Reverse Engineer Competitors’ Links
Many free fabulous tools exist to “reverse engineer” inbound links of competitors. Your objective is to identify complementary websites that link to a competitor but who may also be willing to link to you. Type each competitor’s home page URL into these tools, and then surf to the appropriate websites, making note of the PageRank, content, and contact information for your “Link Building” target list. Here are my three favorites:
- Open Site Explorer (http://bit.ly/open-explorer). Type your competitor’s home page into this tool, or the URL of a highly ranked site on Google. Browse to see who is linking to your competitor.
- AHrefs (http://ahrefs.com). Similar to Open Site Explorer, this free tool allows you to input a competitor URL and reverse engineer who is linking to that competitor.
- LinkDiagnosis (http://bit.ly/link-diagnosis). Sign up for your free account, input a competitor’s home page URL, and let this tool do the hard work for you. This tool will identify the PageRank of link targets plus tell you if the NOFOLLOW tag is in use, and it even allows you to export your data into an Excel report – all for free!
At the end of this process, you should have a defined list of “link targets” sorted by PageRank and their keyword themes with your “keyword community.” Your third TODO is to take this list, and then go one by one through the results, soliciting links from the various targets. If summer is here, this is a great task for a cheap intern!
Create Link Bait
Link bait takes link building to the next level. Link bait is the art of creating content that is so compelling that people will spontaneously link to it, without you even having to ask. Have a customer of the month contest (if your customers have websites), have a supplier of the month award (if your suppliers have websites). Email, call, and even give gifts to blogs, portals, and other content sites that might be willing to cover you and your company. In link building, remember you are dealing with other people, so look at the situation from their perspective: what’s in it for them?
Your blog can be great link bait. Write the definitive article on “top ten new technologies” for your industry, write a provocative blot post on why “such-and-such” is a “terrible” idea to stir controversy, share an emotional story. Blog posts that are informative, controversial, or emotional tend to get shared, and linked to, the most. Consider creating badges: customer of the month, best tool for such-and-such, partner companies, verification of a certification test, and so on and so forth. Have you ever noticed how many Yelp results show up high on Google search? Have you ever thought of how many companies have Yelp badges on their websites, with links up to their Yelp listings? Consider being the “Yelp” of your industry via badges.
If you have a programming budget, create widgets such as BMI calculator, the real-time price of gold, a reverse mortgage calculator. Any sort of free tool or widget that is relevant to your industry can be link bait to bring in links in a spontaneous way. Infographics are another way to get links: create an informative, humorous, outrageous or shocking infographic and let the links roll in! Your fourth TODO is to have a company meeting and brainstorm possibilities for link bait. If so, create a step-by-step plan to implement your link bait strategy.