Be a Power Blogger. Link to Competitors.

Posted in Blogging

latest activityFirst I want to welcome any experienced bloggers who followed the pingback-invitation to this post. We appreciate your traffic. aimClear Blog is a search marketing blog for in-house, agency, advertising and PR professionals.

In our travels we’ve learned the average Internet marketing client needs introductory guidance regarding blog basics like trackbacks, pingbacks, MyBlogLog, social bookmarks, and even foundational topics like posts, categories, and feeds.

Power bloggers are welcome to stay and explore our slant on SEM topics like landing pages, analytics, SEO, PPC. However, this post is primarily aimed at parties interested in learning blogging basics, perhaps as a prelude to a business marketing effort.

What Happens When a Blog Links to Another Blog?
Most modern blog platforms, like WordPress and Movable type, have a built in feature which notifies other blogs that you’ve linked to them. This is called an (outgoing) “pingback” Also, incoming pingbacks are immediately visible to you when other authors link to your blog from theirs. In WordPress the incoming pingback information shows in the dashboard. (See “Latest Activity” graphic above).

This mutual notification is an incredible networking opportunity. Because high quality inbound links are an important measure of any website’s reputation with Google, it is rare for our website not to receive a near immediate visit from a blog we just gave outgoing link love to.

A fascinating dynamic in the blog world is that so many blogs link directly to competitor sites. This astounds many people we talk to about blogging. I understand. It seems somehow counterintuitive to promote other businesses by proxy. However the benefits outweigh potential liabilities.

Myth #1: Link to your competitors’ blogs and they’ll rip off your clients. False! While the online marketing blogs we link to are “competitors” they don’t need to steal our clients…they’ve got plenty of their own. Otherwise we wouldn’t think them cool enough to link to.

Myth #2:
Link to your competitors and your clients will fire you and hire your competition. False! aimClear Blog has linked to many SEM blogs, some of them repeatedly. I would recommend a number of them as solid Search Marketing companies. Our clients thank us for our willingness to share resources and it usually deepens our relationships. We’ve never had a client leave for a competitor but my guess is (if it ever happensJ) that the theoretical fly-the-coop-client would be gone with or without the referral to our competitor.

Fact #1: Confident businesses retain customers. Blogs are about sharing content that matters to readers. Good business content requires a commitment to researching similar businesses along with their tools, innovations, perspective, and other information they share with the public- which includes blogs. There is power in confidently sharing an overview of conventional wisdom in your area of trade with your customers.

Fact #2: Linking to other experts validates recommendations your business makes. Prove to your clients that the 10 most respected practitioners in your field believe in the same approach that you do. It’s easier to control client’s expectations when they know with certainty that the solutions you offer are aligned with industry standard “best practices.” Sharing competitor’s resources also highlights any unique advantages gained by working with you as opposed to anyone else

MyBlogLog and Pingbacks

myBlogLogFor those of you who are not members of MyBlogLog I heartily recommend the service. Characterized by the familiar grouping of recent reader pictures in many a blog’s sidebar, MBL displays your picture or avatar with each visit your make to an MBL badge enabled blog. Reciprocally many serious bloggers have MBL memberships so you can literally see their pictures right after they visit. This running list of MBL visitors is often a veritable whose who of blogs we’ve just linked to!

Business Blogging = Total Immersion
When I first set out to blog with conviction, the first order of business was studying other bloggers. I had attended a couple of SES shows to watch search industry pundits like Danny Sullivan, Rand Fishkin, Gord Hotchkiss, Andy Beal, Stuntdubl, Neil Patel, and Vanessa Fox speak.

However the most radical transformation took place for me after I made a serious commitment to blog for our clients. I soon learned that the power of linking to other peoples’ blog posts is as much about networking as about competition. Confident linking to articles by others in our business, yes even our competitors, is a healthy way to harness the power of blogs to serve and retain customers.