The Rule of Reciprocity and Link Builders

  • February 24, 2014
  • SEO
12 Comments

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

Christmas Cards

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:

img-email-1

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:

img-email-2

If the recipient finds your suggestions to be helpful, two kinds of replies can be expected:

  1. Recipient will thank you for the identification of the problem and will let you know that he has fixed the problem at his end.
  2. 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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  8. Reply

    People have a deep and innate need to RECIPROCATE. We tend to be kind to people who have shown us kindness. The key assumption behind this article is solid and sound:people will reciprocate. The problem is that it might take them awhile or they might not get around to doing it. This is why most link outreach should be a numbers game. To get 10, you have to reach out to 100 or even 150. Sometimes to hit the moon, we have to aim for the sun…

      • AvatarMoosa Hemani
      • March 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment Gene, I agree with you not many
      people will follow the eco system and that is why in order to get 10 might have
      to target 100 or even more sometimes..The only thing I will add here is that if
      your help is valuable to them (or sounds legit) the response rate will be
      better.

      What I mean from this is that writing a valuable article as
      a favor is overused so this help might not bring much response but what if you
      bring something out of the box like helping them with technical issues (this is
      rear) then the response rate can be much higher!

  9. Reply

    People have a deep and innate need to RECIPROCATE. We tend to be kind to people who have shown us kindness. The key assumption behind this article is solid and sound:people will reciprocate. The problem is that it might take them awhile or they might not get around to doing it. This is why most link outreach should be a numbers game. To get 10, you have to reach out to 100 or even 150. Sometimes to hit the moon, we have to aim for the sun…

      • AvatarMoosa Hemani
      • March 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment Gene, I agree with you not many
      people will follow the eco system and that is why in order to get 10 might have
      to target 100 or even more sometimes..The only thing I will add here is that if
      your help is valuable to them (or sounds legit) the response rate will be
      better.

      What I mean from this is that writing a valuable article as
      a favor is overused so this help might not bring much response but what if you
      bring something out of the box like helping them with technical issues (this is
      rear) then the response rate can be much higher!

  10. Reply

    People have a deep and innate need to RECIPROCATE. We tend to be kind to people who have shown us kindness. The key assumption behind this article is solid and sound:people will reciprocate. The problem is that it might take them awhile or they might not get around to doing it. This is why most link outreach should be a numbers game. To get 10, you have to reach out to 100 or even 150. Sometimes to hit the moon, we have to aim for the sun…

      • AvatarMoosa Hemani
      • March 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment Gene, I agree with you not many
      people will follow the eco system and that is why in order to get 10 might have
      to target 100 or even more sometimes..The only thing I will add here is that if
      your help is valuable to them (or sounds legit) the response rate will be
      better.

      What I mean from this is that writing a valuable article as
      a favor is overused so this help might not bring much response but what if you
      bring something out of the box like helping them with technical issues (this is
      rear) then the response rate can be much higher!

    • AvatarUmar Khan
    • February 24, 2014
    Reply

    Hello,

    Thank you Mr.Moosa for producing this insightful post. I have few things in my mind which I’d love to share it here:

    Reciprocity is a psychological phenomenon that make people to return a favor. To explain my point, I’d like to mention a very famous quote “As you sow, so shall you reap” here. You perfectly highlighted some very positive aspects of this humanistic nature but there is another face of this Rule as well.. i.e. “What will happen if you reverse engineer the dynamics of this law in our industry?” Whether it’s negative seo, spamming of competitor’s link profile, launching a false Ripp off reports or any other mean. You’ll get the severe retaliation in return.

    One more thing that I’d like to mention here is , “most people aren’t stupid. If the law is exploited as a tactic, they can smell it from a mile away and it won’t work. At least it won’t work long-term”

    So be a real man and play smartly but with full HONESTY!

    • AvatarUmar Khan
    • February 24, 2014
    Reply

    Hello,

    Thank you Mr.Moosa for producing this insightful post. I have few things in my mind which I’d love to share it here:

    Reciprocity is a psychological phenomenon that make people to return a favor. To explain my point, I’d like to mention a very famous quote “As you sow, so shall you reap” here. You perfectly highlighted some very positive aspects of this humanistic nature but there is another face of this Rule as well.. i.e. “What will happen if you reverse engineer the dynamics of this law in our industry?” Whether it’s negative seo, spamming of competitor’s link profile, launching a false Ripp off reports or any other mean. You’ll get the severe retaliation in return.

    One more thing that I’d like to mention here is , “most people aren’t stupid. If the law is exploited as a tactic, they can smell it from a mile away and it won’t work. At least it won’t work long-term”

    So be a real man and play smartly but with full HONESTY!

    • AvatarUmar Khan
    • February 24, 2014
    Reply

    Hello,

    Thank you Mr.Moosa for producing this insightful post. I have few things in my mind which I’d love to share it here:

    Reciprocity is a psychological phenomenon that make people to return a favor. To explain my point, I’d like to mention a very famous quote “As you sow, so shall you reap” here. You perfectly highlighted some very positive aspects of this humanistic nature but there is another face of this Rule as well.. i.e. “What will happen if you reverse engineer the dynamics of this law in our industry?” Whether it’s negative seo, spamming of competitor’s link profile, launching a false Ripp off reports or any other mean. You’ll get the severe retaliation in return.

    One more thing that I’d like to mention here is , “most people aren’t stupid. If the law is exploited as a tactic, they can smell it from a mile away and it won’t work. At least it won’t work long-term”

    So be a real man and play smartly but with full HONESTY!

    • AvatarSyed Nawfil Rahim
    • February 24, 2014
    Reply

    One more very useful material from setalks! I

    • AvatarSyed Nawfil Rahim
    • February 24, 2014
    Reply

    One more very useful material from setalks! I

    • AvatarSyed Nawfil Rahim
    • February 24, 2014
    Reply

    One more very useful material from setalks! I

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