? That is usually the last thing that crosses my mind at least.

    Sometimes, when people are trying to build a successful business and blog, they sweat the small stuff too much. They need to focus on what’s important and that is creating unique content that is to die for. Stuff that you would like to tattoo on your body and you would be proud of it.

    I know I have been running my business success blog for a little more than a month now and while the links don’t come fast or come easy, I know if I continue to write well and be extremely useful, it won’t matter in the long run.

    Just think about Einstein who was denied from a doctorate program. He worked on his theories anyway in a patent office and became successful as a result.

    Derek’s last blog post..By: Why Einstein Became An Immortal Celebrity (and how your company can join him), Success Factors Day 3

  9. cathlawson on January 4th, 2009 12:37 am

    Hi Stevie - I’ve found that definitely works better. I did have a blogroll for a little while but it wound up getting too long. Then I found a few people I’d linked to had stopped blogging and one had scrapped his blog and began selling some dubious looking product on the domain.

    Hi Brad - Having it on a different page would be ok I guess, as it’s not cluttering up your sidebar. Barbara Swafford has also done that and created a directory on one of her pages. And Tim Brownson links to folk at the bottom of his page, which also seems to work well.

    Hi Marelisa - emailing folk you’ve got to know first is a lot better than asking a total stranger.

    Hi Kathy - I like that Carnegie quote. And you always link to great resources.

    Hi Davina - your post was to thank specific people, so I think it was fine to use their names.

    Hi Vered - I know what you mean - anything below PR3 seems to be considered potentially bad to link to. My PR increased just by removing links to John Chow a couple of weeks ago. He is considered bad to link to because Google penalized him for his spammy linking competitions.

    Hi MM - A rotating blog roll sounds like a space efficient idea. I’m guessing you use a plugin to do that, rather than keep changing it.

    Don’t forget to let me know about the new blog when you launch it.

    Hi Derek - I don’t mean to sound rude but I don’t think the build it and they’ll come approach works any better for a blog than it does for a business.

    I guess there’s always a rare exception but I’d hate to take my chances.

    Bad neighbourhood linking is important. I was penalized for ages for linking to a bad neighbourhood and as soon as I got rid of it my Google PR increased. The higher the PR you have the easier it is to rank highly for more competitive keyphrases.

  10. Mrs. Micah on January 4th, 2009 3:11 am

    Yes, I use the Better Blogroll plugin which lets you select things like how many to show at once. Very easy, just set and forget. You can even keep adding links to your blogroll because it’ll just manage them. I was able to add a couple people I simply hadn’t had space for before.

    Though to tell the truth, your article made me look at my blogroll and I’m thinking of doing a purge anyway. There are a lot of people I’m keeping on there so as not to hurt their feelings…but I wonder if they’d notice at all!

    Mrs. Micah’s last blog post..Amazon Gift Card Giveaway on Your Money Relationship

  11. wilhb81 on January 4th, 2009 9:59 am

    Cath, I loved this article’s title, and I must confess that I’m not the Link Whore lol

    Honestly, I’m also hate those people that keep emailing me for the link placement and I’ll mostly ending up by ignored them all!

    wilhb81’s last blog post..Happy New Year 2009

  12. Trade Show Guru on January 4th, 2009 3:10 pm

    hi Cath,
    I believe the politically correct term is “ho” not “whore.” :)
    Personally, I recommend not getting to caught up in the whole how-many-links-and-what-kind-are-they game. I think good things come (eventually) to people that write good stuff… kind of like the stuff here. ;)
    ~ Steve, aka the trade show guru

  13. Jim Gaudet on January 4th, 2009 3:57 pm

    I agree with Brad. The Blogroll for me is not to get someone to link back to me, but to let people know who I like. (And of course to friends who could use a little of my PR)

    That’s why my BR is small. My blog is personal, so I do link it to my comments, but I really do not comment on anything that I do not want to talk about, or may be on my blog.

    I never respond to any on the thousands of emails I get for link exchange…

    Although the Remarkablogger traffic test was a great way for me to meet new blogs (you included). Which was sort of a link exchange or an RSS exchange..

    Jim Gaudet’s last blog post..This is Way too Personal?

  14. Jannie on January 4th, 2009 5:49 pm

    Shoot, I’ll have to go back and change those couple of links to “Vered” to Mommy Blogger, always great to learn something new.

    And excellent advice on linking to a particular post, instead of the blog’s home page..

    ‘Way educational post, thanks!

    Jannie’s last blog post..And now that meme!

  15. atchisson on January 4th, 2009 10:12 pm

    linking for me is the biggest mystery. bad links and good links? Your article has cleared a few things up for me but I still need to know what are the best links to accumulate? high pr links the best?

    atchisson’s last blog post..Balisong (Butterfly Knife)/Balisword (butterfly sword)

  16. Davina on January 5th, 2009 5:04 am

    @MM, thank you for your comment. This is good to know as I’d never thought along these lines before.

    Davina’s last blog post..The Quote Effect: Naughty, Nice & Niche Bloggers

  17. JustinSMV on January 5th, 2009 5:09 am

    Hey Cath, 1st of this is my first visit and first comment on your blog from me and great site you have here. To comment on this post I agree not to just fling a whole bunch of links to spam your blogroll and get penalized in non-relevant content. I have seen so many of these out there. On my blog I do have some sites that don’t link back to me and thats fine but its a relevant site and I like having their site on my roll. Good points you make here.

    JustinSMV’s last blog post..Becoming A Power Twitter User With New Firefox Addon Power Twitter

  18. Robin on January 5th, 2009 6:11 am

    Hi there Cath - I’ve always seen my blogroll as a mixture between a community thing and a resource for visitors to find sites - to add usefulness to my blog, for visitors.

    I get excited when I see my blog in someone else’s blogroll, but that’s it. I list the people who are predominant in my community, whether they list me or not.

    Robin’s last blog post..What If? The Movie - Clip 4

  19. Barbara Swafford - Blogging Without A Blog on January 5th, 2009 9:44 am

    Hi Catherine - I saw you mentioned how I listed my “blogroll” on a separate page. Unfortunately I had to discontinue that feature as I couldn’t maintain it (too time consuming).

    Linking out to get reciprocal links could get to be mighty disappointing. I’ve never looked at it that way. I’m like you. I want to share that which I found with my readers as it is something beneficial. In time, if we write posts that have value, the inbound links will follow.

    BTW: It’s good to know you’re feeling better. Happy New Year!

    Barbara Swafford - Blogging Without A Blog’s last blog post..Join Twitter - It’s Easier Than You Think

  20. Andrew on January 5th, 2009 12:48 pm

    Cath,

    In my view, there are five valid reasons for linking to a blog, and any links other than for the reasons stated below, are, in my view, not in accordance with good blogging etiquette:

    (1) Following the relevant link will enable readers to explore issues raised in your blog in further depth;

    (2) It is necessary in order to provide appropriate credit for a picture or quotation used in your blog;

    (3) It is necessary in order to credit another blog for some of the ideas upon which your discussion has been based;

    (4) It is necessary in order to substantiate a fact which you have stated in your discussion: or

    (5) You feel that your readers would be genuinely interested in the discussions on the relevant blog to which you link.

    Andrew’s last blog post..Employee rights and responsibilities part 7 - The role of the law in Equal Opportunity

  21. Craig on January 5th, 2009 6:02 pm

    The blogroll is used by a lot of brand new bloggers and for good reason. If you find other new bloggers you can form your own little network to help one another try to gain more users for each other. I do understand what you say though. I do also think its a huge waste of space and creates a lot of unwanted noise. I think a direct backlink from in text would be better. What strategy for new bloggers do you recommend then? How about trying to send out posts as guest authors?

  22. John Hoff on January 5th, 2009 7:08 pm

    I’d say also stay away from anything to do with buying and selling links. Google’s primary ranking system for indexing your site is through links and they make sites pay the penalty by trying to cheat the system.

    The only time you should be buying or selling links is if it has to do with advertising. But even then Google wants you to take some steps so as to not appear to be cheating their system.

    You can read more about these kinds of links on Google.

    As for blogrolls, I’m not a big fan of those. Like Cath said, they take up valuable real estate on your website. If your website has a purpose, make sure that everything on it serves that purpose.

    If you put it there just because you like it or you think it’s fun, it probably doesn’t belong there. If it doesn’t have a purpose toward moving your customer/reader to do what you want them to do, it should probably be removed. In my experience, blogrolls rarely lead a person to purchase from you.

    If, however, a blogroll is for you, I’d say worry less about the PageRank of the people you are linking to and focus more on creating something useful for your visitors (like Barbara said). There are more important things than PR . . . like real PR (public relations).

    John Hoff’s last blog post..Understanding The Psychology Of Your Website Visitors

  23. Patricia on January 5th, 2009 7:45 pm

    I always like to learn new things and between BWOB and Cath Lawson I learned so many new things today I am in a bit of an overload.

    Blogger Dad advised me not to do a blog roll yet, and I trusted his advice - because I did not have time to learn how.

    I think I have just done links to say thank you or link a specific post to an idea that I am developing. Hope I am not offending anyone.

    I wish I was faster at this learning part.
    I was just working on my business plan for my blog and my honey’s…slow going but at least it is moving forward.

    I find right now I am looking at people’s archived posts to get caught up and learn more…what a wealth of information.
    Thank you for adding more

    Patricia’s last blog post..Book Review: Transitions ~William Bridges

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