SEO Pitfall: Benchmarking your website vs. the competition’s link building strategies
One of the things that drives me up a wall and back as an SEO professional is to have both potential and existing customers solely focus on the number of backlinks their competitors have achieved based on SEO tools.
I love SEO tools and I do use my fair share of SEO tools, but I realize that SEO tools cannot replace the hard work and effort that I must put into achieving and sustaining my rankings.
I use SEO tools as a gauge to monitor what SEO tactics are and are not working, but these SEO tools are not the end all, be all for how my website ranks across major search engines.
In most cases, people that are benchmarking using SEO tools are clearly wasting their time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to benchmark and use SEO tools such as Advanced Web Ranking, Ahrefs.com, Moz, and OpenSiteExplorer.org to measure one’s website or compare one’s website to their competition.
The problem I have with customers using SEO tools is that most potential customers and customers are headed down the wrong or deceptive SEO path and proclaim SEO tools as the holy grail of SEO.
And why is this so bad, you ask? Well, any little discrepancy in the numbers or data shown by their desired SEO tool of choice causes such potential and existing customers to participate in reactive SEO, chasing things that don’t matter while neglecting to focus and stay the course executing sound SEO principles.
We all must remember that SEO is as fickle as the wind in general and especially can become a slippery slope when we start trying to use tools to reactively benchmark link building strategies.
That said, I wish most potential and existing customers would really take to heart and understand wholeheartedly what about about to say in the next paragraph.
Quick-fix answers are always the downfall to link building strategies destroying search rankings
Personally, I understand that the link building strategies that I’m implementing, executing and measuring is likely to change in another six months. I can’t sit around resting on my laurels of what worked in the past. I must progressively move forward with sound SEO principles at every available opportunity I have.
But what I find with a few customers and potential customers is that everyone wants their link building strategies to increase overnight and rankings to change as fast as they can breathe.
Customers want nothing more than the silver bullet SEO answer for link building strategies that achieve and sustain page one rankings for multiple keywords. Everyone wants the reward, but no one wants to either put in the adequate time and effort or pay someone to put in the time and effort it takes to achieve those search rankings via sound link building strategies.
And should a customer put in the time and effort in a half-hearted manner, they only do more damage to their website search rankings. They either link to and from low-quality and spammy websites using blog and comment spamming, or they really take the easy way out and just start buying every high page rank link building strategy and package known to man. If you don’t believe me, then read about Candy.com and their penalizing link building experience.
In the long term, this impatience and greed to top their competition based on SEO tools costs the customer greatly in time and money because they eventually have to hire a professional SEO to re-do and do what was performed incorrectly in the beginning correct in the end.
Effective link building doesn’t happen overnight, it happens over time
This actually brings me to the point to share an interesting and mind boggling conversation I had the other day. I had one potential customer, who I know will never become a client and I’ll tell you why soon enough, contact me asking my opinion on the best link building strategies to execute after reading my post, 8 link building strategies that destroy search rankings.
Based on the potential customer reading the previous post, I thought our conversation was going to be a no brainer and we could move into an engagement to assist the customer in finding the best fit for their link building strategies.
As I normally do, I began asking the potential customers questions about their business, which they didn’t seem to want to answer. Their point in our conversation was one based on wanting a yes or no answer as to whether or not I could get their website more links than their competitor.
But I pressed for more information so that I could accurately assess their situation. I found their business to be of decent size with nearly 20-25 employees. However, their direct competition, a third of their size, is are eating their lunch when it comes to search rankings for their industry keywords based on what the SEO tools we’re displaying.
The irony in their story is that the their competition’s website is only 2 years old while their website is close to 13 years old. By the numbers and the fact that their website is 13 years old and never been penalized by search engines, their website should easily have clout over their competition.
However, while on the phone listening to their best guess at why their competition is ranking better, whether or not I could help them, and how much it would cost and how fast could I do it, I delved into their competition to find that their competition is executing sound SEO principles.
Why sound content marketing exponentially increases link building strategies
And what I found was not surprising to me one bit. The competition is not only posting high-quality content, but they are posting nearly 5-6 articles, videos, and events per week that are interlinked where applicable. This action alone has spawn a lot of great link building in terms of exponentially increasing inbound links to their website from industry-related websites, a massive social media footprint of likes, tweets, re-tweets, posts, and citations, and an internal linking strategy that brought a smile to my face.
In short, base on my findings and casual perusing of the web, the potential customer’s competition is implementing, executing and kicking their butts on every SEO front. Again, what intrigues me more is the fact that the competition is a third of the potential customer’s size. No matter if they are the one’s performing the SEO or paying SEO professionals, the point is that they understand with great clarity the value of a high-quality, sound content marketing strategy that garners their website substantial backlinks.
This led me to ask the potential customer what their excuse is for not generating the same amount of high-quality content for their website. Yes, I know that this is a dangerous question to ask, but I did. Their answer was one of they already have content and generating content takes too much time to do themselves. Nevermind the fact that their content is nearly 7 years old and outdated.
Put in the time and effort or pay SEO professionals to execute sound link building strategies
So, as I normally do, I proposed that Kickstart Commerce manage their content marketing strategy. I should have known this suggestion was not going to fly, seeing that this potential customer didn’t make the time or take effort to consistently generate their own content as did their competition.
At this point in our conversation, I was definitely met with resistance. I find this funny because those who need the most SEO help really don’t want the truth for how to best remedy their SEO challenges. And even if you showed them, giving them every step from A to Z to take, they would still find a way to sabotage the process. In short, they only want the quick fix based on what SEO tools tell them about their competition. Nothing more, nothing less.
But in one last attempt, I tried to explain to the potential customer the value in effective content marketing and how it drives greater link building that increases search rankings and website traffic, but they didn’t want to hear it. Again, they wanted the quick fix answer of how to top their competition’s links in the shortest path possible and by any means necessary.
In closing, it wouldn’t surprise me if they call me back in a few months after they’ve tried to game search engines with manipulative link building strategies of some sort. Nevertheless, this conversation couldn’t go a minute further other than to step on the dark side of mentioning what the potential customer found posted on WarriorForum.com and BlackHatWorld.com. Once we reached this point, I knew this potential customer was going to have to learn the hard knocks of link building strategies on their own, the hard and costly way.