If you’re one of those people who is opposed to blog links, then you’re not thinking of inbound links as a potential to send qualified traffic to your site, and that’s a serious marketing mistake. Occasionally one of our clients will state that they’d no longer like us to pursue blog links, and we argue until we’re blue in the face. Some keywords happen to lend themselves to blogs more than proper sites anyway, especially the really narrow niche ones.
Ever seen an entire authority website that is strictly devoted to creating kid-friendly crafts using rubber animal stamps that are made from recycled and reclaimed materials? No, neither have I. However, the narrow niche categories that people create blogs around continually surprises and amazes me. Blogs are easy to build, and many non-technical people have been able to share their passions with the world simply by building a very simple WordPress blog, for example. Why ignore that community?
There are many theories about the link juice passed by blogs, so I won’t go into that here. Besides, I’m talking about traffic here, not juice. I’d take a link on a fantastic PR 2 blog post before I’d take one on the homepage of a PR 5 site that’s totally irrelevant to my niche. Sure, I might get more link juice from the site, but the potential for quality traffic is more important in many cases, though not all, as some people just want better rankings.
7 ways to tell if a blog is a good linking partner
1. It has fresh, regularly updated, unique content. A blog that exists as nothing else except a rehashing of other blog posts, or one that simply runs a feed of other people’s work, is not a quality linking partner.
2. It links to other relevant sites that are of equal footing in the niche. Whether in the blogroll or in the blog posts themselves, outbound links should be the same types of links that you’d pursue yourself. If there are 50 links in the sidebar and they’re on every page, I’d certainly not ask for one of those kinds of links. If the only links that you can see are totally irrelevant and a bit misleading, you might be better off going elsewhere. If the blogroll contains a few links to sites/blogs that are also of an acceptable quality and the posts link to a few relevant pieces of content, you may have a winner.
3. It’s not overloaded with banners and ads. While I understand the need to make money, I also recognize that many people won’t stay on a site that looks as if it exists just to make money. You may have great content, but it might never get seen because people are so turned off.
4. Its posts are indexed and rank well for keywords. If there are no technical reasons for older posts to not be indexed and they’re missing in action, this might not be a good choice. We’ve recently come across a few blogs that are totally blocked by the robots.txt files, and since they don’t exactly rank well, I’d not bother with those. It’s hard to get traffic when you don’t have any rankings.
5. The backlinks are good. This doesn’t mean that there are a billion of them, but the ones there should be from respectable sites. Look for non-blog niche sites that link out to the blog, for example. If the majority of a blog’s backlinks are from irrelevant, spammy sites, I’d move on.
6. There’s a visible community there. People are commenting and the blog authors are responding. Comments are more than “great point! I’ll be back soon!” When there’s a great dialog going on somewhere, people return to it, and other people keep coming to it. Those people see your link, right?
7. The blog has a presence in social media. While certainly not a dealbreaker, having a Twitter account or a Facebook fan page means that the blogger understands the value of marketing in those mediums.
As I said earlier, I’m ignoring the link juice aspect of blogs in this piece simply because I want to underscore the importance of building blogs into your linking campaign. They’re good for traffic, remember, and they’re fantastic for building a community.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.