The art of creating an effective link building campaign (as part of your SEO strategy) requires a similar skill-set to that of running a successful affiliate program. In Part 1, I discussed the importance of understanding what your business USP is, analysis of the market you’re operating in, and starting to think about building key, strategic relationships whether for an affiliate or link build strategy.
Part 2 is looking at building up a Competitor Analysis
-Competitor Analysis “Keep your enemies close…” – It’s important to understand who they are. Who are your main competitors? what are they offering? how are they attracting authority links/affiliates?
There are a number of (free) tools & ideas that can provide you with good insights:
Google Keyword Tool – Know your market – One of the easiest (and its free!) ways to understand your online sector is to compile a keyword list of relevant products and industry search terms associated with your business and market sector. The Google keyword tool provides exact or broad match search terms and from here you can begin to manually search for those keywords through Google and compile a list of competitor websites that appear in the SERPS.
Affiliate Forums – Forums such as A4U provide the latest information, trends and news form the affiliate world and is a great resource to research and learn of any competitors who operate an affiliate program as well as gaining first-hand knowledge on what affiliates think of their services.
SEO Forums – Forums such as SEOMOZ or Seoforums provide a wealth of industry knowledge as well as an opportunity to learn and develop your skill-set by working with other SEO’s in different market sectors.
Hitwise – Although you need to take into account the barrier to entry, Hitwise is an online intelligence tool which collects data from ISP networks providing you with the latest trends in online behaviour as well as the measurement of website market share. It can also provide you with a snapshot on what traffic is being sent to your competitors
Social Media – searching on specific keywords related to your industry also provides a picture of which competitors are operating a social media strategy/campaign. Search for your competitors or industry keywords on the various social media platforms and build up your knowledge i.e. Twitter or Facebook. LinkedIN is a great resource find out latest corporate information on competitor sites.
Open Site Explorer – is the preferred tool for many successful link building campaign and can also be used for affiliate marketing. By entering in a URL of a competitor site, you can quickly build up a list of the most “influential” websites linking to competitor sites.
Blogs/Forums – From your keyword research, begin to identify blogs and forums associated with your industry – begin to participate in discussion. Check out Google blogs for specific verticals.
For Forums, identify the frequency of posts, how many users there are and build a relationship with the site owner/s – they can help to assist in understanding which of your competitors are already working with them, what they offer etc.
SWOT analysis – From this initial ground work, it should help you begin to build a picture of who the competition is and how active they are in the market. The next stage is to form a SWOT analysis by competitor and listing the key findings that you have found during the competitor analysis.
From here, this will help you devise an actionable Gaps and Opportunities plan on how you can compete and form an effective link building or affiliate strategy.
In part 3 – we will be discussing the various tools and techniques to use to help build your link building or affiliate campaign.
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