Yesterday, Steve Rubel posted on the links vs. mentions debate between Doc Searls and Steve Gillmor. Steve boiled it down to how best to measure corporate blogs ROI. I will not carry-on the baseball analogy as I don’t understand baseball (it is similar to cricket except that they don’t serve Pimms during breaks I gathered). I am not sure I understand the link v. comment debate either. Surely you need both, whatever your reason for blogging is.
Using links as a measure of popularity is based on the assumptions that if readers like what you write, and have a blog, and are so inclined, they will point to your blog. On the premise that there are more blogs readers than blogs writers, that discards quite a lot of your potential audience. Having lots of links to your blog doesn’t necessarily mean having lots of readers too. I am sure that most people who kindly linked to Beyond PR sometimes over the last year and half don’t religiously turn up to my every post. They could just be reading my feed, or, heaven forbids, have forgotten about my blog. It seems to me, but I wait to be corrected that links are used as a default currency since there are no other easily available metrics to measure blogs popularity. Nonetheless, links send traffic to your blog, maximise your readership and gets you ranked higher in Technorati so others would think you are popular thus worth reading.
Mentions show that someone actually bothered to read what you wrote. It is a good way to start conversation too (isn’t it what blogs were set-up for at the first place?). However a mention without a link puts a barrier for others who would like to join the conversation as they will have to find your your post on their own. Why make their life difficult?
So how about a link + mention combo… I would go for that! But if you want to make me even happier: post a comment or send me an email.