In this lecture we are going to discuss “How to Analyze a Competitor’s Backlinks”.
No link building campaign would be complete without a competitor backlink analysis.
I would caution focusing solely on competitors however. I strongly believe the best link building tool in the world is human creativity.
Remember to be selective in the links you do pursue More than likely, competitors who are currently out ranking you will have plenty of links that you should actually avoid.
Step One – Determining Competitors
Determining competitors can create understanding and insight within your industry.
1. Create a list of direct competitors
2. Create a list of indirect competitors
3. Ask yourself “who do I admire within my industry, and why
4. Check the industry money keywords and see who’s ranking at the top
5. Check random industry long tail phrases and see who has a decent portion of search real estate
6. Check your analytics to find fluctuations, then see who’s winning when your losing
7. If you need to, there are tools such as SEMrush that are able to show organic keyword gains and loses
Step Two – Competitor Backlink Mining
Once you have a suitable list of competitors it’s time to pull their backlink profile. There’s a variety of tools capable of accomplishing this, including:
• Moz’s Open Site Explorer
• Majestic SEO
• Raven Tools
• SEO Spyglass from Link-Assistant
We often use Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer to make sure we have a diverse set of backlinks.
Most of these programs will allow you to download the data into a spreadsheet via a comma separated value file better known as CSV file. From there we can drill down into the data to find worthwhile links and insights.
Step Three – Competitor Backlink Analysis for Link Opportunities
Now lets actually analyze the domains and links that your competitor has that you don’t.
There should be a variety of metrics included in your data set that will help you parse down to quality link opportunities.
A few we often look at:
• Domain Authority
• Page Authority
• Source Citation Flow
• Top Level Domain
• And Number of links from the site
Although these won’t tell the full story of each link, it should give you a quick filter, of which links are worth pursuing.
Step Four – Quick Takeaways
So, now you have a list of quality links your competitor has but you don’t. Before you move beyond research there are still a few vital steps left.
First, head back to your backlink tool of choice and plug in your competitors url.
Now ask yourself:
• What is their anchor text diversity?
• How many unique linking domains do they have?
• How many links per domain?
• Anchor text usage and variance?
• What type of sites are linking?
• What types of links are most prevalent?
• What pages are performing exceptionally well?
• How does my backlink portfolio compare?
Ask the interesting questions that will lead to an understanding of your competitor’s backlink portfolio.
Often times it takes a lot of sifting to find the good links.
Step Five – Determine Competitor’s Strategies
At this point you should be pretty well versed not only in your competitors, but the industry as well.
You should be able to understand where the links are coming from, and how they’re obtained.
This is the time to consider the different link building strategies your competitors are using and what would work well in conjunction with your site.
And, once you’ve decided what can work, it’s time to take a moment and think.
This is the point of this deep research – to deeply understand the industry, the interconnected links, and the strategies used. To understand on a subconscious level how your competitors are functioning, and then let creative ideas flow.
It’s time to not just build links based on your competitors; it’s time to build links with your competitors and beyond.