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Spy On Your Competitors (Maybe) For Great Backlinks!



Do or do not, there is no try.

Yoda by andy54321Hopefully everyone understands (if not, you will shortly) that the major search engines use links from other websites to judge your website’s authority and trust profile.

For example, if a website that Google knows to be a high authority website (like maybe a local media outlet) links to your site, it can be interpreted as a pseudo-endorsement or trusted link. The more trusted links you have, the better your trust profile appears and the more authority you should receive and thus (arguably) the higher you should rank, all other things being equal.

Always, always, always be on the lookout for great linking opportunities

There are as many ways to develop awesome links as there are to find new clients. Each is different, has it’s own set of challenges and rewards. You can pretty much assume though the more trusted the website you want a link from, the more difficult it will be to get it. (And by the way, most of the search engines frown on buying links that pass authority even to the point of letting you report them.)

So where can you find these opportunities?  Do you have a bio on a website anywhere?  Do you serve on a charitable board with a website?  Has the local media written a story about you?  Do you have friends with websites?  Do you know real estate professionals in other non-competing areas who would link to you?  Think outside the box!  Sometimes the best linking opportunities are hidden in plain site.

Do you have a good linking suggestion?  Leave it in the comments below and share with your fellow AgentGenius readers!

Which schmo outranks you locally? Where do they get their links?

There are a ton of resources out there for spying…I mean, examining your competitors’ back link profile(s). I’m only going to talk about a couple of them. (And if you’re so good you don’t have any competitors, you could alternatively, pick a random big city, let’s say Seattle and see who ranks well there and where their back links look like, ie: search Google or Yahoo for “Seattle homes for sale” or “Seattle realtor” or “Seattle Eco Broker”)

One great tool is Yahoo’s Site Explorer. Visit the site and enter in the web address of your competition, and Shaazam! What you see initially are the websites “Pages”. We don’t want that. Click on the button at the top of the results called “Inlinks”. Now you’re cooking.

Now this will show ALL the incoming links, even from the site itself. Those aren’t particularly useful, so you can filter them out using the “Show Inlinks” drop boxes. I recommend “Except from this domain” and “Entire Site”. That’ll give you a good idea of where their links are coming from. Start poking around those sites and find out how you can get a link for your own self.

Another great tool for this same sort of research is Open Site Explorer. It’ll give you up to 1,000 links (you have to register but it’s worth it and you *can* get more if you pay) plus lots of other juicy information such as page and domain authority of the incoming link, the anchor text used in the link and the full URI of the page with the incoming link. You can also do the same sort of filtering as mentioned above. Very handy stuff.

Wow, this is a lot of information and will probably take me a long time to finish…

Yes. You should consider building your back link profile a task that has no end date because, in my opinion, you can never have too many good incoming links. And besides, you know your competition is reading this and is going to do the same thing now so you better get cracking.

It’s also a great task for business or PR interns, support staff, skilled teenagers or Yoda.

Should all my links point to my home page?

Definitely not, no.

Create links to your sub-pages, blog post entries, whatever. I may get further into why in a future post, but for now, spread out the link love.

Now get out there and build some links!

Marty Martin is an accomplished SEM/SEO anti-consultant with a broad range of experience working for a wide variety of clientele including colleges and universities, regional and state tourism, government and business. An advocate for business, Marty works hard to share accurate information in a world suddenly overrun with "social media consultants."

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  1. TheRECoach

    March 29, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Great article, and very helpful. Thanks for the excellent advice! 🙂


  2. cjbirk

    March 29, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Indeed, it’s excellent information and essential for targeting content creation and guest posts.

  3. Rick @ Resell Rights Ebook Store

    March 30, 2010 at 11:11 am

    There are a lot of people within the internet marketing forums suggesting to only post on sites that allow dofollow links rather then nofollow. But what they don’t realize is the nofollow link is just as important as the dofollow link. Only difference is a dofollow link will pass on page rank from the page.

    But are we really targeting the search engines for traffic? No. We are targeting an audience of real people who are reading the page we posted our link to in hopes they will click through and find something useful on our own site.

    Google counts all links back to your site whether they are dofollow or nofollow. Simply set up a Google alert for “” and/or “” without the quotes and when you receive notice of new links found you will find Google is reporting nofollow links in addition to dofollow links.

  4. Brian Rutledge

    March 30, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Marty, I especially like “You should consider building your back link profile a task that has no end date because, in my opinion, you can never have too many good incoming links”. Too many people think SEO is a one time thing. If you don’t keep working on your back link profile and keep adding good, fresh content on your site, you will be unhappy with your SEO results. This is great advice, thanks for the post!

    • Marty Martin

      March 30, 2010 at 4:55 pm

      Thanks Brian for the comment and retweet! You’re absolutely right in agreeing with me of course! 😀

      Seriously though, you are right. SEO is definitely not a one time love affair with your website. It has to be nurtured and given special attention regularly to keep those results coming in.

      Good content is key. Once you learn the basic tenets of SEO and apply it to fresh content, a lot of work is already done.

  5. Phil Boren

    April 13, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Marty: Good advice here, thanks. In your opinion, are nofollow links as important (or maybe even better) than 2-way links?

    • Marty Martin

      April 14, 2010 at 9:06 am

      Hi Phil,

      Good, thoughtful question.

      In general, I would recommend you stay away from 2-way, or as we more commonly refer to them “reciprocal links”. The major engines (read: Google) discount those links heavily (most search pros would agree with me) and there was some evidence in the past that Google slammed a lot of real estate reciprocal linking as it was/is a heavy practice.

      Now, that being said, my understanding would be to keep reciprocal links low and be choosy about them. Keep your reciprocal links less than 5% of your total back link profile and you should be okay, you just don’t want to be spammy about it. Natural-looking, organic one way links are always best.

      And that probably answers your question too. No-followed, one way links are better in my opinion. And some studies I have participated in show that, in fact, no-follow links do carry some authority.

      Hope that helps!

  6. Jonathan Benya

    April 19, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    excellent post, thank you for sharing. Being able to stay on top of your SEO and avoiding the mentality of “SEO only needs to be done once” is critical. lots of people think it’s a one time thing, but google is smarter than that, and fresh content rules!

    I’m constantly using site explorer and such to make sure I’m continuing to grow my links, and other realtors should be doing the same!

  7. Ken White

    May 6, 2010 at 11:13 pm


    Great post. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I’ve focused a lot on content but looking into back linking… but not overwhelming crazy stuff… only links that add value to my readers and would help to move closer to the top of the engine for my key words with out getting punished for cheating.

    Thanks again.

    Ken White
    Licensed Real Estate Agent, Web Programmer in Training.

  8. The Confessant

    June 27, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    This is very useful. I usually just use google or yahoo to check on my competitors backlinks. I will try out the other one Open Site Explorer..

  9. PLR

    September 13, 2010 at 6:01 pm

    You wanna take over? Find the biggest guy in town and knock him out. Or in this context do what your competitors doing but better. Follow them catch up then sprint for the finish line. I can say that your competitors will get lazy and lonley once at the top.

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Opinion Editorials

How top performers work smarter, not harder

(EDITORIAL) People at the top of their game work less, but with more focus – learn how to replicate their good habits to get ahead.



working smarter

Practice, practice and more practice will get you to be more competent in what you do, but working smarter isn’t always about competency, at least in business. Productivity expert, Morten T. Hansen’s studies indicate that multitasking is detrimental to working smarter. But it’s only half of the problem.

Hansen discovered that the top performers did not try to do thousands of things at a time. He’s not the only one.

Earl Miller, an MIT neuroscientist outlines why humans cannot multitask. As he puts it, “our brains… delude us into thinking we can do more.” But this is an illusion. When we interrupt the creative process, it takes time to get refocused to be creative and innovative. It’s better to focus on one project for a set amount of time, take a break, then get started on another project.

Hansen also found in his research that the top performers focused on fewer goals. He recommends cutting everything in the day that isn’t producing value. As a small business owner, you have to look at which tasks bring in the most profit. This might mean that you outsource the bookkeeping that takes you hours or give up being on a committee at the Chamber of Commerce that is taking too much time away from your business.

Taking on less work will help you work smarter, but Hansen found that it goes hand-in-hand with obsessing over what you do have to do.

When you have fewer burning fires, you can dedicate your time to these tasks to create quality work. According to Hansen, this one thing took middle performers at the 50th percentile and put them into the 75th percentile. When someone is competent in writing reports, for example, and can focus their energy into that, the work is much better.

Top performers also take breaks to rest their brains. One of my favorite analogies is the one where a lumberjack is given a stack of wood that needs to be cut down. He starts with a sharp ax, but over time, as the ax gets dull it becomes harder to chop the wood. By taking a break and sharpening the ax, more gets accomplished with less effort.

Your brain is like that ax. It works great when you first get to work. You’re excited to get started. In a couple of hours, your brain needs a break. Go outside and take a walk. Get away from your desk. Do something different for 15 minutes. When you come back, you should feel like you have a second jolt of energy to take on tasks until you break for lunch. Science backs the need for breaks during the day.

By taking breaks, obsessing over what you have to do, and laser focusing on fewer goals, you’ll be outperforming your competitors (and even coworkers). Work smarter, not harder.

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Opinion Editorials

The real key to working smarter, not harder

(EDITORIAL) We’ve all heard that we should be working harder, not smarter, but how does one go about doing that aside from a bunch of apps?



working smarter, not working harder

I know you’ve heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder,” but what does that mean exactly? How do you work smarter?

A new book by Morten T. Hansen attempts to answer the question. “Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More” was released at the end of January. Hansen found 7 different behaviors outside of education levels, age and number of hours worked. I’d like to take a look at a couple of the things he recommends. Read the book if you want to know more.

Let’s continue on by addressing the 10,000 Hour Theory of Expertise. Under this principle, it’s thought that if you spend 10,000 hours in deliberate practice of a skill, you’ll become world-class in any field. The Beatles are thought to have used this theory to become one of the greatest bands in history. But it’s not just about practicing until your fingers bleed or you can’t stay awake any longer, it’s really about pushing yourself in an area.

Although it has been argued that this theory doesn’t necessarily apply in business or professions, there’s something to be said about deliberate practice.

When it comes to working smarter, no, you don’t need to spend 10,000 hours in the workplace to get better at your job. But you can put some of the principles of the theory in action:

  • Pick a skill that you need to develop. There’s no way you can work on every skill at the same time. Just choose one to focus on for three months, or six months. Review your performance now. Have a benchmark of where you want to take that skill.
  • Carve out time to work on that skill. Spend 15 minutes a day doing something that helps you get better. You know the old joke? How do you get to Carnegie Hall? “Practice.” You’re going to have to find ways to practice.
  • Work on specific elements of a skill. Typically, the skills we want to improve involve a lot of smaller things. Take a good presentation. You need connect with people, have a good outline and learn to have diction and tons of other things. Work on one thing at a time. ?I used to have a real problem with looking at people when I was giving a presentation. For quite a few months, I made it a priority to be conscious of making eye contact. No matter who I was talking to, the cashier, a patron at the center where I volunteer and even my neighbors. It’s much easier now for me.
  • Get feedback. You may believe you’re making progress, but others may have a different vantage point. Find a couple of good mentors who can really evaluate your performance and offer constructive criticism.

Repeat until your skill-set grows.

To get better, you need challenge and practice. Believe me, you’re going to make some mistakes along the way. Get up, dust yourself off and keep practicing.

Competence in a particular area goes a long way toward working smarter.

But wait, there’s more – the discussion continues in part two of this series, keep reading!

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Social Media

How to quickly make your LinkedIn profile stand out from the masses

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Most of us have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn, but no matter your feelings, you should be the one who stands out in a crowd – here’s how.




Your LinkedIn is your brand. That’s it. Whether you are job hunting (or people are hunting you), or are showing off your business, insight, acumen, or simply networking; your profile on LinkedIn needs to stay appealing and not drive potential headhunters, bosses, clients, or networking groups bananas.

Let’s start with a three part list of what you MUST do, what you SHOULD do, and what you COULD do.

Here’s what you MUST DO (as in, do it now).

  1. Get a #GREAT LinkedIn photo. Nothing sells you like the right profile picture. No selfies. No mountain biking. Get a professional headshot. Don’t lie about your age. Wear what you wear when you’re on the job. Smile. People are visual.
  2. Simplify your profile. Cut the buzzwords. Cut out excess skills that don’t add to your vision or that don’t represent the kind of job you want. (i.e. most of us can use Outlook but few of us need to mention that skill because we don’t support Outlook). Focus on the skills that are important.
  3. Keep it current. Your LinkedIn should reflect your career and current responsibilities. Update the description. Add new projects. Change your groups as you change in your career and move towards new levels. Indicate when you receive a promotion.
  4. Extra, Extra! Headlines. Don’t use something lame for your headline. How would you want to catch a headhunter to look at you if you could only say 10 words? Make it standout. There are thousands of managers – but only one you.
  5. Custom URL. Just do it. Pick your own URL. It’s FREEEEEEE.
  6. Get the app. Make LinkedIn a part of your mobile life and check it more often than you do Snapchat.

Here’s what you SHOULD DO (Set aside some time at Starbucks and go do this in the next month).

  1. Tell your story. Your summary should bring to live the content of your career. Don’t leave that section blank. Spend some time crafting a cool story. Run it by your professional mentor. Send it to your English major friends.
  2. Connect. Add colleagues. Add partners from other organizations. Use connections to broaden your network. Synch your profile with your address book. Add people after a conference.
  3. Endorse your connections. Identify people you’ve worked with and give them the endorsements – which can get them to come endorse you!
  4. Ask for recommendations. Ask a colleague, partner, or manager to write you a recommendation to help advertise your skills.
  5. Add a nice cover photo. Again, visual people. Some more on that here.

Here’s what you COULD DO (If you’re feeling dedicated, what you can do to give yourself an extra edge.)

  1. Share your media. Upload presentations, videos, speeches, or projects that you can share. (Don’t violate company policy though!).
  2. Publish original content. LinkedIn has a vibrant publishing feature and sharing your original work (or content you’ve published elsewhere) is a great way to share your voice.
  3. Post status updates. Share your reactions. Share articles. Repost from influencers. Be active and keep your feed vibrant.

That’s a quick list to get started. So go start your LinkedIn makeover (and I’ll go do the same). Let’s get connected!

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