Linking 101

After reading a post on Techdirt where the writer was talking about the NY Times getting sued for linking to another news site, it occurred to me that there are some folks out there who don’t get this concept all that well. So, I thought I’d spend a couple of minutes talking about it, not necessarily for the every day reader of this blog, but for someone who might be a little bit new and wonder what this thing means.

I also do it because earlier this year I linked to someone, trying to give them some love, and she complained because she said someone else told her our businesses were too similar and that I might take business away from her, plus she wanted more control over who visited her site. Yes, it was somewhat ignorant, but it’s hard to overcome someone else’s “expert” sometimes, so you just do as they ask and more on.

Linking is pretty much what the internet is based on. Every time you see something on a website that has an underline on it, and you hover over it and you see some kind of change, that’s a link that’s going to take you somewhere else on the internet. On this site, I don’t have my links underlined, but everything that’s this color (except for that) is a link to something else. Not all sites use underlines, just to get that out of the way.

Anyway, links are important because they help the writer highlight something that will either help the reader gain more understanding, or give the reader something else to read to help the writer, or sells something. Links are good for almost all parties almost all of the time. I’m not going to get into the dofollow/nofollow, but you can click on the link to go back and join in on that particular conversation. It was from back in October; see, having a link to take you back to that discussion saves us both the time and inconvenience of having to write the entire thing out again. And, from my perspective, it gives me another chance to highlight a page on my blog that has some type of significance to this particular discussion.

Anyway, most people know that someone linking to your website or blog is a very good thing, especially if it wasn’t asked for. This is known as “backlinks”, or one-way links, and search engines consider those valuable because, in their minds, the writer has deemed that content important enough to link to without requiring the person to give a reciprocal link back. So, even if the writer is using your content to help them with what they have to say, online it helps the originator of the content more, for the most part; reference that “dofollow” link discussion above for more.

Now, the only time someone might not benefit is if they’re content is being linked with someone whose content is somewhat controversial; yes, that’s a nice way of putting it. If you write about roses and you find your link on a hard core pornographic site, you might not appreciate it as much and want the link taken off; that “guilt by association” thing. However, people aren’t under any obligation to remove your link from their sites, and most of the time, it’s good news for you. It’s also not as beneficial when someone is stealing your content as soon as you’ve written it, but over time it doesn’t hurt you as much.

So, the company suing the NY Times not only got it wrong, but they’re severely hurting themselves. Having an entity like the NY Times helping to promote you without your asking for it would be considered a godsend by many. Having that entity decide that, from this point on, nothing you write will ever be on their site, period, including your name, is bad for you. Having the rest of the world read the article and decide that your name is synonymous with danger and, therefore, not having us post anything with your name or link attached, will definitely be a bad thing also (notice I have never mentioned the organization? They’ll not be getting any free press from me). Their advertisers will slowly shrink up as they’ll wonder why no one is looking at their ads. Links help drive people to your site; no links, and you have to hope for your hard core visitors only. That reduces the scope of the people who might find you and your content interesting; that benefits no one.

Anyway, that’s all I have for you. The regular readers have probably moved on without getting to the end, but that’s okay; I’ll take care of them next time. 🙂

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32 comments on “Linking 101

  • It is true that some people fail to understand the value of linking, some people are downright stupid about linking. I recently got an email about a link and the guy demanded I take it down because it was in a controversial post. here was the laughable thing about it, the site in question uses text link ads, and the link was one this guy was paying me $20 a month for. First off with the TLA plugin placing the link in the post, I couldn’t have removed it if I had wanted to, but the blog is PR 5 with like a PR2 for the page and it gets hundreds of visits a month even a year after the post was written. This guy has a PR0 blog. Since he was none to bright I replied to his email stating he should be paying me to keep it up rather asking me to take it down I also gave him my paypal account where he could send me $25.00 a month to keep it up. I am just going to die if he actually pays it.

    Brad Hart´s last blog post..Lazy Plugins Fix Your Own Post Slugs

    • Now that’s funny, Brad. It also highlights the other side of paying for text link ads, that being that you never know where your link will end up. Since I do know they have some standards, the post can’t be all that controversial from where I sit. Sometimes people just don’t want the help.

      • You do have to be cautious that is for sure. I recently found a respected link selling company that offers bloggers the opportunity to sell links that not only go to non-english speaking sites, but for the new anchor text to be in languages other than english. I declined that opportunity, I can pretty easily translate if it was in say french or spanish, but some of the asian languages I can’t get a good free tanslation on certainly gave me pause.

        Brad Hart´s last blog post..Popular Tips

      • Yup, having someone else translate your links into their language would be very problematic, not knowing if they got it right or not. Also, we do have to be careful where we allow our links to go, if we purchase them, which is why it’s not such a bad thing having something like that Top Links/ScratchBack thing I have at the top left.

      • I had a scratch back up on a couple of blogs of 10k plus hits a month blogs and never had a single taker. I gave the space up for affiliate ads that did a lot better.

        Brad Hart´s last blog post..Popular Tips

      • It is the the great big black button that says make a relevant comment. When it only said submit people left inane crap about how wonderful their comment spam was and I should be lucky to have it. I have added a statement underneath the button to make it clear. Also know that if you fail to make your comment relevant I will inform both Santa and the Easter Bunny since they follow me on twitter.

      • I am not sure the button size or statement has done anything other than made that snarky part of me feel better. Since going to a non standard button my comments have dropped a little, but I don’t know that it has anything to do with the button. What has killed my comments to some degree was changing my dofollow policy to eliminate in comment text dofollow text inks for unregistered users and making it so they needed 4 comments before their heading link went dofollow. With this change I stop showing up as a dofollow blog in some search tools.

        Registered users get full benefits, and despite getting some registered since opening that option up very few have registered or taken advantage of the dofollow links in the forum, their profile or to submit guest articles for consideration.

        Brad Hart´s last blog post..Brad’s Social Status for 2008-12-25

      • I have to admit that I’m one of those people who won’t register to make comments on blogs, and in general I hate registering for stuff, though occasionally I do it. Even wrote a blog post about it a long time ago; I guess it’s my own way of being snarky (I like that word).

      • You can make the comments perfectly well without registering, it just requires people to make more of them before the nofollow goes away. I think it is pointless to make most blogs registration only for comments. However if you add the option of registration you can offer people who want to become involved in the site something more.

        I have seen the benefit on several popular blogs of getting live links and profiles. I am really going to push the benefit of registering for a few sites this year to get more involved members. The more involved your members are, the easier the site becomes to manage and when you run more than a dozen blogs of your own that is something you can’t afford to pass up.

        Brad Hart´s last blog post..Moving Servers and New Offers

  • I’d never thought about it all that much, to tell you the truth. The one thing I did have to learn is that you can pretty much link to anyone you want to, for any purpose you want to use it for.

  • That story is almost too much to believe! I hope the NYT does not feel too bad about being sued for the link. They just need to be careful to choose their links with more discretion.

    For example they should feel free to link to me, anytime they please. I won’t get mad at them for doing it… ever…I promise.

  • Jordan Pearce says:

    To think they wasted time and probably money trying to take something like this to court. Was the link from the NY Times good or bad?

    In your other mention I can see the woman’s POV of competition. Too bad she couldn’t get over it. Maybe the person who does her site or SEO is paranoid.

    I’d love it if the competition talked about, and linked to me. I wont get my hopes up since I talk SEO at times.

    A scraper site did blatantly steal my content though. I’m in the process of taking care of that.

    Google has too many people on edge with their ‘bad neighborhood’ policy. As you stated of course roses and porn don’t mix (to some anyway…) but you cannot control what other people do all the time.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jordan. As far as the lady and the competition, it should have been me worried about the competition more than her, yet I was willing to add it anyway.

      How do you take care of these scraper sites? The best I could think of was to every once in awhile leave a comment being sarcastic in my thanks for them stealing my content.

      • Hi Mitch – I have had scraper sites do the same thing many times in the past. Now the common abuse seems to be trackbacks from spam sites.

        For the scrapers, if the site was run by a human, which was the case a few times, I went directly to their host. It worked all except one time. On the one where the host was not helpful, I went through the scraper site and notified about 20 others who had their content stolen. Then I waited. Eventually the site was taken down.

        If the scraper site is automated, there are many different approaches to take. My favorite site to find advice and help for this issue is Jonathan Bailey’s Plagiarism Today site: http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/

        Jon is a great guy who will give you personal help and advice. His site is so complete that you can probably find exactly what you need already posted there.

        -Will

      • Will there is a cool way to help yourself when you get scraped. Always check out the blog that scraped you on Alexa and look at its incoming links. These blogs linking to the scraper are probably in your niche and likely have a low or no threshold for dofollow links. They make great places to comment on or get trackbacks from.

        If you want to know how effective this can be I have new blog with all of 4 posts get scraped twice. By tracking down the sites on Alexa I now have a list of 700 blogs that will provide me with places to comment and get backlinks from. I expect my march PR update will send this blog somewhere between pr 4 and pr 6 if I can get linked on all of them by that time.

        Brad Hart´s last blog post..Moving Servers and New Offers

  • First of all, Merry Christmas to you Mitch!

    It sounds really scary if people sue for linking to other sites. In that case, most bloggers should get sued. By the way, the real reason for getting sued can be due to copyright infringements, endorsement conflicts (promoting competitors links – e.g. linking to pepsi when you are with coke’s sponsorship)

    One thing I am doing (may not be quite right in the blogosphere) is not doing too much of outbound links. At the same time, I am not receiving much link love as well…

    Ajith Edassery´s last blog post..The Ten-Minute Blog Post SEO before you publish!

    • Hi Ajith. We can’t go around worrying about people suing us for things. On the internet, there has to be notification first asking you to remove a link before they can sue, but if people know what’s going on they won’t ask. And if they do, then we just remove it, talk about how stupid they are, and move on. Don’t hurt yourself for a perceived issue on the back end. Only if you’re stealing someone else’s content without attribution should you worry about someone else’s response to it.

  • I’m actually amazed that I haven’t seen more dual advertising campaigns – were two companies team up to promote not one – but two products. Even if the one parent company did it. This sort of reminds me of that – If there wansn’t a relationship between the two entities then surely there should be one created other than putting more stress on the legal arena.

    In local business there is lots of – Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

    • That’s actually a good point, Mark, but I think we can look at the strained relationship between Google and Yahoo and see why it doesn’t seem to work all that often. Someone always wants to be the big dog.

      • I wouldn’t doubt that one bit, Mr. Dennis. Thing is, there has to be a bit of fairness involved in everything, and sometimes people just don’t see it that way.

  • Heck Brad, we reached the end of the comments thread, so I had to start another one.

    You say benefits and other things; like what other things? I get the linking part.

  • Laura-Whateverebay says:

    Great post, and for you. Recently, I have received suspicious trackbacks. How can I rule them out from legitimate ones?

    • Hi Laura. If I’m not sure, I’ll usually follow the trackback to see where it originated from, then decide if I feel it’s legit or not. After awhile, it’s pretty easy to know whether it’s legitimate or not based on the name of the blog that you see listed with the trackback.

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