How to “Steal” Your Competitors’ Links Legally

Many SEO companies are nothing more than link building companies. While there’s nothing wrong with that, these link builders typically only have one way to build links: they buy them. Yes, you’re not supposed to do it, but many big names in the industry do it, and are getting pretty covert about it. Of course, for every link broker, there are clients. Big-name companies are engaging in link buying on a massive scale.

Unless you’re a big company, with a big budget, link buying might not be feasible. Even if it is, it might not be a smart idea. Companies like J.C. Penny have the means to get back into the good graces of Google. You might not. You need SEO tactics that can crush your competition without going blackhat.

Take Advantage Of Your Lazy

Let’s face it: most of your competitors are lazy. Even the big boys. They’d rather throw money at the problem and try to solve their ranking problems that way. Take advantage of this. There comes a point when many people give up on an idea they had for a website. They either get lazy or they lose motivation or something else happens.

However, chances are they created a lot of content and they actively worked to get backlinks. Old sites that are no longer kept up in good working order probably have a lot of broken links. This means that there are websites out there that are pointing to 404 pages. These 404 pages used to contain some good stuff. They don’t anymore – obviously.

This is a goldmine. Find these broken websites (i.e. geocities communities) and drop the 404 page into the way back machine. Find out what used to be on there. Find out who links to these now defunct pages. Contact those websites and tell them “hey, you’re linking to a dead page.” Create content that is at least as good as the dead content on that 404 page. Now you have some kind of valuable offer for these people who are linking to the 404 page.

These websites can continue linking out to a broken webpage, or they can link to you. Remember, you came to them with a value proposition. You’re not trying to scam a link from them. You actually have something they want – otherwise they wouldn’t have linked out to that old website in the first place. You can help their SEO and yours at the same time. They’ll probably even thank you for it.

Rinse. Repeat. Crush your competition.

Which Comes First: The Products or the Keywords?

A lot of people look at keyword research backwards. They find the keywords first, and then try to figure out what to do with them. Yeah, OK, that might work sometimes. If you’re trying to make money from AdSense ads, for instance.

But you’re running a business, right?

In a real business with real products, you can’t just target any old keywords; you need the keywords that are most likely to result in sales. In other words, you need to take a look at the products you’re already selling first—then choose the best keywords for those products.

Or do you?

You don’t have to start with the products, but if you start by finding keywords that are easy to rank for, you need to be open to the possibility of changing your product line to align with the keywords you’re targeting. For example, maybe you sell Brand A fishing poles, but your keyword research suggests that Brand B fishing poles might be easier to rank for.

What do you do now? Do you switch to selling Brand B fishing poles? What are the costs associated with doing that? Would you need to invest in a whole new line of inventory? What about the Brand A fishing poles you already have in stock—what are you going to do with those?

What to Do if You Know What You’re Selling

If you already know which products you’re going to be selling online, you can limit your initial keyword research to search terms that are related to those products. This will make your keyword research go much faster because you aren’t analyzing hundreds or even thousands of keywords for products that you aren’t really interested in selling.

If you want to add more products later, that’s always an option, but you should start with the products you’re already selling. Find the best keywords for those products and write your product titles and descriptions with the keywords in mind. You might think that you can skip the keyword research and use the exact product name, but it doesn’t always work that way. The words and phrases that people use when searching may not be the same as the product name.

Let’s say you’re selling the Black & Decker LDX112C 12-Volt Max Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver. That’s the product title on, but how likely do you think it is that people use that whole phrase to search for it? Not likely at all. You might find that the best phrase to target is “lithium ion drills” or “black and decker lithium ion.”

Do the keyword research for a few of your most popular and profitable products first, then let the rest of your analysis run while you get the product pages for those products online and start promoting them. By the time you’re ready to add more products, you’ll have more keywords ready to work on.

So Which Comes First?

For most small businesses, it makes sense to start by looking at your most popular and most profitable products and find keywords for those first, then move on to other products. Once you have all of your current product line listed on your website, you can do more general keyword research in your niche to determine which products to add next.