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The argument for linking out from your site

A topic I covered a few months ago, but which bears revisiting, is whether or not you should link out from your site. In summary, you shouldn’t be scared of doing it. But the problem which most marketing managers face is explaining to less enlightened colleagues (including more senior ones) why it’s a productive strategy. After all, it’s very easy to say: “we’ve spent all this money getting people to our website, why would we encourage them to go elsewhere?”

So here’s the argument which I think you should use. You’re not going to be “linking out” on pages where visitors might be close to buying, or making a sales enquiry. That’s obvious. A salesman about to close a deal doesn’t want the prospect to have any distractions. But where you’re trying to educate the customer, where you’re trying to establish your company as an authority …that’s where you’ll reference other sources of information. A salesman presenting at a conference would be delighted to share the podium with other authoritative – but non-competitive – sources. It’s all about credibility. If you mention an industry accreditation in an article, link to the certification body so visitors can see why it’s important. If you’re talking about a customer in a case study, link to the customer’s website so visitors can see why working with that company is such a feather in your cap.

And these things have a habit of rewarding you. If you send traffic to another site, the other organisation will see that. It’s quite possible they might find an opportunity to link back. For example, one company I know wrote up a case study on some lab equipment they’d supplied to a university. Rather than devote hundreds of words to describing the university department, they naturally linked to its website within the text. In turn, the university department wanted to show off that it had this equipment available, and did its own blog post about the purchase. It wasn’t the place to list all the technical details of the product, so a link to the manufacturer’s product page was an obvious thing to include. Everyone wins, including the readers of the articles.

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