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The Zen Guide to links and linkies….

How many links should I have on my blog, The Middle-Sized Garden? Many bloggers seem baffled, so I have asked the experts to tell me all about links and linkies. Since Google’s last rearrangement of its algorithm, some bloggers worry about too many links on their sites, in case Google marks them down as spammers. But the right links are also the key to your site rising higher up the Google rankings when people search for you using keywords. So this is what the experts say:

screenshot of linky

A screenshot of LoveChicLiving’s invitation to other bloggers to join a ‘linky’.


1) Inbound links are great for your search rankings. An ‘inbound’ link is when, for example, Website A mentions your website with a link, so that people can click straight through from Website A to you. If a much more successful website links to yours, says specialist editor Andrew Gillard of Gillard Editing, then Google will be notice and will rank you higher in its search engine rankings. That’s why blog coach supremo Jon Morrow of Boost Blog Traffic advises you to do guest posts for major blogs. Even if a small site links to you, it will do you some good, provided that it has relevant content.

2) Outbound links are generally considered to be ‘neutral’, according to Andrew. That means they won’t affect your ranking either way. An ‘outbound’ link is when you mention, for example, Website B on your site, so that people can link to Website B from your site. You won’t be penalised by Google for having outbound links (unless they’re spammy).

3) And outbound links do have advantages. ‘Zero outbound links are a bad idea’  say search and internet marketing specialists Hoffman Consultants. Without any outbound links your site becomes a ‘dead end’ and therefore less helpful. Search engines like helpful sites. They don’t like unhelpful sites quite so much. The right, relevant outbound links can provide a service to your readers or customers, and if Website B gets traffic from you, they may ultimately link to you in return. That will help your rankings.

4) What sort of sites should I link to? Hoffman Consultants recommend linking to sites that prove you’ve done your research properly – for example, I have linked to Hoffman’s excellent article because that’s where I found the information, and if you’re interested, you can find out more. That’s useful to you. If enough people click through, Hoffman may notice and link back to me.  Or maybe not. The point is that I have supplied useful information, and have both verified and credited it. Hoffman think these sort of links are better in specific articles than in a ‘resources’ at the end.

5) What sort of sites should I NOT link to? Google is very clear about this one. Don’t link – in or out – to spam sites, or sites which promise lots of links for money. They will find out and mark you down. And keep an eye on your own site – clear away spam comments regularly.

6) Never buy links. And always check that a site is relevant and providing quality information before you link to it in any way. You wouldn’t invite anyone into your home without checking them out first – take the same attitude to your blog.

7) What about paid links? Matt Cutts of Google is very clear about this, too (check out his video on Google+). If you have been paid for a link or a post, you must make it clear to readers that it is sponsored or an advertisement. If you are sent a product for review or are given hospitality, say so. Most bloggers I read are meticulous about this, because they know that their reputations are the most important element of their blogs.

8) What about ‘linkies’ and ‘linky parties’? Many blogs run ‘linky parties’, where they choose a topic (for example, ‘Easter’ or ‘home decorating’). They then invite other bloggers to link to it, following the instructions on their site. Your linked blog-post must be relevant – there is no point linking a post about ‘sailing’ to a linky party about ‘home decorating’ unless you are talking about decorating the interior of your boat. And make sure you are linking with a real blog-post, not just plonking your commercial website in there.

Participating in linkies (Mumsnet do regular ones) is a good way of finding other good blogs in your area, and getting your own blog better known.  I have recently done a linky with LoveChicLiving with The Middle-Sized Garden, and I have found new readers who leave good comments. As with everything in blogging – keep linkies relevant, and you will benefit.

I hope that helps – and if you know any link or linky tips that I haven’t mentioned, please do say!





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