Linking Is A Virtue, Not Linking Is A Vice

September 1st, 2006 · 1 Comment
by Booksquare

spider and web on kona islandWe have been understandably worked up about this whole online presence thing this week. Hmm, maybe it’s not so understandable — it strikes us that you are not privy to our lengthy debates with the husband. Trust us when we say that nothing makes an evening fly by like a discussion about making the web a better place for the world.

Today’s topic is links. You are familiar with them, we trust, but just in case, here is an example. In this case, we are linking to Jill Monroe’s blog, mostly because we cannot believe that she puts pictures like that on the Internet for the whole world to see. You will note that nobody around here does stuff like that.

If you will allow us to continue with our cocktail party analogy (and, really, how can you stop the mighty force that is BS?), there comes a time in every party-goer’s life where conversation must be initiated. You can only hold up the wall for so long before you have no choice: you have to say “Hi” to your fellow wallflower(s). It can be a short “Hey, I see you have a great fondness for drywall” or a more detailed “So, you seem quite partial to the pattern of that wallpaper, but don’t you think the eggshell texture of this paint makes the room seem larger?”

Yes, yes, you do have a third option. You can slip out the back door while nobody’s looking. If that is your plan, read the rest of this post, but do not take any of the advice we offer. You do not need us. You do not need anybody.

So links are conversational gambits. We link to Jill’s blog not only because we really think the world needs to see her mullet, but also to let her know, “Hey, still alive, still breathing, and, yes, still making fun of you.” If we didn’t know Jill as well as we do, then our initial link would be akin to “Hi, pleased to meet you.” Sure, it can also come off as a desperate plea for attention, but who hasn’t done that at a party? At least links don’t come with really tacky lampshades.

Hmm, that, like most of our assertions, is not necessarily true.

Linking is how the Internet holds conversations. We link to Jill, she links back to us. One of Jill’s friends (let’s call her, oh, Gena) sees our conversation and says, “I have something to say about all this.” Gena’s friends saunter over and they invite their friends. Before long, it’s like a rave without the loud music.

Links are cheap and easy and a great way to draw attention to your website. “But BS,” you say, completely bewildered, “you are telling us to drive people away.” We can only offer the reassurance that comes from years of experience: they will come back. It might take a little time and a lot of perseverance (but, really, you have plenty of both, right?), but the link love will be returned.

So, why are links so all-important. In a word, search engines (yes, two words). Search engines like links — the more links pointing to your site, the more credibility you have in the eyes of the blind searchbots. This is why spammers do horrible, horrible things like insert faux comments into your blog and fake trackbacks and other nasty tricks. This is why you must not allow spam comments on your site. Do not give credence to these evil trolls. They are trying to steal your hard work because they are too lazy and too selfish to do their own work.

Ah, right, we got off track. You want incoming links. At the risk of oversimplifying things, you want links from the popular websites. You want links from older, more established domains. In order to get these links, you must give these links. Also, write really good content that is link-worthy. Or post a picture of yourself with a mullet. Your choice.

Organic link-building (i.e., not paying a company to get you linked from everywhere) is worth the effort because you are not only building your traffic, but you’re also building your community. It is often noted that the blogosphere is somewhat incestuous. That’s true — you tend to fall in with your peer group, while each individual in that group has outside interests that sometimes overlap, sometimes don’t. There’s a reason this Internet thing is called a web.

Oh, you don’t have to have a blog to do all this linking we’re talking about. Blogs are tools, not complete answers.

Be generous with your links. Give them away like candy on Halloween. Spread them throughout your site without fear. Do not be selfish and think that linking elsewhere will drive your traffic away. Sure people hop around the Internet — but they will come back if you play the game right.

Which reminds us: we owe you all a post on the virtues of good content. Never fear, we will not forget.

[tags]blogs, mullets[/tags]

File Under: Back To Basics

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