This week's topic is: What's the Best Way to "Link Back" and Why Should I Do It?
Forgive the length of this post, but I really wanted to share with you all the reasons why linking back is so important. Other bloggers like to talk about it behind-the-scenes, but it's not often tackled head-on in a post. I'm not writing this to shake my finger at anyone or to come across as a cranky hostess, but I have been frustrated over the past year or so with link parties and have thought about ways we can improve things.
I've seen bloggers fret and complain about "who makes these blogger etiquette rules anyways?!" The honest truth is while there are no hard and fast rules to the blogosphere, there are basic guidelines. We observe guidelines because they make the blogosphere a nicer place to be. Bloggers who have been around for some time care about setting standards. It's no different for any other aspect of life...the "pioneers" forge the way for the rest of us!
Today we'll explore why taking the time to add a link back directly to your blog party posts is important.
I realize that this is a pretty hot topic and can stir up some conflicting opinions. I write this post from the point of view of someone who joins various link parties weekly and hosts one weekly. After several years of experience and lots and lots of discussion with bloggers far more successful than I am, I felt like it was time to write this.
If you sit and think about many of these points, a lot of it is just common sense. Please, if you regularly join link parties, continue reading with an open mind....
What is the best form of linking back to a blog party?
Simply put, the absolute best way to link back to a blog party is to insert a text link directly into the post you are adding to the blog party. We talked about how to add a text link back to your posts earlier in the series, and I mentioned that it's easiest to just quickly add them to the end of the post you'll be linking up.
This is pretty much guaranteed to endear you to blog party hostesses everywhere.
Can you pick out the correct text link back?
A) Linking here
B) Linking to these parties
C) Linking to Serenity Now
If you picked C, you were correct. A is okay, but really...if you're going to link to someone, why not just include the blog name and give that person credit? We'll get to the futility of link party pages later in the post.
In their most basic form, blog parties are a form of Quid Pro Quo. "I scratch your back, you scratch mine." I'm hosting your link about a DIY Toilet Paper Caddy from here to eternity, sending future readers your way each time they click on your thumbnail. In return, I ask you to place a simple "I'm linking to Serenity Now" text link or something like that at the bottom of the post you are sharing. I send readers your way, you send some my way so they can find similar posts from the party.
Why is a text link back in my post so important? Why can't I just direct readers to my "link party page" on my blog?
Text links added directly to your blog party post are better for both the hostess and the blogger linking up:
I am not very knowledgeable on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but I did some research online after some of the (much, much bigger) bloggers noted that this is an important factor in link parties and link backs.
I'll share some links to online articles about SEO at the end of this post. Basically, what I've learned from articles and more experienced bloggers is that Search Engines look to see who you are linking directly to (ie. all those thumbnails on my site for my weekly party). When the Search Engine sees that a large percentage of those specific posts do not contain a link back to my site (within the post URL!), it can be bad. For me and you! If you're confused, Google "do follow links."
From what I understand, SEO is why text links are better than including a blog button in your post. I try to include a direct link to the party's specific URL when I can, but from what I understand, a text link to the hosting blog's homepage will also suffice.
If SEO isn't enough to make you want to link back within your post, then consider #2 on the list.
Several years ago, when I started blogging, link parties were a new thing and there weren't a lot of them. It was just expected that if you joined one, you read the hostess' guidelines and linked back out of respect for her and the work she did to put the party together.
Somewhere along the line, parties began to pop up everywhere and bloggers started linking their posts up to any party they might come across without linking back. You'd see the same craft post at 15 different blog parties, but no mention of those parties from the blogger. She was getting tons of traffic from these parties and growing her blog, but neglected to give credit to the sources of that traffic. Everyone seems to be in such a rush to be the next famous blogger that they aren't stopping to take a breath and remember their fellow bloggers.
Give credit where credit is due, and be consistent. It is really frustrating when someone links to one of my parties and has linked back to all of the larger blogs she partied with, but left out the small ones. Small blogs deserve that link back just as much as the large ones. (And a small blog may be more likely to see your link and feature it!)
3. Link Party Pages don't really help anyone
Sure, link party pages are great if a reader wants to browse and find a fun new site to follow. It's a nice service to provide for visitors, but it doesn't help blog party hostesses. My Analytics have never shown me any noticeable traffic that corresponded from a blogger's link party page/sidebar to my blog party.
I've noticed bloggers saying, "But the party link/button on my sidebar or link party page is there forever. I'm directing my readers to you that way."
If you pause to think about the work that would go into it for the reader, it really doesn't make sense:
-You write a really cool post about Chocolate Cake and link it to my party. You have my party button on your Link Party page, but you don't add a text link back to me within your post.
-Suzy Reader loves your post about Chocolate Cake and wants to know where to find other cool posts like this one because she sees your "Linking to These Parties" link at the bottom of your post.
-So you get an extra click on your site when Suzy Reader clicks over to your Link Party Page.
-She sees about 85 blog party buttons, all piled together in one big jumble.
-The probability that Suzy Reader will see my blog party button, click on it, go to my blog, and then browse pages of my blog to find the party you linked Chocolate Cake up to is very very small.
-And again, don't forget the SEO!!
4. What have you got to lose?
Yes, it does take time to add a text link at the bottom of your posts when you link them up. But responsible linking can also earn you Features. You're much more likely to get extra traffic from a blog party feature, as opposed to just adding your link and then moving on to the next party.
If you are too busy to edit your post and add a quick link back, then you might need to consider if you are linking to too many parties. Anything worth doing well will take time, so why not go the extra step and be rewarded for it?
5. Hostesses can't be hypocrites!
Hostesses who ask readers to link back should follow their own rules. I often have bloggers who host their own parties (and have much bigger sites than me) link up. With no link back. Yet they require the same thing from their readers. That's unfair and (in my honest opinion) pretty disrespectful, particularly when you are knowingly adding your post to a party with set guidelines for link backs.
In that same thread, hostesses who ask for link backs should encourage the practice by offering an incentive like a Feature on the blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or even Twitter!
Why do party hostesses care so much about me adding a link back into my post? What's the big deal?
It's not a big deal when it happens a few times. But when you spend hours hosting a party each week, it's frustrating when it continues to happen on a large scale. It's not the end of the world and hostesses don't think about it all day, but it sure can put a hiccup in the way your party grows.
It is a lot of work to put together a link party, whether you host it weekly, monthly, or even just occasionally. As we launch into the how-tos of hosting over the next few weeks, you will see that hosting a blog party is so, so much more than just pasting some code in your blog's html and watching the links pile up.
As stated above, a blogger puts her site's SEO on the line when she hosts a party. When numerous participants neglect to link back to her site within the post(s) they add to her party, it can be damaging. People who are serious about growing their blog, their party, and their readership care about things like this. You can't grow a party easily when half of the participants don't bother to let their readers know where they're linking up!
Many hostesses are invested financially in their blog parties. It costs money to use a linking service (like inlinkz). Even if it's not a lot of money, I have to pull from money I've earned writing articles or finding sponsorships to pay for the service. To help promote both of us!
Some hostesses are so frustrated with the lack of follow-through that they've edited their party codes to only accept posts that can detect a link back embedded within the post. Others (myself included) add a note to their parties alerting readers that they only feature posts with a link back in the post.
I can't tell you how many awesome posts I pass by every week because I don't see a link back within the post. I know it can be easy to forget when you're in a hurry, but some bloggers link up week after week...with no link back. I hate passing those posts by for a Feature, but I also want to be fair to the readers and bloggers who take the time to read and follow my guidelines. I know many other hostesses feel the same way.
To sum up, I know some of you will continue to keep your link backs on your link party pages. Or not link back at all. Is it the end of the world? Absolutely not? Is it the end for party hostesses everywhere? No!
But it certainly would make the blogosphere a better place if we all considered those around us, reading guidelines before linking up, and offering credit to the blogs hosting our links and sending traffic our way.
Next week, we'll talk about choosing a photo for your link up thumbnail.
Here are a few articles on SEO I found: SEO Tipsy, The Blog Optimizer, Phoenix Realm, Shout Me Loud
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