The Blogger’s Guide to Linking


There is a lot of stigma around linking. When to link, where to, and when to add a no follow attribute. As many of you will have experienced, when a brand asks for a sponsored post they will more often than not request a follow link. They ask for these links for SEO purposes, to boost their rankings for certain terms as well as getting some great coverage on your site. When done respectfully and carefully this can work for both parties. Just as you may want to do guest posts to gain links back to your blog, these brands are doing the same. Sponsored posts can be a lucrative way to begin monetising your blog, but there are risks. If a site is not adhering to best practice linking guidelines and is eventually penalised for this, you could end up taking some of this flack. Not only this, but irrelevant or dodgy links could even look odd and off-putting to your readers.

Although you do have to be careful, you can do this safely and carefully without harming your blog. Here is a quick checklist you should use when deciding whether to link:

Step 1- Is the article/product relevant to your site?

People link all the time, to pages they’re interested in, to products they love or to brands they want to talk about- and this is fine! If you are a beauty blogger writing an article about the latest Benefit primer and therefore linking to it, this will not look at all out of place. It will be visible to search engines that this content is relevant to what you regularly post, and will not appear out of the ordinary. However if you’re a beauty blogger linking to the latest lawn mower, this may seem a little odd- not least to your readers! Think about the product/brand you are being asked to link to. Does it make sense? Does it fit in with your content? If the answer is no and the feature and link will stand out like a sore thumb take a step back and consider no-follow. If the link is relevant to you and what you blog about, you should be in the clear.

A great way to do this is to keep your readers in mind! Will they see the content and find it irrelevant and of putting? If so that is as clearer signifier as any that the content in question is not right for you and your blog.

Step 2- Is the site you’re linking to safe?

Be responsible about where you link to. Check out the exact page they want you to link to and have a good look through the site. You want to make sure it looks legitimate and genuine. 99% of the time people are totally honest about the site you’ll be linking to, but at the end of the day it’s your blog and your responsibility to make sure you are linking to good sites.

Step 3- Is the link relevant to the article?

Often, rather than being offered a product or being asked to write a review you’ll be offered an article. This can be good- if the article is well written by a genuine expert in your field and you’re happy to accept outside content than there is no harm. However if there is a link in the article you need to make sure you check it out. If the link is going to something totally irrelevant to the article this will look odd- as with step one, relevance is key. If the link looks natural and fits well into the article, and this article in turn is a good fit for your blog than all should be well. If not then now is the time to suggest no-follow only links.

N.B. If the link they are asking for is a byline link this should only link to brand names or social media channels! A byline link is meant only to attribute the writer or source of the article and is not an SEO vehicle!

Step 4- Sidebar links

Side bar links are a no-brainer. You must always no-follow these! Having a direct link in the sidebar, away from any content will look suspicious. These spaces are meant for advertorials only and not SEO links. Make sure you make this clear to anyone purchasing a link from these spaces.

The basic lesson here is that looking natural is the key! As long as the link is relevant, and is part of a feature (not a sidebar ad) you should be OK. Just follow the above steps every time to stay safe.

N.B. If the link they are asking for is a byline link this should only link to brand names or social media channels! A byline link is meant only to attribute the writer or source of the article and is not an SEO vehicle!

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