The Art of Backlinking

Filed as Features, Guides on December 24, 2007 10:34 am

Why are backlinks important? Backlinks are another jargon term for links that “come back” to your blog via blog post articles, blogrolls, comments, and such on other blogs. They are also known as referrals or incoming links. In the world of Google PageRank™, links to your blog count. The more incoming links the better, right?

Semi-right. Yes, incoming links to your blog count, but Google now uses TrustRank™ in their algorithm. Though it’s usage is still in its early days, TrustRank evaluates incoming links based upon the page ranking and “quality of trust” of the blog sending the links to your blog, the keywords within the two linking blogs, and a lot of other information and details. If the data doesn’t add up, that incoming link might not mean much. If the data does add up, it could be a boon to your blog and its page ranking.

The key to getting links to your blog is getting quality links, links that improve your blog by association, not numbers.

Asking For Links

One of the most common methods many SEO “experts” recommend is to just ask for links to your blog. You email or comment on the blog you want a link from and just ask. Guess how well that works?

A blogger will link to another blog if there is something in it for them, or they know the blogger fairly well. If you want your request for a link to get a response, give the blogger a reason to link to your blog.

Get to know them first. Spent the time it takes to get known by the blogger by blogging about them, networking, and becoming a resource and friend. After a few months, it’s okay to ask.

Until then, it’s a shot in the dark unless you can connect the post directly to them with information on how they could benefit by linking to it. Give them the benefits and rewards for linking to you, as you are asking them to send away their readers to your blog.

Asking For a Link Exchange

I’ll link to you if you link to me.

There is a growing trend against begging for links. It boils down to “How does a link exchange benefit me?”

Links have value, and bloggers understand value. Does your content match or complement theirs? It is pertinent to the conversation?

Is your page rank higher than theirs so it might lend a positive influence to theirs? Or is their page rank higher which will help you? Why should the blogger care about increasing your page ranking? Is page rank that important to you and your blog?

If the link doesn’t benefit the blogger, offering them a link exchange doesn’t do much for them.

Link exchanges and link lists don’t work. In the most recent version of their patent, Google puts more emphasis on links that are surrounded by content, not in a list. The words around the link play an important role in the quality of the link.

Link with intent. Link with content. And link without expectation of return. Link to help your readers. Link because the link is a better resource that what you have to offer at the moment. Link because a link is a letter of recommendation and your readers respect that.

Comments

Commenting on a blog does get you a link back to your blog, but if you really want the benefit of commenting on other blogs, make the comment content. Make the comment add to the conversation. Make it interesting enough that people will want to click through and check out what you have to say. Make it trigger their curiosity enough that the blogger will check out your blog, find that you are brilliant, and want to blog about you and your blog.

That’s a worthy backlink, don’t you think?

The reward of commenting outweighs any link juice or page rank you could possibly get from just commenting. Make your comment count and bigger blessings may come to your blog.

Signature Links

Most blog comments are displayed in this format:

Sally says: This is an interesting post. Thanks. Sally.

It’s redundant and a bit odd to add the sign off, so why bother. Still, people try to turn blog comments into traditional letters, but a blog comment is part of a conversation, not a letter.

Try this one:

Sally says: This is an interesting post. Thanks,

Sally Schruthers
CEO
Schruthers Bloggers Inc.
http://schruthersbloggersinc.com
http://my.exampleblog.here

Adding titles, blog names, and links to your blog in your comment signature is seen by many bloggers as desperate.

Why should you make a big deal over your comment signature? Because of the links.

Here are some things to consider about signature links:

  • Most blogs, especially WordPress blogs, add a nofollow to links within the comments, presumably taking away the “link juice” at least for Google as other search engines don’t recognize the tag. The links and comments end up indexed in search engines and found by searchers, so nofollow doesn’t work, but some think it does. Don’t waste your time with nofollow/dofollow. Concentrate on the comments as content.
  • Many blogs and bloggers are stripping links from comments as they don’t pertain to the conversation. If you don’t see signature links or signatures on any of the comments ahead of yours or on the blog, don’t do it.
  • Comments with one or more links are more likely to be put automatically into moderation or the comment spam catcher. Why risk it? It just makes more work for the blogger to approve comments and dig them out of comment spam. Your signature link isn’t worth increasing the work load of the blogger.
  • Why clutter up comments with big signatures and lots of links? Who cares if you are the CEO, CFO, or head snot of your one person blog? It is arrogant and bragging. And has nothing to do with the blog conversation unless you are making a point about who you are.
  • If comments are content, and mini-resumes, make sure your comment speaks well for you and your blog. It’s an open invitation to visit.
  • If all you are after are link backs, don’t comment.

Site Submissions

For many years, getting your site submitted and listed in online directories, search engines, and site submission sites was the key to getting noticed. Today, pings automatically announce new activity on your blog to search engines and directories and make site submissions almost obsolete.

Except for social bookmarking and site submission services.

Social bookmarking and site submission services are fads that are fading a bit in popularity as they have been abused and have lost much of their initial luster, but they do bring in traffic to your blog – if your blog post is worth the traffic.

The key is to provide content that is:

  1. Worth reading.
  2. Appealing to a wide audience.
  3. Worth linking to.
  4. Worth recommending to others.

That’s a tough combination.

Some social bookmarking and site submission services frown on you submitting your own post. In the past, they have come down very hard on self-submissions, so research well before submitting your own post under your own name.

I’ve found that the best way for inclusion on these sites is to let it happen naturally. Those who enjoy playing with these sites can spot a forced attempt quickly. It’s a peer pressure review system, so don’t risk getting a thumbs down.

Oh, cluttering your site with site submission buttons and links doesn’t improve your blog post’s chances of submission by readers. Most use bookmarklets or toolbars within their browser to make the process of site submission fast and easy. Either way, without the linkable content, no one will use the links.

Syndicate Articles

In the early days when people were searching everywhere for blog content, satisfied with publishing content not of their own creation, article syndication was really popular. It was a good way to promote yourself and your expertise, and include links back to your blog.

However, blog readers are not fools. They can spot faked and insincere content, especially cookie cutter content, in a second. They won’t be back. You want a readership that returns, eager for more. That requires original content.

There are still a few niches open for interesting articles for syndication, but most of the financial, real estate, blogging, parenting, and other popular subjects have been thoroughly covered. And if the blog your syndicated article appears on looks syndicated, it is usually immediately recognizable and dismissed by savvy web users.

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is becoming very popular, and I expect to see more bloggers hoping from blog to blog over the next year or so. You get a link back to your site and showcase your talents all in one blog post. That’s powerful linking.

If you want to guest blog, check around to find bloggers you can befriend and, in time and trust, ask them if you can guest blog on their blog. Give them your best content as a resume and recommendation to visit your blog.

If you want backlinks to your blog, you can also invite guest bloggers, who often blog about their guest blogging experiences on their blogs, with links to your blog and their posts.

Treat your guest bloggers well, and guest bloggers, treat your guest blogs well, and the experience can easily benefit both bloggers.

Have a Contest

It must be contest season because every other blogger seems to be having a blogging contest. Unfortunately, it also appears to be a competition, not just a contest, to see who can raise the most award money and prizes, as well as attention.

Contests can work well to attract a lot of attention and incoming links to your blog, but it’s hard to stand out in a crowded room of bloggers throwing contests at the same time.

Check what other contests are going on before you start one. Make it fun and unique, but make it easy to participate. The best contests are ones that are personal and intimate, challenging the readers in some way that helps them and helps you in return. Giving away everything on the planet to everyone who enters doesn’t build a relationship with your readers.

Remember, you want your readers to come back to your blog in spite of the contest, not just because of it.

Carnivals, Memes, and Challenges

Challenging your readers or participating in blog carnivals, memes, and challenges not only helps you generate content on your blog but also creates links to and from other blogs. Some writing challenges ask you to link to all of the other participants, as well as the two blogs directly involved, yours and the challengers. This spreads the link love around even more.

By participating in carnivals, memes, and challenges, you are also networking and getting to know other bloggers within your blog topic industry, and beyond. You are also reaching their readers, inviting them to come check out your blog, too.

There are many benefits that outweigh just the link juice by participating or writing these challenges.

Write Something Worth Linking To

And the winner is…write something worth linking to.

The better your content is, the more valuable it is to readers, the more timeless the content, the more likely others will read and enjoy it, link to it, write about it, and do so over time.

I still have blog posts from 2005 on that continue to show up on Digg and social bookmarking sites and be written about and linked to by bloggers discovering these posts as if they were new. And some of these continue to show up on my top ten list, even though they are now entering their third year of life.

A well-written, helpful, and timeless post can get you backlinks for years, not just minutes.

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  1. By Ravi posted on December 25, 2007 at 9:55 am
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    This is a great post, Lorelle.

    I only wish you had posted it on a day *other* than Christmas Eve, as I fear not as many people will see it now!

    Reply

  2. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on December 25, 2007 at 11:25 am
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    @Ravi:

    You think a post is only good for one day and then gone forever? Or that everyone in the world celebrates Christmas? :D

    Thanks for the kind words. I like writing timeless and holiday-less articles, and hopefully, many will see this as a “gift”.

    Besides, you’re here. That’s all that matters.

    Reply

  3. By Jenny posted on December 25, 2007 at 10:12 pm
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    yes but it’s all easier said then done. either that or I suck!!

    Reply

  4. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on December 25, 2007 at 11:46 pm
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    @Jenny:

    Actually, it is much easier said than done. Quit worrying about everyone else, and all that SEO/Page Rank crap, and write for your audience. Write for those you want to connect with on your blog. They will find you, if you invite them with words they are searching for.

    Reply

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  6. By Mike Figliuolo posted on January 10, 2008 at 9:55 pm
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    Thank you! Clear. Concise. Wise. Perfectly written for neophytes who have great content but are new to the world of blogging. I’ll definitely take your advice, continue to try to generate great content (both on my blog and in posts) and wait for the “bigger blessings.” Thanks for helping me avoid delving into tons of SEO algorithmic information and helping me focus on the content of leadership and business.

    Reply

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  9. By Kate posted on February 6, 2008 at 8:34 pm
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    You know, I’d find this FAR more persuasive, Lorelle, except that I noticed all of the links you made in the entry were to your site, or to things you’ve written on this site.

    So I visited your site, as I’ve done in the past, and found that most of your links are also to your own entries.

    Now, I understand the importance of self-linking as well as anyone (heck, I just wrote a post that linked back to my own entries, for that matter), but to do it almost without exception and THEN write an article on the “art of backlinking”?

    Sorry, but with all due respect, that just seems a bit too ironic for me to take the rest of the advice seriously.

    Reply

  10. By Garry S posted on February 7, 2008 at 1:21 pm
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    Excellent & thorough post Lorelle. I enjoyed your website also. I’ve just started a ‘marketing’ campaign for a website that I’ve worked two years building and rebuilding.

    Have you heard of the 80-20% mix of website marketing – building? For the past two years, its been 20-80 and I’ve struggle to pay the rent.

    Personally, I feel that if you have great posts, and many of them as you do, then why not self-link, and promote your posts? Especially if it helps point people in the right direction??

    Reply

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  15. By Nicholas Kamm posted on April 4, 2008 at 4:13 pm
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    So the part about commenting, you basically said everything not to do, so I’ll assume that never leaving links in the comment is for blogs that prompt you for your website when leaving a comment?

    Reply

  16. By Ryan O'Laughlin posted on October 11, 2008 at 12:41 pm
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    Thanks for this article. I have been working on gaining more information in regards to seo and I think this is one of the best ones I have read thus far. I think the part that you have in regards to contests may work well for me. However, I have not yet thought of a way to implement it. Also I thought that it was kind of interesting to see that people actually ask others for links that seems a little immoral to me. I am definitely focusing on the ping effect as well as content. I also took of my permalinks which I think helped greatly.

    Reply

  17. By Massimo GIANNINI posted on December 5, 2008 at 4:06 pm
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    My blog is not featuring under the other blogs’ – Links to this post- although I linked to them in my blog’s post. Backlink is not working for me…

    Reply

  18. By Free quality backlinks posted on May 27, 2013 at 12:48 pm
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    Most important backlinks in this order. 1. social bookmarking 2. blog comment 3. directory submission 4. forum signature

    Reply

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