Creating an effective link post #blogging

Recently a client contacted me to request some blog posts. It was an urgent request, they didn’t have much time and needed a post ready to post in just 60 minutes time. They signed off their request with “Don’t research something just put together one of those link posts, they’re quick and easy”.

Okay, I’m always honest with you when I share my thoughts and I’ll tell you exactly what I told my client:

An effective link post is never quick and easy.

A link post is not lazy blogging, for when you are pushed for time. It’s a resource article that when done well, will become one of the main traffic drivers to your blog or website.

It’s a post that helps forge relationships with others in your niche or industry and it’s the type of post that should be done on a regular basis.  You will see people do weekly round-ups of weekly wrap-ups and others curating great big lists as a driver of traffic. Here are three list posts that I read on a regular a basis.

Ana Hoffman’s Marketing Skinny

Kimberley Castleberry Speed Links

Carol Lynn Rivera  Weekend Round Up

Links for the post can be a selection of links from your own site, or links surrounding a particular topic but wherever you chose your links from, you’ll need to curate your content carefully to see that the post flows together and is useful to your reader.

Planning your link post

Start at the beginning.

Like I’ve done with this post, an effective link post starts with an introduction and perhaps some back story and what you can expect to learn from this link post. An introduction doesn’t have to be long, perhaps just a sentence or two explaining how and why the links were chosen.

A list of links on their own with no introduction puts your reader off, and they have no idea what to expect, so they won’t click through and read.

Subheadings.

Subheadings make your post easier to skim-read. The subheadings also are hooks to pull the reader back into reading the post. Subheadings are also an indication to the search engines what the post is about as generally they are H2 and H3 tags. You can easily add subheadings by using the Kitchen Sink Button. Just highlight the subheading on a line of it’s own and then chose the size. If you can’t see the paragraph option as seen in label three on the image below, then you need to locate the Kitchen sink button on the post dashboard – see step one.

The title and the link

Add the title of the link, then the link and then 2 or 3 sentences about the link. What you write should make the reader want to click through and read the original post. Sometimes you can take a quote from the post you are linking to and that will be okay for your reader to get the gist of what the link is about.

An opinion about the link content is acceptable and so is a quick summary of the content presented in the post. Indicate if the links are ranked  in a particular order -

  • Most popular
  • Most effective
  • Most comments
  • Most shares
  • Or whatever ranking indicator you are using

If I’m writing a post with a lot of links then I tend to mix it up a little, and have the links in varying places. As you write more link posts, you will start to see what your readers like and respond to. This means that you can adapt your introduction to the link in the manner that your audience prefers.

Then move onto link two.

Add similar information about link 2, as you did with link 1. If you are creating a link post that ranks the links, you might need to expand a bit more in this information section and indicate why this link is in second place. You can vary the description if you think your readers will like that or you can keep to the same format for each link.

And continue your link post

Adding the additional links and the information describing them until you have included all your links.

Size matters

Over on Birds on the Blog I always do a list of 100 female bloggers at the start of the year. The bigger the list the more likely it is to drive traffic except (yes, there’s always an exception to the rule) when it’s sloppily put together or curate for the wrong reasons. For us on Birds on the Blog, the list is big because there are a lot of women in our arena that we need to pay tribute to and acknowledge.

We recently did a series of list posts celebrating women in various niches, almost all of them were a success. the one that “failed” and was only shared a few hundred times was a post that was particularly self-serving. When something like this happens in your list post your readers will be reluctant to share it and that means all your hard work curating the post has been for nothing. Have honourable intentions when you create your list post.

Smaller resources are equally useful when they reach their intended audience – it doesn’t have to be a huge post to work, it just has to be well thought out.

Finish with your conclusion or post summary

A popular way to end your links post is by asking your readers to add any additional links on the same topic and to say why they love that link. It’s a great conversation starter on your blog. You could end the post with a brief summary and a call to action to share the post. By doing one of these style posts on a weekly basis you’ll start to see what works with your audience and generate more traffic to your site.

Sarah

PS Your work may not be over when you’ve wrote the post, yes, some bloggers get alerted when someone links to them via their dashboard or Google Alerts, some may not have a clue. So drop them an email and let them know you’ve mentioned them. Again, this is a great way to start a conversation with another blogger and get to know them better. Yes, link posts are also a great networking tool.

 

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Sarah Arrow

Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be?That's okay I understand. I started blogging back in 2006 and grew into a kick-ass blog coach as well as creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women), I'm frequently listed as both a top content marketing expert and as an influential marketer.
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62 Comments

  1. OK, this tells me I need to totally re-do a link post that’s floating around at the moment.
     
    And here’s what I think would be really cool–a link or two to link posts that you think are particularly well done.
     
    Thanks, Sarah–I *always* learn a ton when reading your posts!
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  2. It’s a really good idea to email people and let them know you’ve used their link in your post. Creating connections and partnerships through blogging. It’s always a great feeling to know that somebody’s reading your blog and sharing it with others. Really great tip Sarah, thanks!

    Reply
  3. I’m just doing a post in which I need to use the links of other bloggers and I’m so grateful that I read this before posted. I will certainly mail them with the links. Thanks, SarahArrow 
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  4. Thank you Sarah for this great reminder!

    I’ve done this in the past when I wanted to write a “quick post” and it worked out so well. Yes, that thing to remember is to notify those that you have linked to. They will be happy….Plus they usually post it on the social sites and say something like “Look…You can find me on this blog”

    I’ve seen the results when I’ve done this. You have inspired me to do more of it.

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted..Making Your Business BloomMy Profile
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  5. Hi Sarah,

    First of all, let me thank you for being a constant visitor to my blog. You come often and comment often. You take this comment job seriously and this is what an authentic marketer should do.

    I am not commenting here just to reciprocate. I comment because I like Sarkemedia. I like it more than birdsontheblog. It is more narrowed, more targeted and I always find something useful and interesting.
    Now, about this post.

    I have never tried a link post with links to other bloggers. I have done roundups but only with my posts.
    I agree with the strategy, it was carefully crafted but my concern is the following:

    It is so easy to put up 10 links to interesting and useful posts written by other bloggers. You can be tempted to put 20 or more links, carefully arranged, topic by topic with the necessary explanations etc.
    What happens if a blogger decides to delete a post? There is this thing called: spring cleaning”. Many bloggers spring clean their blogs and almost each time a series of links or even posts are lost in the process. In a few months you can easily have dozens and dozens of broken links. What do you do?

    Have a nice day
    Silviu recently posted..How to Record a Video with Screencast-O-MaticMy Profile
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    • Hi Silviu, thank you for your kind words. I won’t sob in my sleep that you like here better than Birds on the Blog ;). Spring cleaning your posts is always a good idea. In fact it’s always a good idea to go through your site and check for broken links on a quarterly basis.
      If you are linking to established bloggers you shouldn’t have too much of a broken link problem. Broken links were how I found out a site of mine had been hacked, so checking for them, and checking often is a good thing.
      Sarah Arrow recently posted..Google Hangouts: Why I got a haircut, stepped up my exercise regime and stopped working in my pajamasMy Profile
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  6. Hi Sarah,
    great tutorial and clear instructions.

    You have given awesome suggestions for planning and how to put it all together and given reasons for why.
    I like Kimberly’s speed links.
    It is always good to have an overview about what the post is about rather than just the link title.
    I will bookmark this to read again, and of course share it so others can benefit from your post!
    Cheers,
    Yorinda
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  7. Sarah,
    visiting your site is always a happy learning experience for me… thanks so much for sharing such great and useful information for all of us to do better.

    The idea to email people and let them know you’ have used their link in your post is a great and wonderful idea that I will use for certain. That sure start a great conversation to create genuine connections and future partnerships, wow, that is great.
    Sarah, you sure contribute a lot to the community… hope you are receiving compensation in some ways that make you feel good.

    Thanks again!
    _nickc
    nick catricala recently posted..What you do when you are in pain?My Profile
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  8. These are great instructions Sarah! I have only written two link posts in my life and it was simply because they were time-consuming. Poor excuse :) I can see how a properly written link post can build my credibility, demonstrate my resourcefulness, foster my relationship with other bloggers and help grow my blog.
    rachel lavern recently posted..Minimize Your DistractionsMy Profile
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  9. Hello Sarah,
    This is my first visit to my blog and I found this post very effective. I often link back to authority sites and also try to build networking through blog commenting.

    Thanks for your suggestions,

    Best regards,
    Amrik Virdi
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  10. Sarah, this was exactly what I needed to see. My blog is the infancy stage, and I was having difficulty visualizing how I would be able to organize great amounts of information effectively. I understood that often times the message I wish to convey has already been done much more effectively than I could have ever hoped to accomplish on my own, so this is just perfect. Bookmarking, and returning often, thank you so much!
    Justin Rash recently posted..Input NeededMy Profile
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  11. During my regular season (I’m currently on a break between cycles) I have been hosting a weekly linkfest of sorts… I call the series “Speaking of…” and then I link to at least 3 posts that I think speak to our weekly topic and invite others to share as well. ( See Example Here) I always tweet out to those I’ve featured and in turn I almost always get a tweet or RT back but only very rarely do these folks actually visit the blog. I try to do a mix of big experts and smaller bloggers and because I let folks add their own links I really thought the idea would really take off but honestly the results have been pretty lackluster. In the beginning I Loved putting these posts together, getting out and meeting new bloggers etc. but now it is turning into a “have to” because the feedback has been so mediocre.

    This whole preamble is to set up this question. In a few weeks I am going to start a new cycle of my Bliss Habits and I’m wondering if I should dump or revamp this feature. If I am going to keep it, what do you think could be done to make it more popular and/or useful to people?
    Kathy from Bliss Habits recently posted..How is it that we forget to be hapfull?My Profile
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    • Hi Kathy, good question. Do you write your link post as a resource for your readers or to get the attention of other bloggers? Do your readers click through on the links and explore what you’ve shared? IF they do, I’d continue them as someone is benefiting from them even if the bloggers you link to are not responding. In addition I’ve also found that the blogs link section in WP has stopped working and I no longer can see who links to me :(
      Sarah Arrow recently posted..Google Hangouts: Why I got a haircut, stepped up my exercise regime and stopped working in my pajamasMy Profile
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  12. Thanks for the very detailed explanation and instructions Sarah. I’ve wondered why so many people are doing these kinds of posts, it’s a great way to share what others are doing, and get more traffic to your own website.
    Julieanne van Zyl recently posted..Embed a YouTube Video into a Blog PostMy Profile
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  13. Thanks Sarah, for sharing this tips on to create an effective link post, your descriptions are practical and i’m sure to implement them in my next edition.

    I have one recommendation for you: I think you should stop the social media buttons on the sidebar from blinking, I lost concentration while reading your post.

    Meanwhile, great article and keep it up!
    Ebenezer recently posted..How to Disable Comments in a Single Page in Intensedebate Comment SystemMy Profile
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  14. Hey Sarah,

    You are someone who is so generous to share your experience with your client. Honestly, I should practice creating link post. I have done that once and haven’t been doing it for a long time.

    Lastly, thanks for your detailed explanation on your post.

    Cheers
    Pearly Quah
    Pearly Quah recently posted..Kangen Water Malaysia With Alkaline Water And AcidosisMy Profile
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    • Hi Pearly, I think a link post with all your amazing water articles would be a really handy resource. Good luck with it :)
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  15. Hi Sarah. I’m watching an Annie Oakley B&W TV show DVD that my husband got me, because he knows that when I was little I wanted to be Annie Oakley when I grew up. This post looks very interesting, but it’s a little too much for me to absorb at all at once. It’s been bookmarked for future study. Thanks for all the wonderful information you provide.

    All the best,
    Leslie
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    • Hi Leslie or should that be Annie? ;) Sounds like you have a great husband :)
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  16. I never though much about list posts, Sarah. Probably because they do not at all look like they could be quick and easy… two things I cherish, lol.

    But you’ve really got me thinking about some ways to use link posts effectively to extend tentacles into my niche, internet marketing. You’ve given some wonderful tips for bringing this all together. Hopefully I’ll muster up the time and energy to make it happen soon.
    David Merrill 101 recently posted..U-Pack Moving Review | Flex MovingMy Profile
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    • Hi David, having read your other content I know that your link posts will be amazing.
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  17. We did a weekly curated list on our blog for almost 2 years – and you’re right it does bring traffic.

    An interesting side note – we tried really hard to link to lesser known small businesses in an attempt to give them some exposure – the results were strange – We’d get request to have their links taken down (Google Panda/Penguin was always the reason given) We’d notify them and get no response whatsoever – Finally we just gave up – the were harder to find and it felt way to much work when you could just use the big traffic blogs instead.
    Marty Diamond recently posted..Help! My Testing Strategy Isn’t Working!My Profile
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    • Hi Marty, we’ve also had the request for link removal from small blogs on Birds on the Blog (we tend to link out more there). I think the whole Google link think has confused the heck out of bloggers, myself included.
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  18. This is something I’ve been thinking of doing but haven’t had the time to figure out how to do effectively. I’ve been looking at scoop.it and is thinking about curating posts. Your article came in very timely. I will surely refer to it again when I finally have the chance to start doing this. Thank you, Sarah.
    Cherrie Bautista recently posted..Inspiring Kids to be HappyMy Profile
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    • Curating posts is a great way to make useful connections for your readers Cherrie, and I love Scoop.it :)
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  19. Having grappled with prepping link posts for Birds, for some reason I’ve not felt inclined to include one on my site – I wonder why ;) And in all seriousness, there is a lot which can be achieved and shared with a link post and I will now give some thought as to what lists I might share. Another great nudge!
    Jackie Walker recently posted..3 warning signs that you’re out of touch with realityMy Profile
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  20. Hey Sarah…..I appreciate the information that you have on your Blog….I haven’t put together a link post as of yet…..in fact before today, I barely knew what one was…..I have book marked your site…….It would seem That I learn something every time I visit!….I am still a Rookie at this blogging thing, but have really enjoyed it so far and have been pleased, for the most part, of the results……Now I’m learning how to expand it a little and improve it…….Thanks for the information, and creating a new direction of thought for me…..Smokey
    Gregory Bowen recently posted..Never, And Always…..Two words That Cause Problems!My Profile
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  21. Very helpful,
    too many people fall prey to the idea they have to post an article after article, and forget to share it. We write to be read.

    Of course, proper blog tools such as floating sidebar to allow for easy sharing certainly help…
    Robert Jirda recently posted..Chakra Balance MeditationMy Profile

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    • Hi Robert, I’ve just found that a floating sidebar doesn’t help everyone so I’ve moved to shared buttons under the post. They have always been a problem on mobile devices, even the ones that default to the top of the post when the site is accessed via mobile. You can’t please everyone :)
      Sarah Arrow recently posted..#Infographic getting started with VAT in International TradeMy Profile
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  22. Hi Sarah,

    I’ve seen many link posts and I’ve thought about creating one. After reading this article, it’s a definite yes. You’ve outlined the benefits and although it isn’t “easy” it looks like it will be worth the effort. I think it could be an adventure to create a useful list to share with other bloggers. Thanks for the information and guidelines to putting it together.

    Raena Lynn
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  23. I so agree, Sarah – it’s easy to throw together a quick “5 link” post, but it takes a lot of time to create something that actually adds value and is loved and read.

    Love your step-by-step instructions!

    And you mentioned of Traffic Generation Café is much appreciated. I already started writing my next Weekly Marketing Skinny – by adding your post to it. lol

    By the way, I also wrote a post of the best link roundups around in case your readers are interested in more examples: http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/link-roundups/
    Ana Hoffman recently posted..Schema Markup: How to Make Your Content More Clickable and ShareableMy Profile
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  24. Hi Sarah,

    In determining which link to include in your post, i would also add “trending stories” as it’s a combination of popularity in short period of time, making that particular story “hot” … so more interesting for a reader, increasing the possobilities of a click.

    Just a thought :)
    Ado Banks recently posted..Hipster Baby Names for GirlsMy Profile
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  25. Frankly, I don’t like link posts, because most of the links posts I have seen are just links. Nothing else, no explanations, nothing much to read.

    But, there are link posts that are great to read. I like it when bloggers share their own experiences/opinion with the topic of each blog post mentioned. I used to have one of my own (I called it “Around the Blogosphere in 7 days” :D).

    One tip I would like to add to the Conclusion part: Teaser posts are also great for conclusion – mention what’s coming up next on your own blog :D

    Anyways, great guide you have got here, Sarah :)
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