New to Oregon, I’ve been asking around for advice on dentists, doctors, vets, and other services we will need in this new community. I love it when I get answers like:
“Oh, I’ve gone to her for years.”
“I used to take my children to him, and they still make the drive from wherever they live for their appointments.”
“I don’t go there, but my neighbor highly recommends them.”
Aren’t these the recommendations that help us choose one business over another? References that come with confidence established over time or from a trusted person?
How can we establish similar relationships through our blogs? One powerful tool is through the use of links.
Whether through intention or accident, the links from your blog to others are mini-letters of recommendation. When you link to an external site, you are inviting your readers, the ones you worked so hard to earn and keep, to click away. That link better be pretty special.
The recommendations we depend upon in our day-to-day blogging life exist on the web as blogrolls, post links, comment links, and trackbacks. When you offer a link, you are inherently making these trusted recommendations every day. You are encouraging your visitors to click and visit. Thus, it must carry your “stamp of approval”. Right?
Blogroll Link Relationships
A blogroll began as a place to recommend your favorite bloggers to others. Understanding the relationship the blogroll plays on your blog, the new Google Blog PageRank Patent puts more emphasis on blogrolls than ever before in determining your PageRank.
The Blog PageRank algorithm assumes that a higher ranking blogger is a trusted blogger and would not link to a spamming blogger. Your reputation is at stake dependent upon your linking relationships.
With this assumption in mind, your “trusted blogger ranking” benefits those you link to, adding to the value of their rating. Blogs deemed “high quality” by Google’s algorithm, also lend their value to your page ranking, so the relationship of linking benefits both blogs.
Just as you wouldn’t recommend any old specialist to a new neighbor, blog readers and Google assumes you wouldn’t just link to anyone. To make sure you are sincere in your link recommendations, the new algorithm tests the relationship between the linking blogs based upon content and keywords, hoping to eliminate splogs from the mix and discredit them. The more related the two blog’s overall content is, the stronger the relationship between the two blogs, the more both blogs benefit from the link connection.
If you make a recommendation to a dentist, doctor, or vet, and the person returns saying that had a miserable experience, aren’t you hurt? A little upset? After all, it was your good word that sent them there. You apologize the best you can, but don’t you want to pick up the phone and tell the specialist, “Hey, you let me down! I said good things and you didn’t live up to them!”
I put a lot of thought into my blogroll. I want to make sure I’m recommending good blogs and good people who know what they are doing. When someone leaves my blog to visit theirs, I want to make sure that their experience is a good one and that they don’t blame me for recommending a lousy blog. Don’t you?
Post Link Relationships
The most valuable spot to place a link is within your post content. This is where the real relationship between the blog and the linked source is established.
I’m often asked to do link exchanges with all types of blogs and websites. I refuse all of them. If you really want to get my link attention, then give me something worth linking to, worth writing about, worth recommending to my readers. I’m not interested in your link. I’m interested in your content.
I want to know that when I send you my precious reader, they will find something worthwhile there. I just told them they will find content related to the subject we are discussing, content that continues or adds to the conversation on my blog.
If a reader clicks and visits and finds my recommendation is right, the odds are that I will have gained a little of their trust and they’ll come back for more. I’ve established credibility, and hopefully earned enough respect to turn a casual visitor into a return customer.
If I’m wrong, I may never see them again. That’s how powerful links are. Links in your posts build trust inherently. Make a bad connection and you lose. Make a good one, and you might get a return customer. Make a great one and they will come back for more.
A link in a blog post with a recommendation to visit will give your blog more credit than a link sitting in a blogroll doing nothing for you. Want a real relationship with another blogger? Write about them and link to their best work. Want another bloggers attention? Write about them and their good work and see what happens to your new relationship. It’s amazing what linking relationships will build.
Comment and Trackback Link Relationships
Comments continue what you started with your blog post. You start the conversation, recommend links to your readers, and then your readers respond in kind.
In their comments, people often include links to recommend other sources and more information. For your commenters, these links are their recommendations, links to sites they believe will aid the conversation.
People take the links they include in your blog comments seriously. They know they risk getting moderated or picked up by comment spam fighting tools, so they link carefully, not to exceed two to three links.
It is their recommendation. Their contribution. It’s their attempt to further the relationship between you, the blogger, and they, the reader, making a connection through sharing.
A trackback takes the relationship even farther. A trackback is a link from one post to another, alerting them that there’s a discussion going on about this blog post elsewhere. Trackbacks are the real letters of recommendation on the web. It’s a magical method of establishing relationships from one blog to another blog and another.
When you read through the comments and see a trackback, aren’t you interested to know what another blogger is saying on this topic? Sometimes a comment isn’t enough for a reader. They feel they must write a blog post to fully respond to the issue on your blog. A single post can inspire other blog posts, which can inspire others to write even more on the subject, all connected via trackbacks.
As advanced as our civilization may be, we are still intrigued by gossip, who is talking about whom and what others have to say on the subject. While trackbacks aren’t blatant gossip rags, they fill this “inquiring minds want to know” need.
An interesting aspect between building relationships with your blog and comments, is that the more comments and trackbacks a post has, the greater its interest, to your readers as well as to Google’s PageRank. If you spot a post with 62 comments, aren’t you going to sit up and take notice? The number of “votes” on a social networking service also attracts more attention than less higher ranking ones. You can’t help but check it out. You want to know what is going on and be a part of the action.
As part of my ongoing series here on exploring blog relationships in preparation for the Successful and Outstanding Blogger Conference in Chicago, May 11-12, 2007, on Thursday, I’ll look at the popularity factor of your blogs. How your most popular posts give you a chance to create a relationship with new visitors, and what you can do to keep them and strengthen that relationship.
In the meantime, start seriously thinking about how the links on your blog help to build the very relationships you trust in your day-to-day life. Isn’t it time your link was as good as your word?
Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on Lorelle on WordPress.
Article Series on Blog Relationships
- Building Blog Relationships: Reaching Out
- Linking Relationships
- Building Relationships With Your Most Popular Posts
- Building Blog Relationships: Making a Good First Impression
- Blog Relationships: Fishing With Lures and Bait
- Blog Relationships: Are You Listening To Your Readers?
- The Relationship Conference: Building Blogs Through Interaction