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When linking out, make sure to take a “grass roots” approach

Want a hot SEO tip?

Start linking out to external sites more often, and when you do, make sure to utilize a “grass roots” approach.

What do I mean by “grass roots”? Simply put, I mean that when you link out, you should make it a point to seek out sites that are not a part of large corporate conglomerate and have a more organic, independent nature. In other words, if you have a choice between linking out to a major brand or a more obscure site, choose the more obscure site.


Because you’re much more likely capture the attention of a smaller site by linking to them. The smaller player is much more likely to engage in nimble marketing techniques like analyzing their referring site data for new referrers, because its much easier to do so when you have just a handful or a few dozen referring sites per day as opposed to the hundreds if not thousands of referring sites that might show up in the analytics data for a large brand. The smaller blogger is also more likely to enable and check trackback URLs, thereby making them much more likely to discover your outbound link that pointed to their blog.

Moreover, even if a large brand were to notice your link, it’s very likely that unless you represent a mega site with significant influence they will likely deem you not worthy of their attention or reciprocation. On the flip side, a smaller site will likely appreciate the gesture – especially if your site wields any sort of influence – and is therefore much more likely to reciprocate or even reach out to establish rapport and build a mutually beneficial relationship.

You’d be surprised at how many webmasters out there are steadily checking their referring site data and trackbacks, ready and willing to return the favor when the context warrants it. Mind you, the reciprocation can extend out beyond just SEO-friendly inbound links. It can also entail retweets, Facebook likes, Google+ shares, etc.

And that makes linking out in a “grass roots” manner all the more valuable.

Note: Sometimes, you simply can’t avoid linking out to a large brand, and that’s ok. At the end of the day, your outbound links should provide value to the user first and foremost, so if linking to a big brand is the best way to provide that value, don’t hesitate to do so. Besides, some of the more astute big brands are keeping an eye out for this sort of thing ; )

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

    Great advice, Hugo. I know that we regularly check our analytics and when we see a new link, we’re certainly more inclined to return the favor down the line, provided the source is a quality one. Great tip!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for chiming in, Josh! Good to have living proof that smart website owners like you are indeed engaging in this activity. It lends credibility to my assertion : )

      • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

        My pleasure. I’m just honored to have you include me amongst the “smart website owners!” Thanks.

  • http://www.seo.com/ Greg Shuey

    Great post Hugo! I take this approach a lot when I put together my “Top X List of X Blogs” if that makes any sense. Also use it when I put together content round ups.

    I also make it a point to reach out to the site owner, if appropriate and let them know they made my super awesome list 🙂

    It also works really good if you tweet it out mentioning their twitter handle.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for sharing those approaches, Greg! Smart stuff and it definitely seems to pay major dividends.

    • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

      It is amazing how powerful those top blog posts and roundups really are, Greg. They are hard to ignore for those sites that you’re sending droves of traffic to.

  • http://leodimilo.com/internetmarketingblog Leo Dimilo

    Very Sound advice. This is really important if you are new and just starting to build relationships with those who are in your market. I have actually mused over using social graph data to actually find more target-able AND more likely to be open to social engagement.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Leo! I like your idea about using social graph data. I would actually argue that it is large brands that can benefit the most from this technique, because it can give them a major competitive advantage (e.g. most of their competitors are like not doing it).

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Linking can be a two way street. If someone links to you, and their site is of good quality and relevant, you should be more inclined to link back to them. That’s a good point that the smaller sites may be your best bet because they are actually looking at referring sources on a regular basis.

    • Anonymous

      Indeed, Nick. It’s definitely a two-way street and a form of marketing currency. Sadly, many brands don’t leverage this street or this currency in a meaningful way.

  • Spook SEO

    Hhmmm, sounds very interesting Hugo. It’s a good practice too if you are going to notify the link owners and mentioned them on your social media activities, just for impression. In that way, I think thye won’t suspects your deeds as spam and it helps build your community over web.