Why Blogging Works – Inbound Links
Whether you’re promoting yourself, your product, your service, or your business, everyone tells you that you need to start a blog. A lot of places will tell you how to do it. But very few will tell you why blogging works. Understanding why will help you get more out of your blog.
Last week I talked about outbound links and said that they just might be the reason why blogging works to promote your brand. If it’s not outbound links, then inbound links are a strong contender. Once more, to understand how this works we need to understand a bit about how modern search engines work. Let’s recap from last time:
Google began as a research project by its two co-founders into a new technique to make internet searches better. They created a system called “PageRank.” The extremely simplified version is this: every time one page on the internet links to another, that link counts a “vote.” The more votes a page has, the higher its PageRank is. When searching for keywords, the algorithm first finds pages that match those words. Then it checks the PageRank of each page, and the page with the higher PageRank wins. But they got a little smarter than that, even, and added a few layers to it. They manage it by individual keywords. Say your page is about cars. Another page links to you, and includes the word “cars” in the link. If somebody comes along later and is searching for cars, that counts as an extra vote, because they used that keyword to link to you. And if their page is about cars – and ranks well for cars – then that vote counts even more.
Remember, this is a vastly simplified explanation. That’s ok. Just remember the three mnemonics. Links are good. Links that use specific, relevant keywords are better. Links from a “reputable” site are even better.
That’s all great, you say, but how is my blog going to help with that? Your blog helps because it’s easier to get quality inbound links to a blog than it is for just about any other form of content. I’ve run several web sites over the years and I can tell you hands down that this is true.
Getting inbound links to your blog isn’t as easy as it used to be. Back in the day everybody’s blog had a comment section and – like mine still does – those comments linked straight back to… well, whatever you told them to. And people liked it if that linked back to your blog. If you left interesting comments, they wanted to go see what else you had to say. So they’d follow the links.
This still works – just not as well as it used to. A lot of blogs use commenting systems that don’t provide direct links anymore. Many others don’t accept comments at all. But there are still plenty of blogs out there that do this. Find them and take advantage of it. Be sure that the comments you leave are relevant to the topic of each individual post. And personally, I try not to leave a comment unless I have something useful to add. But blog comments are a major way to get quality backlinks to your site. Google Webmaster Tools currently recognizes 4,275 links pointing to this blog from the blogspot.com domain alone. That’s a lot of comments! But I’ve left them at various blogs over 15 years. Many of them have pointed to this blog since its very first incarnation. And the beauty of the internet is that those links didn’t go away when I shut that blog down. They were right there waiting when I started it up again.
Some other techniques to get high quality inbound links for your blog:
- Write about other people, especially bloggers. Review their products. My review of Somewhither is one of the top ten traffic generating pages on this site, and is responsible for more inbound links than almost any other page. Why? Because Mr. Wright saw it, liked it, and linked back to it.
- Interview other people. They like to hear about it, and they’ll tell their readers about it. My interview with Brian Niemeier is another of my best-linked pages. I definitely plan to do more of those. [Hint: if you’d like to be interviewed on this blog, drop me a line!]
- Write about things that people want to talk about – especially scandalous or controversial things. My post about science fiction and fantasy fandom’s pedophilia problem is my most linked page as of today.
Inbound links are a major reason why blogging works to help build your brand. Know how to build them and don’t neglect the work!