Joel Klettke is a Search Engine Optimization specialist at Vovia. Joel's also an experienced writer and local marketing expert.

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Going To Battle With Your Online Competition

BattleSo, your competitors are employing all kinds of tactics: directory submissions, article spinning and more… and they’re beating you! Many businesses balk at these lower quality tactics – and for good reason. But despite the fact that they shouldn’t, low quality links continue to boost search results.

Realistically, what should you do? It’s comforting to say “in the long term, Google will fix it!”, but what about the here and now where your competitors steal the top 10 and you sit uncomfortably on page 3? You’re really only left with two choices:

1. If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em.

While it’s not the most glamorous option, you can take the easy road and use the same tactics  (note: avoid blatantly black hat tactics at all costs). It’s cheaper. It’s faster. Best of all, it’s usually effective – at least in the short term.

But as a SEO professional, I’m obligated to read you the riot act. There are risks. Get too many low quality links in too obvious a way and you might get de-indexed or face a penalty. In addition, when a new algorithm update discounts your links you’re likely to lose your rankings.

Then again, so will all of your competitors who have done the same. Most businesses wind up going down this road whether they intend to or not. They either don’t know any better or are unwilling to put in the work required to create more sustainable success.

2. Play Hard Ball

But there is another option! Part of my job is telling my clients what tactics competitors are using. I often hear:

“We don’t want to submit to those types of sites!”
“We don’t want to do article submission!”
“We don’t want use blog commenting!”

And that’s great. But the question arises, “What ARE you willing to do?” Low quality or not, your competitor’s tactics have left you at a very real disadvantage and we need to do something to bridge the gap. As I wrote in another post, if you want to rank you’ve got to make people care.

A Few Ideas & Comparisons

Here are just a few ideas for combating low quality tactics. Not all of them will be appropriate for your business, so think outside the box! The possibilities for creating real value in any niche are virtually endless.

Link building comparison chart

You Don’t Have To Be Bigger Than Your Enemy, Just Smarter.

It can be incredibly frustrating to lose rankings to your competition’s low quality tactics.

At the end of the day, winning the war doesn’t have to mean stooping to their level or waiting for Google to clean up their algorithms, but it does mean actively investing in your online marketing and thinking creatively about how you can engage your online stakeholders.

Links can come from more people than just your customers – they can come from media outlets, students, charities, bloggers – even competitors! Learn to see your stakeholders as linking opportunities and work to find valuable ways to engage them.

But most of all, DO something. To win the war you can’t just say “no” to low quality tactics, you’ve got to say “yes” where it counts.