• http://www.michael-martinez.com/ Michael Martinez

    Just relying on links for search engine optimization isn’t efficient anyway. Since people cannot determine which links are passing value or how much value they pass, good SEOs need to focus most of their time and energy on other aspects of search engine optimization.

  • http://2helixtech.com matthiaswh

    Hi Julie,

    You raise some interesting points, especially applying your real world logic to link building. Thinking in real world terms is something that gets missed in SEO a lot of times, yet that’s exactly what the search engine algorithms are trying to do with all of their ranking signals.

    However, your technical reasons aren’t quite as cut and dry. If we assume the passing of link juice is divided equally among all outbound links and each site has the same value, you’re right about not getting the full value of that link if they are already linking to your competitor. But what you’re getting is being “stolen” from the competitor sites. If the page has 12 points (completely arbitrary, made up number) of link juice to pass and is currently linking to 3 of your competitors. They’re getting 4 points each. If they add a link to your site, it gets only 3 points instead of the full 12, but it also “steals” 1 point from each of the competitors as they drop down to 3 points each. Not quite full value, but more than 25%.

    Now when that assumption we made fails us is when this becomes valuable. If a powerful industry hub site is linking to all of your competitors and you don’t have that link, the gains from acquiring it can be considerably more than getting links from several other less significant sites. A site that can pass you 50 “link points” and is linking to 3 competitors is more valuable than one that can only pass 6 link points and isn’t linking to any of them. Also, there are on page factors that probably go into the link. If they add your link above the competitors’ links on the page, you’re probably going to get more value from it and take away more value from them (by shoving them down).

    These are just a few things to consider. When looking at a competitor’s backlink profile, I think it’s not generally profitable to visit every site to get a link to you. But many of them can still be great links. I think it’s fair to assume that most of the sites that will give a link to yours are probably linking to some of your competitors already.

    There are other, “smarter” marketing and link building techniques, but to entirely discount this tactic could hurt.

  • Julie Joyce

    @ matthiaswh…great point, actually. I definitely don’t think it’s a technique that should be entirely discounted, so apologies if I was vague about that. I simply don’t believe that following the footprints of your competitors is the best way to build good links. Your point about stealing link juice is fantastic, also, you sneaky monkey. I had never really thought of it that way.