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Is the Competition Dictating Your Link Building?

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A competitive link analysis is a great way to see how your link building efforts compare with those of your top competitors. It’s also incredibly useful for identifying any link building opportunities that you may have overlooked. What industry sites is your competition a member of? What blogs are they guest writers for? What sites are picking up their PR? Looking at the competition’s link building efforts can help you identify the holes (and opportunities) in your own campaign. However, too often site owners get so fixated on their competitor’s link portfolios that they forget they are supposed to do better than the competition, not just be the same.

Are you letting the competition dictate your link building?

A client of mine wanted me to concentrate on getting links where all their competitors were. As a fairly new site this made sense – you want to be on equal ground with the competition so you have a fighting chance. However, when I started digging through the competitive link analysis I found that many of their competitor’s links were coming from general directories with little SEO value. In my opinion, many of those directories were actually just Penguin fodder in waiting. I had to explain to my client, that even though their competition had these links that didn’t mean they worth the risk of adding them to their own link portfolio. Since their site was relatively new I wanted to make sure it got off on the right foot and avoided anything that could come back to bite them in the long run!

It’s important to remember that you should use the competitive link analysis as a guide, not as your own campaign. You don’t want to be an SEO copycat! First off, what works for one site may not work for another, even if they do exist in the same niche. Secondly, even though you want to be on even ground with the competition the end goal is to beat them, right? It’s hard to upset the SERPs status quo when you aren’t bringing anything unique to the table. Why should the search engines favor your site’s link portfolio over your competition? If they are exactly the same what make your site any better than theirs? Remember, the search engines aren’t in business to help your site rank well, they are in the business of providing the best possible search results to their users. If you want to jump ahead of your competition you have to prove to the search engines that your site is the best option for their users. You can’t do that if your SEO is carbon-copy of the competition! At some point you have to be where the competition isn’t in order to take your SEO to the next level.

As I mentioned before, a competitive link analysis is great for uncovering any holes in your own link building, as well as figuring out what the competition isn’t doing that you can take advantage of. In the case of my client, since most of their competitors were relying heavily on low-quality directory links, a strong content marketing campaign would have a major impact on the long term success of their site. Guest blogging, upping their own blogging efforts, being more active in social media and so forth would all ultimately contribute unique and quality links that their competitor’s don’t have. Don’t just look at what the competition is doing, but also figure out what they aren’t doing so you can make your link building efforts more competitive.

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