You just spent a hearty amount of time with consultants, at a conference, or in front of your computer screen learning about linkbuilding. The plan is perfect and the execution is going just as well. Rankings are going up, traffic is sky rocketing, and your boss loves you.
Then you notice a competitor is climbing the rankings one day. You do some research to identify what they are doing (hey, you might learn something new!) and alas, they are copying all the links you have built. Every good directory you found, the content you built, and the tactics you are using are being copied.
No Fair! Right?
Copying is Common
Think back to any good SEO training and you will see a part on competitive analysis, the same goes for link building training. Experts tell you to utilize tools like SEOmoz's Open Site Explorer and Linkscape, Raven's Site Finder, and so many more to identify those good links that you can duplicate. It's a great tactic, until someone does it to you. So how do you deal when someone does it to you?
Get links they can't duplicate easily!
The trick here is to get the good links, the golden ticket links ... editorial based links that only come from consumers. And how do you get them? Well that's the no so easy and non-duplicable part.
You have to have a site/company/idea that is truly unique and demanded by the public. Think about the wins in this world. They were the companies that started it. They had the "idea" and pushed for it. Think about Snuggies. That could have been a massive failure, but now is a complete win. It was a novel idea and they pushed it hard.
Brainstorm a great idea for a contest, an infographic, something that people will link to. Remember the snuggie. That went viral because people thought the idea was so ridiculous that they had Pub Crawls in Snuggies. And now, they make them for your dog. They are hits at every Christmas party.
Yes, I know it is easier said than done to go viral, but you have to work at this so that you beat your competitors out in the end.
Then you have to be there when your customers need you. Being a good company that responds to customers, in good times and in bad, are the ones that will get the link. Be that company that changes a bad post from an irate customer into a great post about how you went out of your way to help them.
In the end, the best way to deal with copycats is to be unique. Don't go after the directories. Don't do what is easy. Don't use a company to link build, use your idea/product/service to do it for you. That is what will spell success now and in the future.