Many publishers have a tendency to look for the easy solutions to the challenges they face. For example, challenges such as building links or generating a lot of content for a Web site can seem costly and difficult. However, if everyone opts for easy solutions, you end up with a Web with little differentiation.
It's hard to build links to sites that don't differentiate themselves with content. Or, sites that build a link profile similar to that of their competition provide the search engines with little reason to rank them higher than that competition.
So how do you differentiate your site? The easiest way is to do the hard stuff really well. Here are two areas where we can use the 80-20 rule to make the hard tasks a bit easier.
Direct Request Link Building
Historically, publishers would backlink their competitor's sites, find out who is linking to them, and then go contact those people to ask for a link. With the advent of social media sites, this became a less popular approach. A related approach is to build lists of potential target sites, figure out how to contact them, and reach out to them manually.
The downside with this type of approach is that it takes a lot of work. The (huge) upside is that your competitor probably isn't doing it. This is why you should do it.
Make sure you prioritize the link targets efficiently. A tool such as SEOmoz's Linkscape can provide you with metrics to assess the value of the link.
With this data in hand, use the 80-20 rule and focus on the top 50 ranked links, or the top 100, or something similar. Use a junior resource to do the raw research work needed, then reach out to the various sites and let them know why access to your site could be beneficial to their visitors.
This basic methodology still works surprisingly well. Execute this approach well, and you may find yourself tapping into potential links that your competitor is ignoring.
High Volume Content Generation
Many sites, such as e-commerce sites, have thousands, or tens of thousands, of pages with little content on them. The page may have a picture of the product, some basic specs, and that's about it for unique content. The problem with this is that pages with so little unique content on them are likely to be seen as poor quality pages, or duplicates of other poor quality pages.
One solution you don't want to implement, if you're reselling the product or an affiliate marketer, is simply taking the description of the product provided by the manufacturer and put that on your site. That's because this is what most of your competitors will likely be doing, and you will all be creating pages that are duplicates of one another.
Instead, build yourself a team of people to inexpensively generate content. We use a team of writers from overseas to write articles in volume at low cost, and then use U.S.-based editors to fix English errors in the resulting text. This makes it quite inexpensive to generate thousands of articles.
Of course, if your site has tens of thousands of pages or more, you can't expect to get to all of them. However, use our 80-20 rule to focus on those pages that are most important.
If you use this method to generate, for example, 2,000 useful blurbs of text, chances are that this will be nearly 2,000 more than your competitor created. Once again, you will have differentiated yourself in a meaningful way.
This gives the search engine spiders something to chew on so they won't see the pages as low quality, and also provides the site with a greater sense of authority and makes it more attractive for others to link to.
Using the 80-20 rule in this manner, and taking on the hard tasks that your competitor probably won't want to deal with, can create powerful differentiation for your site. This differentiation should serve you well with all the audiences that matter: users, potential linkers, and search engine spiders.