We talk a lot about back linking competitors/authority sites as a viable linking method and for the most part it is, but if you’re only going after what you see in back links, you may be leaving a lot of marketing power on the table.
Let’s take a look at this link building method and see how we can squeeze more link juice out of back linking our competitors and authority sites.
Who’s on First?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term or process of “back linking” it means to look at the inbound links to a specific webpage. You can do this any number of ways, I tend to use Yahoo’s Site Explorer (free) or one of the SEOBook (some free, some not) arsenal of tools. With the tool you can see who’s linking to a page, what anchor text they’re using and what URL they are linking to. All important stuff if you’re in the game to try and get links from the same sources. Why? Well, knowing who is linking to your competitors and/or the authorities in your niche is a good idea for a couple of reasons:
1. Inbound links influence rankings so knowing who is linking out helps you target them as a possible source as well and,
2. Inbound links drive traffic and expose brand, both necessary to build reputation. If you’re looking to pimp your rep, you’ll want to get similar links.
OK, that’s pretty standard yada-yada but if we’re only looking at those back links as rank boosters and traffic streams we’re missing out. Knowing who is linking is good but understanding why they’re linking is better and the key to besting the competition.
Use The Heck Out Of The Back Links You Find
Once you’ve back linked a list of sites, look hard at the host sites and take note of what they’re linking to and where those links are pointing. If the links are pointing to a press release:
- What did the competitor do to generate the release?
- Can you develop a similar event or announcement and issue through the same channels?
- Run a snippet from the opening paragraph of your competitors press release and look for locations hosting this content. Contact those sites and offer an exclusive before you run one of your press releases through a media services like PRWeb. Bloggers and media outlets like having information before it’s made public.
Or, are the links pointing to a piece of content with WOW factor? If yes,
- What’s the piece about?
- How did they launch it, via press release or through blogger outreach?
- Who thought enough of of the piece to link to it?
- Was the piece promoted on Digg, Twitter Facebook etc?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you have many opportunities to find new outlets to host your content. Get busy writing a different/better wow content and promote it to the same sources. (Tip: info graphics are all the rage…)
This tactic isn’t always a bed of roses, sometimes we find tons of crappy (translation: paid) links pointing at our well ranked competitors. If it appears they’ve purchased links does that mean you should do the same? Tough question and there’s no easy answer. No two sites are equal so what’s working for one might not for another. Look hard at those links and weigh possible consequences against the outcome.
Competitive research does show us who is linking to our rivals but it doesn’t explain why. Look for the why, it will help you gain additional links and create new partnerships to host your link embedded content.