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Use Backlinks to Your Competitor’s Site on Your Own Site for Better SEO Results

To improve your SEO results, you can look at your competitors’ links to find good backlink candidates for your own Web site. The top-ranking competitors for your keywords probably have vetted worthwhile links that you could also benefit from. After all, your competitor deals with the same type of information and customer that you do. If that third-party site finds it useful to link visitors to the competitor’s site, they might find your site equally useful for their visitors to know about.

You can see a list of all the indexed backlinks a competitor has by running a search engine query:

  • In Google: In the regular search box, type the query link:domain.com, substituting the competing page’s URL for domain.com.

  • In Yahoo!: Go to http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com and enter the competing URL.

The results come out in pretty much random order. You can go page by page and read through them, copying the ones that look promising as a possible backlink candidate into another document for follow-up. Be picky here: You don’t want any spammy links, and some may simply not be worth the time to pursue. If there are hundreds of link results, you should export them from Yahoo! by clicking the Export Results to: TSV (Tab Separated Values) link. Then you can export the data into a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel and re-sort it as desired.

Suppose your competition has about 50 backlinks. How many do you really need to be competitive? In most cases, reasonably close is sufficient. Focus on developing links in a natural fashion — buying links en mass or devoting huge amounts of time to obtaining reciprocal links is not a good way to gain links as the search engines have ways to detect these links and they have very little, if any, SEO value.

If you have the SEMToolBar installed, scanning the link results looking for good candidates gets much easier. (The SEMToolBar is free software that can be downloaded into your Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox browser from www.bruceclay.com/web_rank.htm#semtoolbar.) For one thing, the results are numbered. More importantly, you’ll be able to see extra information about each backlink, including its approximate PageRank. So at a glance you can tell which Web pages are the heavyweights with the search engines. However, be sure you’re choosing sites that are relevant to yours; otherwise, the sites won’t help your link equity very much.

After you’ve decided which Web sites you’d like backlinks from, you can begin your link-building campaign. Spend a little time looking at the candidate’s Web page. You want to know what it’s about so that you can make sure your own Web page has something of value to those users. Another thing you might find is something amiss on the third-party site, like a broken link or missing image, which you can offer to them when you contact them with a request.

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