In the past few articles we’ve discussed how the type of content can affect your blog income, how to do some basic keyword research, and even the best way to format your posts for SEO, to make them more alluring to search engines.
Let’s quickly review the main keys for making more money with your blog:
- Content – Certain topics make more money than others.
- Links – Inbound links to your posts and blog help with monetization.
- Format of the article – Search engines use algorithms to figure out what your post is about. Use standard formats to make it easier for them.
This post is all about links. First we’ll discuss why links are good, then talk about the different link types and formats. Finally I’ll offer some suggestions for getting links.
Before I continue with this lengthy post, I’ll summarize the whole thing by saying that links are good. With a few exceptions, the more links you have pointing to your blog, the better off you will be.
How search engines work
There are two things you need to know about how search engines work:
- They find new pages by following links from old pages
- They evaluate pages by rating the links pointing to that page.
Now those aren’t the only factors search engines use when finding and evaluating a web page, but for this discussion, they will suffice. It should also be noted that nobody outside of Google really knows how Google works, so take everything you read with a grain of salt. This includes any information provided on this site. 🙂
What is Google Juice?
This is a made-up term which refers to the amount of search engine currency that an inbound link can give to the receiving web page. If the incoming “Google Juice” is higher then it should help a web page rank higher in the search engine results page (SERP). If the “Google Juice” is weaker, then the page might not rank as high.
Let’s learn about links.
An internal link is a link from one web page on your blog, to another web page ,also on your blog. These are very useful since they can help lead your visitors to other related relevant material on your site.
An example of an internal link which links to another page on my site would be:
Search engines will also use these internal links to help find and rate pages on your website. There is Google juice passed through internal links, but not as much as for an equivalent external link.
An external link is a link from a web site other than your own, which points to a page on your site. For example here is an external link to my other site. This would be considered an external inbound link from the point of view of the other site.
Note that this link is not to a specific page, but rather the home domain or the front page of the blog. This is still a valid link. Links can be to an individual post, category, archives or the main page. If there is a url, then it can be linked to.
All other things being equal, external links will pass more Google juice than internal links.
If you do any reading about SEO methods, then you will have run across the term “hypertext”. Basically, hypertext is the visible text which is linked to another post.
For example – The brown fox jumped over the hypertext example, and then fell down.
In this example the words “hypertext example” is the hypertext portion of the link. The words used in the hypertext are very important, because they are used by search engines to figure out the keywords or topic of the post being linked to.
Ideally you should use descriptive, relevant words when setting up an internal or external link.
For example if you are linking to a post on the direction of interest rates, it will increase the “Google juice” or SERP rankings to use the words “interest rates” or “interest rate direction” in the hypertext. Using words like “click here” as the hypertext is not good practice. This can be tough to do sometimes, since you want the hypertext to be readable within the context of your post.
You can’t control the hypertext that other sites use when linking to your post, so put your keywords in the post title, because the post title often forms the hypertext for external links to your site.
Number of links to a page/site
The amount of Google juice being passed from internal and external links to a page is cumulative. A page with a greater number of external and internal links to it, will have a better chance of ranking higher than an equivalent page with less links.
More links are good!
Link authority or weight
One of the key concepts with link building, is the idea that not all inbound links are treated equally by the search engines. Search engines will evaluate inbound links by evaluating the sites where they originate. They do this by looking these factors (among many):
- Age of site.
- Number of inbound links.
- Authority of site.
- Relevancy of site/page topic.
Let’s say you write a post on dog grooming on your animal site, and several sites link to it. Let’s take a look at these sites and try to guess how much weight Google will assign to those inbound links. We’ll assume they all use the same hypertext.
Link 1 is from a brand new site about kids, has two posts and has no inbound links.
Evaluation – Although, this link is better than nothing, it is probably close to worthless. Of course, if that site gets bigger and gains authority, then this link could become more valuable.
Link 2 is from a well-established dog site, 3 years old with thousands of inbound links.
Evaluation – This kind of link is great. The originating site has plenty of Google juice to pass and this should help your post rank higher in the SERPs.
Link 3 is from a big government site or university.
This is the best kind of link to have. Educational and government websites have the most “Google juice” to pass. It’s not a coincidence that these kind of links are hard to come buy. Having one link from NASA to your astronomy website, will be far more valuable than links from 40 small Star Trek fan sites.
10 links from 10 sites are better than 10 links from 1 site
One of the factors that search engines consider is the popularity of your post or blog. Getting many links from the same 3 blogs each week is not as good of a popularity indicator as getting different links each week from different blogs.
The ratio of links to text on a page might diminish Google juice
I don’t know how accurate that statement is to be honest, but intuitively, it makes sense that if a search engine is crawling a page – it might give more creedence to links if there are less of them. On the other hand, if a page is full of links and very little text, which you might see on a link roundup or carnival page, then perhaps a search engine might downgrade those links.
My suggestion is that a natural inbound link that is inside a related post will be more valuable than an inbound link that is on a page with many other links.
Do-follow and No-follow links
When you create a link on a blog post, you have the option of setting it to be “do-follow” or “no-follow”. The “do-follow” option is the default and the “no-follow” has to be set.
If a link is “do-follow” then that means you are telling any search engine bots that the link is ok and go ahead and let them pass any Google juice they decide from your site. “No-follow” means that you don’t want them to necessarily continue through the link and definitely don’t pass any Google juice.
To determine if a link is do-follow or no-follow, then you must look at the html. Go to a web page, select “view” and “Source” which will display the page html.
In this example, there is no mention of either “do” or “no” follow which means that the default “no-follow” is in place.
<a href=”http://www.obliviousinvestor.com/how-do-you-pay-your-financial-advisor/”>how do you pay your advisor?</a>
This link shows what a “no-follow” link looks like – you can see that they just added the ‘rel=”nofollow”‘ to the beginning of the link.
<a rel=”nofollow” href=”http://www.obliviousinvestor.com/how-do-you-pay-your-financial-advisor/”>how do you pay your advisor?</a>
This is one area where the rules have been changing, and I’m not 100% sure how effective the no-follow tag is anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if the rules keep changing, so it might not be worthwhile to plan any major strategies around this information.
The main use for the no-follow tag is to conserve your Google juice. The theory is that your web site or web page only has a certain amount of Google juice, and by linking to other sites with a do-follow link, you will lose some of your juice. I personally haven’t followed this this strategy, but I have thought about doing it. 🙂
Different parts of a blog have different Google juice power
Not all links from a blog are equal. Posts which have more inbound links should have more Google juice to pass than posts with less inbound links. Links from the main page of a blog (such as in the sidebar) are generally worth more than links from any of the posts.
Not all inbound links are good
Yes, it’s true – a link from a site which Google has deemed as “bad” could have a detrimental effect on your rankings. What does “bad” mean? Well, one example could be a link farm ie a site which is just a million outbound links. If you follow reasonable link building practices, then you shouldn’t have to worry about this problem.
Suspicious link activity
This goes under the category of “Mike does some speculation”, but if I were a search engine, then I would be on the lookout for these types of red flags:
- Many links to a page with identical hypertext. This just isn’t natural. Change up the hypertext in different links.
- Many links from unrelated sites. Again, this just doesn’t happen by itself on a large scale. Why would a website about surfboards link to a post on cats? Sure it will happen once in a while, but not on a regular basis.
Link building strategies – or how to get more inbound links to your blog
At this point we have completely exhausted my link knowledge, so let’s move on to something more practical – how to get the damn things!
Internal links are easy to get because you can just create them yourself. Of course it takes a bit of time, but that is time well spent. Make sure the posts are related and the proper hypertext is used.
Here are some suggestions for getting external links, roughly in order of ease.
Link from other sites you own.
If you own more than one related site, then creating links between them will be as easy as doing internal links. Of course this strategy is fairly limited, since most bloggers only have one site.
Comment on “do-follow” comment blogs.
Most blogs have their comments set to “no-follow” so if you leave a comment and put your blog url in the “site” section – there will be no Google juice passed. However, some blogs will use plugins or change their settings to allow the comment links to be “do-follow”. Find out which blogs you frequent have do-follow and try to comment more on those blogs. Keep in mind that you need to leave good comments and it’s not considered good form to put the url of a specific post into the “site url” box.
Link out to other blogs
One good method for getting inbound links is to link out to other sites. This won’t work everytime, but if a site owner notices that you are linking to their material, they might try to link back to return the favor. This probably works better if you are linking to similar blogs of roughly the same size.
Enter blog carnivals
Blog carnivals are a very easy way to get links. The idea is that you submit your post for a carnival, then host of the carnival decides if they want to include your post. If the post is accepted, then you are expected to link back to the carnival.
Hosting blog carnivals
I truly believe that hosting blog carnivals is the most time-efficient way to get a lot of varied backlinks to your site. You can put together most carnivals in a couple of hours (hint – just skim the posts to make sure they are on topic and not spam) and can expect probably 50% or more of the participants to link back to your site.
Yes, the links will be to the carnival page and won’t have good hypertext, but I don’t care – there will be a lot of links from different sites, and that is not a bad thing.
Tip – if you are hosting a smaller carnival or even a larger one – try to solicit posts from larger blogs. They often have less to gain from entering carnivals, but will do so if prompted. The reality is that most carnival participants are new blogs looking to build a readership and links from them are not worth much. If you can solicit another half dozen links from decent sized blogs, then the Google juice received will be much higher.
Create your own carnival
If you find that there are not enough related carnivals then create your own. Using Google forms you can create an input form which allows people to enter links which will port to a spreadsheet. You put up the links (after weeding out the crap) and then they will link back to your blog.
It’s quite common for 2 or more bloggers to agree to “exchange links”. This could be in the form of exchanging 2 specific links or an agreement to link to each others blogs on a regular basis, ie once a week. These arrangements can be quite beneficial, but sometimes they don’t work out if one blogger is not living up to the agreement.
Another method for getting inbound links is to join up with other bloggers and agree to share links on a regular basis. This is a great idea for smaller bloggers who need more readers and links.
A perfect example of this is the Yakazie Challenge. Some might argue that this is a blog network gone wild, since I think they have almost 100 members, but I think it has really helped the members who participate.
That particular network has been using the Alexa ranking as their measuring guide, which I think is quite flawed, however their methods of linking to one another will definitely help their blogs to become more popular and have more income potential.
Here are a couple of very time consuming methods to get links
These methods are not all that useful for the typical part-time, not-enough-time blogger, but they are effective.
Guest posts – Write posts containing links to your blog for other blogs to publish. Check out my Guest Post Secrets post for more tips on how to do effective guest posts.
Article directories – Sites like Ezines.com will accept your posts and can contain backlinks to your site. These posts are typically shorter and easier than a proper guest post but it still take a bit of time, especially if you want to submit to several article directory sites to create links for one post.
Beware of link automation or services
There are services available which will place links to your site around the internet. I would suggest steering clear of such services – you have no control over where the links will original from, and risk getting penalized by Google.
Links are good.
Getting any links is better than no links. In conjunction with having content that has income potential, and good formatting, links are the other key to making more money.
If you are planning to increase your link-building activities to make extra money, then make sure you focus on posts that have income potential.
Any other ideas out there for getting links to your blog?