The problem with link posts

Redesigning your website provides an opportunity to take stock and think about what you’re doing. You get to look at what works well and what doesn’t, and assess whether your approach is still appropriate.
As you know, I’ve just done all that. And after some highly scientific bonce-bending (thinking), I’ve decided to stop publishing link posts.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like link posts. I think that they’re a smashing way to make people aware of other great articles and writers on the web. By linking to and quoting someone else before adding my own commentary, I believed that for the most part, I was adding to a wider conversation. But alas, not always.

The flip side of link posts is that they can quickly become an easy way to publish regularly, but with little thought. If you don’t have time to consider a subject properly, you can simply post a link to someone else’s work, add a quick sentence or a couple of words of your own, and feel like you’ve gotten away with it.

But I’m not comfortable with that. It feels like a waste of everyone’s time. If I’ve got something to say, I should take the time to say it properly. And if that time isn’t available, I should wait until it is. So that’s what I’m going to do.

No more link posts, only proper articles. Some may be long, some may be short. But they’ll all have substance and that’s what matters.

There’s nothing wrong with short posts that function primarily to send your readers to information or opinions elsewhere. However, if that becomes the bulk of what you do with your website, I think that something may be wrong.

Because while responding to or commenting on other people’s work is great, it’s always better to be the first with something to say.

11 Comments 10 July 2012 Reply

I have gone through this phase, too. Link-posts or proper articles? So now I keep the balance in a way that link posts only support something I said in a proper article, they rarely are dealing with subjects I did not discuss somewhere else on my site. 10 July 2012 Reply

That’s a good way of doing it. The truth is, some of my favourite sites tend to use link posts and, done well, they can be great. It’s just that, for me, I’m not sure they’re right for the majority of my audience and, like I say, I think they can lead to laziness. 10 July 2012 Reply

I’m a firm believer in the idea that any post, no matter how short, should be able to stand on it’s own merits.
But it’s not a case of link posting or not, you can still provide links in a standalone piece, just keep in mind the ideal that any external links should be deemed “reference/supporting” works, not “canon”.

If you are just pushing traffic elsewhere without properly stopping not just to consider why, but to tell me why either, then I don’t see why I should trust you blindly and go read it.

So link away, just make sure that those links are adding to your narrative, and not the other way around. 10 July 2012 Reply

I completely agree. It’s not that I don’t like link posts (I say otherwise in my post), it’s that sometimes, link posting with a very short comment adds absolutely nothing to the conversation. And I believe that the point of link posts should be just that – to continue a conversation. 10 July 2012 Reply

Do link posts work simply by adding a hyperlink to the blog page on your blog? Or is there some hi tech button I’m missing.I’m fairly knew to blogging and haven’t quite figured it out. 10 July 2012 Reply

Lorrie – generally a link post style blog is one where the title of the blog entry is also an external link to someone else’s content, rather than just the ‘home page’ of the post in question. Clicking on it does not take you, for example, to a full length article on the existing site, but sends you to the other site.
It’s commonly used on curated sites which reply on reporting the contents of other sites in an aggregated fashion, rather then posting original material, and as such can often result in meaningless posts of inaccessible brevity.

The following is an example, in that if you are anything like me you have no clue what the context is, and the only way to find out is to follow the link and find out:

Used properly with enough context to pique your interest, it’s a great way to share content with your readers though, and some blogs (including the one I linked to) do a great job most of the time. 10 July 2012 Reply

Thanks for the detailed and accurate overview, Dan!

Anonymous 10 July 2012 Reply

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Interesting observations Ian. I wonder what do you think about posts which are an aggregation of useful links. Something link a weekly summary interesting tidbits,I have recently restarted publishing such posts and find them a good way of sharing good content that I came across elsewhere.

Really enjoy you podcast. Find it very useful. 17 July 2012 Reply

Hi! Thanks for the kind words about the podcast, glad you like it. I think those posts are generally fine but for many, many people they are simply an excuse to link to other people in the hope that the person they’re linking to will notice and link back. I’m sorry that that sounds cynical, but I’ve done it myself (in the past) and know that it’s often the case. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s not for me any more. 1 August 2012 Reply

My blog is I would say 90% articles and 10% link posts and those link posts are generally review articles. I’ve always written articles rather than link posts..I wanted to just do links posts I ‘d get. Facebook page rather than a blog.

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