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Getting to Know the Linkerati: Building Relationships with Bloggers

Posted on July 05, 2007 by Steven Bradley

Guest post by Steven Bradley of TheVanBlog

Yesterday I mentioned building relationships with people as a way to generate natural links into your site. Just as all links are not the same, all the people you get to know will not be the same either. Some will be much more likely to link to your site than others. Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz coined the term ‘linkerati’ to refer to these people. Today I’d like to talk a little about who the ‘linkerati’ are and how you can attract the attention and build relationships with one subset of the ‘linkerati,’ namely bloggers.

Who are the Linkerati?

Since Rand coined the phrase why not let him give the definition. The Linkerati

encompasses virtually anyone whose goal is to find external content and link to it, or whose own content creation on the web naturally means that they will create and/or share links.

So anyone who typically links to external content is part of the linkerati. A rather simple definition, though also one that may not give you a clear picture of who these people are. How about a few examples?

Journalists are part of the linkerati. They create content that often points to other content via a link. Not only might they give you a link, but that link likely comes from a very trusted and authority source. Even if a journalist doesn’t link to you, but does mention your site, they can still bring awareness of you and your site to many people who will link to you.

Social taggers, the people who post links to content at sites like Digg and del.icio.us, are part of the linkerati. They don’t create content on their own, but they post links to content at sites that get a lot of pageviews and can help drive a lot of traffic to your content. With social taggers the actual link they post is generally of secondary importance as the links will come from the traffic these social media sites send to your content. Appealing to these people and getting them to tag your content is one aspect of social media optimization.

Bloggers are perhaps the easiest of the linkerati to get to know and get to link to you. I’ll talk about them more in a minute, but bloggers write consistently and have loyal readers who trust the links posted. Bloggers are nearly always looking for sources they can cite and as a community are typically generous with links.

I’ll let you read some of Rand’s posts on the linkerati to understand them better, but I want to make one more point about them. The linkerati is a different audience than the visitors you hope to turn into customers or have subscribe to your newsletter. The two groups can overlap, but it’s important to understand that you’re creating content for two distinct groups of people each with their own agenda when visiting your site. You need to create different content for those you are trying to persuade to become customers and those you are trying to persuade to link to you.

Because the linkerati have so much potential for building links into your site it’s a good idea get yourself in front of them. If a blogger knows who you are and knows and trusts your content she will think of you the next time she is looking for content to link to. So how do you gain the attention of bloggers?

Building Relationships with Bloggers
(blog comments, linking out, and trackbacks)

As I said bloggers like to link out to other content. Look no further than this post for an example. There’s a lot that could be said about the linkerati, but instead of making an already long post even longer I chose to link to other content that explains the concept further. Linking out is much simpler than being all inclusive in a single post and hopefully makes this post a better resource for those who come across it.

One aspect of blogging that differentiates it from static content is the comments at the bottom of every post. Blogging is a conversation and one of the best ways to get to know a blogger is by commenting on their blog. It’s a chance to talk to the person you’d like to link to you. Bloggers notice and respond to comments and if you consistently make intelligent comments they will click on your name out of curiosity. So will readers of the blog, especially if you happen to be one of the first to comment on a particular post. Some of those who visit may end up subscribing to your rss feed as well.

Bloggers also know when another site links to them. They check their stats and naturally want to know what someone else might be saying about them. I’m often amazed at how quickly some bloggers have visited my site after I publish a post with a link to them. I’ve received comments, emails, and links from other bloggers simply by linking to them in one of my posts.

Most blogs also accept trackbacks which will place a snippet of your post (usually the paragraph containing the link) as a comment on the post. Trackbacks can also drive traffic to your content, particularly if you’ve linked to a popular blog and your trackback is one of the first to appear.

Putting it all together say you’d like to gain the attention of a blogger in your industry. You’d start reading their blog and consistently leave well thought out comments and questions to engage them in conversation. You’d also look for posts that you can expand on or take in a new direction, writing your point of view on your blog making sure to link back to the original post. If you’ve done it well and carried the conversation over to your site it’s possible you’ll find the blogger has visited and left a comment and maybe in a day or two followed up on your post with one linking to your post. At the very least you will have gained their attention and through continued to commenting and linking you will build a relationship with them.

The other day when I talked about article marketing and seeking target sites to submit to, I mentioned that you may not want to start at the top. The same is true of which bloggers you try to get to know. The more popular the blogger the more comments and links they will get and the more difficult it will be to gain their attention. Until you can drive a lot of traffic to them through your links it may be hard to get them to notice you.

You might find it easier at first to connect with other bloggers who appear to have a similar amount of traffic and visitors as you do. Even better aim for blogger who seem to be one level above yours in readers and traffic. They’ll be easier to get to know and more appreciative of the attention. Think of it as a bootstrapping process where you gain links from someone with a little more authority than you. As your own authority increases you start looking to build relationships with the next level up on the chain.

Links are clearly important to your success with search traffic, but remember it’s people who give you links. If you want the linkerati to notice you and link to you you need to create content targeted specifically to them, which may be different than the content you create for your customers. When it comes to the linkerati there’s perhaps no other group easier to get to know and get to link to you than the community of bloggers around your industry. Take the time to get to know them first and contribute to their sites through comments and links and in time they will begin to do the same for you.

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2 Responses to “Getting to Know the Linkerati: Building Relationships with Bloggers”

  1. DerekBeau

    - 6th Jul, 07 06:07pm

    Good post. The concept of relationship building seems to have been brought up a lot lately, and it is a very strong concept. I like your ideas of building relationships with people who are one step higher than yourself and progressively building more “powerful’ relationships as you gain authority over time.

  2. Steven Bradley (author comment)

    - 7th Jul, 07 08:07am

    Thanks Derek. I think people are coming to realize that for every link there’s a person behind the link who can give you more than just the one.

    The idea of building relationships with people one step higher is probably talked about a lot as well. The idea actually came to me a few years ago in a completely different concept. I’ve worked a lot of different jobs before finally working for myself and I used to keep applying for essentially the same jobs with different companies, assuming it was the same job I was qualified for. Then it dawned on me the next time I applied for a new job I should apply for one that would have meant a promotion at the last job, since that’s the one I was really qualified for.

    That’s kind of how the ‘one step up’ approach sunk in with me. It’s a different context, but fundamentally the same thing.

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