Link Karma: How Linking to Others Can Get You Lots of Links in Return

Linking is a two way street. Give and you shall receive. This is the unwritten rule that most successful bloggers follow.

One of the things that makes a blog a blog is that it links to other blogs and websites, and comments on them. That’s pretty basic.

But what many bloggers don’t realize is how to leverage the power of the outbound link to create even more inbound links. “Link Karma” is a real phenomenon, and while you shouldn’t overdo it, don’t underestimate it either.

Why does it work? Well, first of all, because bloggers love it when you link to them … and out of gratitude, they will likely link back to you. That’s basic human nature.

But second, a list of links to a whole bunch of blogs, when done properly, can create a buzz of talk about your link post that will multiply that first effect.

Let’s take an example: One of the most popular posts on I’ve ever written is the Top 50 Most Influential Bloggers. It took a look at the 50 bloggers that have the most influence on the rest of the blogging world, and linked to each of them.

Well, it worked brilliantly. A number of those top bloggers linked back to the original post … including the amazing Darren Rowse (I’m a big fan of his), who called the post the best example of linkbait (that week).

In addition, because of the nature of the post, a bunch of other blogs talked about the list, and it hit the front page of Digg and other social bookmarking services.

Each success built upon the previous one, with big blogs linking to it, small blogs linking to it, and people bookmarking it, until soon it was seen by a large portion of the blogging world.

So how can you use that on your blog? It’s not difficult, and if done right, the payoff can be huge. Here’s how to do it:

1. Find a hot topic. You can’t just start linking to other blogs randomly — you have to organize the links around a topic that people will want to read about. What’s hot in your niche? Don’t do something that’s been done too many times before — look for topics that are ripe for the plucking.

Example: is a great example of a site that finds hot topics and creates link posts. See 13 Bargain Websites That are Cheaper than eBay for one example.

2. Create a resource. Another key point in creating a link post is to create a list of some of the most useful sites (organized around the hot topic mentioned above). If it’s useful to people, they’ll bookmark it to read or refer to later. So your resource should have more than 10 sites to be a reference source that others will refer to when they need it.

Example: Probably the best website for resource posts is Smashing Magazine, which regularly churns out great resources. See 80+ AJAX Solutions for Professional Coders for just one example.

3. Link to big blogs. So you’ve created a resource, which is only useful if you link to useful sites and blogs. But it’s most useful to you, as a blogger, if you link to bigger blogs than your own. Because those blogs might link back to you, and they have audiences that you’d like to reach.

Example: In the blogging for bloggers world, some of my favorites in this field includeProBlogger, Copyblogger and Dosh Dosh. If you’re in this niche, link to them and other big blogs.

4. Bloggers and coders. Your ideal target audience in Link Karma is people who can link back to you — namely, other bloggers, and people who code websites. Regular people with no blog or website can’t link back to you. You want to reach those who can link back. So if you create resources that bloggers and coders can use, you have a better chance for success. Now, you don’t have to appeal to all bloggers — you can just aim at those in your niche. (See my Top 50 Productivity Blogs for an example).

Example: Another great website for creating resources for bloggers and website coders isMashable. See their recent 30+ Joomla Tools and Resources for one example.

5. The Delicious Factor. One of the best things about creating a resource post, besides the Link Karma factor, is that people bookmark it. And of course, the most popular bookmarking service is … which can send major traffic to your blog. A good resource page, with some incoming traffic from Link Karma, can get bookmarked on delicious a bunch of times … and if you get bookmarked enough times, you can get on the popular page, which can send good traffic.

The popular page can also be a springboard to other social bookmarking services. For example, if you make the popular page, the extra traffic can help your page get to the front page of Digg, which sends even more traffic.

Example: Just recently, the Graphic Design Blog had a post called 99 Useful Resources for Graphic Designers that hit the popular page of and then hit the front page of Digg. Of course, it then ran into the Digg Effect and was crashed.

About Leo Babauta

Leo Babauta is the author of The Power of Less and the creator and blogger at Zen Habits — one of the top productivity and simplicity blogs on the Internet.

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