Dec 13 2007

Linking, Spiders and Comment Love

Published by at 8:34 pm under blogging

From the comments in my last recent post about dofollow it’s evident that my explanation was a bit vague. I’ll try and clarify that a bit here.

The internet is like a giant spider web, where internet (web) pages are joined by links.

The Web

A search engine “spider” trawls the internet going from site to site via these links. Close your eyes – can you visualise Mr Spider scurrying from one web page to another?

Website owners have a choice with their links. They can instruct Mr Spider to follow a link from their web page to the linked site, or they can say “No, Mr Spider. Don’t follow this link – it’s not relevant to what I’m talking about or it’s not worthy of being followed”.

Website owners do this by applying a special tag to the link. This is called a “nofollow” tag or a “link condom”. Some blogging platforms, like and blogs, automatically attribute links in comments with a “nofollow” tag.

But in many ways, links are the currency of the web. The more incoming links a website or webpage has, the more important that page is seen to be. Kind of like Mr Spider saying “Oh, I’m here AGAIN. Gee this must be an important page”. And consequently the page in question will eventually be seen to be important, and will be returned higher up in the search engine results.

This is somewhat simplified, because it also depends on the words (called anchor text) that other sites use to link to that page. For example, quite a few of you (lovely people) have linked to me by saying “… Meg ……”. Consequently, I appear quite high up in the rankings for Google for the word “Meg”. If everyone had linked to me using the words “that chick”, then chances are I’d rate well for that term! Please see this post by Andy Beard for good advice about anchor text.

The ranking algorithm (which determines where your page comes in the search engine results for a given term) will also be affected by the “authority” or “importance” of the sites that link to you. Google call this “authority” PageRank. A link from a webpage with a high page rank will be worth more than a link from one with a lower page rank.

So a website or webpage is kind of lonely without any links. Sure you can tell Mr Spider that you’re there, but hopefully I’ve shown that links are kind of important for Mr Spider to visit regularly and get to know you.

Lonely Web

How Can You Be a Link Giving Blogger?

  • Maintain a blogroll
  • Link out to regular commenters, being mindful of good anchor text
  • Where possible, remove nofollow from your comments
  • Look at plugins that reward commenters

DoFollow/No Nofollow Plugins

I urge you to read Andy Beard’s Ultimate List of DoFollow Plugins. He has valuable information (and links) on how you can remove nofollow from comments on a variety of platforms, and special plugins that help you do this (sorry though, if you’re on, there’s not much you can do).

Top Commentators Plugin

This is a great plugin that rewards your frequent commenters. You can set how often you want to restart the count, and how many commenters you want to display. There may be other plugins, but this is the one I use.

CommentLuv Plugin

I noticed that Tina and Sue (and others) were using this plugin, so I recently installed it.

I think it creates much more interest that just a static link to the commenter, as it endeavours to find the latest post for each commenter. Quick note though, as this plugin generates a link for just about every comment, you may need to increase the “number of links” option before a comment is held in moderation – if you have set it to one, every comment will be moderated. See CommentLuv for this WordPress plugin.


So there you have it. Please let me know if there are other good plugins I’ve missed, or anything that is still not clear.

Yes, I’m aware this is my 4th post today. I think this is the most posts I’ve ever published in a day. But two were short, and the other raised more questions than it answered 😉

18 responses so far

18 Responses to “Linking, Spiders and Comment Love”

  1. Lighteningon 13 Dec 2007 at 9:19 pm

    That was excellent thank you. Apart from the visual image of a spider visiting my blog because now I might not be able to go there anymore…….Spiders freak me out. LOL. Yeah, okay, I DO get that it’s not a REAL 8-legged big black hairy thing……

    I will go and check out some of those links now and see how I go…… :-)

    Thanks Meg.

    Lightening’s last blog post..Five Post Meme

  2. Megan over at Imaginifon 13 Dec 2007 at 9:31 pm

    Excellent explanation – I’m going to flick this to my bloggers who sometimes have to re ask me about why it is so important to link. Your explanation is so much more than my unprofessional and hurried…”because I said so and it will help your infiltration of the blogosphere!”

    Megan over at Imaginif’s last blog post..Waiting for someone to hold my hand…

  3. Megon 13 Dec 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Lightening – 😳 and here’s me saying close your eyes and imagine…. sorry, didn’t think of the arachnophobes.

    Megan – I don’t know that there’s too much professionalism in the term “Mr Spider”! But thanks :)

  4. Lighteningon 13 Dec 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Okay, I started looking around Andy Beards blog and it scared the bejeebers out of me so I came back here. Deep breath……. :-) Interesting that I couldn’t find an RSS feed button on his page. Not that it really matters…..water was a little too deep for me.

    I do have a question from what I read though. The trackback thingy. I noticed now that I’m on wordpress that has happened to me a couple of times (coming through my comments section somehow).

    So if I want to do that for someone else’s post, how do I do that? And in what kind of circumstances would I use it? I take it you use it as well as a link within the post? Is it simply to let that person know that you’ve linked to them or is there a deeper purpose to it?

    I’m still not clear on “good” anchor text either. I will reread that article you linked to tomorrow when I’m feeling a little fresher. It would be better to include in the link some kind of words relating to what you’re referring to rather than simply a blogger name or the blog title. Is that right?

    Lightening’s last blog post..Five Post Meme

  5. Tinaon 13 Dec 2007 at 10:21 pm

    I agree that using the Comment Luv plugin offers a little more “linky love” to my commenters. I also have used the Top Commenter plugin but have deactivated for now because my side bars are getting too long! I will have to replace it though.

    I have read a posts for and against dofollow and I “do follow” on my blogs at the moment (hence getting slapped by Google in the PR update).

    Thanks for the linkback :)

    Tina’s last blog post..Busted!

  6. Megon 13 Dec 2007 at 10:25 pm

    Lightening – ah, sorry mate. Andy is a wealth of information, but I forget his audience is probably an experienced one. I know he was having a problem with his rss button, but his feed is if anyone wants to subscribe (currently 2820 subscribers).

    OK trackbacks. When you write a post, if you scroll down the page, you should see an option that says “trackbacks”. It might have a + sign next to it (if so, click on it). You will see a field that says “Send trackbacks to:”. If you have linked to one or more POSTS that another blogger has made, copy the address (URL of the post) into this area. If there is more than one, separate with a space. They will then be notified with a ping that you have linked to them in a post.

    If you just link to their general blog address, then this is NOT a trackback, and you don’t need to worry about putting it in here.

    If you don’t see this field, it may be because of your Options. Click on the “options” tab, and then on “discussion”. Make sure you have the “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article (slows down posting.)” box checked. If you don’t put the addresses in the trackback field, it may send trackbacks to one or two addresses (if you have more than one) but this is the optimal way of doing it.

    You would use this to link back to an individual post, and yes, on top of the link in your post. Apart from being good etiquette (in that it lets the author know explicitly that you have linked to them), it can also alert them to the fact that you exist! It also tells people viewing the post (and comments) that you have had something to say about it which might be relevant to them (so there is the possibility of traffic because of it).

    Regarding the anchor text, as you say, deep breath and perhaps have a look at it when you’re fresh :)

    But, yes, the crux of it is to link using words that are relevant. EG
    If you were to write: Meg wrote a good post today about why links are important. Your choice is to link my post URL to:
    a) the word “Meg”
    b) the word “post”
    c) the words “why links are important”

    Put yourself in front of a search engine and say “if I wanted to find this post, what would I type in”. You’d see that linking to “Meg” or “post” is not going to help someone looking for “why links are important”. If in doubt, you can always repeat the title of the post you are linking to.

    Of course, if you are just linking to the person’s blog in general, like in a meme, then linking to “Meg” with my blog URL would be fine.

    I can do a post if you think it would be beneficial – but not today 😉

  7. Megon 13 Dec 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Tina – you’re welcome for the link :)

    I was worried that dofollow might be targeted by Google… Do you have evidence that dofollow blogs were penalised specifically (I’m not sure if you are saying you were slapped because of it)?

  8. kimon 13 Dec 2007 at 11:39 pm

    I suppose if I ask what type of spider that was…….

    hehhehehthanks meg you are a gem..

    kim’s last blog post..Is Meme A Verb Yet????

  9. Tinaon 13 Dec 2007 at 11:59 pm

    From what I understand, blogs who do sponsored posts with “dofollow” are the ones that got slapped because Google reads it as “buying page rank”. Apparently Google is quite happy for people to do sponsored posts as long as the links are no follow.

    Most the companies I freelance for want dofollow, hence 2 of my blogs being slapped.

    Tina’s last blog post..Preview of the luau

  10. Bettinaon 14 Dec 2007 at 9:10 am

    Thankyou. That made much more sense to my L plated brain!

    Bettina’s last blog post..I am SO Ticked!

  11. Lighteningon 14 Dec 2007 at 9:25 am

    :-) Tis okay Meg – I’m sure you have plenty of readers that are more up to Andy’s level than I am. I have subscribed to his feed as I’m sure there is a wealth of information and I’ll forget all about him if I don’t. For the short term I can skim or not read. One day I WILL be able to “get all this stuff”. If I’ve come this far…… who knows.

    Mind you, your explanation was wonderful and informative and really went into more detail than he did on that particular point. Thanks for that. :-)

    I really do want to learn all this stuff (bit by bit) so any posts are more than welcome. If I ask a question you’ve already posted about, feel free to direct me to a previous post. I have been browsing some of your other posts but naturally haven’t found all the gems you’ve previously written about. :-)

    Lightening’s last blog post..Teacher Gifts

  12. Megon 14 Dec 2007 at 10:51 am

    Tina – ah yes, I read about that

    Bettina – glad it helped

    Lightening – you are not alone, remember no one was born knowing this stuff!

  13. Gregon 14 Dec 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Another great plugin you can use is the Google Sitemaps Generator which allows easy submission to a number of different search engines including google and yahoo.

  14. Gingeron 15 Dec 2007 at 9:06 am

    Thank you for putting up the perfect picture to explain search engine spiders to my mother. She’s a new blogger and very clueless when it comes to these things!

  15. Digital Polaroidson 20 Dec 2007 at 11:16 pm

    Excellent article. I’m starting my blog, so I have lots of questions, and this is the place for answers!

    Digital Polaroids’s last blog post..Lovely chubby

  16. Sueblimelyon 27 Dec 2007 at 5:15 am

    It seems that CommentLuv does not always correctly access the latest post. I have just updated to the newest version and will be checking to see if this issue has been resolved.

  17. sevenpicson 22 Mar 2008 at 11:58 am

    i lol’d @ illustration of web.
    commentluv just work to find wordpress latest posts?
    Or it finds the rss of any blog system when someone comment?

    sevenpics’s last blog post.. Christ died for our Dunkin’ Donuts

  18. sevenpicson 22 Mar 2008 at 11:58 am

    oh, nevermind…i see my latest post in my own comment lol

    sevenpics’s last blog post.. Christ died for our Dunkin’ Donuts