Bloggers use links for multiple reasons, such as:
- Directing readers to external sources.
- Building up a sense of authority.
- Giving the content more substance.
These are the pros of link-building, the good things that come of it. But all too often I come across articles that use links incorrectly in an attempt to leech off of someone else’s work and incorrectly pursue the above three points. How, then, should we use links on our blogs?
1. As References
Most of what I write is in response to something I’ve read. New info on guest blogging? I’m on it. A Facebook update I saw tweeted by a blogger? I’m there. Links are what allow us to jump through the Internet with a sense of purpose.
Typically, when I link content, it is to give readers an additional resource and to prove that the information I’m using isn’t my own. My thoughts and opinions are, of course, but not necessarily the facts.
This is the best way to use links to external sites. There are times, though, when bloggers will overdo it just to gain notice from other websites. Is this a bad thing? Not always, though using links as authoritative markers can decrease the quality of your content.
2. As Launch Pads
Like #1, links are often the spark of inspiration bloggers need to develop content. I often come across posts where a writer introduces an article or another blogger’s post, adds in a link and some pull-quotes, and starts taking apart arguments and asserting opinions.
This is all good and well as long as the blogger isn’t using linked content to fill out a post. Readers don’t go to blogs to see what’s hot in the news—they visit them to learn what you have to say about certain topics.
3. As Promotion
Links are a great way to promote others, not necessarily yourself. I frequently come across blogs where the writer collects a group of “Best Posts of the Week,” adds descriptions, and puts in links to external sites. Do they have to do this? No. Are they seeking something in return? Sometimes.
This form of link-building is the healthiest out there. It’s your chance to promote other websites you enjoy reading posts on, new authors, and so on. If anything, you can expect a comment or thank you link-back from the linked writer, thus expanding your readership.
From links stem rumors, accusations, marketing tricks, and all sorts of tactics bloggers use to increase readership. It’s easy to dismiss these as long as you’re healthily using links to add substance to your content alongside your own thoughts.