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.“