By John Eberhard

In January 2016 I published a 3-part article series on SEO and what I had discovered doing an extensive amount of research on what is effective in search engine optimization (SEO).

I have just completed another major research project on SEO in order to update my service offering to clients, i.e. what I do for clients on SEO.

The point in this series and in this new article is that SEO is constantly changing, largely because Google keeps making significant changes to their search algorithm, that greatly affect SEO.

Competitor Research

I started doing an analysis of the SEO of the competitors of one of my top clients. This started by entering our top keywords and see which competitor sites came up high in the search results. I then looked at their links, the number of links they had, and what sites were linking to them.

If these competitors were coming up high in the search results for important keywords, I concluded that that meant that the links they had were important. So I could work to get my client to be linked to from those same sites, thus gaining high quality links in the process.

By researching this further, I found that one SEO expert recommended doing this. He called it “stealing links,” but of course it is not really stealing anything. It is just observing what your competition is doing and copying what works. This expert also advised to make a list of competitor links, evaluating them according to high Page Authority and high Domain Authority. There is a tool available from Moz, a browser plugin that adds a strip at the top that shows Page Authority and Domain Authority for any page you pull up (it works only in Chrome).

So the idea is:

  • Take links that your competition has, which have high Page Authority and Domain Authority
  • Go to those sites and figure out how the competitor got a link on that site
  • Do what is necessary to get that site to link to your site (This may require simply listing your site there if it is a business listing site, posting a press release there if it is a press release site, etc. Basically you have to figure out what to do to get a link, based on the type of link your competitor has.)

This whole action is based on the idea that the quality of links is more important than the quantity of links. So with this type of action we are zeroing in on high quality links that our competition has, and getting our site linked to from those sites as well.


When a site has an https:// at the beginning of its web address, rather than http://, that means that the site is encrypted with something called an SSL certificate. That means that hackers can’t intercept your data. This is something you buy from your hosting company and it typically costs between $60 and $150 per year.

According to an ebook by Hubspot entitled “18 SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind in 2017”:

“In August of 2014, Google announced that it had started using HTTPS as a signal in their ranking algorithms. This means that if your website still relies on standard HTTP, your rankings could suffer as a result.

“This time last year, HTTPS remained a “lightweight” signal, affecting fewer than 1% of global queries (according to Google). It wasn’t time to freak out just yet. But in September 2016, Google announced that Chrome will flag HTTP pages as potentially unsafe starting in January 2017. This is part of a long-term plan to mark all HTTP sites as non-secure. So if you haven’t thought about encrypting your site, now’s the time to get moving.”

So this is now an important thing to consider for your website, especially for e-commerce websites that handle credit card info or other sensitive information.

Part 5 coming soon.