If you’ve been trying to build your site’s link profile to boost your search rankings, then you’ve probably heard about Competitor Link Analysis.
But what exactly is Competitor Link Analysis? And why is it crucial to proper link building?
This brief guide will help you understand the basics of Competitor Link Analysis and how to get started with it.
What is Competitor Link Analysis?
Competitor Link Analysis is an in-depth review of your competitors’ link profiles to identify link building opportunities for your own company. You can also draw insights from it that can improve your SEO campaign and marketing strategies.
Backlinks (links from other sites pointing to your website) have long been one of the most important ranking factors for Google. The more quality backlinks a site has, the more likely it can rank well for its targeted keywords.
By analysing your competitor’s backlinks, you can:
- Understand your competition – see how well your competitors are doing, what they’re doing right, and what to avoid
- Understand your industry – see what it takes to rank well online for your industry and targeted keywords
- Identify link building opportunities – reach out to the same websites that are linking to your competitors or use that knowledge to identify similar sites you can contact
Why Are Backlinks So Important, Anyway?
In a word, trust.
In Google’s eyes, the more quality backlinks you have, the more trustworthy your website is. And the more trustworthy a site is, the more likely it will help or serve users – which often results in higher rankings.
Think of it this way. Say you’re hungry and want to eat out in a restaurant. You end up with two choices: ‘Restaurant A’ and ‘Restaurant B’.
‘Restaurant A’ is a new place you just found out about the other day. ‘Restaurant B’ is a restaurant you’ve never tried but has been recommended by two close friends who know your taste. Which are your more likely to choose?
The same goes for how we usually choose websites, and Google knows that.
But Google doesn’t only consider the number of backlinks a site has, but also the quality of those backlinks. A high number of backlinks doesn’t mean much if it’s from dodgy or spammy websites. In fact, these days, Google will penalise your website for that.
Rather, Google also evaluates the quality of those backlinks. Even a small number of backlinks from trusted websites can outperform a backlink profile several times bigger but filled with spammy sources. (Imagine how you would trust a restaurant recommended by a few trusted friends more than you would a restaurant with reviews from complete strangers.)
Your goal in competitor link analysis, therefore, is to find as many high-quality, trustworthy websites that can link to you.
How to do a Competitor Link Analysis
Now that you understand what Competitor Link Analysis is and how it can help your SEO, let’s look at how to do it.
1.Identify your competitors. Identify your company’s top competitors and create a list. Remember to focus on the websites or businesses that are in the top rankings for your targeted keywords. (Top-ranking websites may not always be from your direct business competitors.)
A simple way to check your keyword competitors is to do a manual search on Google for your targeted keywords and see who are on page one.
2.Explore their link profiles. Use a link research tool to explore a competitor’s link profile and check their list of backlinks. There are several link research tools online with both free and paid versions, so you’ll have plenty to choose from. (Keep in mind paid versions often provide more tools and features.)
3.Sort the links. Sort the list of backlinks for each competitor by domain rating/authority (its online reputation). Generally, the higher a site’s domain rating, the more trustworthy it is.
You’ll want to list your backlinks from highest to lowest in domain rating and then focus on those on the higher end. Your link research tool should be able to sort your list easily for you.
4.Analyse the links. Once you’ve sorted a competitor’s backlinks from highest to lowest domain rating, analyse each link and determine whether it’s worth pursuing for your website.
Not every link on the list will be relevant or attainable, so you’ll need to check each link and assess its value for your link building. We recommend exporting this list to a spreadsheet so you can remove irrelevant links easily and keep the ones worth pursuing.
5.Repeat the process for each competitor. Complete the link analysis and evaluation for each competitor in your list.
6.Export and gather in a spreadsheet. Gather all potential links in a separate spreadsheet to create a master list. This master list will be your guide for your link building outreach.
7.Create a plan of action. With your master list, create a strategy for how you can reach out to those sites and potentially gain a backlink. You can sort out your master list into groups according to outreach strategies (e.g. directory listings, guest blogs, etc.)
What To Do Next
Finding potential links is one thing but getting them is another.
Remember that a Competitor Link Analysis is simply one part of a larger link building campaign.
There are many ways to get links from the sources you’ve found, and you’ll likely need to apply different strategies to get them. Some of the most common outreach techniques experts use include:
- Writing guest blogs
- Writing sponsored articles
- Sharing content worth linking to (e.g. infographics, in-depth article, etc.)
- Engaging in partnerships
And that’s just a start. There’s a whole art to link building and outreach, and it takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to build a backlink profile that can boost your rankings.
But that’s a piece for another blog. In the meantime, use this guide to start your Competitor Link Analysis and find potential websites that can link to you.