Everything you need to know about SEO, delivered every Thursday.
Using Competitors To Build Links
Doing business on the Web isn’t easy, and you need every advantage to grab attention from the masses clicking by. In order to succeed, companies need to understand how to manage the marketing information they find. This information can be used to help strategic planning, monitor competitors and provide early warning signs for new opportunities or potential issues. Knowing how, what and where your competition is marketing (to the same prospective audience) is crucial if you want to outrank and out perform them.
There are two key components to monitoring competitive activity online, analyzing back links and the development of marketing intelligence. Let’s take a look at both and how we can use them to build links.
Analyzing a competitors’ back links
When I look at a competitors back links, I’m looking for two things: the anchor text used and where it sits. Of the four components of link popularity (link quantity, quality, anchor text and relevance) they are the two strongest elements to affect rank.
Anchor text, the clickable part of the link you see, is a query ranking indicator. It tells both humans and search bots what’s coming next. From the official Google Blog::
How sites link to you has an impact on your traffic from those links, because it describes your site to potential visitors. In addition, anchor text influences the queries your site ranks for in the search results.
It’s one of the rare, clear comments made by Google on a component of link popularity outside the PageRank definition. If your competitors are ranking well for a certain phrase, look at the anchor text in their back links and ask:
- Do you see the phrase listed?
- Are the links sitting on topically relevant pages that have been indexed?
- Are those anchors sitting in content areas?
These are questions to ask and items to look for when analyzing back links. If the anchor text phrase is listed multiple times in your competitors back links, you’ll need to exceed that number to rank ahead.
Marketing intelligence is the collection and analysis of competitive information and developments within a market. The goal of this intelligence is to assist with decision making, keep an eye on competitors, opportunities and threats. How does this work? Let me give you an example:
Competitors (and websites in general) place volumes of information on their sites as a way to add content, attract customers and the media. A popular addition is the media center which holds the company’s press releases. I set alerts to these media pages and when a change happens, I’m notified. I’ll track the press release taking note of where it was sent and to whom. If a journalist or blogger talks about the release I’m notified and take note for future linking building.
Another little tip along the same lines: Speeches. More and more companies are reprinting speeches made by their executives in their annual reports and on their websites. Take snippets of the speech, search and note who reprinted them. Once you know, contact these sites with speeches of your own.
If we rely on back links alone to provide the bulk of our competitive information, we may miss opportunities to build competitive links. Look at everything your competitor has – back links, website, job postings, blogs, advertisements etc., as an opportunity to build links.
Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.