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Spy On Your Competitors (Maybe) For Great Backlinks!

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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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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. TheRECoach

    March 29, 2010 at 1:26 pm

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

    @CBRELongBeach

  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 “link:yoursite.com” and/or “link:www.yoursite.com” 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

    Marty,

    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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Business News

How the Lean concept can have the biggest impact on your bottom line

(BUSINESS) Using the Lean business concept and asking the non-sexy question of “What’s dumb around here?” your business will outpace your competitors in no time.

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Entrepreneurs love solving problems. That’s what they’re good at doing. In fact, the more complex, difficult and messy the problem, the more the entrepreneur will enjoy the challenge. Entrepreneurs are especially good at solving problems that nobody knew were there. Think about Steve Jobs: He knew that we needed a pocket MP3 player before we even knew what it was.

While entrepreneurs are coming up with the next “big” thing, we need the non-entrepreneurs in our organizations focused on solving the small problems in our company with the same enthusiasm. Imagine if every one of your team members were consistently looking for opportunities to improve your systems, processes and service delivery. Those subtle changes made in the non-sexy parts of the business usually have the biggest impact on the bottom line.

This is a business concept called Lean, in which a company changes their processes to create the most benefit to the customer using the least amount of resources possible. Lean is commonly used in the manufacturing industry, but its principles can be used in any business to change the way of thinking and doing things.

I recently witnessed a great example of how Lean principles were used to improve one of my clients, LuminUltra – a leading provider of microbiological testing hardware, software and services. The company serves industries that need to know quickly and accurately what’s living in their water. At a recent quarterly planning session at the LuminUltra offices in Fredericton, Canada, COO Charlie Younger shared a powerful story about the company’s manufacturing facility and challenging the status quo.

During the expansion of the company’s manufacturing facility, one of the team members was lamenting to Charlie about how much time it took to complete a lengthy step of the manufacturing process – one specific quality check that was very time-consuming. He remarked that in the history of the company they never had a single machine fail the test. Charlie’s first thought was, do they even need to perform this specific test again?

After more discussion with colleagues, the team realized that the other quality checks performed earlier in the manufacturing process would always identify a defective unit. With this knowledge, the manufacturing team asked for permission to perform minimal testing to still provide assurance with less work. When presented with the information, the company leadership agreed that it was a great idea and would save time and money as well as improve the employee experience. But the bigger question was: Why hadn’t anyone ever questioned this lengthy step of the manufacturing process before?

Charlie, having run Lean programs in the past, has seen this issue before: People continue to do what they’ve always done even if they think there is a better way. He thought this would be a great opportunity to use a fun, simple but elegant technique to capture other status quo breakers – in other words, he decided to use the same principles for changing the company’s production process to make other company decisions.

With that, he posted a whiteboard in the manufacturing room with the title “What’s Dumb Around Here?” and encouraged team members to capture possible “dumb things” to add to it. These topics are discussed and vetted during their Lean process meetings to determine if they can be improved.

When I discussed the new process with Charlie, he noted, “First, you have to create an environment where people are willing to question the status quo. We have always been highly focused on quality and accuracy, so the team thought it was outrageous to openly question a quality check we had been performing for years.”

He continued, “You have to help your management team be open to receiving ideas that might seem crazy and not overreact to the suggestions. Instead, simply ask them to explain their logic. More often than not, the front line knows a better way to do things but does not know how to navigate the change. The beauty of using Lean techniques is that you now have an easy navigation path to discuss, approve and roll out changes. Suddenly, you have an energized front line solving problems with minimal involvement from management – how great is that?”

While LuminUltra continues to grow their product line and expand into new markets, it expects that its implementation of Lean principles will help it make subtle but important modifications to processes that will positively affect its bottom line. The CEO, Pat Whalen, remarked, “If we can produce our products faster and more cost effectively and get them into the hands of our customers faster, we can have an even bigger impact on the water sector with our microbiological monitoring products. I need all of our team members thinking how we can improve every single day. The water sector needs us.”

Every visionary, big-thinking entrepreneur needs a team that challenges the status quo. How are you encouraging your team members to identify, “What’s Dumb Around Here?”

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Business Entrepreneur

How to stay focused and motivated when you work from home

(ENTREPRENEURSHIP) Do you find it impossible to stay on task when you work from home? Check out our tips for maintaining focus and motivation when working remotely.

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When you work from home, it is a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you technically never have to get dressed. However, you also end up with every possible distraction at your fingertips. Staying focused can be difficult even if you’re Type A, which I certainly am not.

Although I’m no expert in time management, I’ve managed to hone my borderline ADD attention span into productivity with the following tactics.

1. Define your workspace

First things first, you need somewhere to get work done. While some people may be able to get everything done from bed, for others the temptation to nap the day away is far too tempting. Get yourself a desk, or turn a table into a temporary workspace. Just make sure if you have kids or family at home while you’re working, they understand the boundaries of your zone.

Setting up camp in the living room isn’t going to help you if the kids are using it as a play space, and hiding out in a guest bedroom won’t provide much privacy if you didn’t let anyone know that it’s now temporarily your cubicle. Consider making a do not disturb sign for the door, or using shelves to define boundaries in a room.

2. Create a schedule

Okay, I know it’s obvious, but making a schedule for yourself is the next step after setting up a workspace. Determine what needs to get done and when, and share this with your housemates, kids, or whoever else is around. It’s easier to stay focused if you clearly define when you’re working so any potential distractions known when to leave you alone and for how long.

3. Determine productivity

Are you more of a morning person or do you get everything done post afternoon nap? Figure out when your most productive time is and set your schedule accordingly.

You won’t get much done if you’re a night owl forcing yourself to slam out projects at 6AM. Of course, you can work outside of your productivity zone, but you may make yourself miserable in the process.

4. Remove distractions

Nothing is going to get done if your phone is blowing up with texts, your favorite TV show is on, and that fun quiz someone sent you on Facebook is up in one tab while your personal email is open in another. Set your phone to silent if you’re able, or at the very least, let your most frequent contacts know that you’re working.

If you’re like me and have very little self-control when it comes to browsing your favorite sites, you may consider installing a browser plug-in that limits how long you can spend on certain sites, or even temporarily block sites during certain times of the day.

5. Set a timer

Once you’ve created a schedule, widely shared it with your most distractible folks, and are ready to get down to business… there’s still distractions. You know you’re working on something for the next hour and half, but it’s dragging out forever and you can’t stop checking the clock to see if it’s break time yet.

Set a timer on your phone, computer, kitchen timer, or even your microwave. This way you can remain focused and have something externally alerting you when time’s up.

6. Reward system

It works for kids, it can work for you too. Setting up a reward system may help boost motivation, and can be as simple as “if I work for two hours solid on this project, I can watch one episode of this TV show.”

Give yourself a reasonable goal and incentive to complete that goal if the project itself isn’t inspiring internal motivation. I’m a fan of dessert based rewards, but you do you.

7. Go somewhere else

When all else fails, don’t work at home. If you’re able to, get out of the house and go to a coffee shop, library, or coworking space. Shame yourself into working by telling yourself everyone around you knows when you’re distracted. Or you know, find motivation by surrounding yourself with others who are being productive.

8. Power in numbers

Join a group of other freelancers or remote employees to create a support system. While this may open you up to more distractions, having others around who share the same struggle of remote work could help increase your productivity. Some people are more motivated when working independently in a group setting. Give it a try to find out if you’re part of that crew.

Ultimately, you know yourself and what distracts you.

Try to remove as many distractions as possible, and create a realistic schedule for yourself. No one will benefit from working eight hours straight without a break. Give yourself a chance to test out different techniques and figure out what works best for you.

You’re not a failure if setting up shop in the library ends up making you less productive. Just try another setting, or rearranging your home workspace. Ultimately, make sure you’re setting yourself up for success with a clear schedule, a clean workspace, and some sort of break/reward system. You can work out the other details as you go.

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Opinion Editorials

What Swedish Death Cleaning your office looks like

(PRODUCTIVITY) If you need any motivation to clear the clutter check out dostadning, aka Swedish Death Cleaning. It won’t kill you but it’ll make you feel super metal while you clean.

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You’ve probably heard of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” as one of many titles focused on keeping your life organized and stress free. However, I bet you’ve never heard of dostadning, or, “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning.”

Alarmed yet? Don’t be; while it’s exactly as morbid as it sounds, it’s not as morose as you would think.

Dostadning, sometimes called “death cleaning” is a Swedish term referring to a process of permanent cleaning conducted throughout your Golden Girl years, usually starting around age 50. The goal of the process is to alleviate the burden of tidying up from your surviving family once you pass away.

It is currently having a day in the sun thanks to Margareta Magnusson, who is publishing a book on this topic.

The process is rooted in common de-cluttering mantras; only hold onto things that you actually use and actually bring you joy. Nothing you can’t find in your other “simplify your life” bestsellers. However, the spectre of the end of life does hang over the process, and that results in a few unique elements.

First of all, talk of death cleaning is highly encouraged amongst family and friends. Not only does this create accountability, but it also reduces the stigma around the process of passing on.

There’s also the idea of giving things you don’t want away as gifts to friends. It’s a way of creating happy memories for others, little pieces of yourself that can stick around.

In addition to creating these new memories, dostadning encourages personal reflections on your old memories. Clearing out clutter means making more space in your life for things that truly matter; anything negative or neutral gets the metaphorical boot.

That simplicity and self-reflection is a form of self-care, bolstered by the fact that, post-cleaning, you are supposed to treat yourself to something you like.

Because of the focus on long-term organization, dostadning stands out as a more long-term solution, as opposed to the temporary fix of “tidying up.” No matter where you are in life, it’s important to remember to make time to address the cause of clutter, rather than addressing clutter as a symptom that needs a band-aid.

Perhaps you could dostadn your desk? You’ve probably got a few receipts from lunch last month you don’t need anymore or maybe you’re a water bottle collector — you know the ones that get a water bottle and don’t finish it but then get a new one anyways and then somehow wind up with a collection of bottles on and around your desk? Maybe you’ve kept every single stapler you’ve ever been given but let’s be real, do you need 5 staplers?

Maybe your clutter isn’t on your desk, but it’s in your drawers. Or maybe, just maybe it’s in the break room. Wherever your clutter lie beginning to simplify and purge things will make you (and your co-workers) happy.

By focusing on changing the way you organize things as a whole, you may find your efforts to reap longer-lasting returns.

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