The True Gold of Blogging – Link Relevance

Throughout new media, we keep hearing one term over and over again: relevance.  The ad networks seek to provide relevant ads, we try to provide relevant content, we all seek relevent metrics to judge our success.

Merriam-Webster defines relevance as:

1 a: relation to the matter at hand b: practical and especially social applicability : pertinence <giving relevance to college courses>2: the ability (as of an information retrieval system) to retrieve material that satisfies the needs of the user

Many of the links we get aren’t really relevant.  This morning I had a few that were caught by Akismet from various sploggers where they had automatically grabbed my summary and posted to the site with a link back.  Basically they’re running a low value Google Adsense farm.  You might want to occassionally look at those links though, as just this week one of the sites I work with had to send a DMCA take down notice to a splogger who was copying their material wholesale (legally, I am told we lose our copyright if we don’t protect our copyright).

Links with substance are the real key for me.  Getting links from people who write on the same issues you do is a real validator for your work.  These links help bring in the folks who need to read your writing, but more importantly, it brings in people who are able to make your work better.  “Did you think about this”, “what if you” type comments turn the monologue into dialog and from there, great things can happen.

This reminds me of the primary difference between writing for big media and blogging, the lack of the grizzled copy editor.  I’ve found that a competent editor can take my good work and turn it into great work.  In the case of the blog, the reader has become the editor and I’m starting to realize that you all can be every bit as transformative as a the best copy editor.  

Really the true gold of blogging is when you can get recognition from one of the prime movers in a particular genre.  The other day Chris Brogan linked to my post about “Building Blog Readership” and in I immediately had big spike in traffic. However, it wasn’t the Digg/Slashdot type of “drive by/one and done” traffic, it was a direct connection to the audience I that I need to reach.  

Today, Chris posted an excellent article on “5 Ways to Connect and Add Value” in which he mentions the Connector X Factor:

…one of the most important parts of becoming a trust agent is to be Connector X, the person who’s always at the heart of connecting other people. Whether online or off, if you can make a practice of connecting people in a useful way, there’s a value there that will prove helpful to your goals in life.

Chris has been one of those Connector X Factors for me (and a lot of other folks) and I’m trully grateful.  You should think about who the key people are in your niche and how you can help add value.

It’s not just the quality of traffic that we get from links with relevance, it’s the overwhelming SEO impact we get as well.  While we probably shouldn’t be overly concerned with what Google thinks about us (as Ari Herzog and Phillip John reminded me in the blog readership post) , in this case. their use of link relevance is something we should pay attention to.  They know that not all links are the created equal and Google relies on them, in part, to develop our page rank.

Question:  what arethe techniques you have fostered link relevance on your blog?

9 Replies to “The True Gold of Blogging – Link Relevance”

  1. Generally agreed – most of us would be the better for not looking at Google Analytics but once a month. My premise is that that for SEO purposes, Google says the link relevance is important, and I’m just saying they know what their talking about.

    SEO traffic I’m finding of less benefit to my blog. If this was a product site, where I was selling something, or even a niche community, the search traffic would have a much higher value – on my fishing site, the value of a newbie is much higher (to an advertiser) than that of the grizzled veteran.

  2. I agree with Ari Herzog, the links that matter are the links that are established between people, not between blogs.
    The point of traffic is to understand how many people are looking at what you write, but it only matters if you can do something with the connection that is being established when they come to your website. Which means that unless you can get to know them over time, they will remain a useless statistic.
    SEO is a thing of the past, what matters is engagement, and what actions/results you can get from this engagement.
    If Chris Brogan makes a link to your blog, this is great validation and it means he knows about you now, maybe he is monitoring this blog, and maybe the next time you publish something that he could be interested in you can contact him to let him know that you did. And now we are talking real links, real relevance, and the promise of social media becoming true…

  3. I should add that this is what I like with tools like Disqus or IntenseDebate, they help formalize these connections. But back to your other post on “bloggers errors”, I am not too sure the impact long term of using them to track comments…

  4. I agree – the big thing is to get the monster links with relevance. The giants of Foobar linking to you about your post on Foobar.

    On Discus, one of my coworkers is running a test on his site, vs. using the traditional wp comments we normally use. It’ll be interesting to see how it goes for him.

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