Friday, July 27, 2007

Should a Corporate Blog Outlink?

One of the first issues I ran into with my first corporate blogging position was the issue of outlinking to other blogs in my niche.

On my personal blog, outlinking is a no-brainer. Aside from making your blog more valuable for your readers, when you outlink you get inlinks.

If someone is interested in one blog about board games, the odds are that they are interested in others, too. So long as I know that my content is quality, I'm not afraid of losing the readers to other, better bloggers.

The same theory should hold true for corporate blogs.

Firstly, when you outlink from a corporate blog, you get inlinks. That increases your page ranking and gets you traffic, not just to your blog, but to your site, if your site hosts your blog.

Secondly, when you outlink you provide service to your readers. That usually makes them return.

A corporate blog's job is not necessarily to promote the blog, but to promote the product or web site.

If your site relies on web traffic, the more you direct people to your site as opposed to letting them flit about on others, the more traffic. Then again, if your content isn't good, they won't stay on your site anyway. And if it is, they'll come back anyway.

If you outlink to a competitor, it's may be a sign of strength. Like the movie Miracle on 34th Street, when Macy's began directing customers to its competitors for products that Macy's didn't carry, sales at Macy's grew. People liked the friendliness and the service; they knew that they were going to leave satisfied, and that the company cared about them and not just some small transient sales.

But if you outlink to competitors, be extremely careful not to diss the competition - you'll look mean and desperate. On the other hand, you don't need to praise them up the wazoo, either.

If readers end up looking elsewhere for a similar product that you carry at around the same price, that's a lost sale. There's no point losing sales for no reason; let other sites do their own advertising.

Your decision as to whether or not to outlink, and if you do, how to do it, might be guided by legacy company policy. Outlinks may go through a filter or traffic analysis tool, or you may be required to (or want to) open outlinks is a new tab or window.


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