SEO Step 3: What you say about others affects their credibility and yours.
Think When You Link.
An SEO Link Conversation:
Realtor Roger: The real estate market is really picking up.
Buyer Bob: I read on your RogerRealty website that prices were up this year.
Realtor Roger: My competitor XYZ Realty wrote an article today that said home sales rose. Also, JazzyHomeSite says buyers are eager.
Buyer Bob: I will go read XYZ Realty‘s article, and JazzyHomesite has super cool videos.
Think of who is gaining credibility through this conversation.
Buyer Bob is helping Realtor Roger’s credibility. Instead of accepting it, Roger is deflecting that credibility to other sources. Google is the 12-year old kid watching. It simply sees who is pointing at whom. Think of every one of the times Roger and Bob talked about another company. Those are like outbound links.
Outbound links to your competitors send your hard-earned sales to them.
Would Domino’s pizza have coupons for Pizza Hut inside their store? Would a Ford dealership supply a shuttle bus to the Toyota dealership? By linking out to a competitor, you are sending your hard-earned website traffic to someone else and helping them make the sale.
Outbound links to competitors are helping them beat you in Google rankings.
Let me take a quick aside right here. Don’t think that there aren’t good reasons to share and collaborate with those in your industry. You can create buzz and sales by being well-known, sharing your knowledge with others, and sharing others’ knowledge with your readers. Linking between like-minded individuals can increase your visibility, and leading your readers to good information from others can earn trust for your company. That being said, I stand by the statement at its core. As a pure SEO rule, linking to your competitor is helping them beat you.
Say you own Acme Realty, and your website is about Walla Walla real estate. You know you are the authority. Unfortunately, you are linking to graphs on XYZ Realty’s website. Half of the pages on your website have a link that says “Walla Walla real estate stats” and it points to XYZ’s website. Google reads this as “Acme says XYZ is the source for Walla Walla real estate stats. XYZ must be more credible on this subject than Acme.”
Who are your competitors? Anyone with a website that ranks in your online turf.
Online competitors are not the same as your retail competitors. Your company, Acme Realty, wants to be #1 for Walla Walla real estate. Even if JazzyHomeSite isn’t selling homes, it’s competing for eyeballs on Google. The more people that search for “Walla Walla real estate” and find JazzyHomeSite first, the less people that visit Acme Realty. You don’t know where those buyers at JazzyHomesite will end up. You know they are in good hands when they are working with Acme.
Not all of your outbound links are so easy to see.
There are probably other outbound links on your website you haven’t noticed. Acme Realty put a pretty widget on every page of its website that displays today’s newest listing photos in Walla Walla. The only problem: JazzyHomeSite supplied it, and they embedded a link in the widget that goes to JazzyHomeSite’s website. On every page of Acme’s website, there is now a widget link that says “Walla Walla Real Estate”, and it points to JazzyHomeSite. By now, you know how bad that is for SEO and for keeping customers on your website. JazzyHomeSite is not only stealing away traffic from Acme, it is lowering Acme’s rankings on Google. Of course, that’s only because Acme is letting them do it.
Don’t be paranoid. Just be strategic.
The point of teaching you the potential dangers of outbound links is to instill a sense of awareness. For every link on your website: think about the impact. Send a link to your trusted industry organization. Link to a news article from your local newspaper. You could even link to a very interesting article from a competitor if there is an absolutely compelling reason to do so. Just remember that Google is watching, and Google is 12 years old. It doesn’t have the patience to read into your link’s nuance. It just sees the link.
Go to SEO “No-No”s
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