Now that I have my first blog post under my belt, I am starting to feel a little more confident. So much so, I decided to take my small amount of industry knowledge and start up my own coconut water company. Okay, Im only joking, but lets just say I wasnt. Lets say I was so into coconut water that I wanted to start up my own company and I wanted to gain exposure. My site has already been created and my products are all ready to be shipped. Theres only one problem nobody (and by nobody, I mean the search engines) knows that I exist. Without saying one word to anybody about my business, how do I get people to come to my site and buy my coconut water? The answer is linkbuilding.
Here is a (simplified) overview of how linkbuilding works
- I have a site
- I promote it
- People see it as a valuable resource and then link to it
- The more quality links I get, the more the search engines like my site
- The more the engines like my site, the higher I should rank
- The higher my site ranks, the more traffic/conversions I should get
Okay, so now I have my site, my tasty products and the above information that the SEO fairy whispered in my ear. Now, all I have to do is get some quality links, but where do I start? I dont know any bloggers that I can reach out to. I dont know any directories where I can submit my site. All I know is that I want to compete in the coconut water industry and that I have access to some cool SEOmoz tools.
The first thing that I do is type in coconut water in Google to get a list of competitors. Im pretty familiar with the industry so I know that Zico, VitaCoco and O.N.E are the big boys/girls in the space. So, lets see what they are (or are not) doing that I may be able to learn from. Running each of these competitors through the top pages tool, I can see that I caught each of these competitors sleeping a little bit.
- VitaCoCo is not getting credit for (at least) 3 links since the linked to pages return 404 status code
- Zico isnt receiving credit for (at least) 5 links
- O.N.E isnt receiving credit for (at least) 16 links
- I use at least here because there were more examples of these types of pages for each one, but I couldnt screenshot multiple pages
So, the easy part is done. I know that my competitors have links pointing to pages that dont exist, but how do I take advantage of that? I know if I had a website and I was linking to a page that didnt exist, my readers would be upset with me and may not read anything else on my site. So, are you thinking what Im thinking? What if I contacted the sites that are linking to these pages as a courtesy and said something like, Hey blogger, I noticed that you were linking to a page about coconut water that doesnt exist. Since you will already be editing that post anyway, I wanted to let you know that I also have a company that sells coconut water and the product is delicious and nutritious. Would you mind linking to my site instead? Now this wont work all the time, but it sure beats the heck out of hey blogger, can you link to me, Im neat-o?
So, you are probably saying to yourself, thats a cool idea, but how do I know which pages are linking to these 404ed ones. For that, I will be using OpenSiteExplorer (OSE). Lets take the O.N.E example since the most links are pointing to that one:
- I copy the link location of the 404ed page that has received 8 external links
- I drop that into OSE to find out which sites are linking to it
- I filter the results to only include the followed external links pointing to this page only
- I take the top result and I end up on this page
It looks like this blogger has included a link to O.N.Es coconut water site as part of a recipe. Think about how upset I would be as a reader if I was making a Coconut Date Porridge for my in-laws and I couldnt access the page to see which coconut water I should buy. I would be devastated. So, I would shoot an email to this blogger and say hey, youre readers cant view that page because it no longer exists. You should update it and, oh, by the way, I sell coconut water and its freakin sweet. Would you mind linking to mine instead? I would recommend going down the top pages list and compiling a spreadsheet of all of the 404 pages for each competitor. Once you have that, you can start digging. Even if you dont get all of them, you will still get a few and you will at least make the web a better place.
Now, this strategy wont work every time, of course, but when thinking about where to start your linkbuilding, its always a good idea to take a look at what the competition is or isnt doing. You just may learn something. Do you have any other ways that you use competitors for linkbuilding? Feel free to tell us about it in the comments section!