When I’m in the middle of creating a new website or an in-depth blog article, one of things I usually do is making a list of which websites to link out to. Sometimes, visitors may find a resource page, a list with links to other relevant websites or a few in-content links very interesting. And when a page is relevant to mine, meets a certain quality standard, and adds value to the content on my page, I’m usually more than happy to link to it. For free. However, you’d be surprised how very few pages meet that quality standard.
1. Ads before content
If I want to see nothing but ads, I’ll go to Google. When I’m looking for content to link to, and I land on a page with a 336×280 AdSense block above the fold, or with bouncing banner ads that have to be minimized before I can read the content on the page, I will definitely not link to it. Why on earth would I want to let my visitors experience something annoying like that?
It’s not a problem that you try to monetize your website, but do you really have to turn your page into a blinking neon sign to do so? Ditch some ads and get more links!
2. Bad writing & grammar
You don’t have to be a best selling novelist, but you should be able to tell me a story without boring me to death. Also, when you’re too lazy to use a spell checker, you probably didn’t deserve that link. Remarkable writers score bonus points, though.
If you don’t like writing, hire someone to do it for you! You can usually tell if someone doesn’t like writing, just by reading one of his or her articles. Try Demand Media if you want to see some examples…
3. Sell, sell, sell
A good salesman knows when he should try to sell something, and when it’s time to socialize or to talk about other things. Bad salesmen try to sell nearly anything, at all times, to anyone, which can be quite annoying. Is your website a good or a bad salesman?
There’s nothing wrong with promoting your services every now and then, but when nearly every blog post is nothing but a lengthy sales pitch with a picture of a kitten, I won’t be linking out to you anytime soon.
4. Link greed and pink illness
The web is a social place. Linking out every now and then is not a bad thing. It might be the link builder in me, but when I see a blog that has zero outbound links in the last 10 or so articles, I’ll go and find a more social website to link out to. The same goes for linking out to your sources. Link out, and thou wilt receive.
Websites that automatically nofollow all outbound links are even worse, in my opinion. I don’t care if it’s company policy, a WordPress plugin going berserk, or ‘something that IT should have fixed two weeks ago’, I’ll do the same to you. Nofollow and thou wilt receive. Yes, karma can be a bitch.
5. Being mediocre
Just recently, I was looking for an article with beautiful city landscapes for an ‘additional resources’ section of a page. I ended up at a nicely written page about city landscapes and what’s beautiful about them, but that page did not contain any photographs. When the SERPS of the topic of your page contain image results (like so), your page should contain images. Period.
Also, when you do a ‘Top 101 Ways to do X’ article, make sure that it contains 101 ways to do X. Not 14, followed by 87 variations of the first fourteen ways. When I send my visitors away from my site to visit yours, I want them to go ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’. Not ‘meh’ or ‘boo’.
Of course, there are several other reasons that will make me think twice about linking to your website (lack of uniqueness, very ugly web design, bad neighborhoods, not having an ‘about us’ section, being a direct competitor, etc.), but for me, the 5 reasons mentioned in this article are the most important ones.
How about you? What makes you link to other websites, or what prevents you from doing so?