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Some SEO’s have been doing competitor backlink research for a long time some people are just now discovering it and most have never heard of it.

Competitor link research is when you study your competitor’s backlinks as part of your link building efforts. There are quite a few different ways to acquire links using this practice. The possibilities are endless. The best place to find links are places that are already linking.

  • When you find pages that link to several of your competitors there is a good chance they will link to you too.
  • Get a list of blogs and forums that link to your competitors that don’t have nofollow. Make sure to leave good comments and post good threads. Don’t just say “great site” and spam links with anchor text. It is best to do comments or posts that don’t have links at first. Contribute to the site so they don’t mind your links later. Read the forum rules to find out if you have to make a certain
    number of posts before you can use links. Some forums moderate the first 4 or so posts you make.
  • Study the types of content websites link to and create that type of content. You can get them to link to your site as well or you can convince them that your content is better than the one they are linking to and they might replace your competitors link with yours.
  • When looking through your competitors links you might find that sites link to pages that no longer exist. You can create a page that reflects what was linked to and then inform the site owner of the broken link and let them know they can link to your page instead.
  • Get a list of sites that used to link to you or your competitor and try to get a link on those sites. If they used to link they might link again. Find out what the site used to link to and improve the content then show the owner why they should link to it again.
  • Find directories that link to your competitors to get your site in.
  • Study your own backlinks to find sites that link to you with URL’s or junk anchor text like “click here” or “articles”. Contact them to try to get that changed to a keyword.
  • Find wiki’s that link to your competitors and don’t use nofollow . Try to get added to that page or create your own page on that wiki with a link to your site.
  • Find run of sites links to your competitors. This might be blogrolls or sometimes paid links. Try to get the link for free. This is not about the right and wrong of buying links just ideas if you want to use them.

While you are doing all this research you might find types of sites that link to your subject area you did not know about. Any time you’re surfing the web you should be looking for new ideas to attract links.

My new backlink reports at SEO Fox can facilitate this type of link building. In the past it took a long time to get a lot of this information. My new service speeds things up so you can get links faster.


I got a call today from a guy claiming to be from Today’s Business Report. He told me”Today’s Business Report” is an educational Business television show that is going to air on the FOX business network. I called up and had a long conversation where he leads me to believe that I am being screened to be on the TV show. He asks me all kinds of questions about my business. He finally starts talking about how my company will be featured at the end with a segment. At the end he asks me if I’m ok with a scheduling fee. For a 60 sec spot it costs $5900 to be on their show.

This is basically an infomercial. It is not a real show. They really don’t think you have some great information they just want your money. I did a press release yesterday so I thought somebody at FOX had seen it and wanted to put me on one of their business shows.

Adwords Result that shows Electrician ads for Doctor search2

Click on image to see un-cropped image

I did a search for “Houston Electrician” earlier in the day without being logged in. Later on I did a search for “Houston Doctor”. This is when I got this result. I’m pretty sure the electricians are not advertising for “Houston Doctor”. I opend IE and logged out of Google and did the same search and did not get those results. I went back to Firefox did the same search and still got the electricians. I then searched for “houston doctor” several times in IE and never got the electricians. I then did a search for “houston electrician” and then did a search for “houston doctor” and got the electrician ads this time.

Google has decided that because I searched for electricians earlier that I should see some more electrician ads. The electrical ads are below number 4 when I type “houston electrician” so I know they don’t have a very high bid. I seriously doubt low end bidder on “Houston electricians” beat out high bidder for “houston doctor”

Looks to me like Google is ripping off some people. How would somebody making a ppc campaign for electricians know to put doctor as a negative keyword.

UPDATE: Barry over at Search Engine Roundtable pointed out that this is an old thing that Google is very open about.


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Finding Links by Studying your Competitors

Several products allow you to see all your competitors’ backlinks, including my newly released reports. You can see your competitors’ backlinks, and get a report that breaks the list down into manageable chunks that you can investigate. The best place to begin your link building process is to look at your competitor’s links. If they are ranked number one for a keyword term, you will know that it is their links that got them to that position. The first thing you do is:

  • Try to get some of the same links.
  • Get ideas to find your own links.

Links from Forums and Blogs

Look at the report’s links from forums and blogs that do not have the “no follow”. You can then go to these forums and blogs and make posts or comments. Read the thread or blog post and make a helpful comment. If it is a forum, you should get involved. Do not go and make some spam post. Link building is hard work and don’t go looking for short cuts.

Getting Backlinks

See what types of content people are linking to as you go through your competitor’s backlinks. You need to create a similar type of content if you don’t have it already. You can send a personal email if you find a site that links to content you already have, When sending emails, your success rate will be higher if you send the email from the domain you are requesting a link from. Be complementary to them in your email. Tell them how much you like their site. Talk about the specific page that you want a link on. If they are linking to your competitor you have two choices you can ask them to also link to you or you can ask them to change the link to link to you instead.

If you get a rejection email, try to figure out why. If they don’t tell you why then send them an email asking if there is something you can change so that they will link to your site. If they do reveal why you were rejected, change your content or create new content and ask them again to link to your new content.

There are several programs you can use to mange this. I use Squid. You can also use Digixmas. Digixmas is not just for submitting to directories. You can go to their manual mode to visit a website. Once you send an email, just mark it as success. This way you know which ones you have worked on. You can use the bypass and failed flags to mark different things as well to help you remember what step in the process you are on.

Come visit http://linkrep.seofox.com and get reports on your competitors. If you don’t want to do all this work SEO Fox can do for you.


If I had to pick only one plugin for firefox it would be the Web Developer Toolbar add on. I use it every day. I’m not really a developer. I do make simple web pages but I use it most the time evaluating websites. I use it to look at a site when I get an email or phone call from a prospect. I also use it when I’m link building.

When somebody comes to me to do their SEO the first thing I do is go to their website. I turn off CSS and Javascript using the toolbar to see what search got are seeing. You do this by clicking on the CSS pull down menu and clicking Disable Styles > All Styles and clicking on the disable pull down menu and click on “all javascript”.

The next thing that I do is click on the information tab and go to “view meta tag information”. I can tell if they are using meta tags at all. Sometimes you see all kinds of odd tags like “revisit after” which no search engine uses. Sometimes I see they have 2 descriptions.

I like to use the resize feature. Click on the resize pull down menu and change the size of the window to see how the site looks in different sizes.

This is not for SEO but I like to use the “Display Anchors” feature in the information pull down menu. I use this when I want to link to a specific forum post.

Under Images you can click on “display alt attributes” to see if they are using them. You can also tell it to show you images size. Find broken images is helpful too. “Show images full size” will show you real quick if they are not optimizing their images.

The Web Developer toolbar does quite a bit more but since I’m not a developer I don’t really use it. Let me know what your favorite features are in the comments. I would love to hear them.


How to create a simple dynamic php/mysql web page

I am always creating simple php websites that get data from a mysql db. The first step is to set up the db. You can do this in your control panel. Once you do this make a note of the db info. This will be db name, db password. Next you need to go into mysql and create a table. I normally do this with phpmyadmin. Most web hosts provide this for you.

Next you need to create a config.php file where you store the connection information. You will include this on any pages that access the db later. Most people stick this in a includes sub directory.

#most of the time this is localhost but some hosts like pair.com will assign you a db server name
$db_server ="localhost";
$db_name = "name_of_db";
$username = "user_name";
$password = "password";
$dbh = @mysql_connect($db_server,$username,$password) or die ("Connection failed."); $db = @mysql_select_db($db_name) or die ("Connection made. But database '$db_name' was not found.");

Every page that you want to access the db from put this line of code at the top

Now you need to create a page. There are different types of pages. Some pages will show a list that comes from a db search and others that will show just one record. First lets create a page that creates a list of records from the db. Each one of the items in single quotes can also be a php variable. You can get this from something declared before on the page or you can get it from a var passed from the url. When you pass a variable you access by using $val = $_GET['word']; . If you have the URL http://www.example.com/page.php?myvar=test Then $val will contain “test”.

Create a sql search to get your data. What this does is pull the data from the db.

$query = "SELECT count(*) FROM `table_name` WHERE Row_Name = 'some_text_your_looking_for' ORDER BY Row_Name";
$result = mysql_query($query) or trigger_error("SQL", E_USER_ERROR);
$query_data = mysql_fetch_row($result);

Create a loop to display the data.

while ($row = mysql_fetch_assoc($result)) {
echo $row['Row1_Name'];
echo "
echo $row['Row2_Name'];

#you can also create links
echo 'Anchor Text';

Next you can create a page that returns the data from a specific record. If you create a link like above you can create a page that uses the variable set in the url.

$query = "SELECT * FROM Table_Name WHERE Row_Name = 'search_text' ";
echo $row['Row1_Name'];
echo $row['Row2_Name'];

This is a very simple tutorial you may need a lot more depending on your needs. Sometimes you might have to search the db for data that does not exactly match. When this happens you can use the wildcard %.


What this does is return all the rows that end in ISD. You can also use AND and OR like if you want to pull city and state. You would have to do that because a city name is not unique to a state there would be several rows with the same city but with different states.


Show different content for PPC users with PHP

I just recently created a new site for a client and he decided he wanted to do PPC. I created a landing page for him. I still wanted the users to be able to see the rest of the site but I wanted to show a specific phone number to PPC visitors. I created some PHP code that gives a 10 year cookie to anybody who hits my PPC landing page. On every other page in my site I put in some code that checks for that cookie and gives then a PPC phone number if they find that cookie.

Code for PPC landing page. Must be very first thing on page.

setcookie("ppc", "this works", time()+60*60*24*365*10);

Code for every other page.

if (isset($_COOKIE["ppc"]))
echo 'ppc info';
echo 'non ppc info';

You can use that code to display a different logo or image with phone number in it or special text. If you have your phone number all over the place I would put your phone numbers in different include files so that you can change them easily.

Code for include

if (isset($_COOKIE["ppc"]))
include 'ppc-phone.inc';
include 'phone.inc';

[tags]ppc, php, adwords, SEM[/tags]


Top ten CSS articles

I’m sure this is not the very top ten CSS articles but the top ten that I have found.

  1. 53 CSS-Techniques You Couldn’t Live Without
  2. How to make sexy buttons with CSS
  3. Learn to slice your templates into fully valid XHTML and CSS web pages
  4. Powerful CSS-Techniques For Effective Coding
  5. 25 Code Snippets for Web Designers (Part1)
  6. Cheat Sheets for Front-end Web Developers
  7. (The Only) Ten Things To Know About CSS
  8. Using CSS to Fix Anything: 20+ Common Bugs and Fixes
  9. The RIGHT way to convert your Photoshop design to XHTML and CSS Layout
  10. Are You Making These 10 CSS Mistakes?

[tags]css, web design[/tags]

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On Page SEO for eCommerce Websites

Putting up an ecommerce website with the descriptions from the manufacture is bad for SEO. Putting up any content on your website that is not unique is not good for SEO. The excuse that “everybody does it” is not valid. Sure there are some people out there that rank well using manufacture descriptions but your not them. When you get the same kinds of links that they do you will outrank them because you have unique content. When Google spiders the web they notice that there are a lot of people selling the same item with the same description. If you want Google to notice you you’re going to have to be different. A very good example of a website doing this right is www.jpeterman.com.

If your serious about getting more sales through organic search traffic your going to have to spend the time or hire somebody to do it for you. Somebody is going to have to go in and rewrite your descriptions. When you rewrite the description you need to make sure you include keywords you want to rank for. Also add alt tags to your images. Another thing I recommend is to consider how Wikipedia is set up. In your description talk about other items that go with this item and link to them with anchor text. Notice in Wikipedia articles there are lots of links to other pages in Wikipedia. That is one of the reasons they rank so well. Internal linking can help you rank above your competitors. On page SEO is hard work and has to be done on large ecommerce websites.

Don’t forget that an ecommerce website is also a website. It should not just be a cart. You need to include articles. The more interesting your site is the more links you will get. Talk about your products. Talk about how they can be used in different ways. Talk about ways to augment them. Write stories about somebody using your product. Spend time on your template and try to keep the code down so that Google mostly finds text instead of tons of junk. Don’t forget that people will leave your website if your page is not loading very fast.

[tags]ecommerce, ecommerce website, wikipedia, seo, on page optimization[/tags]

Austin PPC Company


Just got a Vanity URL from a new account

When Facebook launched new vanity URL’s I created a new account for www.seofox.com because I wanted an account that was not personal. They would not let me get a vanity url that night. Well I logged in today and got my Vanity url. www.facebook.com/seofox

[tags]facebook, vanity url[/tags]