For a company just beginning phase two of its SEO campaign, the link building strategy, one of thehardest things is finding a solid place to start. It’s easy to get pulled in many different directions and endup trying to do too much while accomplishing very little. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, websiteowners should take a look at what the competition is doing for their own SEO and Internet marketing.This gives the owners an inside look at what they are putting themselves up against and can offer a few insights into their own link building efforts.

The first thing website owners should do is to conduct a link audit on their top three competitors. Thiscan be done using the site Link Diagnosis . This free tool will create aspreadsheet of all the one-way links pointing towards a competitor’s site. Analysis of these links candetermine how much link building the competition has already engaged in and if they have been usingblack or white hat SEO techniques.

A site that has been pursuing a white hat link building strategy will have hundreds (if not thousandsdepending on how far into the strategy they are) of back links pointing towards themselves from avariety of relevant sources. Some of these sources (industry directories, blogs, forums, etc) may beuseful for a website owner’s own link building efforts and save them some research time.

A website that has been using black hat techniques might have just as many links, but they will comefrom bad? sources like pornography or gambling sites, spam blogs or through irrelevant link exchangesand paid links. Competitors engaged in black hat SEO will eventually push themselves out of the gameand their efforts should never be used as a guideline.
If a site audit only pulls a hundred or so back links, it’s safe to assume that the competition is notengaging in any kind of link building strategy, and maybe isn’t even pursuing any kind of serious SEO.This means that an owner’s link building efforts will carry more weight in the search engines becausethere is less competition in that online space. Website owners can use a website called Compete.com to compare theirsites analytics directly with several competitors at once. The site can pull monthly or daily metricscomparing unique visitors, page visits, top search terms and more. Basic comparison is free, but a paidmembership gives owners access to more data comparison tools.
Website owners should also visit their competitors? sites to see what kind of content they are creating;do they have a company blog or forum, are they pushing articles and e-books to support their stanceas industry experts, do they have social media or video network profiles that they update regularly? Allof these things produce back links and help drive traffic to the main site. Seeing what the competitionis and isn’t doing can give website owners a clearer picture of what they need to do in order tosuccessfully compete.
About The Author: Nick Stamoulis is the President and Founder of Brick Marketing, a ?full-service web marketing and SEO.