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 ; )