My brief post about the need to link to your competition’s blog posts got a lot of attention on the blogosphere this last week. Linking to your competition’s blog does indeed rule. Even for lawyers.

From Brian Clark at Copyblogger:

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…….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.

From Dawud Miracle:

Think about it, you’ve worked so hard to get that visitor to your site. You’ve designed, edited, optimized and submitted your site ’til it’s just right. Now that you’ve ‘got ‘em,’ you need to keep ‘em, right? You gotta convert ‘em! And the last thing you want ‘em to do is leave your site for the competition. Hence your website becomes like an island where you want visitors to land, but not leave. Am I right?

Well, that’s the perspective of many ’so-called’ web marketing experts. And it’s certainly the perspective of most small business owners I know. A perspective that isn’t without merit if you’re struggling to get traffic to your site in the first place. That includes almost all traditional small business websites.

Then along comes the blog. And it blows out of the water many of the traditional marketing approaches. Now, not only is it not necessary, it’s not even wise for your website to be an island that keeps visitors from getting off.

Blogging changed everything. Now you get rewarded for linking to your competition with more visitors, higher search engine rankings and greater readership.

And you get to build mutually beneficial relationships. Yes, with your visitors. But also with your ‘competition.’ You comment on and link to their blogs and it’s likely that they’ll comment on and link to yours. That extends your blog’s reach into ‘their market.’ And even if they don’t link to you, you can leave a link to your blog in the comments you leave – which will reach other commentors. That, in turn, can increase your readership.

From SearchAnywayBlog

…Blogs provide users a way to join the discussion. Whether you like it or not, your competitors are part of that discussion.

Although a blogs are often just a part of a larger website, blogs are not websites. They are blogs. Not all the same rules apply……If you blog and ignore the competition, it is like being a free-speech advocate that censors your critics.

From Dave Krug at 901am: “Linking to competitors, and others in your industry is vital to the lifeblood of the industry.”

From Darren Rowse, whose link to my post got the discussion jump started: The principal of linking to your competition links to most niches in addition to the lawyers I referenced.

From Jack Humphrey:

You are not marketing online unless you link to competitors……In the old days I never linked to competition. But then I had static sites and the ‘captive audience’ thing was crucial in order to move product and get list signups.

When blogs came around, the marketing world got turned upside down and the top bloggers actually started getting more traffic and better rankings for doing the unthinkable: linking to their competition!…..Rather than the old idea that you’d lose visitors forever to another blog, which on some small percentage I just might, the real eye-opener is that people never seem to forget who showed them all the cool stuff in the first place.

And they come back for more.

This philosophy of linking not only does wonders for gaining free targeted traffic and repeat visits, but it forces you to stay current, relevant, and on your game because you’ve risen to the task of being as good as your competition.

Your visitors have come to expect quality and, in order to keep them coming back, you can’t slide.

When you open up your niche to your visitors like this, you are saying ‘I’m confident enough in my ability to wow you over and over, day after day, with killer content and resources that I don’t mind sending you here or there because I know you’ll be back.’

You don’t have to accept this as a theory for your niche and ‘try it to see if it works.’

It’s a fact in the blog world. If you aren’t linking outside of linking to affiliate products, you are irrelevant in your niche.

Good stuff.