Should You Join a Blogging Link Party? Maybe.

I started to answer this question privately, but the thought came to me that quite a few people might want to know the answer outside the circle. Hence, a blog on:

“The purpose of this group is to syndicate blog comments and increase each other’s blog exposure. What do you think about the blog link exchange?

This is good for each other’s website SEO and I find no disadvantage except if the other will not link back to reciprocate. I know Jimmy here is the SEO expert, who specializes in amazon listing optimization services and anything related to websites, Google and eBay.

Any thoughts on this?”

Blogging

First, note that bloggers often form groups to support each other’s work. They comment, review, give opinions on best practices, and approve of various functions. I belong to one such group of extremely valuable connections (as you know, working alone can become tedious; these groups are an excellent way to stay accountable for blog writing.)

Now, the question here is whether or not this group should grow into linking to each other’s blogs (i.e. I’d put a link in this blog to someone else in the groups blog.) Here’s the long answer:

Google cracked down on affiliate links recently.

While researching some guest blog posting opportunities, I specifically noted that many high-traffic blogs were no longer accepting guest posts. So, what happened?

Google noted that there were spammy links associated with quite a few of the high-publishing blogs and wrist-smacked them for it. You have to make sure you are only linking to quality, relevant websites that engage in white hat (above board, organic) SEO techniques.

Their network needs to relate to your audience.

If you belong to a mixed group, the issue may be that the others in the group have nothing to do with your area of expertise. However, if you are all mompreneurs, travel bloggers, and/or crafters, interlinking is a powerful way to interconnect with similar audiences.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT link your content to someone else’s blog just because you are part of a group and have to do it. Make sure the content they provide is interesting and relevant to your audience.

Make sure you like their quality of work/brand.

Sorry, I don’t like to be told, “You suck” as part of a brand message. Please don’t ever swear at me (10 Ways You Know You’re F’in Crazy), tell me I’m (or someone else is) bad at something (3 Reasons Your Husband’s Bad in Bed) or just plain insult me.

I don’t think negativity serves anyone – although giving solutions is respectable (3 Reasons You Can’t Lose 5 Pounds (And Tips to Fix It).

Secondly, I’m a writer. I can’t connect to anyone with spelling mistakes and/or who uses bad grammar. If you throw out ideas without supporting facts, or don’t expound on your thought processes, it’s just not good writing. Should a writer link to someone who isn’t a good writer?

Think this through before you get stuck having to promote someone ask:

Are they overly self-promotional? (i.e. too many blogs about, buy from me, as opposed to relevant free content)

Do you believe in them or like what they sell?

Does their site use the best practices you promote to your clients? (i.e. a web designer says, “Never use red backgrounds” and they have a red background.)

What will you gain from the link? Do they return the favor?

What’s the solution to blog linking these days?

Ok, so if you truly feel engaged with a brand and you know someone and their work, link to them. Absolutely. But you can also:

Offer to feature them in your newsletter, or other exclusive piece.

Interview them (Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.) with a twist to what you do (i.e. I’d interview a V.A. to ask what a writer is most likely to hire them for, what should we pay, etc.)

Engage with each other’s social networks. Repost, retweet, share, comment, etc.

Finally, remember that you give away a little Google juice every time you link out to another party, so don’t make your blog all about other blogs. Be careful to interlink parts of the blog to yourself – and to make the link-outs “open in a new window,” yes?

Oh, and as for the ‘no-follow’ fiasco, if you feel like you shouldn’t follow someone, you probably shouldn’t be linking to them in the first place…but that’s a whole other blog…