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Ok, so you know who links to your competitor, now what?


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#1 Nadir

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 03:33 PM

Right now I'm analyzing our n#1 (google) competitor's links to try to get the same links as he has. The guy has 649 pages indexed on google.

The analysis is based on this competitor who ranks well for our main keyword " a b c"

So this is what he has:

=> 130 Backlinks total ( Alltheweb):
- 107 are reciprocated
- 23 are one way

Now the keywords used- I will only focus on the keywords for whom he ranks n#1- which are " a b c":

- Out of his 130 BL, the guy used about 25 times the keywords " a b c", all are on recip links partners.
- The others links are not link text or they contain only the name of the site and not (or very less competitive) keywords.

So, based on what we've seen after jagger, we would suppose that Reciprocal links have no value here. Our company was at pub con, and Matt Cutts claimed that Google has managed to see if a link was reciprocated, and if it was, it would not be penalized, but given 0 value. If the jagger update DID update rankings considering this factor, then why is this website still ranking well?

This guy ranks well while he has 107 reciprocal links out of 130 and the main keywords occuring only 25 times - in the reciprocal Links only.

What should be our strategy if we were to get the same link popularity as he has? Get the same reciprocal links? Or only one way links? or both?

If I were to answer "Why does this guy rank well?" and give the main reason, I would say that it has about 650 pages indexed by Google and his pages all have keywords in titles and good content....

#2 mcs

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 03:54 PM

Nadir - I hope that what I am about to type doesn't over simplify things - and I hope that, if it does, it's not due to my misunderstanding of the subject, ok, I'll type it anyway:

One site on which I've worked to get a first page placing on all SEs was a little tricky. It isn't a commercial site and isn't attacking a commercial area. But the #1 site has been indexed since 1999. The site I work on was started in October 2004.

It's an interesting case because the #1 site has long been considered a reference. The site I've worked on is better - better because it offers more complete and up-to-date services.

Believe me when I say that I studied the #1 site's raison d'etre in depth - apart from the obvious age, I noticed an enormous amount of backlinks for a site in this niche. I put this down to age and a lack of viable competition.

When this happens, I thought, it must be necessary to categorise the sites linking to Mr. #1 and make a decision - which are the links which are most useful - which are those that persuade the SEs to rank if I ignore sheer numbers?

It wasn't difficult - but it took a few months - to find the links which I should chase. In general, they were also old, they were quite high ranking sites in both SERPS and PR - yes, I know, everybody says that PR is dead - but these sites earned that PR and were respected.

My approach, then, was to send anice e-mail to the "owners" of the chosen sites explaining that I felt my site was a relevent and valuable resource and that their sites might benefit by including a refernce to my site.

100% of the sites contacted added a link very quickly - no, one site didn't (and it was the one I wanted more than the others), I copied my original mail to the guy/girl explaining that I imagine they hadn't seen the mail - they replied within 24 hours confirming that the link had been placed.

The point of my ramblings is simple - I never proposed any reciprocal links. I was never turned down. I spent a lot of time researching before sending my mails and I can confirm that the time investment was not wasted.

I apologize for rambling - it's what I do...

x

#3 Nadir

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:04 PM

No problem for rambling mini... But, how many websites did you contact? That is really amazing that 100% added a link to your site. Or you must have been very nice with them or maybe your site was really nice! Let me ask you, what was your site about and what kind of people (websites) did you contact?

#4 GeoffreyF67

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:08 PM

I've never seen Matt publicly state that reciprocal links are given no value at all. Can you point me to the reference for that please?

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#5 Nadir

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:24 PM

I don't have any reference of matt cutts at the last PuCon in Vegas, talking about reciprocal links. But our CEO went there and that's what he heard from Matt Cutts. Then, to know if Matt Cutts said that just to scare webmasters, I'm not able to say anything about that!

But Matt Cutts always talked about reciprocal links having less value (not to say no..) http://www.mattcutts...xchange-emails/

#6 GeoffreyF67

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:36 PM

Interesting. Perhaps I should run some tests to get to the bottom of this matter :)

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#7 mcs

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:41 PM

Nadir - yep, that's the question - in fact I only contacted around 15 websites. As I said, it's not a commercial area - but I think the excercise is not lost - I think the information can be useful.

In a comemrcial area I wouldn't expect such a response (you'd be asking your competitors...).

But my toils resulted in first page SERPs and nice, quality links which seem to have boosted my the site's respectability enough to give it the edge it needed to (I would hope) become a reference site.

<edit>
I'll edit here because I don't want to add more posts than I should (for once!)

The site in question isn't mine - it was created by somebody very close - what can I say - it's a site which offers free online networking tools for IT professionals...

I don't want to mention the site - I don't know if I should. But it's doing well (thanks to me? I'd like to think so - but no, it's doing well because it offers exactly what people who search for this kind of thing need - isn't that a good reason for a site to do well :) )
</edit>

#8 mcs

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 04:43 PM

Geoff - run the tests! I'd cetainly wait for the results! It could be quite interesting :)

#9 sGroup

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 05:59 PM

sometimes what is sad is that the links that give your competitor an advantage are those links from sites that hardly ever get updated and have added the link to you competitor from a few years ago. You competitor gets the age of link and you can't even get a simple reply from the webmaster.

#10 randfish

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 06:18 PM

No matter what Matt says, I would never believe that reciprocal links carry no value. I might well believe that two small sites with long link pages that link to each other carry no value, but I have a hard time belieiving that just because BBC.co.uk links to NYTimes.com, a link from NYTimes.com to BBC.co.uk won't be counted.

It's critical to define what you mean by "reciprocal links". The tactic as it stands in the small-time SEO world now is very, very different than the phenomenon as a whole around the web.

#11 earlpearl

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 06:26 PM

Google's algos are complex.

If they were simple we all would have figured them out, let alone the information scientists at Yahoo and MSN. Even as we *sense* we understand rankings, there are unknowns that seem to escape understanding...such as how this site with 130 bls can be ranked #1.

having said that, boy do I like MCS's approach. That is very detailed and thoughtful with regard to capturing interest securing links and ties from relevant sites. Frankly, not only have I never done that...I've never thought about it. I'm going to give it a whirl. What a valuable idea. In fact, there are relevant sites that deliver valuable traffic and convertible traffic to my site and I'd like to access all of them...that would be the equivalent to my site and topic...that MCS researched for her friend's site.

Over time, especially early, I copied links from sites ranked higher than mine. More recently I've seen other sites copy the valuable ones I obtained.

Relevant links are worth a lot. I'm in agreement with a webmaster that really focuses on conversions. We both see it within our two very different sites; Highly relevant links bring in convertable traffic.

I'd do what mcs did. In fact I'm going to do it.

Dave

#12 mcs

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 06:31 PM

Personally, I don't think that a link from the BBC to the NY Times and back again makes much difference to either sites - except that both links carry weight.

If either one of them linked to me, I'd be happy - if it didn't help my ranking, it would certainly bring visitors.

Recently one of my sites experienced a peak - it was during Jagger 3 and so I attributed it to that. Later, when the peak disappeared and I had time to investigate, I realised that it was due to a prime time US TV program which focused on the subject covered by my web site. It was focused in such a way that my site had an enormous leap in visitor numbers.

If one 1 hour US TV program which doesn't mention my site can have such an effect on my AdCents revenue, I wonder what a direct reference from the BBC or the NY Times could do?

It's kind of off topic - but I think that an on topic link from the NY Times to the site in question wouldn't be devalued by my linking back to them :D

If ever they do such a thing - be sure that I'll reciprocate! (if only to prove that my site was referenced by them)

#13 Nadir

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 06:33 PM

Rand you're right, but I think that Google said they were trying to detect people who do "link farming" and who are easily identifiable, by having for example pages or Url described as "Our Link Exchange Partners" or stuff like that...
Then like I said, it's hard to believe if Google is messing around with us by saying that recip links will have 0 value. IMO, they would maybe give a 0 value to people who do huge link exchange (hundreds). The trick maybe would be to have a "maximum" of reciprocal links, like some sort of limit that you don't have to go over ....

#14 Foghorn

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 06:38 PM

If reciprocal links lost there value it would be immediately apparent to so many that there would be no room for speculation!

#15 EGOL

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 11:05 AM

Wow, if I could give rep here, mcs would get full rep for sharing this story and nadir would get it too for starting this good thread. Thanks.

#16 earlpearl

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 11:19 AM

I totally agree EGOL. mcs's post was like a lightbulb for me :idea: :idea: .

In my case it reframed the point about quality content drawing links. In her case, the quality was there and she pointed it out to the prospective link candidates and drew them to the site she worked on.

BRAVO!!

In my case the situation is a bit different. I went back through bls for my competitors and looked at them differently.

In all honesty the industry is a bit ugly. Not porn, not gambling...but the operations are run by less than scrupulous people.

Most of the sites ranked at the top with which we compete have created 2ndary sites. It turns out that the 2ndary sites rank fairly well...often just below the primary competitors. So there is lots of self controlled sites. Not lots of quality link candidates. In fact we have obtained links from most of the quality sites.

We own 2 related info sites that cover related but not specifically on target sites.

We can create similar sites like the competitors (it touches on duplicate content though) or we can keep driving content to a 3rd group of sites that has relationships to ours and relevant customers...and then make those sites aware of our own.

I think I'll go toward this latter strategy.

But mcs's post was a real winner. Lots of ways to skin the cat :idea: :idea:



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