When it comes to SEO, building backlinks should be a major part of your strategy.
Once you have built a strong site with solid foundations and top quality content, then it’s time to turn your attention to developing a robust backlink strategy.
You can think of a backlink as a ‘vote’ for your site. The more ‘votes’ Google sees for your page from high authority websites the higher it will rank in the SERPs.
There are a bunch of different methods you can use to build backlinks…
But some are more effective than others.
The link building strategy that stands out from the others and achieves great results is…
Competitor backlink analysis.
Simply put, you find out how your competitors built their best backlinks and you replicate each one.
Essentially you are letting your competitors do all the hard work and then you can use their own backlink strategy against them.
How Do You Recognise The Best Backlinks
Before you start analyzing your competitor’s backlinks, you need to understand the basics behind what constitutes a good backlink and how to build a natural-looking backlink profile.
You need to consider a few things:
- Authority of the referring site
- Anchor text
- Dofollow vs Nofollow
- New content vs existing content
In order to build a link profile that looks natural to the search engines, you need to opt for variety.
For example, if all the backlinks pointing to your page were built using the exact same anchor text, this sends a red flag to Google that the links may have been manipulated.
You need to have a range of anchor texts like…
- Exact keywords
- Topic keywords
- Page URL
- Misc (e.g click here)
And the best way to find the right balance of anchor text is… Yes, you guessed it, analyze your competitors which can easily be done with a tool like Ahrefs.
Google will also expect to see a range of dofollow and nofollow links pointing to that page. As your page ranks it should naturally pick up nofollow links however you should still keep an eye on this.
So whilst finding the backlinks that put your competitors at the top of the search rankings you need to take into account these factors too.
What Exactly is Competitor Backlink Analysis?
As we have already touched on, competitor backlink analysis is a strategy that involves taking a close look at how your top competitors are building their strongest backlinks and then replicating them.
Most of your competitors will have invested a lot of time and money into building these links and they will probably have deep pockets and dedicated teams, so instead of trying to compete with them, you can use their research against them.
This can be done very easily with a few brilliant backlink checkers and analysis tools.
With Ahrefs, I can enter a competitor’s page and then view all the websites that are linking to them. You can see the referring pages authority and the anchor text used, as well as some other useful metrics:
You can use this data to determine how the link was won and use the filter options to determine which are the best backlinks to replicate.
You can use this process on your competitor’s entire link profile or just focus on specific pages you wish to outrank.
Let’s take a closer look at this process and the tools available that make it easy.
Stealing Your Competitors Backlinks
You will find a few quick and easy wins such as posting blog comments or getting involved in forum posts, but for the most part, those high authority links that you need will require a little extra effort.
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There are 6 steps to follow to complete this process effectively.
- Finding Your Competitors
- Researching Your Competitors
- Analysing the Data
- Creating Content
- Pitching the Website Owner
- Wash, Rinse & Repeat
There are few excellent tools on the market that make this strategy quick and easy to execute. I would recommend you choose one of the following tools…
Let’s take a closer look at the process using Ahrefs.
1. Finding Your Competitors
Firstly you need to find who your competitors are for your chosen keyword.
Enter your keyword into a Google search:
Then make a list of the top ten organic rankings in the results.
2. Researching Your Competitor
Now it’s time to find the backlinks that are greatly contributing to your competitors sitting in the top positions.
We will look at this using the Ahrefs backlink checker tool which has consistently performed well and comes out on top in my case studies to find the best backlink checker on the market.
If you don’t already have an Ahrefs account they offer a pretty good 7 day trial for $7 you can take advantage of.
Once up and running, just enter the first URL from your list into the search. Once loaded up, you’ll see the menu on the left-hand side. Click ‘Backlinks’.
You’ll see a list of all the backlinks pointing to your competitors URL.
3. Analysing The Data
If you want to spend the time analysing the backlinks yourself within Ahrefs you can play around with the filters and figure out which are the strongest links to target.
You can filter by:
And then order those results according to your priority:
- Domain Rating (DR)
- URL rating (UR)
- Referring domains
- Linked domains
- Number of external links
- Monthly search traffic
- Number of ranked keywords
Alternatively, you can load up the data found by Ahrefs into my free backlink analysis spreadsheet that will take care of all the analysis for you.
Sign up to receive this spreadsheet and follow the instructions. Then you will be presented with the best backlinks to target and exactly how to do this.
For example, this could be a:
- Blog comment
- Guest post
- Forum post
- Expert roundup
- Resource page
Take care of any quick wins and then move onto the next step.
4. Creating Content
When it comes to creating content that you are going to pitch it needs to be top quality, interesting and relevant. And perhaps most importantly… solves the problems of your (and the website you want linking to you) audience.
If you already content that ticks these boxes then move onto the next step.
If not, you can use the “Skyscraper” method here. Meaning you take a piece of existing content from your competitor and create something better.
5. Pitching The Website Owner
Pitching your content to the website owner is one of the most important steps.
A bad pitch will get sent straight to the trash, whereas a good pitch will grab their attention and get them to read your awesome content and enter into a conversation with you which you can work to your advantage.
Remember you won’t be the only one reaching out to them trying to get a link, some sites receive hundreds of requests every week, so you need to make your pitch stand out.
Using a tool like Find That Lead, ContactOut, or Hunter.io will help you find the right person to make your pitch to…
Then tell them exactly why they should be taking your pitch seriously.
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Remember, people like to know they are being emailed by a human and not automated piece of software so personalising your pitch is important and people usually enjoy and respond well to a bit of humour too.
Just find a good balance between polite, professional and humorous. Put yourself in their shoes, what would catch your attention.
If you even want your email opened… make sure you have one hell of a subject line.
6. Wash, Rinse & Repeat
Work through each URL and build your backlinks. You will get a feel for what works well and what doesn’t within your niche. The more you do the better and easier your process will become.
You’ll get a clearer idea of what content attracts the best links and you can start to account for this within your content strategy.
Once you have finished with all the opportunities for one keyword, get started on the next.
Wrapping It Up
Backlinks are the bread and butter of a website reaching the first page of Google.
First ensure you build a site worth linking to, then use the competitor backlink analysis strategy to find and replicate the links that are working for the website ranking for your target keyword.
There are some fantastic tools on the market that make analysing your competitor’s backlinks quick and easy. Take advantage of these and you’ll have a list of links to target for maximum rewards.
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