SEO can though not always be a very reactive process. Today, I’m discussing the reactive aspects. Not because the SEO isn’t proactive, the cookie cutter formulaic approach to keyword selection will attest to the proactive side of SEO. So what am I talking about? If you haven’t guessed yet, since there are no clues in the title tag (naughty me, my bad), I’m alluding to competitor link analysis. The wider far reaching effects on Google’s view of the internet due to the SEO participants as per game theory are too broad to go into detail here (I’ll save that for another time). So onto the more technical aspects of SEO’s reactive nature:
Chasing competitor links using link research tools
This is nothing new as we often assume what ever worked for the top ranking websites for your desired search query will work for you. And in some cases it does. It is not unheard of to apply the thinking from Jon Klienberg’s authority hubs concept where getting a link from a common authority linking to the top 10 or 20 will give you a boost in your rankings. Beyond that, you could chase even more of the competitor links by using a tool like AdGooroo to find more links your competition have that you don’t. This is a very inside out approach as it does not really question how the links were acquired in the first place. Even if you do use fancy link research tools, that doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed.
Assuming in the highly unlikely event that you are going to be able to not only contact all the webmasters of those sites with one of your top ranking competitors links – you’ll always be on the back foot. Because whilst you play catchup, your competitor will be earning links elsewhere and your link research tools won’t always be able to retrieve those links. Another problem with these link insight tools is that you have to put in a list of ten competing websites which end up being ten top ranking websites for your keyword. There it is again, the focus on competitor rankings! How about a tool that tells you all the cool places to get links that your competitors DON’T already have? I know of the LinkMoses letter which has link opportunity alerts (LOA) – unfortunately these are not automated or easily searchable by market or industry. But that would be the tool to have. A good PR agent would know the opportunities for getting your opinions hear which would result in your content that could result in a link. back to chasing competitor links…
Even if the competitor stops building links, you’ll still be on the back foot – why? Because, PageRank will see that your link appeared after your competitor’s link which means it probably won’t be trusted straightaway and will take time before it kicks in. Even when the link value transfer does kick in, it may not accrue the full value of the competitors link since their link was on that page before you. Okay so maybe you got a link on a newer page on the same site – good for you as it could be an advantage – however it will soon get pushed down the hierarchy.
The truth is, nobody knows the value of a link. But even if you could get links from all the sites linking to your competitors, the chances are you won’t extract anywhere near the same value. Many of the links earned by your competitors are more likely to be from an outside in approach where they earned links via public relations and other marketing initiatives that got people writing about them. Much of your competitor’s work apart from their core business offering attracted audiences and communities which in turn attracted links! Links that were earned and thus cannot be replicated easily.
Hence link outreach is inefficient
To make link outreach work you’d have to work on a 100-30-10-1 ratio. 100 outreach emails, 30 responses, 10 may be interested and 1 actually commits to giving you a link which will probably end up costing you money.
The ratios can be improved by giving payment in kind of course, but then that’s more likely to be part of a wider PR campaign than pure link outreach. So save your link outreach resources as it it is the most inefficient way to rank and get traffic. You’ll waste so much time and energy in getting spreadsheets together contacting webmasters.
Catch me if you can
Get your own links, if you haven’t read between the lines already – and let the competitors chase you (if they can find you!).