What Your Competition Knows About Traffic

Need more traffic? There's a lot you can learn from spying on your competition. Your competition has traffic sources that you can easily swipe by following these steps.

Step One: Who should you spy on? You probably can name six to thirty online competitors. If not, you need to go through Google and Yahoo with the key terms you target. Who comes up? Write down everyone who has a business similar to yours, even if they aren't identical.

Now you need to figure out who you should spy on first. Begin with the most successful websites. How do you find them? It's easy with a couple tools.

The Google toolbar (toolbar.google.com) is essential for spying. The Google toolbar features a little bar labeled "PageRank." Depending on each site, this bar may be gray, white, or (usually) a combination of green and white. The more green, the higher Google ranks that page. To get an exact PageRank, put your cursor over the PageRank graph and hold it there. Your competitors with the highest PageRank are the ones you want to look at very closely.

You also want to spy on the competitors with the most traffic. To figure out the relative traffic position of your competition (compared to all web sites), go to alexa.com and download their toolbar. The Alexa toolbar will display a number for each website ­ it?s traffic rank. The lower the number, the higher the traffic. (For example, Yahoo?s Alexa rank is 1, while Blockbuster?s is 2,220.)

Step two: Snoop through your competitor's log files to see which sites and search terms send them the most traffic. Is there a public stats tracker on your competitor's site? If so, check it out. If not, try typing in your competitor's URL with /stats.html and /stats/ on the end of it. Often times, web hosts put statistics here - without password protection. Still can't find your competitor's stats? Try Googling their URL and "statistics." It's a long shot, but sometimes statistics pages will turn up this way.

Step three: Look at who is linking to your competitor. The easiest way to do this is to run a backward link search in Google and Altavista. Simply type in link:http://www.yourcompetition.com (using your competitor's URL). You'll find most of the pages that link to your competitor this way. How do you know which links are the best? By using the Google toolbar. The pages linking to your competitor with the highest PageRank are the ones you should look to for links of your own.

To steal those links, email all the webmasters that are linking to your competitor without getting a link back in return. Figure out why they link to your competitor (good free content, subject fits site, etc), and give them a better reason to link to you. Chances are, most of these webmasters will give you a link as well.

Once you have these new sites linking to yours, positive changes in your Google ranking are likely. You may even overtake your competitor for your targeted search terms ­ especially if you get links from spying on multiple sites. All from a little reconnaissance work and some emailing!

About The Author

Kari Freckleton, aka Greedy Girl, shares her unconventional ideas for free at http://www.greedygirl.com. Ready to smoke the competition? Email Kari at [email protected] to join her Too Good To Publish marketing club.

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