The Value of Highlighting Other People’s Content

I was just a week into the work for my first client when he asked a question that produced a vivid flashback.

“Why should I link to other sites?” he asked, after I suggested his company’s website link to the partners and media outlets mentioned on his homepage. “I don’t want users leaving my site.”

I heard this question all the time in my old career, journalism. After I moved from the Washington Post’s print newsroom to its website, I often talked to reporters and editors about aggregating related news and opinion from other sites on our blogs and in articles.

“You want to give your readers a complete view of the topic you cover, and you can only write so much yourself each day,” I would say. “I know you read the competition. Why not share the compelling things you find with your readers? They’ll appreciate it and come back for more.”

Sometimes those reporters and editors decided to give it a try, and sometimes they didn’t. But the case for highlighting content created by others – even competitors — is a strong one for businesses as well as journalists – here’s why I think you should consider doing it both on your site and in your social media feeds:

  • It gives you more credibility. Highlighting articles, posts and videos from other sites shows your users that you are paying attention to the news and trends in your field. If you’re making a claim about your product or service, a link that supports that claim carries great weight, too.
  • It’s a valuable service to your users. Few, if any, of your potential clients or customers will know your industry as well as you do. But when they are considering your product or service, they will want to learn as much as they can, as quickly as they can. Helping them can build the loyalty and trust you need to close a sale.(This is a form of digital marketing akin to the type advocated by Marcus Sheridananswering customers’ questions to earn their business. He advocates original content, which of course is important, too, but linking and aggregating have their place.)
  • It helps you connect. This is especially true when you share others’ content on social media. Tweeting about a smart article by someone else in your industry increases the chances they’ll follow and retweet your best content. Whether on your site, your blog or one of your social feeds, “link karma” is real – link to others, and they’ll link to you.(And when other sites link to your site, it also helps search engine optimization.)

    It’s worth noting that limiting the amount of your own content that you post on social media is a widely accepted guideline – as Jon Gelberg said on

    “If you become a respected member of the Twitter community, you can throw in messages directly related to your products or services, but those need to be counter-balanced by tweets completely unrelated to your sales efforts.” (emphasis mine)

If you’re curious what happened when I was pitching links and aggregation to old-school Post reporters and editors, well, some decided to give it a try. Others continued to sound like my first client with my current company Squarely Digital: “I don’t want someone clicking away from my content.” Or even worse, “We can’t link to a competitor!”

I understand those responses as gut reactions. We all design pages and write articles and post photos in the hopes users will keep clicking on our site, eventually helping us make money by signing up for a service or viewing or clicking on ads.

But one unavoidable truth of the internet is that every visitor to your website is going to leave, and they probably are going to leave soon. If they’re interested in the topic you cover or the product you sell, they’re checking out multiple sites for information and pricing.

You can pretend it’s not happening and never link. Or you can help them find other good sites, and in the process reap these side benefits. I think you’ll be more successful choosing that path.

Jon DeNunzio runs Squarely Digital, a digital consulting firm that aims to make the internet a little bit easier and a lot more profitable for your company. Contact him at [email protected].

Enhanced by Zemanta

Google to Great Webinars: Google Sites

Using Google to Be Found, Part 1 – Google Sites from Ray Sidney-Smith on Vimeo.

In our first Webinar, we present Google Sites, the Internet giant’s tool to help your Small Business quickly and easy draft, edit and publish a Web site in minutes!

Google describes its product as:

With Google Sites, you can easily create and update your own site. Google Sites allows you display a variety of information in one place—including videos, slideshows, calendars, presentations, attachments, and text—and share it for viewing or editing with a small group, an entire organization, or the world. You always control who has access to your site.

We go over you would use Google Sites to plan and implement a new site, how to modify the look and feel, how to navigate the basic and some intermediate features of the product. During the Webinar, we allotted ample Q&A time with our favorite “Google-ologist,” Ray Sidney-Smith, and had some great questions!

Do you have a question after watching the video? Ask it in the comments below, or tweet @w3consulting and include the hashtag #googletogreat in your tweet. We’ll post a video response to your question!

Facebook Timeline Comes to Brand Pages

W3 Consulting's New Facebook Page Timeline

If you’re like most Small Business owners, your Facebook Page stood the same way today as it will tomorrow. However, Facebook has changed your Page to the new Timeline format whether you, I or your customers like it or not. Actually, they did so on March 31, 2012. Facebook is not where I engage my target audiences primarily so all I do is typically syndicate curated content and self-published content to our Facebook Page (like my blog posts and tweets), but for many Small Business owners it is currently their main Social Media hub. (My Facebook Page with all of 26+ Likes would have stayed the same, except that I posted a coverphoto to my Facebook Page in anticipation of writing this post today.) I am writing this article to educate you about the good, the bad and the ugly (sorry, there’s not much good here) of Facebook Timeline, in hopes of providing you with a small business strategy to leverage the change to benefit your bottom line.

Continue reading…

Google for the Small Screen (Google Mobile Web Products) [events]

Google Mobile Web ProductsGoogle for the Small Screen (Google’s Mobile Products Overview)
March 8, 2012
10:15 – 11:15 am

Who in the world thought you could have the world on your mobile phone?!  Deploy Google Mobile products in your business to give employees access to information anywhere, anytime.  Let Ray Sidney-Smith show you how you can literally have the world at your business fingertips!  Join us for this free one hour webinar.

To register, go to: or call 703-778-1292 for more info.

Google+ for Your Small Business [event]

Google+ logo


Google+ for Small Business
Technology That Can Help Your Business Grow!
February 29, 2012
9 am – 12 Noon


With only 20 spots for this hands-on workshop, we anticipate more demand than space.  Email or call Patricia Melton if you are interested.  Slots will be filled on a first come, first served basis, and then we’ll start a standby list.  See information below.


Google is the well-known search engine and leader in the Web advertising world, but if you haven’t already started seeing and hearing, they have recently launched a new service platform called Google+ and its Google relations, the +1 buttonDirect Connect and Search Plus Your World. Together, Google+allows businesses share, promote and measure the building of relationships between the business brands and the people who care about them. In this seminar and workshop, you get the best of both worlds from Alexandria Small Business Development Center. First, Ray Sidney-Smith, president of W3 Consulting, a Web and digital strategy firm for Small Business, presents a strategic overview of Google+ for small businesses. Following the presentation, Ray will walk you through the steps to launch your own Google+ pages for your business. This event is not to be missed!


From Google+ Pages’ site:




Different people are interested in different parts of your business. Whether it’s breaking news, updates, promotions, links, photos – even talking face-to-face with groups via easy-to-use video chat –Google+ lets you easily share the right things with the right customers.




Help word get around. Put the +1 button anywhere you’d like people to be able to recommend your business, products or services to friends and contacts all across the web.




How’s your page doing, and how could it do better? Google+makes it easy to learn more about how your followers’ interactions on your page affect your brand, and your business.


Bring your wireless-enabled laptop, netbook, or mobile tablet (e.g., iPad). The session will be held in our boardroom, located at 625 N. Washington Street, Suite 400.  Because we expect this to close out early, we ask if you register, please attend or let us know if you cannot, so others may have the opportunity!

To register, email or call Patricia Melton, SBDC Counselor, at 703-778-2960.


Enter the “Retail Parking” garage via Pendleton Street for free parking.


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.