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Archive for July 1st, 2009

Standing on the shoulders of giants

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

I’ve been reading quite a bit recently about SEO and stuff (as you’d expect) and it becoming more apparent that if you have big competitors in your industry who are pretty much everywhere online you do actually have the ability to piggy-back a little off their success rather than get totally trampled down by them.

My main reason for thinking this is that it appears the major search engines are actually focusing more and more on unique content and also on the relevance/context of links. So with a little bit of guerilla SEO you can actually use your competitors success as marketing leverage. Let me explain a little:

1) It is becoming more and more apparent that relevant outbound links from your site to another can boost your ranking. Imagine Google’s position – for each search query they want to return sites which provide good quality, relevant and regularly updated information. I’m confident that most sites provide relevant content to what they are talking about but not everyone has the time or energy to continue to write streams of content and keep updating their sites. But – it’s probably true to say that your competitors do – so why not link to their new content and maybe even provide a quick critique of it on your site. This way you get regular, up-to-date content on your site and the ability to control the context of how it is delivered. Now I agree that this is not always something you can do because you want to avoid sending your visitors to your competitors – but if you can then it’s a great way to build new content quickly.

2) If you’re not confident enough to link directly to your competition, you could always align your incoming links against theirs – by using co-citation techniques. Just search out who is linking to your competitors and try to get your link placed next to theirs.

3) Another method is to find out what search terms your competitors are paying for (or optimising for) and then blog on any relevant forum/blog using those terms, citing your competitor but also providing relevant information about yourself.

4) Learn from their tactics – work out what they are doing to advertise online and what keywords they are using. Analyse their web pages and their SEO – then take the bits which you feel are working well for them and copy.

5) If all else fails try creating an affiliation with your competitor for mutual benefit. There are loads of ways businesses can work together online to benefit each other’s sales and not damage their own brand position. The only thing to be careful of is to stay well away from anti-competitive practices – I would not recommend you artificially inflate/deflate keyword prices for your own gain – it’s not a good tactic if you want to stay in business!

I’m sure there are many other ways of using your competitors as marketing leverage – I’d love to hear some of your suggestions so feel free to comment below.

Copyrights can kill

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

As an agency we build loads of websites, microsites and other online items for our clients and, like everyone else, we like to put a little copyright statement at the bottom of the template which says we did it and links back to our site (client permitting!). Nothing wrong with that I hear you say, well we would agree with you but recent research has shown that these links, if used on every page, can actually have a detrimental effect on your search engine placement.

These site wide links are now being frowned upon by the major search engines as they are more likely to be purchased links or, in this case, used to further advertise another entity which is not actually relevant to the site content. One would normally feel that the major SE’s would just give lower weighting to these links compared to more unique links, however, it is appearing that Google in particular is going further and actually penalising you for site wide links. See this article for more information:

So – how do we get around it? We obviously want to keep our copyright statements on these pages and ideally we would like to provide a link back to our own website for interested users – but we don’t want to get penalised for this. So, in comes our friend JavaScript to lend a hand. We find one page on the site which either is most relevant to our services or generates the most traffic and we put a standard link on that one page only – this gives you a single unique link which is always useful for link building. Then on the other pages we put the same statement (or different if you prefer) but we create the link by using JavaScript – this link is not followed or indexed by the search engines and so will not flag as a site-wide link to the SE’s. We did look at using the nofollow tags but after much debate we didn’t want it to look like we didn’t trust our own sites – better that the link is not visible at all than seen as untrustworthy!

So there you have it – you now get a good quality unique link, copyright information on all pages and a link which can be followed by human visitors on every page – all with no detrimental effect to your SERPs position. Fab!!