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I'm in a pretty competitive niche, and like to think that my site is as good as my competitors. I seem to constantly be looking/requesting new links from other relevant sites and have a pretty good success rate.
I made some major url changes towards the end of 2008, removing the www. prefix and changing/reducing the length of my pages' URLs.
Using the Yahoo site explorer, I have:
1050 links to the old www. domain
500 links to the new non-www domain
My competitors have:
#1 = 200,000 inbound links
#2 = 13,500 inbound links
#3 = 4500 inbound links
Using this data, and comparing the above sites using Alexa/compete, it's obvious that I'm #4, the problem that I have is that their growth far outstrips mine, and looking at the yearly trend is getting kind of depressing!
Any ideas? Do I simply need to keep writing content and sending out link request emails?
I'd like to aim to be #3, but getting another 3000+ links seems almost impossible.
My next nearest competitor has almost exactly 10 times the number of links that I do including a full fledged affiliate program, press releases, and every directory money can buy.
I've held the top spot for a year or two, they recently bumped me off and we've flipped back and forth a bit between 1 and 2. So clearly it's not just volume of links.
I'm working on getting more links to my site, but I'm concentrating on individual one-at-a-time links from popular, relevant sites. So you know what my answer is :). Get more of the right 'type of links'.
If you're not doing this already, you may want to look into driving more longtail phrased links to inner pages that are less general and more specific, i.e. instead of anchor Green Widget, send an appropriate anchor to a deep page about Fiberglass Green Widget, then other links to another page about Wood Green Widget, etc. until you have all the subcategory/longtail categories covered.
Speaking of the Better Business Bureau, I just wanted to throw this out there that when our company's BBB Online Program expired (I think it was last month), it would've cost us about $400 to renew it. Because of our shrinking spending budget at the moment, I was just going to do without it. But the contact of my local BBB informed me that they were offering a similar program called Click-to-Check. The contact told me it was the same as the BBBOnline program and free of charge for one year. After that it is $100 to renew it, and you get the blue Accredited Business logo linked to your BBB profile. Pretty good deal if you're a business that wants a link to the BBB for cheap.