Are You a Giver? Why You Gotta Be Generous For Good SEO

The first precept of inbound content marketing of the non-smarmy, actually-valuable variety is this:

If you want to get — hits, traffic, comments, better SERPs, the value of smart & reciprocal relationships  — you first have to give.

Give what? Well, in a word, or two: good value.

Yet, even after several years of this concept developing and spreading to the point of general acceptance, there’s a lot of resistance to the notion.

Consider this comment on the recent post at the DIYThemes blog regarding linking out to the competition and how that can help your SEO efforts:

I must be too stupid to see this. In the example he gives. someone is linking OUT to both Rae Hoffman and Affiliate Tips. Here is his example: “Website owners who monetize via Adsense can generate additional revenue through affiliate marketing programs outlined on industry resources like Affiliate Tip by Shawn Collins.” In his example, affiiliate marketing is a link to Rae and Affiiliate Tip is a link to the top 3 site. Both are linking out, one link is for Rae (ranked top 10) and the other link is to Affiliate Tip (ranked 3). Whoever posts this link is giving up link juice to a top 3 and a top 10. I get that this is link-blending a 3 and a 10, but WHAT DOES THE PERSON POSTING THIS GET OTHER THAN TWO LINKS OUT? What is in it for them? Why would a person do this for someone else without there being a benefit for themselves?

I added the italics and bold — not to call out a commenter or embarrass  him in any way — but to illustrate the very common and very understandable resistance to the whole notion of “giving first.”

Our friend who wrote this comment has a great point. After all, linking out to other people’s sites & blogs risks sending traffic away from your own site. That would increase your bounce rate (the percentage of your traffic that comes in to and leaves from the same page, not bothering to explore the rest of your site).

More to the point: you lose your visitors.  That’s kind of the opposite of what we want them to do — stick around, explore the site, and ultimately buy what we’re selling.

Logically, that concern makes total sense, right?

Except that it’s all wrong.

Here’s why:

Good Online Inbound Marketing Is Not a Business Transaction

If I’m gonna go buy some apples from you, you have every right to expect me to fork over the greenbacks first.

And if I’m gonna use those apples to make my own super-tasty apple butter, and I want those apples to be coming in on a regular basis, then damn skippy I’m gonna negotiate from you the terms that will support my business goals.

That’s the kind of example lots of folks call up when they try to wrap their noggins around the concept of giving first.

Trouble is, it’s completely backwards. It’s like comparing those yummy apples of yours to juicy oranges.

No, more than that: it’s like comparing apples to fishing nets. Because this kind of marketing is not a business transaction. (Sounds counterintuitive, no? Read on, though…)

‘Cause when we’re engaged in a solid inbound content marketing program (which is what we abide by here in GetShitDoneInOurJammiesastan — ’cause it’s EASIER and MORE EFFECTIVE, is why), we’re delivering value freely and without expectation of return for one simple reason:

Because it makes Them TRUST US.

Yeah. And that trust thing is, like, everything. That’s the ball game.

Because we’ve all seen the studies: people overwhelmingly report that they will only do business with companies & people they trust.

And when you’re just starting out on the web in a possibly over-crowded niche, with no fabulous reputation or tons of devoted fans to port over to your new biz, there’s one way to gain the trust of the peeps you’re targeting.

And that is to give them what they want. The good stuff. The valuable stuff. The stuff THEY care about (and it ain’t always what you think, by the way, which is why those little SurveyMonkey  surveys are a really good idea, but I digress).

But if you just deliver your own stuff? Even if it’s, like, super-valuable? Perfectly on-point and precisely what They want?

It’s perceived as a (oh noes!) marketing message. And that stuff goes in one virtual ear and out the other.

But — BUT! — give them someone else’s good, valuable, on-point stuff?

And the marketing message stigma goes poof.

And They are happy.

And … They start to trust you.

Voila!

That’s why you link out.

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