Here’s a mixture of SEO strategies and tactics to implement them.
This page is frequently linked-to in the context of the question: “My competitors are buying links, and I think they rank because of the paid links. Should I buy links, too? What do I do?” The first strategy shared here has a few answers to this, which largely amount to: undermine competitors’ links.
Flank the opponent, but leave them room to escape.
In military parlance, flanking is the practice of attacking from the side. This is usually the enemy’s weak point, which is what we care about here.
Research the competitors ranking in your niche thoroughly. Find out where the competition is most vulnerable and work against those weaknesses. Some ideas:
- The competition buys lots of paid links. You can buy a review, pay bloggers to nofollow the links they sold to competitors or buy out the blogs whose links are passing the most value. There’s plenty of ways to work this, so if you can share others, do leave a comment!
- Unnatural anchor text profile. Differentiate yourself with greater variety by using n-grams (for the more competitive work) and/or anchor text matrices (for you lazy bastards who can’t be bothered to find out what an n-gram is until you’re forced to by better algorithms).
- Competition is highly reliant on very few sources of links. Take a look at the link sources themselves. Are their own sites kosher? How are their own backlinks? Is there something sneaky? If you could eliminate 100+ of your competitor’s backlinks in one fell swoop, would you do it? With blogs (blogroll and friendly in post linking) this is pretty common. What about finding their most trusted backlink sources and buying those out?
- Are they disregarding some of these tips on being discrete? How about my own 101 advanced tactics to buy text links?
- And of course, if they’re doing a terrible job with their own content, outrank them for their brand name and/or produce better quality content that’ll make your site the linked-to authority.
However, you don’t want to take things to the point where the competition will get desperate because they can lash out in unexpected ways. You don’t want to see your site hacked, for instance, nor Googlebowled (where someone points lots of spam at a site in an effort to get it banned).
Thoughts on these SEO strategies, as always, are more than welcome. And as always, do follow links go to the good commentators. Besides that, I encourage you to subscribe to my RSS feed to get my most recent posts delivered to you.
Mix different forces together to attack with different tactics.
Use multiple sites in a niche to try and achieve SERP domination, and have them feature different types of content, link sources, and design/development.
Do video, audio, user-generated content, social media profiles; use blogs, wikis, articles, tools, image galleries; vary your link sources and networks.
If all your sites’ best links come from one friendly blogger and their blog goes into decay, where does that leave you? Likewise, if wikis get penalized for being easier to spam etc.
Build fortified cities.
Develop a content network that has your site become an authority on very broad topics, and possibly thousands of them like Squidoo, or focus on a niche, like Gooruze (marketing).
Copious distribution in the SERPs gets you regular readers who start their next search for info as kw+yourauthority’s name. As in “Istanbul Wikipedia” That’s a way of building defensible traffic (though the building block tactics could be copied a la Knol).
You’ll be using this strategy to trade on your domain equity.
This can be reinforced with strategy 1, above, by building out horizontal sites to increase your presence in the industry, the number of relationships, link equity, possibilities for topic diversity, etc.