Why You Should Link to Your Competitors

by Ellie Mirman

This article first appeared on HubSpot.



In business school, you’re not taught to link to your competitors (or so I’m told). Why would you? After all, you want your website visitors to stay on your website, not go right into the hands of your competitors. And yet, that’s exactly what Yahoo did at its start.

Yahoo, at its core, was a great directory of reputable links. When it came to users searching for information, though, Yahoo’s results weren’t complete. You couldn’t find the “needle in the haystack,” as Yahoo early employee Tim Brady describes in Founders at Work. Did Yahoo just leave it at that? No. At the end of a search results page, they included links to Internet company (and competitor) Excite – more specifically, a pre-queried page on Excite so that the user had just one click to view more results in case the original Yahoo search did not have the result they were looking for.

It’s a pretty remarkable thing to do. Why did they do it? For the user. It not only signaled to the user that they were the focus, what mattered, but also taught the user that Yahoo was THE site to go for a complete set of results – first the results from Yahoo’s reputable directory, and then all the rest from links to (yes, Yahoo’s competitor’s) additional results.

What can marketers learn from this? Become THE go-to resource in your industry by linking to others’ resources, including, yes, your competitors’. This could be in the form of:

  • Sharing interesting blog articles written by your competitors
  • Writing responses to a competitor’s blog article (and not simply arguing with their point of view)
  • Allowing your competitors to write guest posts for your blog
  • Summarize the most important news and best articles in your industry, including those written by your competitors

The benefits?

  • You will get known as the one best expert and thought leader in your industry. With your comprehensive resources, people will start coming to you as the one-stop resource for anything to do with your industry.
  • You build a brand around helping solve your users’ problems. You prove yourself to be unbiased – after all, you’re linking to your competitors when you think it’s in the best interest of your users. Your users will trust you and appreciate you for it.
  • You give your competitors a reason to promote you – by linking to them or publishing a guest blog post by them.
  • You give your users a reason to promote you. If you focus on delivering the best resources, best content, and being more balanced in your content, you give your users a reason to recommend you and become a team of the best marketers for your company.

Now go out and start connecting with and sharing the best industry content with your network!

Flickr photo by versageek

4 Winning Strategies for Social Media Optimization

by Jim Tobin

This article first appeared on MASHABLE.

Jim Tobin is president of Ignite Social Media, a leading social media agency, where he works with clients including Microsoft, Intel, Nike, Nature Made, The Body Shop, Disney and more implementing social media marketing strategies. He is also author of the book Social Media is a Cocktail Party. Follow him on Twitter @jtobin.

Social media optimization (SMO) is the process by which you make your content easily shareable across the social web. Because so many options exist for where people can view your content, the content model for the web has shifted from, “We have to drive as much traffic to our website as possible,” to the more pragmatic, “We have to ensure as many people see our content as possible.”

You’ll still want most people to see your content on your site — and if you’re doing it right they will — but helping people view content through widgets, apps and other social media entry points will accrue positive benefits for your brand. The more transportable you can make your content, the better.

If you’re ready to get started with a social media optimization plan for your organization, read on for an overview.

Why Social Media Optimization Matters

Before we get to the practical, let’s start with the “Why,” as in “Why you should care about SMO?” As you can see from the chart below, social networks are driving an increasing amount of traffic to an increasing number of websites. Sites like Comedy Central, Forever 21 and Etsy are seeing more traffic from social networks than they see from GoogleGoogle. How social referral traffic is performing for you most likely depends on two factors:

1. How interesting your content is; and

2. How easily shareable you have made that content across a variety of networks.


chart image
Image credit: Gigya

In other words, SMO can lead to increased traffic to your site, as friends encourage their friends to digest specific content. If you can appeal to a given person, their friends are statistically more likely to be interested in the same thing, so you’re likely reaching a well-targeted audience.  Further, it also leads to improved search engine optimization, as major search engines count links as if they were votes for your site.

SMO isn’t just about building a bigger social media presence for your brand. Whether or not your organization has a strong social network presence, the social networks of others can be leveraged to great effect.

Read more . . .