Search Marketing Standard has just published the following:

The Correct Way To Use Competitor Link Data

Links are an important component of an SEO campaign.* Inbound links are what convey trust to the search engines which is why itís important to work at building inbound links on a regular basis.* Prior to launching a link building campaign itís recommended to conduct a link audit to see where your site stands.* There are many tools (free and paid) that can provide you with link data.* If you find that you have lots of links from one source, but are lacking in other areas, those areas should be the focus of the link building campaign.* In addition to taking a look at your inbound link portfolio, itís also important to take a look at the inbound link portfolio of your competitors.* Competitor link data can be used to improve your own link building efforts, as long as you are careful with the information.

One mistake that website owners sometimes make once they get access to competitor link information is to become frantic and think that they need to ďcatch upĒ immediately.* If youíre just getting started with an SEO campaign and have never conducted any link building activities in the past it only makes sense that competitors may have more inbound links than you do.* You arenít going to catch up to them overnight and it shouldnít even be attempted.* Building hundreds or thousands of links in a short period of time isnít going to put you ahead.* In fact, it can result in a penalty.* The search engines like to see a link portfolio grow over time, naturally.* Attempting to grow a large number of links in a short period of time is only possible by using black hat link building tactics like buying links.* This approach will backfire.

Looking at competitor links can be overwhelming if there are a lot of them.* Whatís important to keep in mind is that even if a competitor has a lot of links, they might not all be good.* All links arenít created equal.* When using competitor link information itís necessary to manually go through and check to see which links are good and which links arenít.* Even if a competitor has lots of directory listings, it doesnít mean that you need to spend time or money getting listed there too.* General directories are becoming less relevant in the link building world.* Instead, focus your efforts on building links from sites that will actually provide some sort of value.* The best sites are the ones that target audience members actually visit and that can help generate traffic to your site.

Thereís no way to know what your competitorís link building approach has been.* Maybe theyíve been using black hat/spammy tactics to build links.* If thatís the case, you definitely donít want to copy them.* Competitor link data can only be used to your advantage if itís used the right way.* Just because a competitor has a link, doesnít mean itís a good fit for you.* Look beyond the competitor link list to find additional opportunities that they arenít yet taking advantage of.

Did you know that we publish a print & digital magazine? Subscribe by October 31st to receive our Winter issue. More information and* subscribe using Coupon Code SMS2012P to save 25% off the regular price of $34.99/year ($5 extra for international) ó digital-only subscriptions are $29.99.

Image: Competitor Linking by Shutterstock

Save 50% on Search Marketing Standard Magazine; use Coupon Code "ABW50" - Offer expires 12/31/2012

Read More From The Correct Way To Use Competitor Link Data...