Link parties are a way for bloggers to exchange recipe links, in an attempt to get backlinks to new posts.
And they suck.
Let’s count the ways.
No visitor value
Search engines are looking for content that provides value to visitors. How many people do you know are searching for “random recipes from random blogs I’ve never heard of”?
How about: “Google, show me some link parties please”
There’s nobody looking for this content, and therefore no value to be had by displaying these posts in search engine results
In theory, you could create a good roundup post with topically-related recipes and actual input and content from the blog owner as to why these recipes are great – why you like each and every one and how the reader could get value out of visiting the different sites.
But in practice, we’ve NEVER seen this done. Not once. Out of literally hundreds of posts.
This leads to…
Poor quality signals
There’s a tolerance for a certain number of pages on a website being thin content – but as the percentage goes up, the quality goes down. If half your website is made of pages that Google thinks visitors won’t get value from, they won’t send visitors to the other pages.
And why would they?
Would you send someone to a grocery store where half the produce is plastic and inedible?
Wasted crawling + indexing
Google allocates a certain amount of resources to crawling a website and re-processing the pages for quality and ranking. If it’s spending time crawling and indexing your thin content pages, that means it’s not indexing and updating your actual content pages.
People have been building private link networks and trying to manipulate search engines for years. And search engines are good at detecting this and negating it, much better than you are at trying to hide it. Though, they don’t seem to penalize sites (directly) anymore.
The simple story is that if the same 10 bloggers link to each other every week, Google knows what’s going on and makes sure it doesn’t influence search engine rankings.
Recipe roundups are a slight variation of link parties, which typically group content by recipe theme. It’s a step in the right direction, but is still usually lacking in original content.
Don’t use link parties.
If you have used link parties in the past, go ahead and delete all those posts.
They’re doing nothing to help your website at best, and may actually be hurting it. They’re also not doing anything to help the websites you’re linking to.
Look, I get it. SEO is hard. Backlinks are hard. There’s a lot of garbage out there. You shouldn’t feel bad that you fell victim to this nonsense. But you should feel bad if you’re continuing to participate in it.
If you want high quality, relevant backlinks, you’ll need to form relationships with other bloggers and get individual links to your recipe, from their related recipe.
For example, if Sally has a “Spicy Mac n Cheese” recipe and Mary has a “Gluten Free Spicy Mac n’ Cheese” recipe, it would make perfect sense for Sally to link to Mary’s version from right in the content. Adding some editorial comments around it for context is key:
“We all have those friends and family with a gluten intolerance, and my friend Mary made this fantastic Gluten Free version of the Spicy Mac n’ Cheese that will accommodate those dietary restrictions”.
This is both authentic, and topically relevant.
And worth 100 link parties, despite requiring only roughly the same effort as a single one.