Talking About Competitors: To Link or Not To Link?

Posted August 24, 2021 in
Content Content
As we write Best Of, Reviews, and Versus articles my team continues to discuss whether or not we should link to competitors in our articles. I've had mixed feelings about linking vs. not linking.

What does your content team do and why?
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Bri Stauffer
Connor DeLaney
Ooo this is a good one Bri Stauffer Brian Casey , Erica Rulevish , Nathan Dube what do you think? 
Nathan Dube
No, we do not link to competitors, but a lot of our competitors regularly share our content on their social networks. But that is not something we reciprocate.
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Nathan Dube
However, they continue to share our content on a weekly basis, I believe this is due to the fact many of them do not generate much of their own content and they are essentially using ours to educate their customers, which seems crazy as they could lose business to us,  but I would say we have 10-20 competitors who share our content on a weekly basis. We do always thank them for sharing our content though.
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Nick Bennett
Hey Bri Stauffer !

Great question! We link (www.impactplus.com) but RiverPools doesn't (www.riverpoolsandspas.com)

Doesn't look like a concrete rule but I think Kevin Phillips or Kevin Church may have more thoughts on what to do about this.
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Kevin Phillips
There's pros and cons to linking to your competitors.
The obvious con is that you create a direct path for people on your website to head over to the competition and you possibly lose business.
The pros are that Google sees you using external links and it adds to your credibility and authority. More than that, it can look off that you name drop a brand without linking to it.
I usually argue to link because, ultimately, it's what is best for the consumer. It's also not very hard for them to just go to Google and look the competitor up if they really want to.
But I don't take a hard stance on this topic. I link, I recommend linking, but I don't enforce it.
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Brian Casey
The most important thing that I think  Kevin Phillips  said in here is about how Google from now until the end of time is focused on user experience. If it helps the reader to add links by saving them time and energy, there will probably be a broad core algorithm update at some point in the future that ends up favoring companies that link to external sources and hurting companies that try to keep all the traffic internally.
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Brian Casey
Bri Stauffer  - so glad you put this question in here.
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Brian Casey
The biggest thing that I always want to bring this question back to is: If you're reading an article and become interested in something that it's talking about, is not having a link going to stop you from exploring?

In my own behavior as a user, I usually take the thing I'm interested in and type it into the search bar of the tab I'm in. I'm going to learn about the thing I want to anyways. And the website that I was on, I'm no longer on.

So my recommendation is usually to include links, but to prompt them to open in new tabs. 

This allows the reader to 1: not get frustrated that you're talking about something that should have a link and 2: make sure that when they're interested in something (like a competitor) they're not leaving your site to learn about them.

Now it would be foolish to make business decisions based on my (or any single persons) behavior as an individual and how I browse the internet, but there are bonafide ways to tell if readers are leaving your website (high bounce rates, short time on page, etc.). If these metrics are not where you'd like them to be, adding external links is one of many things I'd recommend testing to improve the numbers.
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