This is one of the most often asked questions I get from beginner content marketers who are investigating curation. I say “beginner” because once you’ve read a few sites that aren’t just shopping or direct sales sites, you quickly realize that everyone is linking to other sites – a lot. And not by gun point, but willingly.
What’s more, sites that send people away are some of the highest traffic sites on the web. So how can a site that actively sends people away, like Mashable.com, be one of the highest traffic sites on the web?
The answer is not to over think the answer. It is so obvious that people don’t believe it at first.
As a content marketer you MUST send people away from your site in order to get a lot of traffic. You don’t have to understand why to know it’s true. If sending traffic away from your site was bad, all the major blogs, news sites, and niche content sites that link to resources outside their own domains would be unpopular instead of rolling in readers.
Some of the lowest traffic sites on the web, conversely, don’t link to anything outside their own domain. Though there are sites that dead-end on the web which also get traffic, it is either paid traffic or comes from affiliates who are paid to send traffic from their sites and lists. I’m talking about organic search and direct traffic from straight links on, you guessed it, other sites.
So Why Do You Get More Traffic By Linking To Other Sites?
Again, this answer is simple, but true. Sites that actively (gleefully even) send people to other sites are hubs. They are the watering holes of the internet. In Africa, once a Zebra is full up on water, the watering hole sends them away, happy to live another day. But do you think for a second that Zebra hasn’t burned the coordinates of a watering hole into their mind? Of course it has.
Not only that, but the Zebra is going to lead any and all other Zebras he finds back to that watering hole. ”The water is good, cold, and plentiful here. We should always come back to this place.”
A hub site that delivers great and plentiful information to people who are thirsty for it has the exact same effect. People come in throngs to sites like Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Mashable, Boing Boing and thousands of others every single day. And what do each of those sites do? They send those people right back out on the web to quench their thirst for information.
And those people bookmark, share, Like, Tweet, and email the crap out of those sites’ links to share the great watering holes they’ve found. And the news spreads far and wide, virally, that there is this great place to learn about do-it-yourself projects, or about the trials of motherhood, or a site that has all the latest news on Android apps.
That is not just a primer on how to get a lot of traffic. It’s exactly how the entire web actually works. If hubs didn’t exist and no one ever showed their visitors the information that they’ve discovered elsewhere on the web, there would be no web at all.