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“If I Link to Competitors, Will it Hurt My SEO?”

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John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

Recently, I had a client ask me an intriguing question.

I’m putting together an article explaining the difference between [two different things in their industry]. If I were to link to my competitors, will that help or hurt my search ranking?

I suspect it will boost the competition, but no big deal.


This is an excellent question, one I know many people wonder about.

Linking to your competition will indeed help their SEO. But linking out to competitors when it makes sense might be more beneficial to boosting your blog posts than you might initially think.

Google actually expects some degree of back linking when it makes sense in the context of the article.

Keep in mind that Google always wants to return the search results that satisfy the intent of the searcher. In almost every case, the most thorough, or highest quality article is going to rank highest over time.

By listing any links to resources related to your article subject, you help raise the content quality of your article. Not to mention, it some guts to link to competing businesses. Not everyone has the fortitude to do this, which makes your article stand out to your readers.

Examples of Linking to Competitors

Let’s say you are a Italian restaurant, and you are writing an article on all the best Italian restaurants in your area. You talk about what makes each place great, and what their main specialties are.

Your article might get a lot of traction on Facebook and Twitter. It may even some up on the first page of Google when people search for best Italian restaurants in your city.

Ideally, you might get some back links from local press, and other hyper-local sites like Patch. This in turn, benefits not only that particular page, but your site as a whole.

Satisfying the Searcher by Putting Content First

Your competitors will get a little SEO boost when you link to them, that’s true. Anytime a site from within the same industry links to your site, it is more relevant than a link from a random site.

But linking to competitors will not take away any SEO or ranking power from your own site.

Think about whether your article or resource page can be improved by linking to someone else. If it makes sense, then go ahead and link out.

Avatar for John Locke

John Locke is a SEO consultant from Sacramento, CA. He helps manufacturing businesses rank higher through his web agency, Lockedown Design & SEO.

7 comments on ““If I Link to Competitors, Will it Hurt My SEO?”

  1. Great topic! Thanks for this awesome article John! This is so true within the industry. People refuse a good partnership because of competition. Is there a way for this to change?

  2. Hi Emmerey:

    My theory is that people are afraid to link out because they might lose some “link juice”. That way of thinking and doing SEO is less relevant than ever before.

    Education about what is best for users, and how intelligent the machine learning will make the algorithm seems to be the only cure. Many SEOs are still stuck on the idea that writing for machines and not people will work. Nope.

    Have a great day,
    John

  3. If it’s an authoritative link, there’s no reason to use rel="nofollow". The only time you would want to use nofollow links is for paid links, like affiliate links or sponsored links — or for links that you don’t trust.

    Lots of SEOs used nofollow links to try and pass PageRank, but Google doesn’t really use that as a metric anymore, primarily since many people used to try and “link sculpt”.

    I would link to whatever pages you feel are relevant for the article you are creating, and not worry about so-called “link juice” whatsoever.

  4. Interesting opinion, always had my doubts on this one. A roundup of the niche you’re operating in for instance, could make a nice blog post attracting lots of eyes, but depending on the subject you may have to point at your competitors. Hmmm, maybe it’s worth it after all.

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