8 New Link Types That Exist On The Web

by on 07/27/2010 • 42 Comments | SEO

A long time ago in a land far, far away, Web searchers linked to content that they liked and found useful. It was a utopia of sorts, one where users tried to pass on the most relevant content for a query. And then, the great Google discovered what was going on. It observed user’s linking patterns and used these mythical blue words (aka links) as a signal that the linked to-page was relevant for the terms used to describe it. And this worked for about 30 seconds a little bit. And then it went to hell. Pretty soon marketers, social media experts and SEO gurus began using links in other, sometimes seedier ways. To help you recognize these new creatures, I thought I’d break down some of the link types most commonly used in social media and on blogs.

You may already be familiar with some of them. Because, well, we’ve all used them. :) I’m sure you’ll let me know if I missed any.

The “Pay No Attention To My Anchor Text” Link

As bloggers and marketers, sometimes we’re forced to shamelessly link to our highest-converting commercial pages with near keyword-stuffed anchor text. It’s the branding post that just so happens to link to your SEO consulting Services page (what?) or the [cherry kitchen cabinets wholesale Austin, TX] anchor text that smacks people in the face. In moderation, audiences are fine to turn a blind eye to these things. However, use them too often and they’re likely to start sending you envelopes stuffed with $5 bills to help you through whatever financial crisis you’re obviously in the middle of.

The “I’m The Expert On Everything” Link

You spend two hours crafting a meaty blog post on your favorite marketing tactic, one that you’ve written about quite a bit over the past few years. The post contains 25 links pointing readers to additional information. Oddly, every one of those links goes back to content located on your own site. It’s obvious you’re the Queen of your own jungle because, in your eyes, you’re the only one even in the jungle. I mean, who needs third-party resources or other experts anyway? You’ve got this.

The “I Think I’m Hilarious” Link

Here the link has nothing to do with the actual post, offers no real insight and doesn’t do anything to advance the conversation. It’s simply there to get a laugh. It looks like this. Or this. And sometimes that. Under the best circumstances, these links make readers giggle and insert needed comic relief into your post. Other times they dumb down your content and make people want to punch you in the face. Actually, it’s mostly the latter.

The “Please Notice Me” Link

You wake up feeling a bit low on yourself and decide that a retweet from someone important, someone like Robert Scoble, is what you need to make things better. So you craft a post that links out to every Internet Famous person with a Twitter account in the hope that someone will throw you a bone and say your name in public. Of course, that bone never comes, but that doesn’t stop you from linking to Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki, Jason Calacanis, Dave Winer and even pretty Ashton Kutcher from the same post.

The “Look! I HAZ FRIENDS!” Link

On the Web it’s easy to see who hangs in the same clique. In high school cliques were identified by unofficial wardrobe uniforms. On the Web, they’re identified by incestuous linking. It doesn’t take much to spot the bromances and love fests that occur when the same five people link to the same five people every week. I mean, how many times can we link to Michael Gray before you tell me to make new friends? I guess we’ll find out.

The “I Want To Date Him/Her” Link

Speaking of high school…back then you pushed the girls you liked. On the Web, you link to them. You link to them with the hope that at some point they’ll notice you and talk to you in person (read: Twitter. No one talks in person anymore). It is with this hope that you spend your day linking to and tweeting at Pete Cashmore, Sarah Austin, Chris Pearson, iJustine, Julia Roy and even Justin Bieber when you’re really desperate. You hold out hope t hat if you could just engage in them in a single conversation they’ll see that you’re meant to be. And then there will be #z0mgbabies!

The “I Wrote This Post Solely To Use This Link” Link

Okay, these are actually some of my favorite posts. This post type happen as a result of too much time spent cruising YouTube, Reddit or other clever social media sites. The deal is here is that you stumble across so awesome that you then create an entire post around the link drop. Sometimes the post has a point, sometimes it doesn’t and it’s clear you just wanted to mention your link. Either way, it doesn’t matter. You wrote that post so you could drop that link and you’re going to do it. These posts are like unicorns because they hark back to the days when links really were about sharing content you were excited about.

The “I Feel Dirty But I May Need Some Votes Next Week” Link

You’re not overly excited (or even comfortable) sharing the link but you do it anyway to ensure certain people will pass on your content next week. It kind of gives you hives and your audience now feels like they need a shower, but its business and social media. You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do. It’s peer pressure without the funky beer aftertaste. It’s also why content standards are as low as they are.

The “Matt Cutts Is My Homeboy” Link

By linking to Matt Cutts you show Google (and the world) that you are an honest marketer who would never buy a link, manipulate a result or do anything else Google would disapprove of. To really drive this point home, you also post a photo of yourself and Matt mugging it up for the camera during a recent conference. This proves that Matt is obviously your best friend.

[Here's my own visual proof that me and Matt have weekly Sunday tea parties. Please ignore the one where I attacked Matt like a wildebeest. I'm far more mature now.]

Okay, this is a safe place. What other types of links have you created on the Web? Or if not you, then your “friends”? We won’t tell.

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About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

42 thoughts on “8 New Link Types That Exist On The Web

  1. Great collection, and I’m sure we can come up with more. Like, the “I just got a new SEO client” link where you post something that has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of your blog (like a restaurant review on a web development blog) just so you can put up a link to your new restaurant client.

  2. Ha, ha brilliant stuff, especially as I’ve been guilty of at least half of these… this week! Although my creativity is not quite as brilliant as yours. I hope your readers acknowledge the irony in this post.

    • I hope people caught the irony, especially since I took as many digs at myself than anyone else. :) We’re all guilty of this new form of linking, we may as well be able to laugh at ourselves over it. :)

  3. This is a great article, I got a good chuckle out of this, I especially like the link to people you want to date so you can talk in real life (twitter) , that is completely amazing, thanks for starting my morning well!

  4. Lisa,

    This is a great twist on the world of linking. There is so much sneakiness behind the scenes at some of the biggest names in blogging, people have to be really careful when they are clicking, because sometimes you get trapped in a maze of links that can be overwhelming.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  5. What about the “I’m renting this link from a content distributor” link, or the “I paid a blogger in candy to link to me” link, or my favorite “outspoken removes nofollow after you comment a lot so I write a bunch of random comments” link. Oh so many links you didn’t write about… Maybe you’re just being nice :)

  6. I had no idea there were so many possible types of links. I think I’ve used many of those, except the Matt Cutts because I do not have a picture with him, although I do have photoshop. Hmmm.

    I agree that my favorite links are the ones that people find helpful and actually want to share. I also like to use links as a way to show that I am not lying. For example, if I say social media works, I like to link to an article showing how social media turned a business around. That way people know I’m not lying. Which is a good thing.

    • I tried using links to prove I wasn’t lying on a forum post once, and the moderator responded:

      “Is this spam?”

      I had to write back and explain that no, it wasn’t spam, and that I put a link in there because I was talking about that certain product on that specific web page. Kinda stung a little bit.

  7. Excellent. If you weren’t done writing, you might have considered the “I’m not attending [some event] but I’d like to” post.

  8. We’re all guilty of the “NOTICE ME!” links. Although the tenuous trackback’s probably even worse.

    I wonder if I can scrape this post into something slightly different so I can get a trackback? ;)

  9. Great list! Self-nod here but I have another I dubbed “hyperhumor” links.

    “Hyperhumor refers to the synchronization of two things – hyperlinks and humor. Hyperhumor links are rarely funny, but often times, they have some “smirk” draws, or entertainment level of some kind. They occur when a writer puts out content and then refers to a person/place/thing indirectly in the blog, but links out to inform the reader more directly of what they’re talking about, in case they don’t know. These links rarely get clicked on, rather, the strength of their SEO (URL informing what the link is about), allows the person to hover over the link, know the intention, and move on.”

    I.E. -

    Hollywood is full of many characters – and among them are amazing actors, deadbeat actors, and drug addicts.

  10. What about the “I’m just commenting on this post because I want to build links from reputable social media, search engine optimization, and other internet marketing blogs? The type where you make sure to list several keyword phrases like social media consultant, social media marketer and SEO guru so that Google will pass keywords-near-the-link juice”?

    I wouldn’t ever do something like that, I’ve just heard of it being done from time to time.

  11. OK. Hilarious. Deb Ng – you know that one – posted this link and I thought I’d get cool points from Deb Ng – yes, that Deb Ng – by reading, commenting and reposting the link on Twitter. ahahahah!

    This was really funny & too true. I think you may be my new best friend. :0)

  12. To Chris Miller above, I block those comments on my own blog but I know what you mean. If I post a comment, I try to have something to say, and forget the linkbait SEO spam.

    Lisa, I’ve seen these but I will pat myself on the back for not using many of these. I don’t link back to my own stuff, don’t care about hyping my friends and.. I’ll confess that I didn’t know of Matt before this post. (Correcting that oversight now, thanks). Think we all write posts to use certain links–which can make for good posts–and share links out of obligation, that’s just a part of the game.

    Lisa, the one I’m most guilty of is the “thinking I’m hilarious” links, a la the Dave Barry style (will miss his blog on 24). When the link to the comic or picture or YouTube video is on point, it works. I find humor helpful in communicating the message. Plus it’s a good and easy way to liven up sometimes stale marketing babble, with some humor. FWIW.

    • I have been experimenting with comments on my own sites (after Lisa scolding me for pushing the conversation to Twitter … mark this as a “Please Notice Me” link), but really, I don’t think valuable discussion happens on comments most of the time. 90% of comments on most blogs I read are “Hey Lisa, I really liked what you said about The “I Wrote This Post Solely To Use This Link”, I saw that happen once and OMG WTF I love you” blah blah blah.

      I think valuable comments (and content) happens when discussion takes place outside the venue. For example, do you talk about how great a club is or bash it while you’re still there talking to someone at the bar? No, that talk is pay attention to me fluff – you talk about it with your friends over coffee the next morning.

  13. Lisa! Lisa! Over this way! If you could just type my name that would make my entire day! Yes some people are that freaky, its kinda scary actually… but seriously mention my name.. uh, ah, never mind.

    I have definitely been guilty of some of the above tactics but it really should only take one or dare I suggest two failures before people get the hint that they aren’t fooling anyone.

    Another tactic I like is when someone makes sure to type in an extremely long reply to a blog to make it stand out from all the other posts. Of course a mention of a site or an incidental link is dropped but we all know this is pure coincidence. Right?

  14. Lisa,

    As always fantastic work. I must admit that as I read it I had visions of my own work and wonder did I do that? Or if something I’ve written and lined in could be misconstrued under any of these heading. Thankfully no… But that’s what makes this a very good post, because it appears you’ve got people thinking…

    Kudos!
    @mikelking

  15. See, this is the kinda stuff I’m talking about. Vocabularical bubblebath; I hope you don’t mind I brought my rubber duck – it’s glow-in-the-dark and squeaks.

    I’ll admit I’ve been guilty morethan once of the “I think I’m hilarious link”. I just can’t help myself sometimes; it’s like I’m a diabetic and the inagined laughs of my highly-theoretical readers are my insulin. I may need help…maybe if I link Dr Phil to this comment he’ll notice me and we’ll be bestows and he’ll give me free advice and go on the seesaw with me. It hurts to go on by myself.

  16. Lisa,

    A thoughtful list put together with a nice sense of humor that gently shows all of us that we’re guilty as charged of at least one of these link transgressions! Thanks so much!

  17. I used to be a big fan of the The “Pay No Attention To My Anchor Text” Link, although recently I have been using the “Index my client’s page NOW” link, It’s normally as effective as a bob sled in Jamaica.

    Cool post Lisa, very nice use of self-deprecating humour.

  18. ah, a very clever and overt way to covertly enlist the list. …but did you have to revive Rick Astley? Some things are better left in the 80′s. ;-)

  19. Hello. My name is Doc and I’m a linkoholic.

    Initially, you made me want to hide my face in shame, Lisa, as I’ve been guilty of a couple of those myself.
    But now that I see I’m in good company…

  20. Hey with so much content and saturation out there we have to get a bit creative with how links are generated right? It’s all about thinking outside the box in today’s market place.

  21. Linking can be as much about creativity as it is about SEO. Marketers are under constraints to do it strategically, but as individuals, we can play around with our readers, include easter eggs, or just plain do things for our own amusement.

  22. So let’s talk about the “I want to date” one… What if you really admire the person, or more specifically their blog? I link back to your stuff all the time, not because I want to date you, but because you usually writing what I’m thinking except in a smarter way. That allows me to riff off of you and write my crappy little post.

    Granted I’m a Lisa-fanboy, but sometimes that should be enough right?

  23. Hey Lisa, I like the way you talk. It’s cute, to the point and accurate. Except the The “I’m The Expert On Everything” Link, what do you mean by that? What I’m not the Queen, err, King of my own jungle?
    You sound like a pretty hip lady, the Internet. you gotta love it.

  24. You know, I can’t believe I wasted my time posting a nice complimentary comment on your crap website yesterday, only to have it removed. Guess what my next 5 or 10 articles are going to be about, exposing the con-game SEO industry for what is.

      • Oops, it’s that comment right above, it wasn’t there when I posted the subsequent one. It must be WordPress caching pages on the server then.
        Ok, I’m calmed down now, and I still like the way you talk.

        • Ha, okay. We’re pretty good at not deleting comments so if something ever goes missing, drop me an email or hit me on Twitter. We’ll get it all figured out. :)

  25. Yes – I’m guilty. I proudly display my photos of myself with Matt Cutts, Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, Andy Johns – just like I used to love having my pic with the captain of the football team. But it sometimes backfires. I’m single and I had a fella tell me that he didn’t call me because he thought Chris was my husband. Which obviously he isn’t. It worked out though – he steeled up the nerve to ask me if I was married and who was that guy on my Facebook page. We’ve gone out a few times.

  26. I like the clique bit.
    We have a crawler running which maps them and they are pretty interesting.
    One day i will post the data we gathered to illustrate the mutual masturbatory posting.

  27. Oh no, what’s up? The Matt Cutts article is nonsensical, unintelligible or pedantic?
    What is it, the emperor has no clothes thing or what? You can tell me. That’s not blowing your mind? When I see him pull up that JavaScript and say ” clicking on the link brings up a script written in some PHP sort of stuff”. I’m like WTF, the head of the Google webspam team, who is giving technical advice to web masters, thinks that clicking on a link in the source will bring up the PHP source of another file and doesn’t recognize JavaScript or PHP, the most basic of all web scripting languages. Which by the way, is the modus operandi for delivering the payload of virtually all SEO poisoning. The exact thing the webspam team should be focusing on, as it is the most detrimental. That doesn’t seem completely bizarre to you? You scared, huh? Alright, whatever, y’all just keeping believing in that fantasy world.

  28. HIGH-larious! Guilty on all counts. I can’t tell you how I laughed out loud when I clicked the link in this post that went to the Darth Vader Noooooooooooooooooooo! site! Hahahahahahaha!

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