7 Ways to Resuscitate a Boring Links Post

By Skellie

The links post is steeped in tradition. After all, the very first blogs were little more than a collections of links.

As blogs have multiplied, changed, expanded and evolved, the links post has remained, essentially, unchanged. It’s a weekly fixture on most blogs, which is actually a little strange, when you think about it.

Has one of your weekly link round-ups ever bought in a lot of traffic? Has it ever been successful on social media? Has it ever received a lot of links? Probably not.

The links round-up post is one that rarely aims high. It serves to give your readers something to chew on while you take a day off. It demonstrates appreciation for some of the content you’ve enjoyed over the week. It sends out trackbacks, helping you take the first step in networking with other bloggers. These are all fine things. They’re the reason why link posts have lasted so long without changing or adapting.

Despite that, I think the humble links post could be much more than it is.

In this article, I want to suggest seven methods you can use to breathe new life into your weekly link round-ups. They might even start to attract more links than they send out.

1. Turn your links post into a resource list

One of the main downfalls of the traditional links post is its unattractiveness to social media.

The main factor driving most submissions to social media is value, or how valuable something is perceived to be (whether it’s entertainment value, knowledge value, or some other form of value). Link posts are generally seen as holding little value when compared to other types of posts.

Resource lists, however, are essentially just another form of links post, and they tend to do tremendously well on social media. So, what’s the difference? It’s all in the presentation. Grouping links together in themed bundles, rather than the common ‘scattered topics’ format, helps your links post take on the dimensions of a resource list.

Each week, you could publish a bundle of links structured around only one of the topics you cover. Give it the kind of headline usually reserved for a resource list (i.e. 10 Essential Putting Tips for Golfers). Something that takes the same amount of effort as a normal links post now has a good chance of being bookmarked and doing well on social media.

2. Group links on one topic

If you don’t like the idea of presenting your links post as a resource list, you could simply give your links post a theme. This week it might be business, next week it might be design… of course, topics will vary depending on what your particular audience is interested in. Those topics are just examples.

Grouping links by topic increases your chances of being bookmarked. It allows your links post to take on some of the elements of a resource list without going all the way.

3. Build links around remarkable quotes

Another interesting way to present links is to reproduce your favorite quote from the article you’re linking to. It’s less work for you and it also encourages readers to contextualize the excerpt.

4. Build links around sensational quotes

Expanding on the last method, this variant changes the criteria for what you decide to quote. Using this method, the aim is to reproduce a quote that’s been deliberately de-contextualized for entertaining and sensational reading. Readers will find it hard not to want to contextualize the quote you’ve provided, particularly if it’s something that sounds very juicy out of context, and especially if the quote comes from someone they’re familiar with.

A note: make sure not to quote anyone in a way that makes them look bad!

5. Weave links into your commentary

One particularly elegant approach is to work links into your words in a way that’s as subtle as possible. Jason Kottke, for example, works links into his commentary rather than separating the two. Instead of the awkward ‘link then explain’ format, why not make things more seamless and meld the link and explanation of the content into one?

6. Handle links with a tumblelog

Unlike many bloggers, I don’t post a weekly round-up of links. Instead, I update a dedicated tumblelog throughout the week. I particularly like this method because it allows me to give those who follow the tumblelog a guided tour of the web.

Instead of being a static resource, it evolves from day to day. Though it’s unlikely ever to go viral or have social media success, I’ve found it to be the most enjoyable, quick and stress-free way to handle links.

7. Links as threaded discussions

Rather than structuring your links around a theme, you could structure them around a particular controversy or discussion occurring across your niche. Start with the post that kicked things off, then present other bloggers’ reactions as a threaded discussion.

When linking to another blogger’s contribution to the debate, you could reproduce a quote encapsulating their point of view. You could group together those that agree, or those that disagree.

If your links provide a nice overview of the controversy or debate, it could start to serve as a one-stop overview for people to link to when they want to provide some background for their readers. In other words, your humble links round-up could become a link bait.



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33 Responses to “7 Ways to Resuscitate a Boring Links Post”

  • zonixsoft

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  • CatherineL

    Great tips. I’m not great at doing links posts. But I do use the one you mention in tip 3 – using a quote from the article you’re linking to.

    I did that the other day on a great point you made about Tim Ferriss in Dirty Writing.

    Number 7 sounds very interesting – I will definitely try that one soon.

  • Bob Angus

    I use #2 and #5 for my weekly Prime Angus Filets post. I try to mix it up a bit – some topic related, some standalone, some in bullet list, and some blended. My goal is to engage the reader and discuss why I found these links valuable, not just provide a list.

    I love the memorable or sensational quote idea. I try to link to titles that have some pizzazz. Why not pull out some quotes with the same eye catching, “I’ve got to read that” draw?!

  • Dan

    @Skellie: Thanks for the link. I really like the idea of a tumblelog, especially that you can add brief comments on the links. No need to feel pressure to produce a complete post just to share something interesting.

    I also like the way Cameron Moll includes these sorts of links on his blog: he has a sidebar section titled “Premium Linkage,” and his link posts are very short, usually just a sentence or two. He has a separate rss feed just for the links as well as a page that serves as an link archive.

  • Rob O.

    I like to work my Blogtipping link posts around a common topic or theme each month. I’ve gotten a pretty good response from this series since I began last March.

  • Skellie

    @ Dan: It’s skelliewag.tumblr.com — hope you enjoy it!

    Thanks for the comments everyone — I look forward to seeing some cracking links posts (and if you use any tips, feel free to post a link here).

  • Paul

    I absolutely agree with #1 being important. Valuable relevant links keep users interested and coming back to you because you’re now a source.

    The main problem I had was finding relevant links and getting them to link back. I recommend Arkayne if you’d like to automate the relevant linking process. The widget has helped me keep readers tuned in by discovering and ranking related pages. Pretty good customization and metrics included.

    http://www.arkayne.com

  • Norman

    No.1 is really good!! I agree with that posts should have a value, either entertainment value, or resource value. I think the best way to present link post is to give a good summary of what the link or links is about. So that readers don’t have to open the link to find out whether they should read or not. Even better, a relative detailed summary of the link will be much better. This way, most of readers don’t have to open the link unless they are interested to know more details.

    The second type of links is to collect several related links on one topic, especially rank the links in terms of inportance, and some insight will be a plus. If some one says igoogle, netvibes and my yahoo are all great way as a start page, and list the links, I feel not good enough. If you say, igoolg is good in that google reader and gmail are inside and evsier to use if you use google reader and gmail. Netvibes can put hotmail, yahoo mail, gmail all on one webpage and have more options, these kinds of posts will be much much better than this post:

    good starting pages:

    igoogle.com
    netvibes.com
    myyahoo.com.

  • Wayne Liew

    I forgot when and which bloggers provide the tips on having weekly link giveaways but certainly over the period, it has become a very dry content since these posts often contain just links which does not seem to have any value.

    You surely have the list for bloggers to freshen their link posts up. I always recommend others to add in their opinions to the links that they feature in their blogs which is almost the same as your Point 4.

  • Tay – Super Blogging

    I really like number one. Mine are always called “The Best of the Blogosphere”, and I never thought of doing it differently. Changing might break tradition, but I’ll give it a go next week if I remember. 😉

  • Chip

    I definitely agree with the resourve lists. Whenever you have time, pick a topic (an interesting one) and research everything about it. Complete with links, screenshots, specifications and, most important, your personal opinion.

    I think this will give a boost to your readership loyalty, who will come back to see another list of great resources. And you can test your traffic behaviour and continue on with this kind of articles.

    It’s kinda refreshing to change the style of your blog, maybe for, let’s say a month, or two. You will get feedback from your readers, and you will now if you must continue and increase the resources quantity (and quality), or just forget it.

    This is actually what I intend to do with one of my blogs. Weekly, for the moment, subjects based on different hot topics.

    I like number 5, but let me tell you what I do: I just write, and write, and write, and if a concept or a term needs extra explanations, I just link it to an article which explains it in detail (and I agree with it and I like it, of course). Offtopic now, you may be aware of my linking experiment “Do As I Say, Not As I Do” here: http://blog.butterflymedia.ro/do-as-i-say-not-as-i-do/. I surely “wove” links in there 😉

    You have provided some good advice here. Thanks.

  • Lana

    I just visited http://middlezonemusings.com. Look what he’s done with the links. Very clever approach: involve others, discuss any topic.

  • Lana

    I like Sucker’s idea: a whole post consisting of links! I think it’s easier done with a technical or a very niche blog, where everything is interconnected. But with enough info to support a post any subject (real estate or shopping) will do.

  • Maki

    The main problem with putting links on a tumblelog or a dedicated links page away from your main channel is that you’re not really giving full exposure to the people you link to. You don’t send much traffic when you’re putting stuff on a page that only a few people notice or subscribe to.

    And I didn’t really get No. 5, what Kottke is doing doesn’t seem to be very unique or revolutionary. 🙂

  • Dan

    Skellie, can you provide a link to your tumblelog so we can see an example?

  • Dan Cole

    These are some good tips, I’ll have to remember to do my link posts differently from now on.

  • Sucker

    Good tips. Some I’ve seen and others I might have to try out!

    Another interesting thing I’ve seen are links posts written as original poems, with certain lines linking to other blog posts!

  • TheBloggerTips

    Thanks for the useful guidelines. Is this one of the SEO strategy for blogger?

  • Daniel

    I should apply some of these more often also :).

  • Ben

    Great list and one that I’m going to bookmark. Also, a great list for when you get stuck for something to write.

    Thanks for the info.

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