Why Linking to Other Blogs is Critical

Kevin O’Keefe posted a great piece recently called Linking to and blogging about competitors’ blogs is smart. Darren at Problogger has also pointed out Kevin’s thoughts, because Darren knows that other than developing your own compelling original content, linking out to other relevant bloggers is critical to growth.

And often, the most relevant bloggers in your field will be your competition.

Kevin writes about lawyers specifically, and how many of them can’t see the benefits of linking out to others in their practice areas. By refusing to link out to and engage with other legal bloggers, attorneys are missing the entire point of the power of blogging.

I can’t say I’m surprised by this attitude, though.

Back in the 90s, the big sticking point for lawyers was publishing online at all. The thought of giving away valuable information seemed ludicrous to many attorneys, even as the legal field became ultra-competitive and flush with new law school graduates.

Those that embraced online publishing and information marketing gained an advantage. I was able to build a healthy practice out of nothing more than valuable content delivered in an email newsletter.

Now days, there’s no argument that lawyers must publish online to attract new business. But blogging and refusing to link out to other lawyers reflects a similar lack of understanding about the medium. Most small law practices are geographically-focused anyway, so how does linking out to an attorney in a different state hurt you? Realtors are having great success with that very strategy.

Kevin gives a great example of a lawyer in Austin, Texas, who gets it… he links to his in-town competitors and encourages people to subscribe to their feeds:

Look at this post from Jamie Spencer, a criminal defense lawyer in Austin. He discusses at length blog posts from Bill Mange and Ken Gibson, both Austin criminal defense lawyers.

Think it hurts Jamie to do so. Heck no. It makes him appear as more of an authority on criminal law issues for those in Austin – prospective clients, referring lawyers, and the media. Jamie has generated significant interest from all three audiences from his blogging.

People often choose the attorney or other service provider they connect with the most. Since different people connect with different things, joining in on a conversation that naturally compares and contrasts your style and expertise with that of your peers is smart marketing. More importantly, it exudes confidence.

The marketplace is going to sort things out on its own whether you like it or not. If you’re blogging and not linking due to fear of competition, you may be surprised to find that you’re not even in the running.

Print Friendly

Smarter is Better Solutions for Smarter Content Marketing

Here’s what we’ve got for you:

  • 15 high-impact ebooks on content marketing, SEO, email marketing, landing pages, keyword research, and more.
  • A 20-part Internet marketing course that lays out a comprehensive path for your own online strategy.
  • An organized reference guide to the “best of the best” of Copyblogger.com, and how it all profitably fits together.
Free Registration

Take The Conversation Further ...

We'd love to know your thoughts on this article.
Meet us over on Twitter or LinkedIn to join the conversation right now!

Comments

  1. Yep,there is a need to always mix it up with what others’ think, not necessarily accepting their standpoint but to weigh them up. Only then can precious information be shared and that catalyses growth.

    By not linking and not sharing information, your message and ideas won’t get out there, and there would be no unleashing of your ideavirus.

    Great post from a lawyers perpective, cheers Brian!

    Daniel

  2. It’s also a great way to show your competition that you know what they are up to and are following their businesses as well.

  3. Kevin O’Keefe was perhaps one of the earliest people to build a mega website – prairielaw.com – and had a huge user base in the message forums and his article section was read widely. His linking outward and recruiting of fellow lawyers in specific practice areas really created some of the earliest “great content” on the web. He later sold to findlaw.com I believe. Kevin is a great example of marketing on the internet.

  4. Not linking inhibits dialogue. Linking promotes dialogue. As a rising tide raises all boats, an increasing dialogue raises the quality (and in many cases, the participation level) of the topic

  5. Lawyers and ultra competitiveness? Don’t get me started (I used to handle audio-visual for BAR/BRI in NYC back in the day. Me and 2000 sweating law students in a hotel ballroom. Not pretty.)

    Perhaps I’m totally misguided, but in the 20+ years I’ve been a copywriter, I’ve generally found us to be a very collegial, helpful and supportive group to one another. Blogging to other writers/marketers just makes good sense … and linkage. Just more of what we’ve been doing all along.

  6. Real estate professionals tend to act just like lawyers in this situation in that they are extremely adverse to linking to the blogs of their competitors. When talking with agents about blogging, I always remind them that the 3 most important factors in real estate… blogging… are “linkation, linkation, linkation!“. ;)

  7. Well said. From the perspective of someone – myself – who will be starting off blogging about personal finance what are the three or four personal finance blogs that I need to start reading and networking with?

  8. great point. the blogosphere is about community not isolation.

  9. Hey, as the lawyer who linked to local lawyers, who got blogged about by Kevin for doing it, I’ll say this…

    It’s gotten me two more links at least – Kevin’s and Brian’s :)

  10. Jamie, yep… I made a point of excerpting the part with the links. :)

  11. It never fails to astonish me just how much the Establishment doesn’t get it. I just finished explaining to my own employers why they had to link to others.

  12. I’ve also noticed how most marketing blogs don’t have a “blogroll”–ironic…

  13. Nice topic.

    I think people would be better served not worrying about how linking to someone they consider a competitor will harm them as much as they should worry about leaving value on the table by not making the link.

    If the link serves the Blogger’s target audience, they should give it. Regardless of competition.

    Related, I like the comment from Chris M about marketers not having a blogroll. I’m a marketer that doesn’t have one. I used to, but recently removed it from my site. The reason I removed it is because I view it as blog 1.0 kinda thing. I’m not sure a blogroll serves a reader. Links in context are valuable.

    Probably a good discuss for another post.

  14. Jim, excellent point on the blogroll. I’ve struggled with that one myself, but ultimately, it’s citations within the content that provide value to the reader. I don’t have a problem with blogrolls, but you always run the chance of offending someone by *not* including them.

  15. Offending someone by not including them is never something that has worried me. It was my experience during my days as a political blogger that blogrolls were places you’ve read and endorsed/recommended. More often than not, moreover, if someone wanted it on, it was sufficient that they reciprocated the gesture.

    If they are obsolete, it’s because of social bookmarking. I still think they have their value, though. Readers can get a feel for your personality without having to click elsewhere.

    Web 2.0 is great, but it seems to be a lot more clicking. I can read your blog here, or get the feedburner feed there, or check you out on Linkedin or MySpace here, and then join your blog’s community on MyBlogLog over there. It’s almost like everything is unravelling.

  16. Although you may be generous with your links, your competitors may not. This is a sad reality in certain niches.

  17. Hey Brian,

    Another HUGE advantage of linking to your competition (especially if you say nice things about them) is it blasts your own credibility through the roof.

    In his book, “How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success In Selling”, Frank Bettger (one of the greatest insurance salesmen who ever lived) said praising his competition was one of his most profitable selling secrets — as it makes everything you say about yourself 100% more believable and credible.

  18. Ben, exactly. It ties back into the confidence thing. People see that you are confident in your own skills when you praise (when deserving) your competition instead of tearing them down, and that makes you all that more credible and attractive as a solution.

  19. IMO it is a win-win situation for everyone. It inspires and motivates you naturally to keep up the competition in a healthy way.
    It’s like embrace and expand.

  20. Brian, I totally agree. Linking to others tells your visitors that first, you read and keep yourself informed, and second, you don’t fear competition. I never hesitate to link to other content writers, even from my business website.

  21. Just the fact that you’re indexed with their names makes it worthwhile. As to their inability to realize the zen of cross-linking… oh well.

  22. Its great to hear that people aren’t afraid of linking. Linking is an essential part of the internet and search engines do not penalize you for being a responsible web master.

  23. One of the things that sticks with me is a statement I heard from somewhere to the effect that if we were left to our own cleverness and originality we wouldn’t get too far.

    Every idea comes from someone elses idea.

    Plus, when linking to other competitive sites you’re actually building a community of likeminded people who can work together to give visitors exactly what they want. Just because they go to one person’s blog, or website, doesn’t mean they’ll stop coming to yours. It just means they can both more value and confidence that the information your writing about is valid.

  24. Linking out to competitors is counter-intuitive, but from a reader’s point of view, I believe it shows real confidence on the part of the link-out-er.

    For example, as I search for web designers, I find that the ones who are confident enough to link to competitors are often also the ones who are competent enough to comment intelligently.

    That makes me feel like they are on top of their industry and know about the latest techniques, news and best practices.

    Those that are stingy with their outbound links, on the other hand, they make me feel like they have their heads buried in the sand.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

    Cheers,
    Greg

  25. Going back to the Lawyer topic, Trey Ryder (www.treyryder.com) does marketing for lawyers and is a big proponent of education-based marketing and “giving it away”… because it works.

    Linking to competition… it makes sense from a cooperative pov. Two fellas may do the same thing in the same industry but focus on different niches… it’s also about building your information network. The more you can share ideas, questions, concepts with folks who do similar things, the smarter everyone gets…

  26. Heh.

    THE RYDER METHOD OF
    EDUCATION-BASED MARKETING

    “The American Marketing Association featured this innovative method on the front page…”

    Guess I should have branded this myself way back when, huh? ;)

  27. My “fear” is that when I “send” someone over to my competitor’s blog, I may not get them back. Can someone help me overcome this “fear?”

  28. i dont think there’s any reason to fear that. It’s not as if readers have a one track mind to NEVER click on your blog again. It’s a lot easier to click on two competing blogs than order the house burger from 2 different fastfoods — and THAT is still relatively easy to do. :)

  29. Yes, some blogs dont have blogrolls which is somehow disappointing. It’s a way of appreciating someone’s blog.
    When linking to a blog, it like reading and at the same time giving information to the bloggers. Linking to a blog is like sharing ideas to the others which is a great part.

  30. I do a lot of work specifically with lawyers and the sad fact is that even though attorney marketing is one of the most hyper competitive ares in business today…most lawyers still just don’t “get” the power of technology in marketing.

    Most importantly…they completely don’t understand the internet and its reach.

    Patrick McEvoy
    President
    Rainmaker Best Practices
    http://www.rainmakerbestpractices.com

  31. I don’t see anyone else in my area of blogging as competition so freely link to any important or well related material. If they give good info why not link them up.

  32. Great point when I first started reading a real blog 6 years ago the guy who wrote it links to EVERYONE and his blog is still going strong for his niche.