How to Deal with Competitors Copying Your Links

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?

tell him to stop copying me!

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.

Go Unique

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.

Go Viral

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.

Go Social

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.

Kate Morris

Kate Morris

Kate joined us after a year running her own search marketing consultancy in Austin, Texas. She brings with her a wealth of experience having worked in-house and agency-side in SEO and PPC. Kateh264 // A native Texan by birth, Kate got her BBA...   read more

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6 Comments

  1. Every good link building strategy must include those hard to find, unique links that can't be replicated. They're usually a lot harder to get, but well worth the effort.

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  2. Well said. The flip side of this is that imitating your competitors is only a way to catch up, not to get ahead. Whether it's your product or your marketing, at some point you have to innovate.

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  3. Good point Dr. Pete. Innovation is the true key to success in this discussion. The copycat will always be at least 2-3 steps behind the game. Some of my best inlinks have come from hard to copy sources

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  4. Great Post! Besides the strategy of finding unique links, I think that the phrase "Don't do what is easy" may be the hard lesson here.

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  5. All professional link builders study the competition and copy them, but Dr. Pete said it best "imitating your competitors is only a way to catch up, not to get ahead."

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  6. As Robert has pointed out, it is useful if you can think of different but relevant ways in which to build up links. Copying will only get you so far; to benchmark however, you need to be able to come up with 'original' ideas and make them work. You also need to have a dedicated attitude and be 'in it' for the long-term.

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