Back in the old days, when SEO was more of a dark art than a science, there were many myths circulating on how you could increase your rankings within the SERPs (search engine results pages). One of the more popular myths was that you could improve your rankings by linking to websites like Google, Yahoo, MSN or the BBC. The theory was that search engines liked you linking to them, so would boost your rankings accordingly. Search engines also like you linking to good quality sites, so would reward you for it with higher rankings.
It was of course hokum, but a similar theory has emerged in the modern SEO world we know today. That theory is that linking to your competitors, the sites that rank above you in the SERPs, could boost your rankings. Is this equally hokum or this in fact true?
Let’s look at both sides of the argument, argumental style.
The case Against
Obviously linking to your competitors doesn’t improve your rankings or it would be easy to boost your own ranking just by adding links to them. Google can’t be that susceptible to SEO tactics. By linking to other sites you’re leaking PageRank, valuable link juice that is needed for the pages of your own website, not other people’s.
If you link to your competitors you’ll be giving them a boost, not yourself.
If you had a text link on your competitors’ websites it would help you, but not them.
The case For
Not everyone would choose to link to their competitors, why would they? Linking to your competitors is obviously a risky strategy, that’s why it works. Google wants to see sites that are hubs for content and information. If your site links several expert websites then your site is part of that hub. If your site stands as an island then it isn’t part of any hub, it’s on its own, isolated.
The internet is exactly that, a net. To be part of that net you need to link to the areas closest to you. By adopting this unusual tactic, a tactic almost at odds with every SEO strategy, you’ll reap the awards.
So which is it? Will linking to your competitors help your own rankings, or just theirs? What do you think?