Optimize Your Blog: Building Blog Readership With Incoming & Outgoing Links

Last week, I answered Greta at Kid-a-Porter about setting up a blog. She had another question:

“I just recently started my blog and everyone tells me about how I should increase my ‘ingoing links’ to increase the visibility of my blog. If everyone (including my own blog) gives a “rel nofollow” though, how am I ever successfull in getting a good link?”

I’d like to address this question because there is a lot of confusion about linking.  First off, let’s define the types of linking:

  • Incoming links, inbound links, or backlinks are all just different terms for the links that come into your blog from outside resources.  These are the most important ones to consider.
  • Outbound links therefore are the links you put on your blog to outside resources.
  • “NOFOLLOW” is an attribute that you put on your a tag to indicate that you do not want Google to give credit to this outbound link on your site.  This would affect outbound links to pages that have a lower page rank than you do, effectively not helping them gain any ground.
  • “DOFOLLOW” is the opposite.  You are specifically giving permission to credit this link, and it’s the default.
  • Link bait is content that is specifically written to encourage people to link to it.  It seems to be a neutral term, but can be used for good or bad.  Read Google’s webmaster, Matt Cutts, explain his views on link bait.
social networks

Building your networks build links.

Google and Links
Google is trying to make sure that they are only accepting quality incoming links, and to do that, they do not want to give the same weight to advertising links – be they actual ads OR sponsored posts.  They want to do away with giving credit to a company for a link who’s base purpose is to sell something and rather give credit to valuable content on the matter.

Makes sense, right?  The thing, it gets sticky from here on out, and you can take issue with Google.  Think about this: you can watch content on television that is valuable and educational, but has ads, but you usually don’t want to watch an infomercial.

Let’s say that we all agree up to there.  Then, as Greta asks, how do you we get quality links to come into our blog, thereby increasing our page ranks?

There’s no easy answers here, but if you are expecting bounce from an advertorial-type post, or a spammy site, you’re not going to get it.  What you need is quality links from people actually discussing you.

Let’s say you’re a brand new app, and you’ve sent your app to bloggers, for free, for review.  Ok, that gets you exposure, and you have not paid them, so it’s ok by Google.  One of those bloggers is high up the chain, and she helps your app to go viral.  It does, and so Mashable.com picks it up and writes an article about you.

Which link do you think will get you the most boost, in terms of possibly improving your page rank?  The Mashable link.  It’s relevant, because your app is what’s being talked about, it’s not sponsored, and it’s got high value.

Outbound Links
So, do these matter in terms of SEO?  I have heard a lot of confusing information, so I’m just going to teach you the thing that I think Google would be fine with: Link out to quality sites.  If you are writing something technical, have data to back it up.  If you are introducing a person or product, link to the site – NOT to the sales page.  Make your blogroll relevant to your niche.  I think you need outbound links and personally, I can’t stand reading an article about any of those things if it doesn’t have a link to the relevant data or person or what have you.   And look, if I like a book review, I might want to buy it there and then – I see nothing wrong with that, even if Google does.  Put the READER first.

How to Build Inbound Links
You have a couple of options on how to attempt to get quality links coming into your blog.

  • Get to know and befriend other bloggers.This is obviously not going to be easy, so don’t spam them.  What you need to start doing, in my opinion, is joining smaller blogger groups, and start making relationships. And don’t just make relationships with the famous members!  THAT would be stalking, and I do not advocate that.  I’m talking about building relationships.  Get out there- online and IN PERSON (this is the main purpose of blogger conferences).  Start reading blogs, participating, helping… it’s just like life.  You don’t make friends by sitting home wishing it were so.  Go mingle.
  • Pitch articles to sites that have bigger audiences and/or better page rank than yours.  True, they get bombarded with a lot of requests, so unless you have a truly unheard-of angle or story (or better yet, both), or know someone high up who will consider your request, this will be difficult…however, it’s not impossible. There are lots of courses out there on how to pitch articles and guest posts, and they might be worth a shot.
  • Write for and build partnerships with sites that do not yet have great page rank or readership, but look to have some awesome potential.  This is a gamble, but as writer, I believe there is no wasted writing.  At the very least you will get experience meeting deadlines, possibly grow your audience, and perhaps get paid at some point. Just make sure the site is high quality and not spammy.
  • Avoid link farms like the plague.  I’ve discussed these before, but any site that feels “not quite right”, should also be avoided.  Your gut is right more often than you think.

Other Caveat?
Yes, there is one:  IF you use “nofollow,” it can dilute the quality of real, follow links for Google.  I honestly don’t know how anyone is therefore supposed to run ads, but there is something to consider, and you may want to rethink using the Comment Luv plugin, because those are all automatically “NOFOLLOW” links.

Anything I missed?  Any questions on links or things you’ve noticed about linking?  If you have any question about blogging, please comment below and I will share your question and credit you in the next post I write!



  1. says

    I am very impressed and like to thank you so much for this extensive information!
    It still is a long way for me to go but with this very useful information I feel better “equipped” now.
    The toughest thing in the beginning is though to accept that link building cannot be done over night but requires lots of love, energy and thinking.

    Thanks again and have a wonderful week
    Greta recently posted…The winner of the RICE toy box from 4little is:My Profile

    • admin says

      Yes, I agree, it’s hard to wait for that link building. Keep your eyes on the goal, Greta, and in the meantime, write great content, take great photos, and get it out there!