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17 Comments

Your Take: Do You Have a Linking Policy?

Credit: Hryck.

Credit: Hryck.

Does your blog have a external linking policy? (or linking out policy)

When I ran Bargaineering, I didn’t have a linking policy. Back in the days before search engine optimization was a household word (the “good ole days”), people linked based on merit. They linked to a site if they thought it was a good resource, legitimate, and were comfortable sending their readers there. It was truly a vote of confidence and search engines relied on those links to build their search results.

For what it’s worth, the early days of search engine optimization were about on-page factors since people were building some horrific websites. Now that a lot of that stuff is baked into content management systems, like in WordPress, much of the focus has shifted to off-page stuff like links.

Nowadays, everyone is paranoid about linking to the wrong place because it might impact their search rankings. I know several bloggers who refuse to link to homepages, they will only link to deep pages on a site. I know other bloggers who refuse to link out anywhere, for fear of “leaking” their “link equity.” There are even more that that will only link to a site if it has a minimum Google Page Rank of 6, a metric that hasn’t been updated in months.

When Bargaineering was acquired, a relaxed linking policy was introduced. It was relaxed in the sense that no one was watching over my shoulder but it was understood that I wasn’t supposed to link to competitors, which included other personal finance blogs, and certainly not for any competitive terms. Now I wasn’t going to be linking to anyone for competitive terms but the idea of not linking to blogs didn’t sit well with me. Links are the currency of the web and I saw other personal finance bloggers as friends and colleagues, not necessarily competitors.

That made me wonder, how many bloggers have linking policies? What is in your policy and how did you determine what that policy would be?

And Happy Friday the Thirteenth!

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Jim

In 2005, I founded a personal finance blog (Bargaineering.com) that became successful enough that I quit my career as a software developer in the defense industry. It is my goal to share everything I learned so that you can do the same - build an online business that let's you pursue your passion.

17 responses to “Your Take: Do You Have a Linking Policy?”

  1. Mike B says:

    Ha, wow! Never thought of that. So no: no linking policy here. I link to tons of other blogs in the same niche. Is this a potentially bad thing? I mean, when starting out, I do see myself more of a resource provider so people can find as much as quickly as possible, while I learn and work on being a subject authority. But if you don’t link to other blogs, how do you build a network? It seems a bit extreme…

  2. Glen says:

    I think we’re getting closer to the old days where things are linked to on merit. I can certainly understand watching out for competitors, but I think you add links where they are helpful to the reader. If you can back up a statement with a link or add a reference to help a point then you do it.

  3. Very interesting. I don’t know that I have an official linking policy, but it is something I do definitely keep in mind. That said, I have no problem linking out to other blogs or sites, especially if it’s to highlight or back up something I am trying to communicate. I hardly know everything, so I think it can be helpful to the reader if done wisely.

    • Jim says:

      Everyone has one… would you link out to a site selling pills from Canada? Or pornography? 🙂

      OK that wasn’t a fair question, of course you wouldn’t. But all of those are a matter of where you draw the line, right? Would you link to a pay day loan site? For some, it’s as bad as pornography. For others, it’s… well, it’s just another site no different than a credit card company.

  4. Fred says:

    Many years ago, when I first started and didn’t know what I was doing, my blog had no links. I just copied and pasted the URL into the post and hoped that the reader knew how to copy and paste it into their address box. Then a few months later, and understood how to do links, I did links out constantly. Many of my blogs were very short (maybe two or three sentences, almost like Twitter), each with a link to another’s blog posting or news item. After about five years of doing this, I was concerned about ‘losing’ my readers to the linked pages and started cutting way back on linking out. If I did link out, I would also try to include one or two internal links in the same post to ‘offset’ the out links. Now recently, a friend advised me to not be concerned about outbound links, just become known as the ‘go-to’ place for information and resources. So that’s what I’m now doing, not being concerned about limiting outgoing links. In summary, my link policy is constantly evolving.

  5. Phil BBN says:

    As I run a forum I get lot’s of external links posted and management can be quite time consuming.

    I do not look at SEO when deciding on allowing the link or not as it would mean running their site through tools to check link portfolio, page rank etc.

    My site is classified as family safe so any adult (18+) links get removed.

    The next thing I check is the relevancy if it is relevant then I check the quality if the quality is not of a good standard then the link is removed.

    I think we will move back to a time when links are given for the right reasons which I think will help businesses that actually provide value to their readers/customers.

    • Jim says:

      Are there any packages or plugins you can use to help automate that? I tried to run a forum back in the day and it was inundated with spam (and even worse, spammer registrations).

      • Phil BBN says:

        Yes there are a selection of plugins and tools I use but I always need to stay on my toes and test new methods as it is a constant battle to keep spam at bay.

        Also with a forum you want it to grow, so as much as possible need’s to be automated.

        There was a point a year or so ago when I was going to give in as I thought there was no way but now each post gets a spam score based on number of posts for that user, links in post, spam words and more then I can just moderate the high spam score posts.

  6. Cat @ TOTS says:

    We do have policies around do-follow and no-follow links, as we are a for profit site. We intend to make money and one way to do this is through sponsored posts. When we do sponsored posts, people *usually* expect do-follow links. If this is what we agree to, this is what we will provide. As long as the site is appropriate in content, we don’t care if it is a home page, or post.

  7. Michael says:

    No real link policy here, though I always nofollow links to WikiPedia just on principle. They nofollow all of their outbound links, so I nofollow any links that I give to them. Petty? Perhaps. But it is what it is. 😉

  8. Isn’t linking out to advertisement still linking? That should negatively affect your rankings if linking mattered, correct? I guess I don’t really see why it would be an issue to link to anything. I guess if the algorithm included number of links out in it’s ranking, then that may matter. I am not sure that it should. It should take into account links coming in, but no those going out so much.

    • Jim says:

      The algorithm probably does take into account the number of links out and where they go, but I doubt that’s a huge factor.

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