martinibuster - 6:17 pm on May 13, 2011 (gmt 0)
But what if you are just starting out in a niche where there are big competitors...
Another thing Matt has suggested goes along with what Jane Doe posted, which is to not go head to head with the major players on important keyword phrases but to focus on the easier to rank longer tail phrases. Then build on that success, inch your way up from the extra long tail phrases to the long tail and so on. Jane's advice is excellent, it's practical and can be applied right away to any number of niches.
To compete with bigger sites I take my competitors weaknesses and make those my strengths. What are those sites missing? What opportunities are they missing? My code is ridiculously lean. Title tags, h1 and h2 are thoroughly considered not just for short tail but for longtail word matches.
I've researched this niche for a year, gathering and archiving longtail data for all four seasons. I call those phrases my Go Words (the opposite of Stop Words). The Go Words are words I want on the page so they make longtail matches with other prominent words and phrases. This helps in the initial stages when you're picking up whatever traffic you can but will help in the link building because people typically do longtail searches and you'll pick up the odd link here and there for that. It's not an express ride to the top of the SERPs, in fact I wouldn't count on it. But it's a start, it's positive momentum that adds to the momentum started with your linking campaign.
I'm entering a competitive market right now, haven't finished the site much less started a link campaign, but it's already ranking on the second page for longtail phrases. It's exciting to see a new site come to life and I can't wait to hit the link building for it.