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8 Tips for Blogging Old School; Building a Community of Links

So, the premise is, you’re new to the blogging scene and you want to be one of the popular people. You want to say, “Yeah, I write this blog“ and have people say, “Oh, yeah, I really liked your article on”¦“ So how do you get to that point?

By building a community of links, old school style.

  1. Create quality, well thought out, original blogs. “No new things under the sun“ is true, but you’re a unique individual. Nobody thinks exactly the way you do about any given subject; capitalize on that and write things from your perspective and experience.

  1. Give links when links are appropriate to give. If you read an article and it helps make your point, link to it. Don’t be shy, don’t just link in the bottom of the blog with “related articles”. Link to it naturally in the content. For example: “[XYZ] wrote a blog about [topic], making a good point about [point]”.

  1. Reference well-established people in your articles (when appropriate and interesting ““ not just whenever). To be able to do this, you have to actually keep up with the people established in your niche. Follow them, friend them, subscribe to their blogs.

  1. While paying attention to those well-established bloggers and reading their articles, don’t forget to add a comment when the article inspires you to do so (i.e. when you can add something to the conversation). If you have a related article (and it’s part of your best content), drop the link in there. For example: “You might like [link with article title], where I wrote about a similar topic.”

  1. Use the handy, dandy “signature” capabilities available in most email programs. Make sure all your correspondence is personalized, has a link to your site/blog and, if possible, to your latest post. Not only is this a way to make it stand out from spam, but it’s also a way to bring notice to your content.

  1. Partner with vertical markets. For example, if you write about home repair and an article about plumbing comes up, link out to plumbing contractors. A hotel might link with a local spa or hairdresser.

  1. Sponsor industry-related, local events like Meetups. Local events mean local links and a show of community support ““ which is always a good thing for local business.

  1. Share your experiences of local businesses with your online community. The more positive the experience, the more likely the business will link to the article. As your online community grows and more local people find your blog, the company may even get extra business ““ even more worth a link.

A whole, whopping 10 ““ 20 years ago, life was easy. Bloggers grabbed their personal online journals; they started kicking out content and anybody could find them. Good luck being a blogging wallflower in “the good old days“ ““ Big Daddy Google wanted to make sure you didn’t miss out.

These days, Google’s too busy to make sure you aren’t left out of the online party. Why? A couple of reasons:

  • How about a ton of blogs today, compared to a relative few back then? People caught on that anybody can be a content publisher and the number of blogs skyrocketed.

  • The blogosphere used to be made up almost entirely of good writers with something to say. Now, you get a few good writers and tons of article-spun, bot created crap.

  • Links used to be something that just happened, because you had good content and people wanted to share it with other interested people. Now, we think in terms of links giving “juice” ““ like a bad orange on a hot day.

Now? You have to do it all yourself. You have to get out there and be seen. You have to put your best foot forward”¦ and hope you don’t fall flat on your face. In short, you have to build a community of people, sites and links around your blog – like they did way back when site ring communities were going strong. Only now, it’s a lot harder.

Community building

Good bloggers of today and yesteryear do have one thing in common: the willingness to share the link love and promote content written by others. Building a community of respect, knowledge and quality links doesn’t happen overnight, as you’ll see once you start following people you respect in your industry. However, by going old school, you be able to gain exposure and a fantastic community of links.



  1. Michael Martinez March 1, 2011

    “While paying attention to those well-established bloggers and reading their articles, don’t forget to add a comment when the article inspires you to do so (i.e. when you can add something to the conversation). If you have a related article (and it’s part of your best content), drop the link in there. For example: “You might like [link with article title], where I wrote about a similar topic.””

    What started out as an interesting and possibly useful article turned into yet another cheap link spam trick right there.

    I stopped reading at this point.

  2. Mel Nelson March 3, 2011

    IMO Barry if you are going to comment on an article your should at least read it first.

    I have no problem with linking out to sites that provide additional information or understanding to readers, and I see nothing wrong with dropping a link if appropriate, after all thats the way Google is built.

  3. Michael Martinez March 3, 2011

    “IMO Barry if you are going to comment on an article your should at least read it first.”

    You CAN’T be talking to me, then.

  4. gabriella March 3, 2011

    Hello, Michael – While I’d love to fall all over myself because you took the time to respond, I have to be honest with you… I’m really surprised at your comment. The fact you decided to throw those dirty words (cheap link spam) blindsided me.

    You don’t know me, so I don’t expect you to know “cheap link spam” isn’t something I would suggest or even write about. I respect opinions on any topic, so I did want to make sure I understood your comment before I responded.
    From what I visually see as a poor comment (the -5 comment rating), I can only assume there was no misunderstanding.

    As a good guest blogger, I’m compelled to clarify in the light of your comment that you didn’t bother to read the rest of the article.

    What you may consider spam is duly noted, but, IMHO, taking advantage of an opportunity to share your content isn’t wrong. I respect great content too much to drop ““ or suggest dropping ““ spam on anyone’s site. The point of the article is all about old school blogging”¦ clean, no malice or bad intent, inventive, creative ways to push your content”¦ These are all things we learn, share and do together; there’s nothing shady or spammy about it. It’s sharing information ““ period.
    Maybe you’re just jaded; maybe you think everyone is spitting out link bait and every comment with a link in it is spam. Maybe everyone is out to give bad information. Personally, I don’t think commenting is spam (even if a link is included) if it’s relevant ““ but then again, it’s all about your values. I may not know everything; I may not have the complete key to success ““ but the key to failure is trying to please everybody”¦ Thanks for commenting.

  5. Michael Martinez March 3, 2011

    Gabriella, I appreciate what you write more than you realize but if you’re going to share your opinions you have to allow other people room to disagree with them vigorously and passionately without taking offense.

    We can learn how to dislike each other or we can learn how to be critical of ideas. I pursue the latter philosophy, however imperfectly so.

    People who don’t know to think critically will grade any challenging comment lowly — I pay no attention to the popularity contest buttons.

    If you want to know WHY your suggestion is spam (and it most definitely is), think about what you would say on those blogs if you deliberately did NOT include a link.

    The link should be left so people know who you are — not because it’s a “great link building idea”. It never was and never will be.

    Abusing other people’s Websites for the sake of links is bad marketing.

  6. gabriella March 4, 2011

    Michael, I have no problem with people disagreeing with what I say… it’s a perfectly valid way of continuing a conversation – and if you appreciate and have read what I write, you know continuing the conversation has always been a consideration and what I do.

    Now – I read your comments here and I read your latest article… While I don’t protest your opinion, I do think you could have made your point without using words like “cockroach, cheap, parasitical links ” and a few other choice descriptions. That’s neither here nor there, though – it’s simply a difference of opinion in the difference between being critical and being rude.

    This article is NOT about SEO. This article is about defining how linking should and has worked in the past. Not linking for SEO, but linking as in “building a community” linking. People have become so concerned with SEO, how it works, quality links for ranking and so on… they’ve forgotten how links USED to work. You know, back before SEO was THE consideration.

    So, Michael – are you trying to tell me that never, not once in your life, have you commented on an article and left a link? Not because you wanted a link back to your site, but because that link was actually RELEVANT (as mentioned in the paragraph you so neatly dismissed in your initial comment)? You’ve never commented on a blog – ever – and said, “I have to disagree with you, and here’s why”? Not once? Funny I noticed you dropped your Twitter link on your comment. Why not just have a twitter follow button”¦ just saying.

    You see, I don’t think links are automatically spam. I think links are an excellent way to keep the conversation going. Not everybody allows a book in the comments. What if what you have to say – both relevant and helpful, useful, etc – is longer than three or four paragraphs? What if you genuinely want to share information? Is it automatically spam because you chose to share the link in a comment rather than waiting for someone to search your name and find your blog?

    In conclusion, because this is turning into a book itself…. Not once in this entire article did I say “spam people”. Not once did I say “go around and drop comments and links everywhere.” What I said was “comment if the article inspires you to do so”, which MANY shy people have a hard time doing. What I said was “if you have a related article, share it in the comments”. In other words, if it continues the conversation – if it’s relevant, if it’s helpful If, somewhere in there, you still see that as spam, so be it. We’ll simply have to agree to disagree, and I’ll make sure not to leave any links in your comments.

  7. Michael Martinez March 4, 2011

    Sorry — couldn’t fit my whole response here. Had to post it at SEO Theory. I’m not trying to be mean. I just don’t have time for editing one of my long-winded posts down to something reasonable.

  8. Terry March 4, 2011

    geez Micheal… second post sure looks like a link drop and def not looking like anything but a self promoting act…. and if you are gonna be uppity about this… why didn’t you leave the website field empty? jeez between the comments and the post…
    U have Usurped my crown as the “King of Condescencion”

  9. Michael Martinez March 4, 2011

    Geez, Terry, I didn’t realize that criticizing an article meant I should not leave the autofilled link data in there. The links are nofollowed, after all.

    You knew that, right?

  10. Barry March 4, 2011

    [quote name=”Mel Nelson”]IMO Barry if you are going to comment on an article your should at least read it first.[/quote]

    Sorry, who? I was unaware that I or any other Barry had commented on this post prior to now. 😉

  11. Barry March 4, 2011

    My 2 cents: I leave comments with a link on blog posts quite regularly, primarily because I’m a lazy bugger and don’t want to keep typing the same stuff over and over so I just supply a link to something I’ve written on the relevant topic at hand, or point the reader to someone else’s material on the subject.

    As a linkbuilding exercise it’s pretty pointless, but that was never Gabs point. Her post is about building a blog community, about being part of the conversation and getting your name and your writing out there. And in that context this tactic still works, as part of a larger effort as Gabs describes.

    I think Michael may have misinterpreted this as a linkbuilding post – understandable as this is an SEO blog after all – but that’s not the core message I got from Gabrielle’s article.

  12. SNCadmin March 4, 2011

    WOW, what an excitable bunch. Where to start?

    First off, I really don’t think this article comes off as a call to comment spam. To me it was about forming relationships that may blossom into a (nepotistic) relationship for link acquisition. That’s networking and part of ‘the game’ we play in marketing. If for links or other forms of promotion.

    @Michael – I shall increase the word count limits sir, hadn’t run into the prob before.

    As for the (perception of) article, I am not going to call what Gabs wrote ‘black hat’ or a shill for people to start comment spamming. If anything, I have also used it (dropping a link in my comment) exactly as Barry noted; because I’ve written a related piece and it’s just easier to do than writing a book in the comments (besides, most blog comments are nofollow, it’s not much of a link building tactic now is it?). I am NOT doing that for links, it is my way of adding to a conversation.

    Gabs said “when you are inspired to do so”. That’s exactly how I comment and IF I dropped a link, it is for the reason mentioned above. I don’t read her statement as “Go leave comments and drop a link in them” on a mass scale or anything. I read it as; A. If moved, leave a comment and B. if you have related reading leave a link. Shit, if it was about comment spamming, then why didn’t she mention to check if the links are followed and to ALWAYS leave a link in the comment? I believe she’s talking about adding to the conversation.

    @Mel – pretty sure Michael meant that as a figure of speech. I doubt he’d be talking if he hadn’t. It’s the perception of Gabs statements I believe may be the problem here.

    @Barry – I agree, comment links (spamming) isns’t a viable approach. I also leave links in comments, but only because it adds to the conversation…. and I am lazy too. No, wait, I mean ‘pressed for time’ – yes that’s it.

    @Terry – down boy… ohmmm ohmmm…

    @Gabs – Introductions first; Gabs meet Michael, Michael, meet Gabs. Michael is like many of the great folks we have in the Dojo, very passionate about search. I really think there is a bit of a mis-communication here as far as what was meant in the post. He doesn’t know you as well as I or he’d know you’re not a believer in comment spamming. Or that I’d allow a post on here about it. There have been times over the years Michael has taken issue with things I’ve written, we hash it out and move on. I’d encourage you to do the same, because he is a voice I welcome in the space.

    Methinks we need to step back, re-read the post and ensure we’re talking oranges-to-oranges here. Maybe a bit of a follow up? Maybe some annotations on this one? Not sure. Either way as long as it’s (the comments here) constructive and civil, I shall grab some pop corn and allow it to continue.

    A. Writers need a thick skin. B. We’re allowed to disagree.

  13. Michael Martinez March 5, 2011

    Dave, thanks for joining in. I’ve said all I want to say on the topic. I hope we can all go forward from this point without any hard feelings.

  14. SNCadmin March 6, 2011

    Never are Michael, I actually appreciate your stance as I am not a fan of crap-hat. I don’t think Gabs really ‘went’ there, but I appreciate your concern and everyone’s free to have opinions and input. Thanks for keeping us on our toes. No hard feelings what-so-ever.

  15. Donna Fontenot March 14, 2011

    Trolls aside, the concept of going old-school when building a community is extremely true and relevant. The shy kid in the corner is rarely going just wake up and find himself popular one day. He has to learn to get involved in the community if he hopes to attract participants in his little world. Back in the earlier days of blogging I wrote a list of 35 ways to increase blog traffic and popularity – and it still holds true today. It also reinforces what you’re saying here, Gabriella. Here’s a link to read all 35, since obviously, it wouldn’t make sense to list them all here in the comments –


  16. Lyena Solomon March 14, 2011

    Let’s face it – we all read the same blogs and comment on the same topics. We are already a community. When you are a part of a community, you always reference people, “Joe said,…”, “Mary mentioned,…”. So, how is it different with links? You link to a source when you want to comment on an idea expressed in that source when you write a blog post. Makes perfect sense to me.

  17. gabriella March 16, 2011

    [quote name=”Michael Martinez”]Sorry — couldn’t fit my whole response here. Had to post it at SEO Theory. I’m not trying to be mean. I just don’t have time for editing one of my long-winded posts down to something reasonable.[/quote]

    The point of this article was specifically about blogging, communicating and linking as a way to build a community, and remains so. However, I’m going to expound on my original post to clarify a little more. Here it is:

    This article [b]is not[/b] about link building for SEO; in fact, this article isn’t about SEO at all. You see, years of experience have shown me that SEO isn’t the only reason to put a link somewhere. It’s not the end all and be all of a marketing campaign.

    In other words, not everything revolves around optimization. You can make a comment on a blog, add a link, and not even think about ranking, optimization or whether it might raise their IBL profile (hint: Yo ““ SE geeks, regular people do this all the time).

    The idea is to offer bloggers advice, based on my experience, on creating a community within their niche:

    “¢ YES, it’s okay to link to other people in your articles.
    “¢ YES, it’s okay to give your readers links to other content not on your site.
    “¢ YES, it’s okay to talk about other people if they say something that interested you.
    “¢ YES, it’s okay to share your own material with other people on another blog.
    “¢ YES, it’s okay to communicate.

    “Share and share alike,” we say. “Occasionally forget about Google and think about the community you’re building,” we urge. “Engage, communicate, and enjoy the unique opportunity the Digital Age has to share information, meet new people and build a community like no other time before it.” Thanks for your input.

  18. LED Bulb September 3, 2011

    I will always give a nice thrust look in to you from my bookmark feed. I don’t actually comment and don’t like to spend time in typing the comment.

  19. gpelec October 27, 2011

    About the wonderful, very pleased to see this article, learn some things, and view the text is recognized. Thank you for sharing. At the same time.i love Led Panel Light and E27 Led Bulb and T8 Led Tube very much !

  20. Walid Gabteni March 16, 2015

    I was reading Michael’s response on seo-theory before landing here, i wanted to take part of the discussion but comments are closed.

    This is an exciting discussion, and I believe that we should let the “politically correct” at a part and speak frankly and respectfully…

    Michael uses Google’s criteria to define what is Spam, what is good and what is bad. For my point of view… that’s a big mistake. Google is not the entire Web.

    For Google things are pretty clear, if you comment on a blog, no matter of how much your comment is adding value or not. If you’re commenting to gain a link to your website, that’s spam, because you’re trying to play with the algorithm. Remember, Google used links considering that they represents votes, obviously this system doesn’t allow you to vote for yourself.

    Every SEO should be aware about that, blog commenting (adding value or not) to get a link, is Spam… BUT FROM THE GOOGLE POINT OF VIEW

    Because the definition of Spam is dynamic, every webmaster or blogger should define spam using his own credentials. Everyone should be free to follow Google guidelines or not. What it’s looking spammy for me could be interesting for someone else…

    Saying that, while I believe it’s important to understand Google’s Webspam criteria, we should not be forced to say “Amen” to every Google recommendation. Google is smarter but still have problems with link analysis, I m free to decide to take profit of that situation, without being finger pointed as an horrible spammer. I m also free to decide to take some risks or not if I know that some tactics could be dangerous.

    Links are an important Google ranking factor. Linkbuilding (in the sense “I m building my own links”) it’s at the same time a powerful tactic to rank, and a spammy tactics for Google point of view. That said, for Google, maybe 90% of SEOs are spammers, I m a spammer, Gabriela is a spammer, may be Michael Martinez is a spammer too.

    Now we can forget Google one moment and think, if someone comes to my blog, and post a great comment, adding a great value to my post (that’s happen), and taking profit to the situation adding a link to his website, do I have to consider it as a Spam comment ? That’s my own decision, Google cannot decide for me what is evil and what is not.

    I don’t really consider blog commenting as a linkbuilding best practice, because I believe that Google don’t give as much value to these kind of links, but I saw that tactic works to gain visitors and additional links, so also if i m not an “SEO Comment lover”, i can accept that is a parasitical practice for Google, but I would never say that is parasitical practice for the entire web.

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