I remember when I was starting out in SEO (back in the days that link exchanges were still a great way to build links) and on the suggestion that we include a links page on our site to host the reciprocal links, my boss replied, “I don’t want to link to other sites – I don’t want people to leave our site”…
Even back then, that was nuts. Typical old school business mentality of hording customers and essentially trapping them in the sales process. But these days, linking out generously can be a great way of getting your blog known to other bloggers in your market – that exposure is invaluable.
Let’s look at the process:
- You write a good post on whatever subject area you happen to be blogging about.
- You link out to related articles – perhaps your post is discussing one in particularly (possibly offering an alternative opinion on a subject) or you simply just want to list some useful resources for your visitors.
- People click through your links.
- The other bloggers find out about your post (specifically) and your site (in general) through their referral stats.
- Some may link back immediately (in response to your post), add you to their blog roll or just remember your site and possibly link to you in the future.
That last part is key. How could you possibly replicate this result through traditional marketing techniques?
It would be hard – you’d need to target other bloggers specifically and come up with a non offensive way of approaching them and then implement your plan without being too pushy. Why go through all that when a couple of links work just as well?
The art of blogging may involve marketing, but other bloggers in your niche are not your competitors
As long as you and your fellow bloggers cover your niche well with some individual slants on your subject, there’s no reason to have any worries about linking out to them.
Yes, that link will benefit them in terms of traffic, exposure and SEO. Yes, you will get very little direct benefit from linking out. Yes, it may not have any impact at all – they might not link back to you.
But it is a free and easy way for you to expand your marketing activities in a “clean” way – without risk.
You won’t lose blog readers because you have informed them about a similar blog (if you do, then that’s down to the quality of your blog). You won’t suffer in terms of SEO (a few external links here and there don’t make much of a difference – there’s even theories that it will help in some cases). There are only positives here.
Marketing meets networking
That’s all it is. Linking out to other blogs begins the (online) networking process – it’s basically a hat tip to your counterparts that can in many cases begin your relationship with them. Why aren’t you aiming to always begin your relationships like this (on a positive note)?
This very simple process increase the chances of your blog accumulating natural links over time (links given freely and naturally, as opposed to artificial links like directories). This isn’t a one off process – you don’t simply give x amount of time and expect y volumes of return. You should be doing this all the time and if you are then over time you will see an increasing return on your generosity. People will link to you more, which in turn means more exposure on more sites and better rankings – which in turn means more links, more readers, more subscribers – and so on.
Basically, the point of this post is – don’t be a link Scrooge! You can’t prevent people leaving your site – but you can make an effort to ensure that process is smooth and benefits you in some way.