Thinking About Linking
So you’ve created the greatest blog your niche has ever read, complete with information that is innovative, inspiring, and at times humorous, but you just aren’t seeing the leads pouring in like you anticipated. What now?
One of the biggest mistakes writers make when creating a blogging masterpiece is not considering how their content will relate to their own product or services and how it builds on existing information already published on the web. More specifically how to link them together. Linking is like a handshake, an endorsement of trust from one individual to another in a show of faith or common cause.
Handshakes and links have different values depending on the setting and the relevance between the two participants or linking pages. According to Wikipedia, “Its purpose is to convey trust, respect, balance, and equality.” The same can be said for links regarding the expectation of trust in the information or action that occurs at the destination of the link when clicked.
Like the introductory handshake leading to a potential relationship, the length and depth of the interaction between the linking pages is gauged by what happens next. Links to and from pages are measured in the same fashion. Did the reader’s initial click lead to a deep read that accessed parts of the website, or was it a one click fling, with nary a backspace glance as they left the site? The amount of time spent after the introduction often accurately determines the value of the handshake or link.
Taken from a different perspective a person who does not have anyone to shake hands with is typically alone, either in a physical sense or philosophically. Pages that have links to and from them are generally viewed as “popular” by Google, especially when the linking or page linked to have similar attributes or ideals in common. An article that has no links to or from them are like the awkward individual in the corner you barely see, alone and unappreciated due to their lack of interaction.
As alluded to earlier, the best possible scenario is finding content within your site or on other sites that relates to the topic you’re writing about. Both scenarios provide opportunities to formulate ideas about what topics to discuss with your target audience either internally, or directed into your post by other linking sites. The movie “Field of Dreams” sums it up nicely: “If you build it, they will come.” The same holds true for expected traffic from a well thought out and linked-to post as opposed to a stand alone piece.
Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Find Me a Match!
Enter Google and the rest of the search engines, acting as the matchmakers. Like any successful matchmaker, search engines try to determine, what you are looking for and which page you will find it on. Google and Bing take it a step further by introducing personalized search into the mix. Using past search history and behavior allows them to predict a successful match to your search by tracking what other users, like you, found interesting and where they interacted the most with the spectrum of sites covering your topic of search. Understanding what your user is looking for within your blog or article, and areas that they may be further interested in that you aren’t covering, provide great opportunities for linking. The more your information has in common with the overall need of the user, the more likely the search engines will pick your site as the choice of introduction for it’s user.
Wanted: Compatible Content, Must be Relevant, No Duplicates
A great way to get a birds eye view of the topics you should be linking to, or writing additional material about and then linking back to your original article is by using the Google suggest option. The simplest way to determine what Google associates with your topic of choice is to type it in to the search bar. While you are typing, Google will start listing areas that they have found are associated with your topic. Depending on the depth and breadth your topic you may see many branching suggestions or very few. General topics tend to have more suggestions and tightly niched topics may have less due to the expected knowledge base of the user that is searching for your specific topic.
While there are other signals and metrics involved with how search engines will rank you, including social sharing, the classic journalism standard holds true to linking as it does parts of a story, “Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How” are all questions that should be answered when thinking about linking and trying to get others to link to you. If you think of your site, blog, or even social presence as a whole theme rather than a series of posts or articles, your ability to link within your presence and other outside resources increases in value to the user and correspondingly, search engines.