The Power of Linking Out
Building relationships on the internet, like in the real world, is not easy for all of us. You may be working in a boring industry where people are anti-social or maybe you just struggle to connect with others yourself.
As SEO directors for many campaigns so far, there is one thing I’ve always struggled to convince my clients to do. In order to build online relationships and to make the website more compelling for users, linking out to other quality sites with positive mentions about them.
However, my clients generally have 2 objections. The first one being that the people will leave their website and never come back (who wants to lose that hard earned traffic). The second being that page rank will also leave their website. Here is my answer to these 2 objections:
Objection 1: Traffic leaving the website
If you add a target=”_blank” tag on your links, the traffic is not going to leave your website. On the other hand, they will have a richer experience if, as they browse your pages, they stumble upon a myriad of useful links to great resources. As the read these other resources, this should substantiate your website offering. Thus proving your point (and therefore making them lean towards liking you and your services) and, when they close the window, they’ll be on your site again and hopefully keep browsing.
Objection 2: Losing Pagerank
First of all, pagerank is useless. If you care about your page rank you probably don’t spend enough time caring about more meaningful metrics like conversion rate, CTR in serps and building great relationships that result in great links, referral traffic and referral sales. Second of all, Google clearly stated multiple times that they want web pages to be hubs linking to other useful resources. Even if you write the worst content about space travel, if you link out to nasa.gov that makes your content a whole lot better JUST because it has that link. Think about it. Sites like Techcrunch and Mashable (see what I did there) have TONS of links out and yet rank very high for number of terms.
Clearly linking out intelligently usually brings more advantages than drawbacks as these little links may be the start of a great relationship between your website and various companies or bloggers.
Here are a few tips on how to take advantage of your outbound linking:
Linking out in your core website’s content
Using testimonials and link out is a great way to get a prestigious’s firms endorsement. Offer them a link on your home page to their site along with a free trial of your service or product. This will potentially help you convert dozens of other customers using their logo and you can use that newly built relationship to, say, ask for a guest post ;).
If you manage to make friends with products or services complementary to yours, then starting a perk page on your site where you offer discounts to their services along with your endorsement. This is a great way to get them to refer business back to you in exchange or just recommend you when they can.
On your blog
Brand mentions for case studies
Drawing the attention of a brand through use of case studies, or even simply mentioning their brand is a great tactic. First, create some kind of content, case study or even a simple link. Second, tweet the url where their brand is mentioned. This greatly increases your chances of them noticing it.
Answer to a popular blog post
Say you want to connect with someone that purely blogs and doesn’t promote a product. Writing a part 2 of one of their blog post and referring to it with a nice anchored link is a great way to draw their attention. Make sure you send it to them on social as you publish it. Commenting on their original blog post is also a great option.
This one is old but still going strong. Making a top 10 of the blogs in your industry and linking to them while praising them is a great way to learn links back. You can even earn site wide links by creating widgets saying they’re top 10 on your list and having them embed it on their sidebar. This tactic works better when you have an already popular blog and classify other blogs that are more or less of your size.
On your social media accounts
If there is no context on your website to link out to someone but you want to start a relationship. Your social media accounts are the best place to get started. Retweeting the content of someone you want to be friend with or sharing it on Google+ is a good way to get on their radar, especially if you add an encouraging comment to it. The reciprocation principle will morally push them to reshare some of your content, extending your social reach.
In your guest posts
This one is a bit sneaky and comes from Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz himself. If you link forward in one of your guest posts to the next target you want to submit a guest post to. You will get on their radar, they will most likely read it and your chances of them accepting your post are much higher since you’ve shown them the good side of guest posting and you already did good to their brand and website.
In real life events
I always mention a bunch of tools services and generally cool stuff in my presentations live then uploaded to slideshare. this makes them both more actionable and enjoyable for the audience. The trick is when the audience tweets that they discovered tools and websites through your presentations. This will give you stature for the brand mentioned as you evangelize your products to people for free which makes them much more likely to help you out in any errand you may have involving them.
Do you have more out linking tactics? Please share them with me in the comments bellow.