One of the great things about the internet today is the availability of information, the amount is so vast that even our competitors can scarcely make a move with out it being seen. Whether it is the bids in paid marketing campaigns, or the anchor text of the latest link you just got. For SEO’s world wide, the backlinks of competing website are a starting point for many campaigns, thanks to tools like OpenSiteExplorer from SEOMoz. At first glance, this seems like a great plan. You know that the webmaster links out to your industry, you know what it takes to get a link, and you even have a good idea of how long the link has been around. However at the end of the day, it will leave you than with less value than you originally planned, You will probably not out rank you competitors, and your potential will be very limited.
Link juice is the currency of search engines. Each page/site has a certain amount of link juice that they get from the other pages linking to them. Then they pass this on to other pages that they link to. Hence the web becomes one giant web of link juice being passed from one spot to another in an endless cycle. However each page does not have an unlimited amount of link juice to pass on to pages further down the line. This is what makes building your competitors link profile less valuable for both you, and them. There is only so much link juice to be given away on any give page/site. Every time an outbound link is created the average value per link decreases. So lets assume your competitor is getting 100 points from a link(that value doesn’t actually matter). When you build your link from that page instead of getting 100 points as well, you will only get 50 & they will only get 50. This makes it less profitable in terms of link juice for both of you.
Using your competitors back link profile to try and outrank your competitor is a silly thought when you actually take a moment to think about it. You are trying to get in the exact same spot your competitor is to get in front of him. However, sadly many SEO’s are chasing that unicorn because it’s easier than creating new linking opportunities. You may be able to drive more traffic because of the content you shared, or the value you gave to the users of that site. However, in terms of purely outranking your competitors based on that, it is very unlikely you will win the race that way.
Not only technically it is a poor choice to copy your competitors links, strategically it is also poor. If you’re doing what someone who outranks is doing, of course they are going to continually win the rankings race. Anything that could ever increase your chance of outranking them will happen to them as well. It’s the equivalent of playing a game, and making all of the same moves that the leader makes. You may look really smart and play well, but you will never win the game.
So how should this change your strategy for winning the rankings race? Dial back your competitive link building time, create original link opportunities, and instead of looking forward to see what the people ahead of you are doing, look behind you to watch what those competitors are doing. This will help ensure that not only will you, with hard work and dedication, pass your competitors, but by keeping an eye behind you on their links, you will also create an insurance policy against them leaving you in the dust.