As you know, the Internet is a constantly evolving place. Remember when black backgrounds and flashing GIFs were all the rage? The same can be said about the more specific arena of blogging where best practices and common features can change on quite the frequent basis. It used to be rare to find a blog that didn’t have a blogroll in the sidebar, but these days, it’s perhaps even rarer to find a blog that still has one.
The thing is that the fundamental nature of blogging hasn’t changed all that much. They’re still regularly-updated websites–some by individuals, some by companies–with posts that approach a wide range of topics. One of the most important aspects of blogging is that these sites do not exist in isolation. Even if you never meet your fellow blogger in real life, keeping connected and building that community are vital. We network through our blogs and through social media.
For a while there, speedlinks quickly rose in popularity. These are curated posts that link out to other blog posts around the Internet. Each week, I have What’s Up Wednesdays on Beyond the Rhetoric, for example.
Speedlinks served and continue to serve a couple of key objectives. First, they provide added value to readers. Particularly when it comes to individual blogs where there is only one person writing, providing alternative perspectives can help to round out the picture and provide some useful information. Some people may view other bloggers as competitors, and in some ways they are, but it’s more about the rising tide that lifts all boats.
Second, speedlinks can be a good, subtle way to get the attention of other bloggers in and out of your niche. They’ll typically see the inbound link (or trackback) and check out in what context they were mentioned. Bloggers, as a whole, are a rather egocentric bunch, so we want to know what other people are saying about us. This can help to forge new relationships and strengthen old ones.
But in the wake of all these Google algorithm updates and with the ongoing evolution of the web, do speedlinks still matter? I say they do.
Yes, it is true that Google may lay the smackdown on sites that engage in clearly reciprocal linking. However, it is also true that Google will always value “good content” that is useful to readers and if some reciprocal links happen in a truly organic manner, you’re unlikely to get punished.
This is partly why Matthew Woodward rounds up the best Internet marketing posts every month (one of my posts here on John Chow dot Com made up that most recent collection). This is partly why Damien Riley has his Blog Safari series too. They’re ways to “feature other peoples’ recent blog posts that i read and really like.”
Of course, there will always be a good way and a bad way to go about doing things and speedlinks on blog are no exception. It’s entirely up to you if you want to provide that dofollow link juice or if you’d rather attach the nofollow attribute, but you should be providing those links in some sort of context. Remember that keyword-heavy anchor text can get you punished from an SEO perspective.
What you’ll find is that speedlinks are going to be more common among “smaller” blogs and they’re not nearly as common on much larger blogs, but that’s not a hard and fast rule either. In any case, it is a good way to get on the radar of other bloggers in an altruistic kind of way. After all, who doesn’t like the unexpected free gift of an inbound link?