Monday, August 27, 2007

Get Inbound Links From Your Competitors

by James Charlesworth

A website is a living document that if designed and marketed correctly can bring in more customers than any other marketing vehicle available. One way to market a website is through pay-per-click advertising. This is a surefire way to get traffic from search engines, but it can also be rather expensive depending on the industry. A less expensive, and potentially greater avenue of traffic is through search engine optimization (SEO). Wikipedia defines SEO as the process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results. One of the main factors SEO focuses on is one way inbound links (hyperlinks on a third party website to your website). The more inbound links you have the better you will rank on search engines like Google. Keep in mind, the quality of those links matter just as much as the number of links themselves. For example, if you are a golf equipment store and have a link from a Realtor, it might even hurt your rankings on the search engines because the content is drastically different. A golf store should try to get links from golf courses, other golf stores, or other related businesses.

Nine out of ten times, the content on a competitors website is similar to yours, which makes it an optimal place for links. Having a link on a competitors website can help boost your rankings greatly. From the search engines prospective, these are more valuable than almost all other inbound links to your website. At the same time, these links can be the hardest to get. For businesses who operate in a small geographical market, this can easily be achieved by trading links with similar businesses outside their local market. This creates two problems. One, for businesses who sell outside of a specific geographic segment, this is not an option. Two, search engines are starting to frown on trading links with other sites and rate those reciprocal links less than a one way link.

In order to garner inbound links from your competitors you must somehow provide valuable information that your competitors can use on their website. A great way to do this is with Google Gadgets. A Google Gadget is a tool that business owners can use to add content to their competitors' websites. For example, our company recently created a Google Gadget that allows other website designers to show off their top search engine rankings on their own website. The catch is that the gadget has a link back to our website. Once created, a great gadget can bring in an exponential amount of inbound links from your competitors, and it requires no further effort from you.

About the Author

James Charlesworth is the co-owner of RascalNet Design, a SEO website design company. Google Gadget design for websites can be found on his SEO-Blog.