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Want To Win At Blogging? Promote Your Rivals, Say Yale Researchers

A study of blogs found that linking to rivals can signal to users that a blog is informed, thereby helping the blog become a destination site.

Having trouble developing an audience for your blog?

Praise your rivals, say researchers at the Yale School of Management, whose study of blogs found that linking to rivals can signal to users that a blog is informed, thereby helping the blog become a destination site.

"From the consumer's perspective, linking increases the attractiveness of the blogosphere since links enable readers to locate information," said Dina Mayzlin, an assistant professor of marketing at the Yale school.

Mayzlin and Hema Yoganarasimhan, a doctoral candidate at the school, co-authored the study, "Link to Success: How Blogs Build an Audience by Promoting Rivals." In discussing the study this week, they cited the value of posting one-way links to competitors even though there's a chance readers might be lost to the linked blog.

"Impressing readers is a big issue for bloggers," said Mayzlin. "Advertisers typically place a lot of value on blogs that produce original content and have a high number of incoming links, but we found that the number of outgoing links may also provide useful information on blog quality."

Faced with the phenomenon of explaining how blogs become popular in a sea of blogs, including many with similar content, the researchers found that consumers learned about blog quality from the blog's posts and links. "Blogs that more reliably produce information," the authors stated, "are more likely to have more incoming links and hence receive more visitors."

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