It is utterly baffling that so many people believe the online world is any different from the “real” world. Those who are technically minded often think that new innovations and technologies are all about changing people’s fundamental behaviors or dealing with people in an entirely new way. Oh contraire, my friend.
Some of the worst proponents of this approach are those trying to sell expertise and know-how about how to do business online. SEO companies and experts are not immune to this. This is an industry that is bedevilled with tricks and shortcuts alongside baffling jargon. Normal people who are trying to do business on the Internet have no hope – or motivation – in understanding these often obscure processes or methods.
Many of the best SEO techniques are not like this, however. For example, writing good quality content that is designed for readers and not search-engine bots. That will sound obvious to the businessperson who is focussed on customers. Unfortunately, so-called SEO specialists are often more likely to go for the quick-fix solution with little consideration to customer interaction or long-term sustainability.
SEO And Social Psychology
So here we introduce preciprocation. It is a technique that is based on the “real” world of business relationships and normal human interactions, adapted to be of use online.
Preciprocation is based on the social psychology of reciprocity. This has been around for decades and can best be described by an experiment that took place in 1971.
It was conducted by Dennis T Regan of Cornell University and was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. He brought subjects to an art appreciation event and, unbeknownst to the subjects, paired them with one of his assistants. The assistant left each subject for a couple of minutes during the event. On his return he brought some of the subjects a soft drink, while others he did not. Crucially, he did not ask if they wanted a drink – he just gave it to them.
At the end of the event, each subject was asked to buy a raffle ticket. Those who received the soft drink purchased more raffle tickets than those who did not. Also, they spent more on the raffle tickets than the cost of the soft drink.
The conclusion, is that we all respond to an unsolicited friendly action with over-compensated friendly actions of our own. This is reciprocity.
Preciprocation Is Online Reciprocity
Here is how you can utilize this social psychology principle to get good quality links and ultimately more visitors to your website.
There are four main steps to preciprocation:
- Identify the targets you would like to obtain links from
- Do an unsolicited friendly action for those targets
- Contact the targets to engage one-to-one and do more unsolicited friendly actions
- Request something small in return and start to reap the rewards
Sounds simple, yes? It is, and the information below will outline how to carry out each point in practice.
Most people who have done SEO or link building will have identified target websites they would like to get links from. This process is no different.
About 30 potential targets are ideal. You should be confident that each of them link out to other sites.
- Those who write blogs
- Those who produce online tutorials
- Those who produce round up lists
- Those who produce content based on interview
Do not be afraid to include competitors on the list of link targets and make sure you record contact information for each and any social profiles they have.
For this you will need to do two things.
- Post comments on the blogs of targets
- Write content for your own website
The comment posts you write should be detailed and relevant and should not contain anything that is self-serving, including links to your websites or social profiles. This is not comment posting to get a link in the comment. Instead this is a friendly action that in itself does not require anything in return.
The content you write should be written with similar motivation. The articles should promote the content and website of your target. This can be done in the form of a summary of a recent article your target has posted. It could also be a roundup of useful resources on a particular topic with positive references to your link target (or targets). Or it could be a tutorial of your own, which references content created by your link target.
This content should be posted on your own website or blog and promoted through your own social media accounts.
Engagement And More Friendly Actions
It is now time to make direct contact with your link target. You should let them know about the comments you have made and the articles you have written for your own website or blog which references them.
Then, you should say that you want to make a further post that is based on an interview with them. You should include the questions you would like them to answer and ask them if they would like to take part.
A few pointers with this:
- Do not ask for anything self-promoting in return, i.e. do not ask for a link!
- Contact the target by their preferred method, whether that is by email or social media.
- Keep the number of questions in the interview limited to five, as you do not want them to think this is a big task.
- Make the questions relevant to the target and their website or content (i.e. not yours).
- Offer various methods of response. For example, the target may prefer to conduct the interview over the phone rather than giving written responses.
- Remember, not everyone will respond positively to this request (that is why we made a list of 30 potential targets at the start of this process).
Once you have the response to the interview, create a post or article and publish it. Again, this should be promoted to others in the industry and via your own social media accounts.
Reap The Rewards
Only at this stage do you ask for something in return. Contact the target and ask them to promote the interview-based content within their social community. You will be surprised at the results.
That is preciprocation. It is a structured and planned method of doing something nice for a predetermined list of link targets (promoting their content and giving them links) in order to ultimately get links and promotion in return. The links will invariably be good quality and will be more sustainable. And, like with the raffle tickets in the experiment, you may get more than you asked for.