Follow Friday is something I've written about before, but today I want to encourage you to level up your Follow Friday efforts by focusing on people who have done nice things for you already, people who should already be important to you. I will assume you have a Google Webmaster Tools account and have correctly configured it at least 30 days ago, if not before. If you don't have this set up, bookmark this post, go do it now, and come back in 30 days.
In Google Webmaster Tools, click on Your Site on the Web. Click on Links to your site. Then look at the link list. There will be some sites on there that are broad domains, like WordPress.com or flickr.com. Those we'll put aside for now. Look for individual people or companies in the list.
There's a Follow Friday list that matters - people who have decided that you're worth linking to, that what you're creating and producing has value enough to toss a link your way. In this illustration, my top inbound links are from Paul Muller, Nate Riggs, Mitch Joel, Whitney Hoffman, Eric Skiff, and Eric Hoffman. You owe them some thanks and recognition, because they're putting you in front of their audiences.
Want to go deeper down the rabbit hole? Click on the right-hand button at the top of that link list, the one labeled Download More Sample Links. This will dump a CSV file of all detected inbound links to your website or blog. Pull this open in the spreadsheet program or text editor of your choice and start poking around. You might be surprised to see who's linking to you and why.
Don't just focus on names you already know and recognize, by the way. There are plenty to be had that are folks you may not have even been aware of, or may have only met once or twice (which is often the case for me). For example, I see in this list Robin McPherson, Tony Loftis, the Mind Tilt Podcast, Sylwia Presley, and James Sankar. New friends and allies are just a click away.
Does this sort of deep dive take time and effort? Absolutely. However, if you're looking to make your Follow Friday meaningful and close the loop of reputation given, this is one of the best ways to do it. You're giving mentions and attention to people who are already supporting you. As anyone in the customer service business (and aren't we all in that business) knows, it's much easier to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one.
These lists aren't just good for Follow Friday, by the way. If you're looking for guest bloggers for your site, these folks might just be the best place in the world to start, because they already believe in you enough to link to you.
Dig around. Try it out. See what surprises await you!
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