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How to Mine Competitors and Readers for Links

Whether you view other blogs in your niche as “the competition” or, or like Performancing, part of your community, they still have information about your niche that you may not. Particularly if you’re the new kid on the block. Your initial visitors may also have a lot of information that could benefit you. The question is, how do you get that data?

There are two little known, yet very effective ways of gaining a jumpstart on niche data. Both methods involve letting your competition, and visitors do the hard work for you. Neither of these methods use anything even remotely evil, you can get all the information you want from publically viewable sources. Let me show you how…

Using Bloglines to Mine Reader Interests

If you don’t know about this, you’re gonna kick yourself, it’s so simple. Let’s assume you’ve done your initial research, and have a whole bunch of feeds you use for information on your niche. For this technique, you’ll need to open a Bloglines account if you don’t already have one.

Click on one of your feeds, and check the blue bar at the top to see how many subscribers the feed has. See figure below:

Follow the link shown in the image above, and you’ll find a list of the feeds public subscribers. All you need do after that, is to click the individual subscriber links, and check the left frame to see what else they’re subscribing to!

Some bloglines subscribers are very organized, and will even be kind enough to put their feeds in nicely labeled folders for you. Find the folder, check out the feeds. You’ll hopefully find a whole load of new information on your niche.

Often you’ll find that other bloggers in your niche have used their own names for their bloglines accounts, or maybe their blog names. This makes it even easier to work out which are the prime sources.

Using Del.icio.us to Mine Competitor Links

A similar technique can be used with del.icio.us. The idea is to find and subscribe to the link collections of bloggers in your niche. There are three different ways to go about finding the link collections of readers and competitors.

  1. Try typing in the name of your competitor, or blog name. This is the least effective, but you can strike lucky from time to time.
  2. Watch your incoming realtime link stats very closely. By finding links coming in from http://del.icio.us/UserName you can potentially find gold.
  3. Watch for blogs in your area that dump their delicious links to a daily post on their blog. This is by far the most effective way, but not everyone does this, I certainly don’t, as personally i find the posts to be more than a little shit. They have title’s that don’t tell you anything, and on that basis alone i don’t read them.

Before we get onto the details of how to mine delicious for information, let me just tell you how to go about finding the source of those dumped daily link collections in point 3.

Finding the source of daily link dumps

  1. On the daily link dump post, find the most obscure link you can and bookmark it using delicious yourself
  2. Go to your delicious home page, and click the “By UserName” link beneath the link you just bookmarked. You can also click the “By X other people” link to find out who else has an interest in that link.
  3. Now you should have the bookmarked links of your competitor, or visitor in front of you, time to get to work…

Use your inbox to subscribe to spam free info sources

One of the neat things about using this method is the avoidance of tag spam in delicious. As you’re mining real people, rather than just a tag, you avoid all the promotional crap that comes with such feed subscriptions in competitive areas.

The first thing you need to do is follow the link beneath your username at the top left labeled “inbox”. When you get there, follow the link on the right that says “edit inbox”. You should see a box like the one below:

From there, it’s a simple matter of entering the username of the person you want to monitor, and optionally specifying which of their tags you want to mine. Lastly, subscribe to your inbox’s feed, simple!

Information is Power

If you spend a little time on these techniques, you can quickly build up a very comprehensive overview of your niche, and as you’re subscribing to human compiled information, your RSS should remain spam free, which these days, is a prize not to be sniffed at.

Happy mining…

Author: nickw

One thought on “How to Mine Competitors and Readers for Links

  1. Hi Nick. Yes, this is great. Also, try hitting Google calendar for those same individuals, as well as the topics of interest, their home town name, conference names and cities, etc. You may be surprised at how many people load up a topical calendar with info and links, basically describing their preliminary intentions (pre-conference travel, business meetings, job searching –ooh ooh!)

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