We create blogs with tons of great content and we base our content on Social Media that attracts a link or two. (Boy, isn’t that the understatement of the year!) We rely on this content to create user engagement and get people to keep coming back. But something that is also just as important as creating great content, is knowing when to link to internal and external resources appropriately.
User Experiences and Topic Depth
Linking to external resources in blogs and articles creates that richer and more complete user experience. Doing so provides the user reading an article more depth and coverage on a topic or news item. Further expanding that, linking to external resources that cover multiple view points, opinions, etc. further validates the credibility of your blog. That is what you are going for, especially to first time readers. Establishing a sense of credibility and in-depth resources and/or content will create an authoritative presence for your blogs/articles.
Blogging Etiquette and Links
The blogosphere and social media circles can run pretty tight, but also be wound pretty darn tight as well. So, by never linking out or linking out, but slapping “nofollow” all over the place can create quite a stir. There is a certain level of etiquette that is expected within blogs/articles. Giving the resource you have linked to credit plays an important role in the level of respect given to your content. The last thing you want to be seen as is yet another site “Hoarding Link Juice.”
Pro Blogger has a great resource for this called The Etiquette of Linking.
Internal linking is probably one of the most overlooked factors in blogging, but, it is also my favorite topic of discussion lately. Linking internally is not only highly useful to the user, but extremely important to search engine relevance. Since it is important to provide additional resources in the blog post/article, as mentioned above, it is an added benefit if you can link to your own resources. This is something that can be achieved by creating pattern matching systems in larger organizations. It can even be as simple as educating bloggers, writers, and editors to take a minute to link to internal resources.
Looking at an example, lets take a sports blog and an article that could be written about the recent injury to Kyle Orton on the Chicago Bears. Within that article you could link to the “Kyle Orton” bio page and the “Chicago Bears” team page. This is all kinds of SEO Hotness (yes, I just said that!) because you are creating relevance for search engines, since linking and the anchor text are important (if not the most important ranking factor). Internal Linking plays a major role in the overall Internal Link Architecture mix. But, to expand on that, this creates a wholistic user experience to resources that the reader could reference.
Finally, and most importantly, linking to external resources will get you more exposure because the blogosphere will notice when you link out, especially to their resources. If you are in a particular niche, you will notice that a lot of link love will be passed back and forth, once you start handing it out. The important thing to remember is that you want to be “top of mind” when bloggers/writers are looking for additional resources. Linking to external resources can do just that, because again, we track who links to us, at least I do. Now, I am not saying to have a free for all and just link to people in hopes that you’ll make yourself known. But what this does mean is that it is okay to link externally, because it will be appreciated by those that you link to. You never know who might reciprocate the link love and dish it right back to you by linking back to our content as a result.
Link to external content to provide relevance and deeper resources. Follow “Blogger Etiquette” by linking externally and not “nofollowing” your entire site. Flow the link equity to deep content and relevant internal pages. And, finally, remember that linking to external resources will get you more exposure and keep you top of mind.