Get Over Your Issues With Outbound Links

by Marian Schembari on August 27, 2010


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I recently stumbled across a Blog-That-Shall-Remain-Nameless that refuses to link out. If they review an event, they won’t link to the event page. Writers don’t get links back to their own blogs. It’s the reader’s job to find relevant information if they want it.

This was something I noticed, but never commented on because I know a lot of Big Sites do the same thing. Over the past few months I’ve been quoted in articles for CNN, ABC, TIME Magazine and MSN Careers. I was featured in Real Simple Magazine and on their website. None of these sites linked back to me.

I’m sorry, but this shit needs to change. In my mind it’s the equivalent of using a Flickr photo or quote without giving credit. Retweeting an article without sending us back to the source. While the articles used my full name, I gave those interviews thinking I’d be properly credited. On the internet that means a link back to your website or blog. Apparently high traffic sites aren’t required to play by the rules.

Fifty percent of the interviewers simply ignored my request for a link; others said they’d ask their editor. None of them actually followed through. I honestly don’t understand – what are you afraid of? Linking to a site that’s not “TIME  approved material”? Well then don’t feature people you don’t want to credit. Worried about SEO? I don’t know a lot about it but I highly doubt CNN is going to lose any juice by linking to my site (that, to be perfectly honest, has a pretty kick ass page ranking). Are they really that worried people are going to leave their site for mine?

However, while annoying as all hell, I was obviously honored just to be mentioned. But then I came across Blog-That-Shall-Remain-Nameless. Not only do they refuse to link out, and aren’t big enough to get away with it, but someone finally commented. I won’t rehash the whole dialogue but it went something like this:

Commenter: This is a great article except for the complete lack of links.

Blog owner: That’s what Google is for.

Ummm…. No.

Not only is that a douchey thing to say, but this highlights their lack of confidence. While I don’t know the blog owner personally, I can only imagine she won’t link out because she doesn’t want people to leave her blog. I call these people Analytics Addicts – being so concerned with  bounce rate that you neglect to provide value to your readers. (See what I did there? I linked out. Also, there’s this nifty thing you can do called “open in new tab.” Means you won’t leave this post when you click it. You’re welcome.)

Why You Seriously Need to Get Over Yourself

One of the first things I tell my clients who have blogs is that they need to start linking out more.  Not obsessively, but reference articles, define a term, offer up further resources. And definitely interlink between your own posts.

I don’t know anything about SEO other than the most basic concepts, but this post isn’t about page ranking or Google results. This is simply about providing value. On top of that though, a reason I always suggest bloggers link out is so that they get on the radar of other blogs.

Most of us have Google Alerts set up for our name and web address. So if anyone links to marianlibrarian.com I’ll get notified. When I get notified the first thing I do is go to the blog. I read your post. I thank you for the shout out. If I like the site I usually bookmark it. We become besties. The end.

The Arguments

I realize linking out takes people away from your site. Like I said, it’s easy to combat this. Still, get over it. If the purpose of your blog is to provide value, generating clients/leads/etc doesn’t mean “talk-about-your-shit-all-the-time.” It means you need to occasionally send people elsewhere. If you love them, let them go and all that

Think of it this way: If you’re at a store and they don’t have what you need, the manager isn’t likely to send you to another store. But how much do you love that sales clerk when they secretly (and without prompting) offer up another store where you might take your business? A lot, that’s how much.

That’s what it means to be a blogger. I’m pretty well-versed in social media. In fact, people pay me lots of money to help them navigate the interwebs. But this doesn’t mean I have all the answers. Sometimes I need to send you guys somewhere else. And hopefully you’ll still like my content, be grateful, and come back.

So without further ado, three interesting articles from around the web on the subject of outbound links:

Just remember guys: Be generous, link out, offer valuable information to your readers, even if it isn’t yours. And above all else, don’t be douchey.

{Photo credit}

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  • http://twitter.com/MarianSchembari/status/22270489131 kate w.

    RT @MarianSchembari: {latest post} Get Over Your Issues With Outbound Links http://bit.ly/aUj8Af

  • http://twitter.com/annnyberg/status/22292319594 Ann Nyberg

    RT @marianschembari: Get Over Your Issues With Outbound Links http://bit.ly/aUj8Af

  • http://www.labelleinfrance.com/ Stephanie

    I agree – that’s lame. It’s all lame. For anyone that runs a site, linking back is THE way to give them credit for their work esp in this information and social media age. I do the best I can with my blog to provide as many helpful links as possible and I couldn’t care less about what this does to SEO.

  • Hillary

    I totally hear you girl. I was interviewed for a Yoga Journal article that basically is mostly about me and my story. They did not give a link to my site or even mention I had a yoga DVD. It is so stupid because they are there for giving info and then hold information from their readers. Stupid I say and old school in a big way.

    Great post!

  • http://twitter.com/AnnNyberg/status/22292319594 Mystic, Connecticut

    RT @annnyberg: RT @marianschembari: Get Over Your Issues With Outbound Links http://bit.ly/aUj8Af

  • http://nevillebarrettjr.com/ Neville Barrett

    Once again great post Marian. It’s been stated many times here already, but linking to a source, the featured product or your inspiration is key.

    Chris Brogan says to always link back to sources/posts and to promote others more than you promote yourself. I see this as social karma. He also says that linking and promoting others is a nice way to show you care about people. I completely agree with him on that.

    As bounce rates go, you have a few options. Two good ones are:

    1. Link with “open in new window”. I would say that more than 70% of all people online use browsers with tabs available. So lower bounce rates and everyone wins.

    2. Apture. Thanks to Social Glitz for the education on this cool plugin. This pretty much allows people to highlight and search text your site and view additional content without leaving. Again lower bounce rates and everyone wins!

    There seems to be two sets of rules for media. How it was done 20 years ago and how most bloggers and other social media buffs do it now.

  • http://smallhandsbigideas.com/ Grace Boyle

    I also REALLY want to know this site you speak of ;)

  • http://smallhandsbigideas.com/ Grace Boyle

    Dude, super douchey.

    That surprises me. I LOVE linking out. I personally think that it enhances your blog post and your credibility.

    I always compare it to when you go to a cocktail party and there’s that one person that only talks about themselves and doesn’t ask you anything about you. They end up being empty, blank and NOT someone a lot of people want to spend time with. Blogging is a conversation and ANY conversation involves listening, talking, giving back, stepping back, etc. two people are involved, not just one person.

    I also really dislike when people turn off comments…I understand it, I hear what they’re saying, I just think it’s backwards.

  • http://twitter.com/financialsamura Financial Samurai

    I really believe the more you give, the more you get. It’s the same thing in a relationship, at work, online.

    I’d love to know this blog you shall not name!

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    I know, I’m seriously tempted, but I’m too nice for my own good. Ha.

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    Oh man, it drives me CRAZY when people turn off comments. To me that defeats the whole purpose of blogging! I once worked with someone who got hundreds of thousands visitors every month but would get the occasional negative comment so turned off comments altogether. Like you, I hear that, it’s frustrating when trolls grace your blog. Still though, I think it really limits your growth.

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    Honestly Nicole, I wish I could actually answering your question but I have NO FREAKING IDEA. I know your visitors per month can effect ad rates, but bounce rate? I don’t know…

  • http://www.labelleinfrance.com/ Stephanie

    I agree – that’s lame. It’s all lame. For anyone that runs a site, linking back is THE way to give them credit for their work esp in this information and social media age. I do the best I can with my blog to provide as many helpful links as possible and I couldn’t care less about what this does to SEO.

  • Nblades

    Wow the “that’s what google is for” comment is TOTALLY jackassy! I feel like the internet is all about community and this type of behavior just completely degrades our community. It’s basically the golden rule – it applies to internet relationships too.

  • Man of la Book

    Marian, all true and it boggled my mind as well. When I was in a similar business we even linked to our competition – what do we care? The customer was happy.

    One of the things I noticed working in the industry is that people really have no clue on how to read or how to interpret Internet statistics. There are loads of great information available on Internet stats which will really help you pinpoint what your customers are interested in, how they behave, where they come from and when and how to launch new products and announcements.

    Most of these are being ignored – but that’s a different post :)

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

  • Man of la Book

    Nicole, I couldn’t agree more. The obsession with bounce rates FOR BLOGGERS is totally idiotic,especially for those who post often. It is especially strange because we all pride ourselves on offering compelling content on one page.
    For e-commerce sites it’s a whole different story.

    No idea about ads but the bounce rate numbers, as any statistics, can be played on both sides (“users really like my site because they can find what they want in one click – hence the high bounce rate”).

    http://www.ManOfLaBook.com

  • http://www.seospidy.com Seo India

    I make my blog more interactive with catchy Unique content which my visitor are looking for and hungry about.
    I offer Keyword luv service in my blog it retains my visitors I have decent volume of comment in my blog.

  • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

    You’re speaking my mind, Stephanie! SEO is the farthest thing on my mind (mostly because I don’t understand it), but it IS a cool way to reward the good karma. Basically meaning if you’re a blog that’s as lame as the one I mentioned not only are they lame for not linking out, but nah-nah they’re not getting any Google juice. Serves. Them. Right.

  • http://twitter.com/marianschembari/status/22528772422 Marian Schembari

    Get Over Your Issues With Outbound Links http://bit.ly/aUj8Af

  • http://twitter.com/wildfiremg/status/22534388219 Wildfire Marketing

    RT @MarianSchembari Get Over Your Issues With Outbound Links http://bit.ly/aUj8Af

  • http://twitter.com/margiewrites margiewrites

    So true. If your blog isn’t first and foremost informative and helpful to your readers, what the hell are you doing then? Some people have forgotten that this is all part of a huge conversation, not a monologue.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Conversation vs. Monologue. LOVE IT!

  • http://afmarcom.com/ Angelique

    I feel very ignorant that I didn’t know this was going on! You can tell that I don’t get my online news from CNN and ABC. The blogs and websites I read all link to further information. Now I’m dying to know the identity of the blog-that-shall-remain-nameless.

  • http://twitter.com/afmarcom/status/22640320494 Angelique

    BION, there are still blogs/news sites who don't provide links to the ppl they feature! Via @MarianSchembari http://bit.ly/amtKCM

  • http://lifeforward.onsugar.com/ Shayna

    I agree – it drives me nuts that it’s ok to take my words and not give credit – and when I read a blog it annoys the heck out of me that I can’t click on a link to the article that the blog is ranting/raving about… yes, I could Google it, or you could grow the ____ up, and link to it (wow, apparently I felt super strongly about this!)

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  • http://www.meganlentz.com Megan Lentz

    For the record, one of the things I love so much about your blog (besides the great topics and stellar writing, of course), is your use of links. When I come to your blog, I know I’m going to discover loads of valuable information and new sites. Thanks for sharing all the great links!

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RGXVXORBRGJAVMXNWAP6SNCJWI Bradman Jack

    I agree with you but make sure you accumulate blockage all your outbound links consistently back you may initially link out to a admired resource, but over time this page may be bankrupt or replaced with one of those spammy-links-holding pages. It can happen to the best of us.

    contextual link building

  • Jin Fan

    Great article! I truly agree with you, I outbound link ALL THEM TIME. Although I do receive back links here and there, but most of the time, other bloggers won’t link back. It used to bother me a lot, then I got tired thinking about it. *sigh*

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Haha, I totally feel you on that Jin. It’s mighty frustrating. Now I think of a link as a gift and rarely expect it from bigger sites. At the same time though, if I’m being interviewed or contributing an article, they owe me a link for me time. End of story.

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  • Bcanndid

    I’m astounded that happens.  I suppose I’m old school, having started as a writer and editor long before the “interweb” came into being.  I can’t imagine not crediting where it’s due — and in this day and age, the attribution must include the link!

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