How to Increase Traffic to Your Blog, Part 2: Link Like Crazy (Well, not too Crazy)

Do you link? You don’t? Well, you should if you want to increase traffic to your blog.
Readers love links.  Links also give search engines a signal about the linked-to posts. Problogger Darren Rowse has already attested to this much overlooked fact: “When I’ve tracked clicks on my pages I find that in content links get actual clicks at a much higher rate than the ‘related posts’ at the end of articles.” Indeed, linking is common practice on the web; in a way it is expected.

Principles of PageRank
Principles of PageRank (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are, by and large, two different “types” of links you should include in your posts to increase the flow of traffic to your blog: interlinks and linking out.

Last week I wrote: “When you reference your own material … you may draw visitors to your content.” By including internal links strategically (definitely not randomly) throughout your post, you open the door to your other relevant and supporting posts that will get your readers deeper into your blog. This is how they’ll become more interested in your blog and most likely in your business.

Z-Blog has already 500 posts, this one is our 501st. Is there even one person who would browse through all our posts to find the ones he’d be interested in reading? Most likely there isn’t. So how can you make the most of tons of pages and posts on your blog? Utilize the power of links. Referencing your previous posts (strategically, relevantly, and contextually) increases the likelihood that they will be read and not forgotten, days, weeks, or even months after they were posted online. On the other hand, you make it easier for your potential readers to find more great and relevant content on your blog; you increase the likelihood they’ll keep coming back for more.

According to David Reich, interlinks are also crucial for SEO “because they help distribute PageRank (‘link juice’) to important pages across your site”. Furthermore, he adds, “the anchor text used for your internal links is another strong signal that helps search engines determine what those linked pages are about”.

Be careful though! Do not exaggerate with interlinks! You will give a spam signal to both, search engines and your potential readers.

Linking out
Don’t just link to your previous posts, reference the content of others as well. You’ll earn links and social mentions by those you reference because sooner or later they will notice you. And you want them to notice you, especially if they’re well-established bloggers/authorities in their field and socially influential. According to David Reich’s guest post on this blog, linking out also makes your content more credible and authoritative – the best way to build an audience.

I’ve been following discussions against linking out for years. The most often mentioned reason has been that linking out is an invitation for your hard-to-come-by readers to leave your blog and go somewhere else – a one-way ticket out of your blog. Thus, instead of increasing the flow of traffic to your blog, you’re basically actively encouraging the decrease in traffic. Nonsense!

Four year ago, a survey of major newspapers on the web, for example, clearly showed that there is a strong relationship between news websites linking out and getting links in return. Therefore, linking to useful websites doesn’t decrease traffic, but quite the opposite actually. Offering useful links makes visitors more likely to return to see what other interesting blogs they might find in the future.

Blogging is basically contributing to a conversation. Penelope Trunk, who’s already founded three startups, says: “One of the great pleasures of blogging is linking to someone who I don’t think knows that I read their blog. A link to someone is like saying, ‘I really like what you’re writing and in fact, I want to share it with everyone I know.’ A blogger trades on ideas, so recognizing another blogger’s ideas with a link is a big deal. And it’s so easy to do, considering how nice it makes people feel. So do it.

What is your experience with adding links in your post? Do you reference your previous posts or do you link to other blogs or both? What brings you more traffic? 

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