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The Power of the Link

Search engines honor links to your site highly as part of their search engine page rank system. This gives special powers to links that you need to understand.

Links can go to a specific post or article on a website or blog, or to the main page of the site or blog. Links work in four ways: outgoing links, incoming links, intrasite links, and blogroll links. We’ll also look at another growing trend in more powerful linking, trackbacks. We’ve talked about the power of linkability for SEO page ranks, but the power of links is much more than that. Let’s examine these to understand the power of the link.

Outgoing Links

Outgoing or external links are links which you post on your site to link to sites outside of your website. These are also known as , as you are referring someone to a site. I think of these external links as recommendations. If it is on your site, you are recommending that site to your readers.

This is where the power comes in. By recommending an external site or web page to your audience, you are telling them that this is a post or article with value. After all, you found it, got some benefit of it, otherwise, why would you be linking to it? You are telling people that this is good enough to click away from your site to visit theirs. It has to have solid value.

The power you have over outgoing links is bigger than this. By linking to a blog or site, you are saying this site and page is worth reading. You are also recommending others link to that same post. It is this multi-linking power search engines recognize. Based upon the academia concept of the most cited papers having special value deserving of attention, search engines calculate that websites, blogs, and posts which attract a lot of links must be of value. The higher the score, the better the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your their site.

This value is a one way street. Do not expect that just because you link to a site or blog that they have any responsibility to link back to you. They don’t. You are only saying that they have said or shown you something of value you want to share with others. However, if the blog or site owner pays attention to their site statistics and referrals, especially if they are getting a lot of visitors from one particular link, they will often come visiting to see what you wrote about them to encourage your readers to leave your site to visit them. If they find value, the odds are likely that they may link back to you when they write something pertaining to your site’s topics. If they find a lot of great content, they might add you to their or permanent link list.

Next time you create an external link on your site, think about the power it has to:

  1. Encourage others to leave your site to visit another
  2. Attract attention to your site and others
  3. Give energy to the process of that site moving up in the search engine page ranks
  4. Encouraging others to link to the same site or blog

Incoming Links

Incoming links are the opposite of external links. These are links coming from sites and blogs which like what you have to say on your site or blog. They are linking either to a specific post on your blog, or to your entire website, telling the world that this is worth reading.

Incoming links are your referrers. They not only tell the world you have something of value, they add to the score care search engines use to determine the value of a website or blog in their page ranking. The more links to a specific post or your site, the more credit for citation you may receive. Still, there are some constraints.

Search engines evaluate the number of incoming links, but they also evaluate who is linking to you. If the referring site or blog is high on their page ranking scorecard or SEO, then the linking site is saying, “I have earned a reputation for good web etiquette, and I’m linking to you, so you must be worth linking to.” If the referring site is low in page ranking points, then that referring link doesn’t do much for you. Quantity still counts, but quality counts more.

How to you get people to link to your site or blog? There is only one way. Provide content worth linking to. Write sincerely about what you know, or write an eloquent opinion. Provide references and examples of what you are talking about. Help people learn more about whatever you are writing about, and give them something to chew on. Make it something not only worth reading, but worth pointing to. This will encourage them to link to your post.

Incoming links or referrers to your blog does not hold you responsible for linking back. While it is nice to do, only link to sites worthy of such links. Remember, your outgoing link holds as much power for others as their incoming link. Use your linking power wisely.

Intrasite Links

Intrasite links or internal links are links which connect your web pages and posts together. For example, in this article, I’ve created a link to another post on my site about how Google ranks websites. Intrasite links are critical to a successful blog or website for several reasons.

Intrasite links connect the dots between your own posts and pages. They are critical for helping someone navigate your site by finding more information related to the topic at hand. The reader can move from one related topic to another without ever leaving your site.

Intrasite links are even more important. They help keep the reader on your site longer. The duration of visits to your site also plays a role in how search engines rank your pages, though they are not as important as links.

These internal links play a very critical roll when it come to SEO and page ranking for your site. As move through your site, they use these intrasite links to move from one web page to another. By providing them, you are helping the search engine to dig through your site as part of their round of data collection.

Blogrolls or Link Lists

Blogrolls are a form of permanent link recommendations. WordPress controls these through the Administration Panel or if you are using the full version of WordPress, you can manually edit your WordPress Theme’s sidebar template file to list your favorite blogs or sites.

The Blogroll or Links is an important list of websites or blogs. Providing such a list implies you are recommending and actively reading these sites. Blogrolls are powerful links for sites you want to recommend. Again, the more people who link to your site, the more visitors you will attract and the higher your page ranking, so getting on these blogrolls implies worth and value. Unfortunately, search engines understand how these blogrolls can be abused, so they monitor these these for abusers.

Some bloggers use blogrolls as link exchanges. The implication is that if I put you on my blogroll, you have to put me on your blogroll. This isn’t true. Take care not to dilute the power of blogroll links. Make sure you link to another blog because you believe they are offering quality content that your readers will benefit from. After all, you are telling people to click these links and leave your site. Do not expect a link in return.

If you do end up on someone’s blogroll, consider sending them an email privately to thank them for their referrals, as they are encouraging people to leave their site to visit yours, and acknowledge that such a link is an honor.

This means you have a lot of power over the blogroll links on your blog. These are not one time links. They are a permanent resident on your site. They tell people that the blog you are linking is sincerely good, giving them page ranking benefits.

Use the Power of Links Wisely: Trackbacks

As you have learned, you hold a lot of power in your fingers when it comes to linking. There is also a fifth way of linking that is growing in popularity. These are called . Websites and blogs, enabled with trackback and pinging features, send a signal called a to the linked web page or post. They may link to a site, but trackbacks to sites will just show up in the referrers list, not on the site itself. If the recipient blog has trackback capability, the link to the referring post will appear in the comments or trackback section of the linked to post with some text on either side of the link, providing information to the reader about who is linking to this post and what they are saying. Many readers will follow this back to the referring post to read more about what they have to say.

Trackbacks are another form of external link, but they have a two way street power. They link to the blog post, and the trackback links back to the referring blog post, connecting the two together and improving the SEO value of the sites. Trackback links are growing in popularity, so expect them to soon become a very viable fifth powerful linking option.

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17 Comments

  1. Posted October 13, 2005 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    Hi lorelle,
    as a POTENTIAL new wordpress user, I find all this VERY helpful and interesting. It also highlights the configurability of the platform.
    Tag and categories are now very clear to me (Thankyou!)
    Still trying to sort out the difference between Pingbacks and Trackbacks tho’ . I appreciate that (at the moment in 1.52) Trackbacks are inserted manually at the time of posting and INCOMING trackbacks go via an inbuilt CGI to be recorded appropriately, whilst it appears that OUTGOING Pingbacks are automatic – although it is not clear to me WHERE WordPress recognises the INCOMING ping backs and wether this need to be activated or coded for?
    Anyway
    Love the site and have blogrolled you :-)
    Hope you don’t mind

  2. Posted October 13, 2005 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    OK Sorry – figured it out –
    posted some tackbacks AND pingbacks to myself and all went well :-)
    Thats the beauty of this site – makes me want to experiment …IGOR..Where are you! Throw the switch!

  3. Posted October 13, 2005 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you figured it out. It’s actually pretty much how you described it.

    I’ll be writing more about trackbacks and pings in the future, but a trackback is like a comment that is sent by the blogging program to the blog that is being linked to. It basically says “I linked to this post”.

    A ping is a signal, like a knock on the door, to a blog or search engine that says “Hey, something’s happening over there that you might want to pay attention to”.

    And thanks for the listing on the blogroll. I’m eager to see what you’re going to do with your new WordPress blog.

  4. Posted October 14, 2005 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    One last question please :-)
    MT has Trackback ‘autodiscovery’ – sounds like pingbacks to me…. Is that correct? At least from a functional point of view?
    There is limited RECENT information in the codex/support group at the moment wrt this.

    BTW – as for what I’m gonna do with WordPress – well – I am an underwater photographer – I am sure YOU will appreciate it ;-)

  5. Posted October 14, 2005 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Only one? I’m so disappointed. ;-)

    Trackbacks and pings in WordPress are automatic. You can manually trackback by entering the link in the Add Trackbacks option in the Write Post panel. Most serious blogging tools feature this option automatically.

    What is the Codex/Support group? Do you mean the WordPress Support Forum and WordPress Codex?

    The Forum is PACKED with info on Trackbacks. The Codex deals only with a little about it since it isn’t a subject that requires pages of discussion. You publish a post with links to sites in it. WordPress sends a tiny excerpt around the link to the site. If they have the ability to receive trackbacks, the excerpt is posted in the comments of that linked post. That’s it.

    WordPress has the ability, unlike some other blogging tools, to allow you to edit trackbacks you receive. Some of them come with nothing but [...][...] or some strange incomplete sentence. I’ve seen some trackbacks arrive on my sites that had me on the floor laughing with the absurdity of how the sentence was cut off, changing the meaning of the intent. So with a click we can edit the trackback from the Comment panel to add a little more information or edit it to be more appropriate. Just like comments.

    I will have more information on trackbacks and pings soon. Just hang in there.

    I have some friends who are seriously into underwater photography, so I look forward to seeing your end results.

  6. Posted October 21, 2005 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I enjoyed your article and was interested in exchanging links with other web sites. I have a pr4 web site bandwidtht1.com Thank You and good luck

  7. Posted November 13, 2006 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great one on blogrolls. This is one thing I’ve wanted to know the relative value of, as who knows if Google just starts considering these as “easy money” links as opposed to actual, valuable items.

  8. Posted November 14, 2006 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    To really get a handle on the value of links, see Secret Out: How Google Ranks Websites and One Year Anniversary Review: The Power of the Link, where I’ve highlighted tons of information to help you understand linking better.

  9. Posted November 16, 2006 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Fantastic. Your assistance is most appreciated. This is definitely a slippery science, constantly skirting around link abuse, automagic link spammers, etc. Good to have some rules of thumb.

  10. ryanh06
    Posted November 24, 2006 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Hello there and thanks for another amazing article! I am now totally addicted to my wordpress blog and your site has been an enormous help to me during these past few months!

  11. Posted January 6, 2007 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Great article – fascinating information on how links grow traffic exponentially. In preparing a lecture and blog post on the Powers of 10, I came across this post and found it pertains to the Powers of 10 in a great, practical application way.

  12. Posted June 20, 2008 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Hey there Lorelle,
    I’ve been lurking on your blog for far too long reading and not writing so I thought I’d drop you a comment for once!
    I’m very new to WordPress and blogging in general but your site has been an inspiration to me.

    I really enjoyed this post but I do have one question, you mention outgoing links from a post being a good thing for the target web site; can a spider differentiate a comment containing a link as just that or does it count as an outgoing link?

    If so, can you become Google popular by simply adding comments? Is this another form of rewarding comment spam?

    OK, that was more than one question. I confess! :)

  13. Posted June 20, 2008 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    @ Ed Francis:

    WordPress automatically sets all links within comments as nofollow, which should, if Google behaved appropriately regarding nofollow links, not count as “credit” towards PageRank scores. However, the comment’s content is still indexed and still appears in search results, which means it has just as much validity as anything if the keywords in the search are the right combination. However, your PageRank score isn’t impacted, on any side.

    However, Google ain’t the only player in the search engine game and the other search engines and site indexing crawlers ignore nofollow. So nofollow is a waste of everyone’s time.

    Honestly, trying to get “popular” in the eyes of Google is such a waste of time. The core foundation of why you should work hard to get your site “popular” in the eyes of EVERYONE, including Google, is much more important. I recommend Secret Out – How Google Ranks Websites and Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization Guide to help explain these issues better.

    As for the comment spam, exposure to the public en mass is their goal. Search engines try all kinds of ways to penalize them, but spammers work on the Tsunami Method. :D

    Remember, content will win over comments, but comments will get you traffic if you comment as if your blog depended upon it. ;-)

  14. Posted June 25, 2008 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    Thanks Lorelle, that’s got my head on straight again. :D

    Also thanks for the recommendations on which posts to read too, really helpful stuff.

  15. Posted February 12, 2010 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    Very well documented.

  16. Prince
    Posted August 26, 2014 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Am in love with the materials am reading though a novice in this field. I would love to have a domain name for my business so kindly get me some advice on how to go about that.
    Thanks for your assistance in educating some of us.
    God bless

    • Posted August 26, 2014 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

      Thank you. A domain name is available through any web hosting service. No advice needed.


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