There are always going to be times when you look at the results that other Internet Marketers appear to be getting and wonder how on earth they seem to be making so much money when you are only just getting by. Its frustrating to know that you are working away diligently at creating great content for your blog and doing everything you think the search engines want you to do only to watch other sites that appear to be full of crap and a guzillion affiliate links surging past your site in the SERPs.
So what can you do to keep up with these other site owners, or to put it more commonly, keep up with the Joneses?
First of all, you might want to take some notice of what your site is lacking that the sites that are beating you out of a first page place have in their armory. Chances are if they are holding good places in the SERPS they are doing more thing right than you are. Take a look at their on-page SEO for starters. This is easy to do because all you have to do is look at their sites. You don’t need any special software to do this, just your eyes and a knowledge of what good on-page SEO looks like.
If they have lots of content pages that are linking internally to each other as well as to the pages that are holding their reviews of products and the affiliate links that are making them the money and you don’t, then try emulating their way of internal linking. If your site has too many affiliate links, then par them down to a max of 2 on any page. Affiliate marketing is getting harder but you can still win if you do it smart.
You can also check what their external backlink profile looks like, although now that Yahoo Site Explorer has gone, its not so easy. You can get a free copy of SEO Spyglass that has some value and will give you some idea of what your rivals have linking to them. Chances are they have lots of links, but some will be from sites that have some authority, or pages with Page Rank above PR3.
You should also check the age of their domains using a free whois service like domaintools. An old domain will carry more authority than a new one! Also check the obvious – the keyword in the domain name that they are outranking you for.
There are lots of telltale signals that you can copy and use for your own ends, while some things simply cannot be copied, like domain age and keyword-in-domain. If they have a lot of strong backlinks, then you are going to have to get more stronger ones to overtake them. How you do that is up to you and outside the scope of this article.
When all things are equal, it will be the most useful site that wins, so even if you can only obtain external backlinks slowly, you can keep improving the look and feel of your site as well as its internal linking structure to make it easy to navigate for real visitors and not just search engine bots!