I was very productive this whole weekend as I read lot of informative material that is not directly related to my job. I should thank Chris Dyson for writing an interesting piece, Psychology 101 for Link Builders, on his blog as this post of his sparked my interest and I read a variety of material to get more information on the topic. In the world of link building we talk about building relationships all the time, how to do it, how it works and what are some dos and don’ts of building relationships. This article will benefit you a great deal as I will start with the basics and explain the psychology behind it.
In this article I will discuss one rule of social psychology and how we as link builders can use that one rule to build quality relationships and get links.
What is Social Psychology?
It is a branch of psychology that deals with the social interaction, including their origins and their effects on the individuals. The rule of social psychology that I’ll be discussing is reciprocity.
What is Reciprocity?
There is a famous expression “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”; this is exactly what reciprocity is all about. In social psychology, reciprocity refers to responding to a positive action with another positive action. In other words, reciprocity means that in response to a friendly act people tend to respond in a much friendlier demeanor than expected.
The actual focus of reciprocity is more on trading favors rather than making a negotiation or contract with another person. This rule of reciprocity encourages you to do a small favor to produce a sense of obligation to a larger returned favor. This feeling of obligation allows the action to be reciprocated with a returned action, which in a longer term can create and grow relationships.
Experiment of Reciprocity in Action
Back in 1974, sociologist Phillip Kunz conducted an interesting experiment. He mailed out handwritten Christmas cards with a note and photograph of himself and his family to approximately 600 randomly selected people. Now all these recipients were complete strangers, short time after mailing the cards, he started receiving responses. All in all, Phillip Kunz received around 200 replies!
So why did Mr. Kunz receive so many replies (around 33% of people responded back), considering the fact that they were completely strangers? Since Mr. Kunz had done something for them (sent a thoughtful note during the holiday season), many recipients felt obligated to return the favor back, thus making the rule of reciprocity evident.
Recently Derek Siver, updated his blog with a post in which he shares his own experience and how 3 large pizzas allowed him to build a relationship with Mark Fried. This relationship later helped him get a job in NYC as well.
The Rule of Reciprocity and Link Builders
Our primary job as link builders is to get quality links and in order to get quality links we need to convince different people to link to us. This is not an easy job at all and professionals use different tactics to achieve the goal.
There are multiple ways that includes bluntly asking them for a link, freebies, discounts to get links, etc but there is this rule of reciprocity in which you do a favor to a specific person and then ask for a favor back (link in this case).The power of someone owing you a favor is great.
Rand Fishkin in his Whiteboard Friday discusses one of his favorite techniques to get links and social power. Take a look and see how he uses the rule of reciprocity to make his targets say yes to his requests.
Here are some other ideas where you can include the rule of reciprocity to get more attention and links that point back to your website.
- Broken Link Building
Broken link building is one of the tactics that we (link builders) use to get links that point back to the website. Major reason to add this here is because this tactic seriously involves the rule of reciprocity.
You can use tools like Broken Link Building by Citation labs , Screaming Frog or a Chrome extension Check My Links to get a list of links that are either 404 or a link that points to a URL that is not available anymore.
The next step is to reach out to the website and let them know about the broken links with a solution of it. You can use different templates but if I was in your place my outreach email would look something like this:
I noticed a resource page on your website and it looks pretty informative, I also noticed that around 4 links that are mentioned on your resource page are linking out to the pages that are not available anymore.
I have attached the list of links that are broken with alternate links that will equally help your users. Please take a look and see if you can use Them as an alternate resource.
Hope this helps!
If you closely look in to the email’s second paragraph you will notice that the email contains a favor to the webmaster with a request. Once the recipient will open the email and find it to be useful, he probably will replace links as its important for his audience and most probably include yours as you did a favor to them.
Obviously the success rate is varied due to several factors that include industry, quality of email and your personal authority within the industry.
- Helping Bloggers with Technical Issues
The core power of a blogger is writing and research within his respective field but the major problem usually is technical skills. If bloggers under any niche have any problem with regards to content, they might solve it on their own but if the problem is related to a technical issue for instance spam, plugin installation, code of some things then they need someone skilled to fix it for them.
On the other hand, if you are the one who has complete command over the technical issues and you find the blogs that have any technical problem that includes anything from design alignment to plugin problems or HTML issues, just offer them your services for free and see the magic.
You can easily find the blogs by looking in to design, code or tracking them on Twitter to see if they are looking for any help related to this.
List the blogs and reach out to them. Here is the outreach email you can use in this case:
I was going through your latest post (title) and found it to be highly informative.While looking at your website. I found out that you are not using any SEO plugin that helps Google understand your website and pages better.
In order to get better rankings in Google. it is important to include such a plugin.I personally use Yoast SEO Plugin for that (link). If you think adding this plugin is not your cup of tea. then as a fan I can offer my service to you for FREE
Would love to help you in any case.
If the recipient finds your suggestions to be helpful, two kinds of replies can be expected:
- Recipient will thank you for the identification of the problem and will let you know that he has fixed the problem at his end.
- Or, he will email you to avail your offer and request you to fix the problem for him.
In both the cases, the recipient is pretty much obliged and any request to him to return back the favor can work well.
Above given are the two common ideas in which the rule of reciprocity is very much involved. There are other ideas like giving away data for free and in exchange ask for a link.
Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, explains six principles of influence. In this post, I briefly discussed one that is the Rule of Reciprocity.
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