Outbound links, not backlinks.
Now don’t tell me it is your trade secret, because your link sources and targets are open to anyone who cares to check.
I want to tell you of a strategy you may not have been using before now.
Since Google and the other major search engines introduced the nofollow tag, bloggers have been stingy with links, and any outbound link is most likely a nofollow link.
This is clearly an aberration of the linking process, as the nofollow tag was introduced to combat web spam and not meant to dilute legitimate outbound links.
There is even a name for it – pagerank sculpting.
What is the effect of having a selfish outbound link profile on your SEO and readership?
When your fist is closed, it is difficult to collect anything new. Ranking great content on its own merit is not as easy as it used to be.
In fact, it is almost impossible to achieve.
If you want to rank for a keyword, linking liberally to great content offsite may be an easier strategy than concentrating on link building.
Citation Value of Outbound Links
The web is all about association and interconnection.
That is why it is called a web.
As part of their algorithm, Google uses your external links to weigh the relevance of your content, so if you are not linking out, you leave Google with only your content and backlinks as a means of associating you with the rest of the web.
This should make perfect sense if you think about it: Anyone can link to you, you have almost no control over that, but those you link to you can control.
So while your inbound links might be confusing to categorize, your outbound links are more coherent.
When you ask Google to ignore the links in your content, you are telling Google to act as if those links do not exist.
Nothing goes out, and nothing comes in.
Have you been guilty of this very crime?
How to Remedy Your Outbound Links Deficit
It takes a generous spirit to link to content elsewhere.
If you have been tight-fisted in you link giving, it is not too late to turn around.
When next you are doing research for a blog post, do not paraphrase the thoughts of those you gather facts from. Why not allow them speak for themselves?
Provide an in-context link to the resource instead and provide your readers access to the luxury of a new blog to interact with. You lose nothing in the process, but you gain big in trust and recognition as a leader of thought in your subject area.
What if you are writing post on an original thought, without any outside help? It still pays to go out of your way and find those who have voiced similar ideas and link to them.
You may even link to those who disagree, and who knows, your trackback may stimulate discussions that cut across the two blogs.
This serves to introduce your readers to concurrent and dissenting opinions, which gives weight to your ideas and also attract bloggers who will be impressed by your unsolicited link vote.
How do you identify link-worthy blogs?
A good place to start would be with your virtual tribe. Have you given a link to any of the frequent commenters on your blog?
You may have been leaving comments on their blogs too, so you should be a bit familiar with their overall content focus.
When you are writing a post that interfaces with their topic area, be generous and send readers their way.
So, for instance, if you are writing a post on content marketing, why not send a link to some friends who have great posts on content marketing.
If your post is on guest posting, link out to a friend who has relevant content.
Use the search forms on their blogs and search for content relevant to the post you are writing and happily give them a link.
TIP: It is even a good idea to use an excel document to map out those you would wish to reward with links. That way, you can keep track and ensure that as many friends as possible benefit.
Does this mean you should limit your link-giving to your audience?
No, that is just a start.
Charity begins, but does not end at home. (Unless you want to limit your influence to people you already know).
The process below has served me well in identifying and linking to new blogs:
- Map potential anchor points: Go through your post and look for keywords that are important to your post idea and bold them to make sure you do not miss them later.
- Search for Relevant blogs: Using the keywords you have decided to use as anchor texts , search for blogs that have contents that fits the focus of your post. It is better to use Google Blog search which will give you great blog results.
- Select the Wheat from The Chaff: Go through the sites you pick up and select those with an important message.
- Rewrite your anchor text: Sometimes despite your good intentions, you find it almost impossible to make a link fit into your writing. If you are convinced the link is an important resource, rewrite you content and make it stick.
Where do you add links?
Links that appear at the top of a document have a stronger SEO value. I believe in doing people a complete favor when I want to do favors – so place links where they will do the most good.
Of course, you cannot put all links at the top, so let your most important link take the top placement, and spread the rest evenly throughout the post.
Another thought to keep in mind is that linking out with the words ‘click here’ is a wasted opportunity (unless you wish to rank for that term D).
Use keyword rich anchor texts to send your links out and watch to see how this strategy will help you rank for the very terms you are giving away!