When you are trying to make a living online, one of the things we hear a lot of are LINKS. Links are hugely important to getting pages to rank in Google and Bing. However, they’re the hardest thing to get right. I see people worrying about links a lot in the forums and get questions about it privately.
Personally I’ve stopped worrying about links from other people to my own stuff. I just do my online promotion (twitter, facebook, newsletter and forums) and leave the rest up to my readers. That’s working very well for me. Of course it does only work if you’ve got quality to show them.
However, that’s not all I do. I also leverage my own content. With 444 lenses currently on squidoo and thousands of pages on my own site, there’s quite a lot to leverage. This speaks to the importance of just keeping on building content in your niche. Once you’ve found one (or more).
However, the advice I’m going to give in this piece doesn’t just work if you’ve got thousands of pages to work with. It will work with 20. More is better though. And make them really different, while staying in your niches. I very rarely make content that’s the exact duplicate of content I have elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, it happens. Do make sure it’s not a pattern.
When it comes to interlinking your content you’re going to have several issues on your mind. I’m going to try to wipe the board of your mind clean for a bit by dispelling some myths.
When it comes to link schemes: watch out.
- Link wheels, reciprocal linking, triangles etc – they can work. Just make sure you mix it up (more details follow below)
- Google is on the watch. However, it has to take SOME links seriously, so just make sure you don’t trip their spam filters and you’ll be fine.
I’ll start with the second one. What trips Google’s spam filters are things like:
- Massive links all the same anchor-text (text in the link) to the same page, from various domains. MIX IT UP. The variety doesn’t have to be much, just turn a singular into a plural every once in a while, or add a word, or use the URL for the link text occasionally.
- Content that’s too much of the same. This is why article marketing often doesn’t work: the articles are so alike that Google will just take one of them and erase the rest from the index.
- OFF TOPIC reciprocal links from hundreds of domains
It takes Google time to find these spam signals. After all, it has to filter out the fools from the online marketeers, so it can’t just assume everything of this order is spammy. However, if you’re in this for the long run, and don’t want to spend your time copy pasting vaguely different articles again and again – only for them to be picked up by Google and ignored – you’re better off just creating unique content.
What works for me is the following (finally, my linking tips)
- Create index pages (lensographies if you will) that link to all your pages on a niche, or subniche. For instance, I have pages with everything I put online about spiritual teachers, others (yes plural) on all spiritual gifts pages (books, jewelry, art etc.). And of course, subniches work too: all spiritual book reviews for instance, or the best theosophical books.
- Link TO those index pages from all the pages that are on them.
- Interlink those index pages by platform.
- Create an ‘about’ page on every platform you’re on. On there you can link to about pages you made on other platforms. Personally I limit that by niche. So my about page on my Pema Chodron blog does NOT link to my abouts page on my calendars blog. However, it does link to my other spiritual blogs (yes, plural). I’m not very consistent: not all the about pages of those blogs link to the other spiritual blogs. Inconsistency is OK. Over time, I probably will interlink them all though.
- The about page SHOULD link to all your niche index pages on that platform. On squidoo that got to be so much that I made a separate lensography just for my lensographies, but that’s probably overdoing it.
- You can link TO your about pages from anywhere on your account. In fact, if you can, you should link to them from your profile page
- When making a niche page link to (in order of importance):
- any related niche pages on that platform. On a blue widgets for women page, link to any blue widget pages, as well as to any widgets for women pages you might have.
- your about page on that platform (blogs will get this right automatically)
- your niche index page (if you have one) on that platform (again: blogs will do that automatically – it’s called a tag, label or category page)
- relevant niche index pages on other platforms
- When making a niche page get it links from:
- Your niche index pages
- those same related niche pages I was talking about in point 7
- When making a niche page you don’t have other niche pages to interlink with, link to and from your about page on that platform. Take extra care with tags to make it more likely that the links within squidoo or hubpages are of a good quality.
- Commercial pages, high sales pages, should link out only to other sales pages. You want more links coming IN to those pages than out. On Squidoo for instance I will often have two or three ‘my lenses’ modules on informational lenses, and only one on a sales page (both listing 10 lenses).
- Use content pages as informal lensographies: let them link out more. They’ll not make you as much, so link them to anything reasonably on topic
- Compensate for the rules of the platforms. Link less to less generous platforms. For instance: since hubpages allows only two links per domain, I link TO hubpages less as well. Since Squidoo allows for way more links (9 per domain if you’re not a giant and unlimited if you are), I link TO Squidoo more often as well. It’s also the reason btw why I nofollow links to Wikipedia. Note for instance that in this post I’m linking out to Squidoo more than I do to Hubpages. That’s because Squidoo makes it easier for me to promote my own stuff, while hubpages continually annoys me with their link limit. In fact, I’ve made it even: they don’t allow more than two links out per page, so I’m not linking IN with more than two links.
- Blogrolls – I’m a bit mixed about those. I have blogs where I only use them for my own stuff, limiting links to other people’s stuff to the blogposts themselves. I also have
blogs where I use them to link to my friends. Whatever you end up doing: on topic is better than off topic.
- Less is more. Don’t take this to not interlink your content. You absolutely should. It’s just that on a page with one link, that one link counts about 10 times more than the same link on a page with 10 links.
- Deeplinks verses linking to your blog. Where you can, link to specific blogposts. Limit linking to your blog to your profile and about pages. Link to on topic specific blogposts – treat them as you would individual hubs or lenses.
- Unique is worth more than cookie cutter. This applies to anchortext (the text on a link), but also to the importance of blogrolls verses links IN blog content. Blogroll links appear on all pages of that blog. Don’t count on Google to ‘count’ them all very much.
- Through tags you’ll be linking out a LOT on platforms like hubpages and squidoo. You might as well distribute some of that link juice to your own stuff. So DO link out as much as the platform will allow to relevant online stuff you’ve built elsewhere.
- Link out to friends and related content you did NOT build occasionally. They’ll appreciate and (usually) link back on another project. Also, it builds goodwill with your audience if you do that.
- Promote your stuff. On my main spiritual blog I have a monthly thing where I link to all my new spiritual pages made in that month, on whatever platform (though again, I leave hubpages out). I also have a monthly newsletter that features all my spiritual blogposts. It gets posted online as well (though I’m now two months behind). I also post those monthly summaries on spiritual forums online, mainly nings. And because they’re on topic posts, people appreciate that. It’s also a backlink.
- Linking twice on the same page to the same URL is useless. Google will just ignore the second and use the anchor-text (link-text) of the first.
I guess that’s it. So where’s the link wheel, threeway link or reciprocal backlink in all this? I’ll cover them one by one:
The main take away from this method is to link more to your most important content. The rest may work, but is a bit spammy. I’ve tried this method and it may have contributed a bit to some of my success, but the above 12 steps are what I’m I have consistently been doing and is also what I would advise people to do.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that the above is a recipe for reciprocal linking. I’m convinced that as long as you stay on topic, and vary anchortext, Google will reward you for them, not punish you. On topic links are naturally reciprocal in many cases. Being human, you’ll forget a few links anyhow – which will make it less reciprocal and slightly more natural. Just accept that, and know that I’ve yet to be penalised for on topic interlinks.
It’s just now how Google works: they can’t punish reciprocal backlinks between niche sites, because it’s what niche sites DO – they link to each other. It’s the normal tit-for-tat of human behavior. It’s also a sign of quality that Google can’t afford to ignore (in a good way). And reciprocal links within a site aren’t really reciprocal links anyhow, they’re called ‘navigation’, which Google tells us is good. It also makes sense to your readers.
This is where A links to B, B links to C and optionally C links to A. Draw that out on a piece of paper and you get a triangle.
Well, I don’t do three way links. However, what does happen is that I have a mental map of what’s most important in my online portfolio. I’ll link TO It more, and link out from there less. The result does resemble this pattern a bit.
When I make a niche page on a platform I don’t own (squidoo, hubpages), I will link to whatever pages on whatever platform that are close to the topic. These are generally pages that won’t link back to that page. My blog articles and articles on my main site generally only link out to a few pages, so they won’t follow all the rules above. They generally link to their respective index pages (niche and home on that site) and one or two commercial pages (spiritual gifts or books usually). That’s sort of a three-way pattern. It’s also sort of link wheel. However you want to put it though – it’s editorial, mostly on topic and niche.
I hope the above dispels some fears about interlinking your content and helps you prioritize the links you do BETWEEN your content.