One of the more frustrating things during the process of competitor link research is finding that many of your client's competitors are doing nothing but getting the lowest quality but highest quantity links possible. And, of course, even though your usual standards are to get the best quality links, your client simply wants to do what their competitors are doing. So what do you do?
Here are some ways to get the best of the competitor's links for higher volume while still sticking to your principles of better link quality.
Reciprocal Link Exchanges
There is still debate on the effectiveness of reciprocal link exchanges, with Google cracking down on link farms and any site that is obviously participating in "unnatural" link building activities. So how do you get quality out of this method of link building?
The biggest problem with reciprocal link exchanges is that people will exchange links with anyone. So a coffee site is linked to a hot tub site, which obviously has zero relevance. Therefore, if you see competitors doing link exchanges, look for the resource pages that are most targeted to your client's site.
So if your client sells sunglasses, look for a resource page that just consists of sunglass sites. But don't send the request just yet...
Now that you have a selection of highly relevant resource pages to choose from, shoot for the ones that have a good PageRank on a domain that has even better PageRank. If Google considers the resource page with only sunglass links a PR 4 and it's on a PR 6 domain, it can't be that bad of a link.
Next, if at all possible, try for a three-way link. If the site doesn't specifically say they don't accept three-way link exchanges, then find a relevant page that has the same PR rating as the resource page you want your client's link on and add their link to it, as opposed to adding it to your client's domain.
Essentially, you'll have to build a link to get another, so the work is a little more involved than a simple two-way link exchange. But you're more likely to get your exchange accepted if you already have their link placed. You can get bonus points by helping out the webmaster by checking for broken links on their resource page as well so they have a reason to go modify it.
In the event that you must add the other site to your client's site to get on a really good, relevant resource page, the best way to do so is in content. If the site is relevant to your client's, and your client happens to have a blog or other informational pages (preferably with an equally high ranking), then you can offer to put the other site's link there. This way your client isn't sitting on a resource page that would alert Google to the fact that they may be participating in link exchanges.
Amazingly, client competitors have done quite well leaving bad comments on several blogs. If you have a competitor who is doing this, here's how to get the best of those links.
Same as above -- choose only the most relevant blog posts to comment on, regardless of whether a competitor is writing "great post" on poetry sites while backlinking to their pet supplies website. Again, as above, make sure you choose blog posts that have high PR on a higher PR domain.
Go above and beyond your competitors and leave an intelligent, well-worded comment on the post. Try not to think of the comment as just a link -- think of it as reputation management as well. In the off chance one of your customers were to stumble across your comment, would you want them to read something that sounded like spam?
Forum links are some of the most easy to acquire, as you can find many forums out there that allow signature links.
The key to forum links is, again, relevancy. If your client sells medical scrubs, find medical and nursing forums. This will not only make your links more valuable, but may also garner the links more clicks as well.
And of course, if you want clicks on your links, you'll need to make your part of the discussions as valuable as possible to position yourself (and the client your represent) as an authority in their niche. If people ask questions, answer them. Answer them in detail. Don't just drop a short reply into a thread just to get the link in.
The "interesting" thing about forums is that although they allow links, they will typically call anyone who adds a link to their signature a spammer, especially if you're new to the forum. The key here is to defend yourself. Point out that you've been actively participating in the forum, leaving good responses, and that the forum rules allow signatures, therefore you aren't breaking the rules.
Also, try to explain that "spammers" usually leave unrelated links whereas yours shows that you have knowledge in that niche. After leaving a well-mannered defense for yourself, you usually get left alone and actually get a better rep, assuming you keep up in participating after that point.
Another popular high quantity link building technique is taking one article and submitting it to tons of article sites, or taking one article, "spinning it," and then submitting the different versions to tons of article sites.
Because of the over-saturation in article marketing of hundreds to thousands of articles being published daily, it's important to write quality articles and place them on the highest ranked article directories (based on PR and Alexa), and make them stronger and more valuable for your client's links by promoting the articles themselves by building simple links to them, sharing them socially, and so on.
Finally, we get to directories. The principles of relevancy and high PR apply with these as well. In addition, if it isn't too much in pricing, try to go with the premium/featured listings as these will put you on the first page of your chosen category, that way if more submissions come in, your site won't be bumped to a lower ranked second page. And the higher above your competitor's backlinks your client is, the more valuable their link becomes.
Your Thoughts on Easy to Get Links
When your client's competitors are getting higher quantity and lower quality links, what do you do to get similar links that will satisfy their need for large numbers but also fare better in the long run?
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