Someone on one of Deb’s posts here asked, “I am working on identifying the important blogs in my various niches – how about a post on how exactly to do that? It’s easy if your niche is tech or web related. You can just look at Technorati’s Top 100. But what’s an efficient way to go about finding other niches? How do you know who’s big? AND how many of these communities is it reasonable to strive to be active in?”
Now, since it was Deb’s post I’m not going to answer the whole question – maybe she’d like to. But I wanted to comment on this, because I’ve always found the whole “who to link to” issue really interesting. I’ve seen people ask this question before on forums, and it’s fascinating to me, because I’m sort of the old school mentality of linking to who I like vs. linking strategically.
Not having performed any serious scientific studies on linking, I can only offer my opinion though. Maybe it would be more beneficial for me to only link to big names, maybe not. I know it’s sometimes beneficial when big names link to me, but the other way around, well, I’m not so sure.
For example, at one of my green blogs I’ve linked to TreeHugger on occasion, when I see a post I like there, or when one of the bloggers I know there sends me a link and ask me nicely to share. TreeHugger is arguably the biggest of the big green blogs, but does me linking to them earn me anything? Not that I’ve seen. I get more hits from other green blogs I’ve linked to – smaller, yet equally as good green blogs, where the bloggers have time to come say thanks for the link, and possibly become a continued reader of my blog.
Now to use the TreeHugger example again, they’ve linked to my Offbeat Homes blog before, and yes, they’re huge, but do their readers come visit Offbeat? Some, but they’re not a place I get oodles of traffic from. I actually get more regular traffic from other, smaller, architect blogs – architect blogs that are not as well known as TreeHugger, but who have readers who like houses and structures so they’ll hit that Offbeat Homes link.
This has happened to me a lot. Big blogs don’t always equal big hits. Smaller blogs may equal tremendous hits and create regular readers. That said, on occasion, bigger blogs have linked to my blogs and created a huge traffic surge for me. In most cases these are bigger blogs I’ve never linked to myself, so this isn’t a case of them returning a favor, it’s more a case (I’m guessing) of them seeing something on my blog that their readers might enjoy, so they link me. I always go say thanks, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll link to them.
Based on my rather non-organized findings I think…
Obviously, you can link to who you want, but I think you should link organically. This means link to a blog for the link’s value, not for the blog’s value. Link to what you enjoy reading. If you happen by a small blog and enjoy the read, and your readers would too, well, that’s a worthy link. Same goes for big blogs. I don’t think it’s possible to estimate who may bring you in the big traffic, and even if you could, it looks a little off if all you’re doing is linking to top tier blogs, don’t you think?
In my favorite niches I’ve seen blogs that only link to the big names in the niche, and maybe they get more traffic. The negatives are that it looks totally obvious and it’s so boring. I know about the big blogs in my niche, I can find those links all on my own; show me something I haven’t heard of. You can set yourself apart by finding good links that are a little more unique.
But like I said, I haven’t done any long-term huge studies on this topic. I guess when it comes down to it, to me, the most important blogs are not the ones I “should” identify and link to, the best blogs are ones I honestly enjoy and “want” to link to.
Who do you link to? And why?