Website designers – the techies – say that your blog should not link to other blogs. These techies are understandably focused on driving traffic to websites and say that if you include links to other people’s blogs (from your blog), then it is actually driving traffic away from your site.
But blogs are about communities so should we be linking to blogs by like-minded people we rate in the hope that these influential bloggers link back to us?
Andy Wake of Don’t Panic Projects has links to several well known PR blogs from his Eventualities blog and in return they link back to him. He feels that they increase the credibility of his blog. On the other hand, Northern Lights has no links to other blogs on our new website.
So what are the rules – indeed, are there any?
Karyn Fleeting, of Tinderbox Media, is a social media consultant and one of Northern Lights’ partners. Her blog “Corporate Blogger” has currently no links to other blogs. She believes there are two schools of thought on blogrolls (links to other blogs, usually placed in a blog’s sidebar) with the first school fearing that outbound links such as these can harm a site’s search engine rankings. Her own personal take is that we worry too much about blogrolls “hurting” our website search engine optimisation. She believes the benefits linking to other sites outweigh the disadvantages.
Other bloggers have different views. Jim Connolly, who writes “The Ideas Blog” and two other successful blogs, says “One of the best pieces of advice I was given when I started blogging was to link from my posts to other sites, wherever it was relevant to do so.”
His view is that as the Internet is built around links, if no sites gave external links then the Internet would not be a web, but a series of unconnected, individual sites. Rather than driving traffic away, Jim believes that links to other blogs are more likely to increase traffic to your blog. Judging by some of the comments in response to his blog there are plenty of bloggers who agree with him.
If web designers and professional communicators have different views on whether or not to link – and to other etiquettes of social media – how do we identify what is good practice, usual convention or simply a matter of personal preference?
It seems that many corporates are asking the same questions and are defining guidelines and social media policies to help employees do the right thing. Social Media Guidelines lists social media guidelines used by real companies including IBM, the BBC, Intel and Kodak who offer a downloadable “Social Media Tips” for improving business on their blog.
And Kodak’s view on ‘to link or not to link’ is clear. Number nine in their 10 Social Media Tips is “Be external. You don’t have to be 100% internally focused. Link to other blogs, videos and news articles.“
I very rarely comment on blogs, but as an experienced web developer and online marketing professional, I find this post quite emotive.
Firstly I would like to say, “what battle?” As a person within the industry, I know of very few “techies” that hold this view. To tarnish all “techies” with the same brush by saying that they don’t think outbound links are beneficial, is quite frankly old hat in itself.
It is well known within the industry that linkbuilding is a good practice, especially in blogs where links can be used to reference things, and in social media to develop networks etc. Jim Connolly’s view and his post are exactly the right kind of wavelength people need to be on when thinking about blogs and it’s good that you reference him.
However, “techies” are at the forefront of all these new and upcoming technologies; they are the guys who have their finger’s on the pulse, who work with them everyday, and some are even the ones developing them.
On another note, if Karyn Fleeting “believes the benefits linking to other sites outweigh the disadvantages”, then as a social media expert, why does she have “currently no links to other blogs” on her blog?
In summary, I think this post is based on a dated view of “techies”, and is flogging a debate that has already been concluded – links are good! Inbound or outbound, and using them in blogs and other social media, enhances communities and information sharing across the web.
@Pete Fieldway: Just wanted to clarify that (a) I wouldn’t describe myself as a “social media expert”; (b) right now that blog of mine mentioned above features plenty of outbound links to other blogs – just not a regular blogroll, which I think is what Carol meant. We’re on the same page, pretty much.
Good to see the Northern Lights blog is stimulating debate however I was surprised to see myself quoted when I thought your call was purely seeking advice on the subject of blog links. I don’t mind but I was concerned that your post appears to suggest we have linked to PR people for the sake of credibility. This is certainly not the case nor would I ever contemplate doing such a thing as it really isn’t what social media is about. Jim Connolly quite rightly points out that relevancy is key and that links are about connectivity and the social nature of the internet.
As an events company we were fortunate to become involved in social media conferences at a very early stage in the UK and we’ve been privileged to have worked with and become friends with many of the early influencers on the subject. The reason we link to them is because their content is fantastic (particularly as my background is in comms) and it also provides an easy route for our visitors to many of the blogs of speakers at our events. Of course we’re grateful that many of them link back to us as that has undoubtedly led new visitors to our blog but we’ve never asked anyone to do so.
As I think I said on the phone, social media is first and foremost about conversations and like-minded communities and links inevitably help bind the two together.
This blog seems to have caused quite a stir but it was never my intention to offend. In mentioning you I was making the point of the value of linking with like-minded people – something your blog does well. In this context I accept that ‘credibility’ was the wrong word to use.
Thanks for your comments as I always value your input.
No offence caused whatsoever!