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The Power of the Passive Link

Eric Ward at Search Engine Guide writes about the power of the passive inbound link. In short – a passive link is a link you don’t buy, ask for or trade links for. His premise is that passive links are a more powerful type of link than others – especially reciprocal ones. Search Engines treat such links as a vote for the authority of your site.

This is one of the strengths of blogging – write something original, clever, witty, powerful, touching, insightful, controversial (linkable) and the links tend to come in. Whilst you can spend all your time emailing people and asking for links with the offer of linking to others, the best strategy for getting passive links is simply to run a quality blog.

If you want an example of this principle currently in progress check out what happens when you land a big story – like the Engadget interview with Bill Gates today. I must have seen at least 15 links to it in the past hour and technorati reveals more.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Partly linked (oops, no pun intended) – though certainly not pasive – what is your take on posting links to your own material on other people’s blog comment areas? If it’s relevant, is it acceptable? I know I have done it from time to time (once here) where I thought that something I wrote was of relevance to the post, but I sometimes feel it’s a bit cheeky. Trackbacks peform a similar function. Comment links do seem to generate a moderate amount of traffic.

  • In terms of search engines I think the proposition takes a very long bow on this one, I’d be surprised to learn that Google and others could differentiate between a passive and reciprical link, what I think more is more likely advantageous is a contextual link, for example a link from here to the Blog Herald will be worth more than say an inward link from a car sales site. We know the search engines can understand the words to some extent, but I doubt very much if they could work out whether the link was given passively or otherwise.

  • Randy

    I disagree Duncan. I think that its well within Google’s power to analyse that two sites put links up to one another and even to notice that they both do it within a day of each other.

  • Darren

    Andy – I’m not big on posting links to your own links in other people’s comments – I think it can be cheeky. I don’t delete them if they are relevant though. I guess for me it depends on if the person just leaves the link or if they genuinely engage with my post in comments as well and then links to their own as an example of what they are saying. My spam protector almost always moderates these comments anyway.

    Duncan – I’m not sure mate. I tend to agree with Randy a little – whilst I don’t know for sure I suspect (as do many of the SEO experts I know) that its not beyond Google to track reciprocal links. Can’t prove it.

    I agree with you though that its relevant links that are best. I guess relevant AND passive links are the ideal ones….

  • Jon

    I think the “passive linking” was the original idea behind such things as pagerank. It would work if all links on the web was placed there as a vote. But a lot of links are placed by the people that actually runs the page, and then it is no objective vote. Yeah, reciprocal links sucks.

  • Heh I did wonder why the comment I once left with a link to an article I’d written (which was relevant IMO :) ) didn’t appear for a while. I don’t do it often anyway.

  • Pingback: Why Keep Creating Content for Search Rankings? - Cape Cod SEO()

  • Varying the anchor text in backlinks is a vital thing to do, making the text fit in in as natural a way as is humanely possible. I often see people using unnatural anchor text in their links and it would stick out like a sore thumb to Google et al in my opinion. The text has to be in context and read naturally to humans.