Linking makes your blog grow in popularity. There are three reasons for this. One, it makes your blog posts more useful if they provide links to what you are talking about, rather than making people hunt stuff out themselves. Second, the people you are linking to will realise you are talking about them and come and check you out. Thirdly, doing plenty of linking will do your search engine profile no harm at all.
Links really are what drives the blogosphere. If you get linked to by one of the big boys, like a Scoble, or a Rubel, or even a Dale, then you’ll find your traffic goes through the roof. It will also give you a boost in the search engines. So if you are generous with your links, giving people credit where it’s due, providing readers with plenty of extra reading material, it’s got to be a good thing.
Sometimes, links to your blog can mean disaster. I’m talking about a link from a site like Digg, or Slashdot. Both these sites have an eponymous ‘effect’ that can spank your site’s bandwidth and possibly bring your blog down. This might not be a problem if you have a hosted blog, but if you pay for your hosting like I do, you could end up with a big bill! That this has never happened to me is testament to my policy of writing deliberately uninteresting and non-linkworthy posts. Honest.
What if you have seen an interesting story but don’t have much to add? There are two ways of dealing with these. One is to set up an account at del.icio.us – where you can bookmark pages for further reading. You can then set up a daily posting, so that your links appear in a bulleted list in a single post every day, thus making the stuff you are reading available to your readers too. The other method would be to create a link blog, a separate blog where you dump either full text or stripped down versions of the posts you read.
I prefer the del.icio.us method.
Another way of providing links is through tagging. You’ll notice that a lot of posts on this blog have tags, links at the bottom of each post that send you back to Technorati, a blog search engine, to look up a certain key word. These are a great way to get traffic as anyone who searches Techorati for those keywords will come across a link to your blog. It’s already the biggest source of traffic for this blog.
Comments are important. You must allow them on your blog, let people give you feedback or start a conversation. Receiving comments on your blog are a great sign that people are taking notice of what you are writing. Treasure the comments people leave – and always do the courtesy of responding, even if it is just with a ‘thanks!’.
When you link to someone else’s post, why not leave a comment there while you are at it, linking to your blog or even the specific post where you mention it? It’s a good way to get some more traffic. But only do it when you actually have something to say, otherwise you are effectively spamming people’s comments. That’s bad.
You can subscribe to comment feeds with most good blog engines (well, I know WordPress allows it). This can be a great way of tracking conversations you are interested in. You can use services like CoComment as well. Some blogs offer the ability to have email alerts when people respond to a comment you’ve made – why not see if such a thing is available for your blog?
Links and comments make the blogosphere go round. Make sure you’re fully engaged with them.