Do you ever link to the competition?

Filed in Link Building by Matt McGee on October 14, 2009 8 Comments

I sometimes get asked by clients if they should ever link to the competition. Is it okay? Good idea? Bad idea? The answer I give is that sometimes it makes sense, and sometimes it doesn’t … there’s no blanket answer.

It’s an interesting question, and so it was with some interest that I stumbled upon the home page of one of my local TV stations, KVEW-TV, and discovered a “News Scanner” section that links not only to stories on the local newspaper web site, but also to stories on KEPR-TV’s web site — a primary competitor.


They’re not “clean” links — they’re being pulled from some kind of dynamic javascript widget, don’t show up in the source code, and so don’t pass any link juice. But still, it’s interesting to see one TV station posting links to a competitor’s web site.

The question for you… Do you ever link to the competition? If so, when? And, if you do, are they clean links or do you nofollow them? Share your thoughts and strategies in the comments…

Comments (8)

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  1. Linking to competition gives THEM more authority AND if they’re ever penalized then your site/page will suffer as well.

    So no…I dont recommend linking to direct competitors

  2. O.S. says:

    It depends on the context. If, by linking to a competitor site, you are adding value for your audience then go ahead. Savvy buyers will find your competition anyway.

  3. Kevin Spence says:

    It’s not all about pagerank. In my experience, linking out to a relevant site is always a good thing, and one of the hardest practices to get people to accept. But from my experience, yes, it builds trust.

    Now, as you said, these guys aren’t using clean links, so there shouldn’t really be an SEO effect. But it is good for the users.

    In fact, if I had a local news company that did this, I would visit their site exclusively. Sure, you pass some traffic to a competitor, but this site is now an aggregator. You can visit them to find out what’s going on, whether they’re reported it or not.

  4. James says:

    There are different types of competitors

    Direct Competitors – the real estate office across the road that is already trying to put you out of business – no – You are offering the same products and chasing the same market and the same SERPS

    Partial Competitors same market some of the same SERPS some similar products – (You sell houses in Queens they sell apts downtown Manhattan) may be but is it part of a larger possible relationship.

    Indirect or attention competitors in the same market with some of the same SERPS but different offers (you are selling lawnmowers and they are selling weed killer or chain-saws)
    – why not build the relationship and you may be able to help each other out.

  5. Bryan says:

    I do link exchange links with a competitor and makes it dofollow. I’m not that kind of person that will not link to a site because of competition.

  6. i m on the same stage and thinking and also would to advice being an SEO that never do this trick as you always suffer the negative points, yes, if only you have a mutual agreement to do that then go for it.

  7. I say yes, link to the competition. If content is king, then you need to offer useful, rather than sales-y content. So your goal then is becoming a thought leader, which means your site needs to speak to your colleagues as well as your potential clients. In some sense your colleagues are your competition, but I don’t think linking to them can hurt you.

    I have to work hard at convincing small business owners to link out (“I don’t want people to leave my site”) and to offer useful information for free. Those of us who live and breathe SEO know how important this is, but many small businesses and entrepreneurs still need to be persuaded.

  8. I do it on a case by case basis. If there is a valuable resource that helps your website visitor’s, why not? Of course, if there is a high statistical chance that you will lose business, it may not be in your best interest.

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