Online Publishers: Are You Linking to your Competitors?

November 11th, 2010 by Nikos

I recently read a great post on HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog. In it, Ellie Mirman talks about the practice of linking to your competitors, a non-intuitive approach to providing your visitors with the best possible experience. The example that Mirman mentions is Yahoo!, who in its early days, had a link pointing to a pre-queried page to Excite at the bottom of their own results. This ensured that if their visitors did not find what they were looking for on Yahoo, they would have another chance to do so on Excite. It also helped make Yahoo! known as the go-to destination to find anything you were looking for, whether that information was provided by them, or their competitors.

Over the last four years, Lingospot has been working with some of the world’s premier online publishers to help them better organize and present content. When we started off, most, if not all, of that content was internal, or at best content of sister sites. Slowly but steadily and one by one, our clients began discovering that adding external content to their pages made their pages more valuable and interesting to their visitors. As a result, visitors came back more frequently, as they knew they could get a more holistic view of a particular topic and not be limited by the internally generated content of any single site.

Today, we are seeing editors, particularly news editors, increasingly taking on the role of content or content source curator. For example, we’ve been working with Forbes for over three years now and have helped them use our Mixer product to manage a network of over 1,000 Business and Finance bloggers, whose content shows up on the pages that Forbes creates through Editor. Another example comes from the Sacramento Bee, who has spearheaded the creation of a network of Sacramento area news publishers (basically a consortium of competitors) called Sacramento Connect. The network’s articles are showcased using our Spotlight product alongside Sacramento Bee articles, giving visitors the ability to discover more content about what they are interested in, content created by SacBee’s competitors.

Today’s online visitors have access to more content than ever before, yet still have only limited time to find and consume this content. We’ve long believed, and our customers seem to increasingly agree, that giving visitors full access to the best content about a topic they are interested in, whether that content is your own or not, is the best way to built loyalty to your brand and repeat visitation to your site.

So, are you linking to your competitors? Maybe you should.


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