To Link or Not to Link, That is the Question

In my post from a couple of days ago I wrote about blogging. About the importance of not only writing your own blog buy of visiting the blogs of others. You can read that post here if you missed it, or feel so inclined to read it now.

Today, I want to expand on that original idea and raise the topic of links in blog posts. I mean, I have written but three lines and already managed to include one link in my post. Granted it is merely a link to one of my older posts but you see how easy it is to slip them in.

There are obviously pro’s and con’s to adding links into your posts. I mean, let’s face it, the internet is, to put it as mildly as possible, a vast place. You can find practically anything you wish. Therefore, if you want to write a post inspired by something that you have read or seen online, to assume that your readers have all read or seen this same thing would be rather foolish on even the most novice blogger’s part.  The importance of links at this point is vital. You can start your post, add a link to what it is that inspired you, and then, having read that piece people can then come back to your blog and get a better understanding for what you are talking about.

The downside of this is however, if that original blog post inspired you so much, maybe it will inspire these new readers you have forwarded that way and they will not return to your post. Maybe there are other links inside this post which will take them even deeper into the labyrinth. Every link they follow takes them further away from your post, yet at the same time deeper into the subject you raised.

The way around this could be to add the link at the end of the post. Start with a brief summary for your readers, tell them the highlights of the post or the bits that inspired you, write your post and then put the link at the end for them to follow if they are interested. That way people will read your post before venturing into the linky wilderness.

Avoiding links in your posts is next to unavoidable, especially if you blog about more than just one ‘specialty’ subject that you know about. If you blog, as I do, based around either a large ranging topic or on an inspiration basis, links can provide an important arsenal.

For writers, links are also a very effective weapon in the fight to build your author platform. Sharing the works, websites or individual posts of fellow authors is a great way to not only spread your name, but to help the whole indie author community strengthen its footholds in the writing world. Let’s face it, author’s talk. It is what we do. We exchange ideas, we brag about our word counts and daily totals, we chronicle our progress and talk to each other about characters as though there were alive and living next door. We are a special breed of people and need each other. Who else would listen to our conversations and not want to have us committed after the first few minutes. So, expressing your appreciation via a link is a great thing. You can either use a post as inspiration, or you could just give a small aside.

Hey guys, you just have to check out these awesome blogs by amazing writers LM Stull, and M.R. Mathias

Two other popular link usages are the Weekly Mash up which I see more and more authors doing. A short round up of the best blog posts that they have read in the previous week. It is a great way to spread the word, and of course the more links to an authors specific post, the more chance of them spreading the word of your blog in return. A kind of Quid Pro Quo sort of thing (not the Hannibal Lecter kind). Think along the lines of cross promotion in your novels. A little sneak peak at another author’s work at the end of your novel helps them spread their name and increase sales. They return the favor and suddenly you have a whole chain of cross promotions taking all of your names and putting them out there for a much wider audience to see.

Of course you don’t want to over do the links, not only would it make someone feel less inclined to link back if you have simple copied and pased twenty links into a post simply for the sake of having something to post, but also, if you continually post links to the works of the same author, the novelty wears off. Also, you run the risk of looking like a stalker.

What about advertising via links? I was talking to a fellow writer friend of mine the other day and they said that if it hadn’t been for links, they would have never found the piece of writing software that they currently use. Storybox. It was  as the result of a search for some other piece f software they were struggling with that they found, after a small link train, this piece of software. They tried it and haven’t looked back since. The is a prime example of both side of the linkage coin. In searching on one product, she found her way to a competitor and chose that. Ultimately my friend, the wonderful Andrea Flory is happy, but at the same time, the software she was using lost out.

So tell me, what do you think of links in posts? Do you use them in your own writing? Do you link to products also, or only to posts that inspire and interest you? Also, do you click on links inside the posts of others? I do, but not all of the time. Why? Because I find myself getting distracted and lost in the internet.

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7 thoughts on “To Link or Not to Link, That is the Question

  1. -blush- thanks Alex. And a great post too – not just for egotistical reasons on my part either! I tend to use links sparingly but I like to think that when I do use them they go to really good places 😀 I think that people who visit our blogs eventually become friends, or at least good acquaintances and they [hopefully] trust our judgement so maybe that’s another angle to the whole blogging thing. Cheers!

    1. You are more than welcome. That is a nice new angle, trust and blogging. I would agree with you too, there are blogs I read more regularly than others, and I would be more inlcined to follow a link on a trusted blog than one I have just found and the author of which I do not know.

      1. lol – Don’t thank me Alex, the connection didn’t pop into my head until I read your blog on links so the blame is all yours 😉

  2. Great blog on the issue. Always a wrestle between time, effort and where to spend it. But I agree that we def. need to support each other, and it’s tricky to get the balance right. “Use sparingly” is a good rule of thumb regarding links – as long as both words are applied.

  3. And sometimes, authors of content on the other end of links discover they are linked, and must say thanks for the mention!

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