Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Dealing with Competitors

I have a Squidoo lens, which I set up in late August, and which gets traffic of around 200 hits a day and makes a steady income from affiliate sales.

A few weeks ago, a competitor moved into the niche, using a dot com domain and one of the main keywords in the domain name. Their contact page actually tells you the name of the SEO company that is behind the site, with a link to the SEO firm, which in turn boasts how they've been in business since 2003 and how the woman running it used to work in the City of London (plus Tokyo and Hong Kong) doing investment banking!

They then popped onto my lens and accused me of "copying them" - how this could be is a mystery when my lens was up and running a good two months before theirs. But hey, perhaps they are trying the "intimidate the competitor" tactic.

They are also building backlinks fast - and from relevant sites plus press releases. Methinks they are buying these links, because the copy on these sites all have a luke-warm endorsement with a "I'm not a true fan of this site but go and visit it" tone to the text that is a dead giveaway of a paid link. (Natural links tend to fairly bubble with joy about the site they are endorsing because of course no-one would naturally link to a site if they didn't love the site in question).

At present, of fifteen keywords I am targetting, they are ahead of me on 4 (I am ahead of them on the other 11). The other competitors in this niche are mainstream established magazines which are ranking because of very high domain authority.

So. This is the first test of whether I have really learnt enough SEO - can this amateur stay ahead of my pro competitor? If I can, I then graduate into being a pro myself. I'm going to have to defend my site using white-hat techniques because I simply don't have the coin to buy links.

I'm really grateful to the internal design of Squidoo lenses - the module headers have authority in themselves, and I'm using them to target my many keywords. Google is sometimes giving me a double link with my main URL in the headline link, and a "jump to XXX" link to the module header. (Seth Godin, the founder of Squidoo is a genius).

I now need to get really fierce with the backlink building to the lens. Article marketing and forum posting, here I come. I've also set up a blogger blog in the same niche to see if I can get more than one slot for each keyword.

Will report later on how my little war is going.

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