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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!

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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 Marketing

What skills do marketers need to survive the AI takeover?

(MARKETING) Quality marketers are constantly evolving, but getting your head around artificial intelligence can be a challenge – let’s boil it down to the most relevant skills you’ll need.

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data science marketing ai

When Facebook and Twitter were born, a new era of social media was ushered in, opening the gates for new areas of expertise that hadn’t existed before. At first, we all grappled to establish the culture together, but fast forward a decade and it is literally a science with thousands of supporting technology companies.

So as Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes over marketing, doesn’t that mean it will replace marketers? If you can ask your smart speaker in your office what your engagement growth increase was for your Facebook Page, and ask for recommendations of growth, how do marketing professionals survive?

Marketers will survive the same way they did as social media was introduced – the practice will evolve and new niches will be born.

There are 7 skills marketers will need to adapt in order to evolve. None of these are done overnight, but quality professionals are constantly grooming their skills, so this won’t be stressful to the successful among us. And the truth is that it won’t be in our lifetime that AI can quite process the exact same way a human brain does, even with the advent of quantum computing, so let’s focus on AI’s weaknesses and where marketers can perform where artificial intelligence cannot.

1. Use the data your new AI buddies generate.

In the 70s, the infamous Ted Bundy murders yielded the first case that utilized computing. The lead investigator had heard about computers and asked a specialist to dig through all of their data points to find similarities – a task that was taking months for the investigative team. After inputting the data, within minutes, they had narrowed their list of suspects from several hundred to only 10.

We’re not dealing with murderers here in the marketing world (…right, guys?), but the theory that algorithms can speed up our existing jobs is a golden lesson. As more AI tools are added to the marketplace to enhance your job, experiment with them! Get to know them! And continue to seek them out to empower you.

Atomic Reach studies your content and finds ways to enhance what you’re delivering. CaliberMind augments B2B sales, Stackla hunts down user-generated content that matches your brand efforts, Nudge analyzes deal risk and measures user account health, and Market Brew digs up tons of data for your SEO strategy.

See? Independently, these all sound like amazing tools, but call them “AI tools” and people lose their minds. Please.

Your job as a marketer is to do what AI cannot. Together, you can automate, do segmentation and automation, beef up your analytics, but no machine can replicate your innate interest in your customers, your compassion, and your ability to understand human emotions and predict outcomes effectively (because you have a lot more practice at being a human than the lil’ robots do).

2. Take advantage of AI’s primary weakness.

As noted, you have emotions and processes that are extremely complex and cannot be understood by artificial intelligence yet. Use those.

How? Compile all of the data that AI offers and then strategize. Duh. AI can offer recommendations, but it cannot (yet) suggest an entire brand strategy. That’s where you come in.

And more importantly, it cannot explain or defend any such strategy. One of the core problems with AI is that if you ask Alexa a question, you cannot ask how it came up with that information or why. This trust problem is the primary reason marketers are in no danger of being replaced by technology.

3. Obsess over data.

AI tools are young and evolving, so right now is the time to start obsessing over data. What I mean by that is not to use every single AI tool to compile mountains of useless data, but to start studying the data you already have.

The problem with new tools is that marketers are naturally inquisitive, so we try them out and then forget they exist if they didn’t immediately prove to be a golden egg.

Knowing your current marketing data inside and out will help you to learn alongside AI. If you aren’t intimately familiar, you won’t know if the recommendations made through AI are useful, and you could end up going down the wrong path because something shiny told you to.

Obsess over data not by knowing every single customers’ names, but be ready to identify which data sets are relevant for the results you’re seeking. A data scientist friend of mine recently pointed out that if you flip a coin five times and it happens to land on tails every time, AI would analyze that data and predict with 100% certainty that the sixth flip will be tails, but you and I have life experience and know better.

Staying on top of your data, even when you’re utilizing artificial intelligence tools will keep you the most valuable asset, not the robots. #winning

4. Don’t run away from math (no wait, come back!)

One of the appeals of marketing is that math is hard and you don’t need it in a creative field. But if you want to stay ahead of the robots, you’ll have to focus on your math skills.

You don’t have to go back to school for data science, but if you can’t read the basic reports that these endless AI tools can create, you’re already behind. At least spend a few hours this month on some “Intro to Data Science” courses on Udemy or Coursera.

5. Content is God.

We’ve all said for years that content is king and that feeding the search engines was a top way to reach consumers. You’ve already refined your skills in creating appealing content, and you already know that it costs less than many traditional lead generating efforts and spending on content is way up.

Content can be blogging, video, audio, or social media posts. Artificial intelligence will step in to skyrocket those efforts, if only you accept that content was once king, but is now God. What is changing is how customized content can be. For example, some companies are using AI tools to create dozens of different Facebook ads for different demographics, which would have taken weeks of human effort to do in the past.

Because content is what feeds all of these new smart devices, feeding your brand content effectively and utilizing AI tools to augment your efforts will keep you more relevant than ever.

6. Get ahead of privacy problems

Consumers now understand what website cookies are, and know when they’ve opted in (or opted out) of an email newsletter, but to this point, humans have made the decisions of how these data choices are made. Our teams have continually edited Terms of Service (ToS), all done not just with liability in mind, but to offer consumers the protections that they want and have come to expect.

But AI today doesn’t have morals, and consumer comfort is not a factor unless humans program that into said AI devices. But it still isn’t a creature of ethics like humans are. Ethical challenges going forward will be something to stay ahead of as you tap into the AI world. Making sure that you know the ToS of any tool you’re using to mine data is critical so that you don’t put the company in a bad position by violating basic human trust.

The takeaway

You’re smart, so you already knew that the robots aren’t taking your job, rather augmenting it, but adding AI into your marketing mix to stay ahead comes with risk and a learning curve. But seeing artificial intelligence for what it really is – a tool – will keep your focus on the big picture and save your job.

This story was first published in October 2018.

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Business Entrepreneur

Google makes it easier to identify veteran-owned businesses

(BUSINESS) Finding veteran-owned businesses just got easier thanks to a new feature from Google (one that veteran business owners can easily take advantage of).

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Google My Business (GMB) is the main database for search engines. It’s a powerful tool used by consumers and businesses. To help customers and business-owners, GMB added a very important category last fall. Businesses can now be identified as veteran owned.

The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that there are 2.5 million businesses majority-owned by veterans in the United States. In one report, these veteran-owned businesses employ over 5 million people and have an annual payroll of $195 billion. Texas ranks #2 in having the most veteran-owned businesses, following California.

The support that Americans give vets is inspiring. The cool thing about this feature from GMB is that it helps consumers find businesses to support. The men and women who gave service to our country deserve support once they’re civilians. Look for veteran-led businesses when you use Google.

Customers aren’t the only ones who will take advantage of knowing whether a business is owned by a former service member not. Fellow vets often go out of their way to support each other. Who better to provide information about resources and opportunities than someone whose been there?

If you’re a business using GMB, it’s easy to add this attribute to your listing. It’s under the About category. The instructions for mobile and desktop can be found here. The only other attributes currently available are family-led and woman-owned.

It’s unknown how many people actually seek this information out or will actually use it. It’s estimated that about 10 percent of small businesses in the U.S. are veteran-led. These businesses aren’t just providing an economic impact on communities. Veteran-owned businesses hire fellow vets in higher volume than non-veteran-owned companies. USA Today reported that vets thrive in the small business world, attributing success to their core values, such as discipline and organization that make vets able to commit to a business and serve customers.

We applaud Google for adding this attribute to their database of information.

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Opinion Editorials

If you’re not constantly hustling, are you even living?

(EDITORIAL) If you aren’t hustling on the side, at night, while you eat, and in your sleep, are you really even a person in 2018?

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hustling

Back in the day, the idea of “hustling” was something of a negative concept (think Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman in Midnight Cowboy). Now, if you’re not constantly hustling, and living that hustle life are you even living? If you don’t Rise and Grind, are you even a real person?

In this fast-paced, “I want it now” society, the assumption is that because we have 24 hours in a day, we must use every second of that time on one side hustle or another to make a few extra bucks, otherwise we’re not being productive. As Guru JP explains below, “being busy means you’re being productive. You do your best work when you’re always working. More quantity equals better quality.”

This has become one of the beliefs of entrepreneurialism: if you’re not working on your startup while Uber-ing at night and walking dogs via Wag on your lunchbreak, you’re not hustling and you’ll never be successful.

One important key of the hustle is to document how busy you are on social media, or else it’s not actually happening. Sharing a daily “rise and grind” pic on Instagram is the only way to appropriately start a manic day of hustle.

Despite what research would say, face-to-face communication is ineffective and computer mediated communication, or communication through text with no context or nonverbal cues, is the best way to relay messages. Also, if you’re hustling 24/7, there’s no way you have time for an in-person meeting when you’re on a FaceTime meeting while hosting a G-Chat team meeting simultaneously. I mean, come on.

The way that you know this is legit is that the hustle is referred to as a “game” which is how you should always describe your career path. Pople like volunteers in impoverished countries, single parents working ONLY two jobs, and people who built a business from the ground up and decided to only stay with that business, have no idea what hustling truly is (especially since none of it was documented on Snapchat).

And, the benefits of constant hustling are immense! You have unlimited time off and can take an unpaid vacation to anywhere in the world – just as long as there’s WiFi.

With hustling, you have so many options on how to make some extra scratch and start six different podcasts that all have a listener of one. Why wouldn’t you want to join this amazing idealism of entrepreneurship? Also, if you’re still reading, you’ve lost the game. Shouldn’t you be on to something else by now?!

Author’s note: In case you couldn’t tell, this entire article is incredibly facetious. Our COO wrote a popular editorial, rejecting the idea of hustling, and I completely agree with her on that. Constantly working to the point of exhaustion is, well, inefficient. Work on one thing, succeed, and then go from there. Ugh.

This story was first published in October 2018.

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