Blogger Hacks, Categories, Tips & Tricks

Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Google Backlinks: What? Why? How?
As a companion post to my recent walkthrough of Haloscan trackback, and a contribution to the recently-launched "What is this and what does it do?" content thread here at Freshblog, here's a peek at Google Backlinks, & at the ways to add them to your blog.

What are Google Backlinks?

The first big post-footer gotta-have, in the heady days before social bookmarking caught on, was the "who links to this post" inbound link checker. The Technorati Cosmos checker for your post footer was everywhere, & was pretty much the only game in town for finding inbound links to single posts. Then came a number of other blog search services, including Talkdigger, & the emergence of Google's Backlinks service as an extension of their blogsearch. Where backlinks has the edge is that "backlinks" to referring posts appear right in your post footer, & not on an offsite 3rd party search results page. The only potential downside is that Google Blogsearch may not see all of the inbound links to a post, & so the listed backlinks may not be all of the inbounds for a given post.

Why do I need Google Backlinks?

Backlinks displays inbound links to a post within that post, right in your template, without you or your readers having to go off & chase down the related posts. The other significant feature is that you don't need to bookmark your posts anywhere. Since Google is finding the links through their Blogsearch tool, no bookmarking is required. Very useful. It's also pretty darn easy to install, all things being equal, as long as your blog hasn't been hacked about too much.

How do I get Backlinks?

If you've got a newer blogger template and you haven't messed with it to any great degree, you should just be able to turn on the backlinks. To do this, log in to blogger, and head to settings > comments. Set the backlinks radio button to "show," & make sure that the "backlinks default for posts" is set to "new posts have backlinks."

For more on this see Digital Inspiration and Blogger's Backlinks help article.

Older Blogger template? Custom template? To get into the code of the backlinks, see Blogger Help's Backlink Tag walkthrough. It is a pretty straightforward layout of the 2 blocks of code that you'll need to get default backlinks to work for you, with clear instructions about what to wrap the blocks in etc. It has to be said, though, that if you're a candidate for cutting and pasting, there are some great "Backlinks-Plus" user authored versions of this functionality that you might want to consider.

User-Authored versions, you say?

Why yes! There are four excellent user-enhanced implementations of backlinks that I know about, each of which will do a little something above and beyond the default version, and a little something different from the others:
  1. Jasper's Custom Backlinks hack will work if your template is not an off-the-peg Blogger template, & if you have difficulty with the default code provided by Blogger.
  2. Stephen's Backlinks will pop-up / expand & appear on the main page in response to a click on the Backlinks link in the footer of any post.
  3. Greg's Recursive Backlinks shows backlinks for multiple linked posts on the post that you're reading. Drill down following the ~> to track backlinks across multiple posts.
  4. Aditya's Asynch Internal Backlinks will load a preview of any internally-linked posts in an Ajax window on the post that you're viewing. If you link to yourself a lot, this is worth investigating.
If you know of other custom versions of backlinks, please leave a comment or trackback from the write-up on this post, and for more information, check out backlinks on the wiki. Aditya's hack isn't in there yet, but it is on the way....

What else can I do with Backlinks?

You can turn them on & off on individual posts, for one, by using the Allow New Backlinks on this Post option under "post & comment options" in the footer of the create post window.

If you have a Blogger account, you can use the "Create a Link" link in the backlinks section of a post that you're reading to launch Blogger's BlogThis! window, and write about what you're reading as soon as you see it.

As they say in the Google help article, you can subscribe to the feed of Google Blogsearch results for a search that includes the link operator, as follows: link: to get notification of new links.

Backlinks are a great way to start to see the connections between your blog & the wider blogosphere, & to present those links to your readers. Try them out!

For other What? Why? How? goodness, see:
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Posted at 8:46 AM by John.

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