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One Year Anniversary Review: The Power of the Link

<a href="http://lorelle.wordpress.com/" title="Lorelle on WordPress" rel="tag bookmark">Lorelle on WordPress</a>

Nestled inside of that simple HTML link is the power that makes the web the web. Like the spokes of a spider web, links connect each part and piece with another part and piece, making the part critical to the whole.

You followed a link to get here. From here, I’ve provided links to take you places. From those places, you will find more links that take you to even more places. All connected together, all part of the whole linked together through that tiny bit of code.

I’ve written a lot about links, helping you understand how they work, why they work, the benefits of linking, and how to get them to do their best work for you.

In “The Power of the Link”, I describe a lot of the features that make a link so powerful:

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.

One of the greatest gifts you can give is a link to another website, blog or specific post. With your link, you are telling the world that you recommend that site and its content. It is also the gift given without expectation. Do not expect anyone to link to you just because you linked to them. That is very wrong thinking. Let them decide for themselves if you are worthy to link to, thus keeping the power in the link.

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 blogroll 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 another’s, 3) give energy to the process of that site moving up in the search engine page ranks, and 4) encouraging others to link to the same site or blog.

By recommending a site with a link, you are lending your site’s linking power and reputation to that link. Search engine’s have the ability to judge incoming and outgoing links as part of their page ranking analysis. If your site ranks high and you link to another site, their site scores better for that link than if a lessor site linked to them. Thus, your site is judged by its link popularity. To help you determine your own linking reputation, I wrote about how to test your site for its link popularity and page rank.

In another discussion about links, I addressed the issue of asking permission to put a blog in my blogroll, and made my point very clear on this subject:

If you put me on your blogroll, do not expect me to put you on mine. Do not expect anyone to add you to their blogroll just because you asked them or listed them. People often treat blogrolls like link exchanges, making it an obligation and requirement for inclusion. That’s fine in the most sincere sense of fair play, but let’s think this through. If you link to everyone who links to you, your blogroll list could be really, really long.

…put bloggers on your blogroll that you sincerely recommend, whether or not they link back to you. Do it because you want to, not because you want something in return. Do it because you can honestly say “this is worth reading!” Remember, they are a reflection of you and your blog, so think through their inclusion.

If the blogger you link to wants to add you to their blogroll, let them do it because they like what you write and they admire your work. Sure, incoming links have lots of value in the search engine page ranking market, but make your links count. Make your blogroll an honor roll not a marketing tool.

If you really want to highlight a website or blog, then write about them with a link or two in the article. Trust me, they will get more traffic from that article than they would from being on a blogroll. It’s an even bigger compliment.

Understanding the importance of links, I wrote a series of articles about how your blog is found on the web, including How People Search the Web and How They Can Find Your Blog, How Search Engines See, Search, and Visit Your Website, and Exploring How Search Engines Explore, helping you understand the role links play in helping people find your site as well as helping search engines search your site through your intrasite links.

I’ve written a lot about tags this year, and the difference between a link and a tag is the simple inclusion of rel="tag". That’s it. It doesn’t matter who the link is to, the tag search engines and directories will find the tag and include in their lists. Suddenly a link isn’t just a link anymore.

Links can have many relationships, which defines the rel= in a link. In the above example to this blog, I’ve include the bookmark relationship in the link. If you are using a bookmarking program or utility that looks for bookmark labeled links on a page to add to your bookmark list. There are many other rel categories for links that I will be talking about in the future, giving even more strength to your links.

The power of the link isn’t limited to who you link to, or who links to you, but the life of the link. Are you frustrated by finding a link to an article that might just solve all your troubles, only to find that the page doesn’t exist any more and are confronted with the dreaded “404 Error – Page Not Found”? To help you keep the links on your blog up-to-date and “fixed”, I wrote a few articles on blog maintenance including Blog Maintenance – Check For 404 Page Not Found Errors, Site Optimization: Checking Loose Links, and Those Pesky 404 Page Not Found Errors.

WordPress users often take advantage of what is called permalinks, links which include the date and title of the post in the link address. This is great, but what if you make a change in the title of the post and in the post slug (permalink title)? This created quite the quandary for me as I debated how to handle breaking the link by fixing a misspelling in the post slug, or leaving it alone because so many people linked to the article and changing it would break their incoming links.

I wrote so much about the power of linking, that I decided to go even farther by writing an article that is a huge list of links. “Hundreds of Resources for Finding Content for Your Blog” lists literally hundreds of links to a wide range of resources for finding information to write about on your blog. I figured that if I was going to help you learn how to blog, blog writing, and everything else associated with blogging, I need to also help you find content for your blogs.

Here are a few more article highlights written about links over the past year.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

One Comment

  1. Geoff Dodd
    Posted February 16, 2007 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle,

    Search engine algorithms behave exactly as you have outlined. It has been shown that “off-page” factors like link popularity afford one much greater leverage than “on-page” factors. We were misled about this for a long time by people wanting to sell their SEO software, which measured keyword density on the page. Careful placement of search phrases is important but nowhere near as important as those ‘inbound links’ – huh?

    I note Brad Callen has it right with his SEO Elite software.

    Geoff Dodd
    Western Australia


4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] One Year Anniversary Review: The Power of the Link [...]

  2. [...] thoroughly explains outbound, inbound, intrasite, and blogroll links plus she links to dozens of other useful articles to read once you’re done with the link [...]

  3. […] One Year Anniversary Review: The Power of the Link […]

  4. […] One Year Anniversary Review: The Power of the Link […]

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