Why do we link in blog posts?

Douglas Galbi notes (or should that be motes?) in purple motes » unsocial non-networks that only 2% of blog posts link to other posts or have posts that link to them (via Telepocalypse). His interpretation is that blogging is less a social activity than a means of self-expression.

It’s pretty obvious that a simple way to get your blog more traffic is to have more links into it. After all, this is the way that PageRank works, and apart from Google just about every other search algorithm has some form of estimation of rank authority incorporated in it nowadays. In my head, I differentiate three types of post:

  • original content
  • tracking down and passing on original content
  • both — i.e. where the comments are also valuable

I like all three, but i like to know which I’m dealing with. I firmly believe that either of the first two will create more incoming links than the second, and a blog with plenty of original thought will create more valuable content, in turn getting more links.

I also note that different types of content go stale more quickly over time.

For instance, I blogged about the iPhone a couple of days after it came out. I got a few clicks from Technorati and other blog and search engines since I had tagged my post with iPhone. I’m pretty sure that there will be less clicks on the iPhone tag now that the buzz has died down. Some blogs that I read are almost solely concerned with what’s new, with posts whose value drops within a few days. I prefer blogs which take (relatively) old news but surround it with a good deal more thought. As an example, The Quest for Great Software has few posts and they are posted irregularly — once every one or two months. However, I read posts, the posts which they link to and then re-read the posts again. The posts that are there are so thoroughly saturated with good ideas, great thinking and links to other valuable content, it’s one of my favourite blogs.

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