Today you are going to learn how to steal your competitors content and use it against them to get backlinks and social signals.
After a few beers, steak, curry & kittens in the UK & Prague with the ACoupleTravelers team I know that Dave has an awful lot to share – so sit tight!
What You Will Learn
- How to steal your competitors best content
- How to use your competitors content against them
- How to steal their readers
- How to steal their backlinks
- How to steal their social signals
Time To Get Your Hands Dirty
Quality content is one of the most powerful marketing tools available. There is no better way to enhance natural growth than to write content that people are compelled to engage with and share.
While black hat techniques and SEO tools are by no means dead, all the signs are telling us that sustainable, long term growth is best achieved through consistently giving our readers quality content.
At the same time, how many of us have tried that and gotten absolutely nowhere?
How many of us have written that epic article, only to see it fall flat on its face, and cursed the bloke who coined the phrase “content is king”?
Meanwhile, our competitors, possibly benefiting from having larger audiences and more powerful social connections, write cookie cutter articles that get hundreds of comments.
Well, it’s time to level the playing field.
Today we are going to discuss how to take your competitor’s best articles and use them against them.
Oh, and everything I mention is COMPLETELY FREE to use. No expensive software here.
Identifying Your Competitor’s Best Content
English class is over with. We’re not interested in who wrote the best five paragraph essay. There are key metrics to tell us, which articles are the best.
This is the internet after all, and there are three things people do when they like an article.
- Share it Socially
- Link To It
That’s it. So let’s capitalize.
How To Track Social Shares
Let’s pretend for a minute that I run a business website and my competitor is Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income.
If you want to know which of his articles got the most social shares, there are some great free tools available. My personal favourite is this tool from Neil Patel.
Simply plug in the URL and let it rip. Then head over to Social Analysis.
When analyzing the results we want to be careful to avoid red herrings. There are clearly things like the home page or about me page that we are going to ignore.
There may also be articles that were part of a giveaway or in which there was an incentive to share. These distort the results and will be difficult to replicate.
Lastly, we want to focus on articles that will apply to our own audience.
As we all know from high school, trying to be something we’re not just because it’s popular is only going to leave us sitting at the wrong table during lunch with nothing to say.
This is only page one of the results, browse through the rest to find more!
How To Track Backlinks
We can also find our competitors best content based on backlinks and page authority.
Log in to Open Site Explorer , put in the domain, and then go to Top Pages.
All the results will populate and they can be easily exported for your leisure. You’ll notice from this example that there are some overlaps with the most shared posts, and that should make sense.
If you’re a subscriber, you can also see Facebook likes, tweets, and Google +1’s (last three columns).
How To Track Comments
Unfortunately, my research has yielded no good, free hack that will allow you to see the most commented posts of a competitor’s website, unless they have a most popular widget installed of some sort.
Luckily, if you use both of the above, you’re well on your way to knowing all the top pages anyway.
Taking It To The Next Level
The next step is to write our own version of content that out does the other person’s.
This is really a topic for a whole other article, and has been discussed to death on the internet.
Honestly there is no formulaic tool that spits out quality content, so I will only briefly discuss a few techniques to get your creative juices flowing.
Your advantage with this article is that you didn’t have to go first. You are able to see how people react to your competitor’s article and adapt your article to it.
What questions did people have?
Identify points of confusion and address them in your article.
If the article asked for some input, what did people say?
For example, if a popular article is something to the effect of “7 Ways To Promote Your Content”, it probably ended with “How do you promote your content?”
Now we have a bunch more ways that the author didn’t even think to mention that we can put in our article (14 Ways To Promote Your Content).
This is gold, because we know it’s directly relevant to our target audience, since they suggested it.
Add New Media
If your article is a tutorial, perhaps add a video, or a few print screens to delineate steps.
Perhaps add an infographic or provide some data/illustrated graphs to make your point.
It’s these little extras that make an article stand out.
Be The Ultimate Resource
Make your article a one stop shop for everything related to the topic.
If you competitor’s article is about how to hire a virtual assistant, write “The Ultimate Guide To VAs”, which not only includes the above information but also everything else you need to know about virtual assistants.
Write with the aim of creating the very best guide to virtual assistants on the internet period.
Old school but effective. Chances are your competitor is not the first person to write about this topic.
Google what other people wrote and get a feel for the different angles for approaching it.
Make a note of what you like and don’t like about each one and combine everything into one super article.
Using Your Competitors Content Against Them
Now it’s time for the fun part, using their content against them.
You competitor has done you a great deed. They have dragged everyone who is interested in this topic out from hiding and revealed them to you in the form of social shares, comments, and link backs.
Now, all we need to do is find these people.
Stealing Social Shares
The problem with most social platforms is that they either don’t have a search function or the search function they do have is not really built for this, probably for personal privacy reasons.
But that’s OK.
There is still at least one solid way to retrace social shares: Twitter Search.
As you will see, if you are truly selecting the most popular posts of a worthy foe, there will be more than enough people to contact.
Twitter Search is quite easy to operate. Simply hit advanced search, then put the title in “This Exact Phrase”, then, when the results populate, hit “All” (instead of Top).
The beautiful thing here is that you can reply directly to these tweets if you are logged in, which makes it super easy to do.
Just remember not to spam.
Another one that works OK is Social-Searcher.
This searches Facebook, Twitter, and G+. Since we have Twitter covered, and the Facebook search isn’t so good, I would only use this one if you want to target people on G+.
While you might not have been able to find the most commented article, that doesn’t mean you can’t approach commenters in the articles you did find (or any for that matter).
In many cases you can check the person’s website through the comment as it is linked through their name.
If they have a website, they probably have a contact form.
The exception to this is when people set their comments to link back to the article itself (that’s what Pat does, but it is not that common).
I don’t think I need to go into too much detail with this audience on how to retrace links. For example, Matt has a tutorial that is completely dedicated to competitor backlink analysis.
Plug in the post link and start collecting backlinks. Check out Matt’s post to find the best backlink checker.
Contacting Our Target Audience
By now we have our list of contacts.
The scripts here are fairly straight forward.
If it’s Twitter, you can simply reply to the tweet. Careful if it’s a really old post though, as replying to a 4 year old tweet might come across as unnatural.
If it’s email, then a simple message stating
- Who you are
- Where you got their contact info
- Why you’re getting in touch (you saw they liked this post)
- What your relevant post is
Will do the trick!
Why This Is Worth Your Time
Perhaps this looks like a lot of work with no guarantees. But let me explain why this is worth your time.
Firstly, it’s a perfect, straight forward task for a virtual assistant.
I will usually ask them to go through the steps above and get me the person’s name, contact form/email, and twitter handle, which makes the pitch real simple and gives me another form to reach out to them as a fall back.
Secondly, this is all part of content promotion, which should be the focal point of any blogger wishing to expand his audience.
I’ve heard some of the top bloggers say they spend about 20% of their time on content creation, and the rest on content promotion.
We must look beyond the mere fact that we are trying to promote this one article, and see that we are getting in touch with the most active, and engaged members of our target audience.
Connecting with them in a meaningful way as well as showing them the quality work we deliver has much broader implications.
It can lead to more social shares, comments, and newsletter subscriptions down the line.
If they share your competitors posts, maybe they will share yours too.
Lastly, this strategy is a soup to nuts approach. We start with idea generation and take it all the way through promotion with a tangible strategy in mind.
No more guessing games. No more wondering what you’re going to do with something after you write it. No more vague searching for people to reach out to.
Find out the content your target audience wants. Give them something uber quality. Then tell them about it.
Results From My Own Attempts
This has been a fundamental part of my strategy for launching my new business blog a few weeks ago. So you might be wondering how are the results so far?
Well, to speak generally, the blog has gotten over 1k unique visitors in its first two weeks as well as several hundred social shares, due in large to connecting with people through this method.
In fact, Twitter right now is my biggest referral traffic.
After writing my Ultimate Guide To Using Off-Shore Virtual Assistants I went on my promotional hunt that I had planned from the get go.
I found that the following site was linking to a post by Pat Flynn on virtual assistants.
I sent an email to the webmaster and made him aware of my new post and that if he was interested in sharing it with his audience he was welcome to do so.
Instead, he took it one step further and added my link to the page.
Wrapping It Up
If you want to get your first 100,000 visitors, you have to put content promotion at the top of your list.
After all, content does not promote itself.
Matt started from day 1 being active in forums and eventually incorporating this strategy into his daily routine.
This led to him to start a successful blog.
However, what these strategies are really about is getting your content in front of people who want to read it and share it.
This is what I have shown you to do in the most direct way I know how.
If you are interested in more strategies for running your blog like a business, come over and say hi.
Lastly, let’s brain storm!
What is your favourite way to promote your content?