Inbound Links Tutorial

There are probably a ton of handy plug-ins that do this for people using WordPress, Movable Type and other blogging platforms, but for those of us who don’t have a handy plug-in, I have been trying to figure out how to get a semi-automated list of “Most Recent Inbound Links” to appear on my front page. It’s a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far. You can see the list in the right hand column.

First, I began bookmarking inbound links that I notice via Technorati and Google searches (those links are in the left hand column under “Other Blogs”) at with the tag “inbound” (any tag will work as long as you only use it for inbound links). Since I use Firefox, the extension makes this very easy. I don’t add any comments (one of the optional fields when you make a bookmark) because I just want a list of links, but it would work fine with comments if you want to show excerpts, etc. The bookmarked inbound links then show up on the “inbound” (or whatever tag you use) filtered page. Mine is here.

Note the RSS button at the bottom of that page, indicating that there is an RSS feed for those bookmarks. Next I had to convert that RSS feed to javascript so it can be displayed on this page. I tried a bunch of different approaches, but the one that (so far) works the best is to run the RSS feed through Feed Digest, play with the display options via your Feed Digest Control Panel (I got rid of the default table structure and just made it a list of links with the date above them). Once you get the links to display the way you want (which Feed Digest makes pretty simple), you’re almost ready to go.

You can drop the javascript generated by Feed Digest right into your page if you want. When I did that, however, it didn’t display correctly and messed up my formatting.

So I made a separate html page- inbound.html, fixed the formatting on that page to my preference and added a server side include (like I use for the CD and book lists in the right hand column) to fetch and display that page.

It seems like a roundabout way to get there, but it seems to work so far. I’m going to test it out for a few days and see how I (and those who link here) like it.

It is only semi-automatic, however, because you still have to bookmark your inbound links via Like most people, I check my inbound links fairly often looking for cross-blog conversation opportunities, so I don’t find this to be burdensome. Plus, it serves as a filter for spam links.

There may be better ways to get there (short of changing my blogging platform). If so, I’d love to read about them in the Comments.