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Guide to competitive back-link analysis

Dec 13, 2020 · 5 minutes
Guide to competitive back-link analysis

Backlinks, also called “inbound links” or “incoming links”, are links that take you from one website to another. Every website needs them to increase its domain or page authority, as well as its online traffic. In fact, using backlinks is one of the most effective SEO techniques that can help you increase your online presence, and backlink analysis is a complex process that can strengthen your digital marketing strategy. Here’s a brief guide to competitive backlink analysis that will help you take your SEO game to the next level.

Competitor backlink analysis involves assessing other sites similar to yours, that is, sites you consider your competition. Doing in-depth competitive backlink research can help you learn a lot about your competition. It offers insight into their website performance, the number of backlinks, and overall online authority. Once you find out what their strengths and weaknesses are, you can use that information to your advantage. By analyzing competitor sites, you’ll know how to compete with them.

Competition in the online world is fierce, and it keeps getting more challenging to keep up with your competitors, let alone beat them. Backlink analysis helps you check how well your site ranks compared to others in your industry and improve your domain authority. If your competitor ranks well on the search engine result pages, you can emulate their strategy. You can discover how they get backlinks that help them rank and follow their example. As a result, your site will achieve higher online rankings, and the more people see your website, the higher your website traffic will be.

The process of backlinking and performing competitive backlink analysis may seem simple, but navigating this part of SEO is actually quite complicated. Many companies would rather let experienced professionals like the ones you can find on handle this task.

Analyzing key SEO metrics

  • From which sites are your backlinks coming? How do you tell the difference between good backlinks and the ones you should reject? You should get backlinks from authority sites – sites that are trusted by users, industry experts, other sites, and search engines. A site’s size, age, and quality affect its authority. There is no special formula for identifying influential sites, but government websites and those of certain popular brands are considered trustworthy and authoritative. Also, sites with quality content, customer reviews, social proof of business, and regular updates are seen as reliable sources. Backlinks that come from editorial or news pages and guest blogs are all excellent backlinks.
  • On the other hand, general directories, comment spam, paid backlinks, and backlinks coming from unrelated sites can be harmful. Watch out for misused links. Check which of your pages are being linked to - contact pages, blogs, services, frequently asked questions, etc. Backlinks that are out of context are bad backlinks that are not desirable.
  • Proper anchor text usage is vital to successful SEO. Bad backlinks, whether created intentionally or not, can cause serious problems. Unnatural or over-optimized anchor text and keyword stuffing can damage your online ranking. MOZ Open Site Explorer and CognitiveSEO are some of the link explorers you can use to find misused anchor text. Plus, anchor text distribution can be used to detect unnatural links.
  • Monitor the rate of growth of your backlink profile over time. It should grow in a gradual, natural way. Irregular spikes are harmful to your business, as they may cause suspicion.
  • Tags that tell Google not to crawl that link are known as no-follow links. On the other hand, do-follow links let Google crawl them, which affects your site’s position in search engine result pages. One page or site should not have only one type of link, nor should it have too many or too few no-follow/do-follow links.

You probably want to know where your site stands in comparison to similar sites within your industry or niche. You can’t expect your competitors to let you have this information, but there are other ways to obtain it. This is where competitive backlink analysis steps in.

Competitor backlink analysis enables you to review your competitors’ backlinking strategies to improve your own digital marketing tactics. Once you learn what helps others rank well, you will know precisely what you should do to succeed in the online world.

Here’s how to conduct a competitor backlink analysis:

  1. Start by creating a list of competitors. Tools such as SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Open Link Profiler can help you gather valuable information, including who your competitors are.
  2. After completing a list of sites for analysis, view and thoroughly analyze your competitors’ backlinks. See the number of backlinks each competitor has. Learning whose sites have the most extensive backlink portfolio could help you find new opportunities for backlinking.
  3. Consider the Domain Authority and Page Authority (DA/PA) of linking sites. Remember that a link from a high-authority site is worth more than a link from a low-authority one. As you evaluate the websites linking to your competition, select the backlinks with the highest authority, and target those websites in your link building strategy.
  4. Check who is driving the most traffic to your competition. Find out which sites and pages drive the most traffic, and find a way to build links on those sites to increase traffic on your site.
  5. Keep a database of sites that are good backlink opportunities. Save a list of websites that have good backlink potential for your future campaigns. Either use backlink tools to download the data for future reference or use a spreadsheet and do it manually.


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