“You do you” doesn’t quite apply to digital marketing.
Look, even if you’re a real SEO noob, you know that checking out the competition is essential.
Whether that’s checking out their blog content to see how it compares to your own or scouring their social media accounts for the latest trends, you’re basically being a spy.
And when it comes to spying on your competitors’ backlinks, there’s a wealth of information you can learn—from new link building opportunities to areas where they’re falling short.
Haven’t quite wrapped your head around competitor backlink analysis?
Keep reading to learn how to use this precious backlink data for your personal gain.
Competitor Backlink Analysis Made Easy: How to Spy on Your Competitors’ Links
Do Keyword Research, the Right Way
Start with keyword research.
If you’re just starting from scratch, make a list of all the topics you can think of that relate to your business.
For example, if you run a dog grooming business in Los Angeles, your list might look something like this:
- dog shampooing in Los Angeles
- dog groomer LA
- grooming large dogs
If you need a refresher on keyword research strategy, check out this helpful guide to take you through the process.
ID Your Main Competitors
When you’ve established which keywords you’re trying to rank for, go ahead and Google them.
While you probably know who your biggest competitors are, keyword research can reveal some surprising sources of competition—especially if you do most of your business online.
You can also Google your business name to see who comes up as “related results.”
Make a note of who’s outpacing you in certain areas and look at whether they’re working within your same target niche.
Do the keywords line up with the action you want visitors to take while they’re on your website? If not, your keyword strategy may need tweaking.
See, even if you’ve mastered the art of ranking number one in a long list of desirable keywords, if they’re not spot-on, you could be penalized for targeting irrelevant terms or for excessive keyword stuffing.
In the competitor link analysis process, finding out where everyone stands when it comes to keywords is the first step toward gathering those valuable links.
It’s not exactly a science, but tools like Monitor Backlinks can help you gain some actionable insights.
If you don’t have an account, sign up for a free trial here to follow along with the next sections.
Check Out Their Backlink Profiles
Your backlink profile includes everything that pertains to the links that point toward your website. The more unique domains that connect to your site, the better, and better yet—the more unique domains with high authority.
If your competitors are outranking you, it’s likely because they have a stronger backlink profile, with more unique domains.
What you’ll want to do is find out how they’re stronger, and then do the same thing with your own link profile.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all!
After researching the sites that outrank you for your chosen keywords, you should now have a list of the direct and indirect competitors in your space, as well as the industry influencers making waves in your niche.
To become a backlink spy, just add those websites to Monitor Backlinks. With this tool, you can input all your competitors to check out their links.
Plus, once they’ve been added, their backlinks will be monitored for you in real time and you’ll be notified when any of your competitors gain or lose a link.
Pretty handy, right?
Moving into the Competitor Backlink Analysis
With your competitors’ backlinks now just a mouse-click away, you’ll need to analyze this information more carefully to pick out what’s useful to you.
In Monitor Backlinks, the “Competitor Links” tab will show you the number of new backlinks your competitors receive. These might be links in guest posts or links to infographics, mentions on review sites and so on.
Click on one of these competitors, and you’ll be presented with their full backlink profile.
The list reveals potential 404 errors, nofollow and dofollow links, review sites and popular blogs—all of which are new backlink opportunities you could take advantage of for your own site.
What’s more, you’ll gain further insight into the type of strategy your competitive counterparts are using—and that can serve as inspiration in and of itself.
For example, are they targeting bloggers, big deal publications or the web’s lowest-hanging fruit?
You’ll see what bloggers exist within your sphere, and which ones regularly collaborate with similar brands—which can serve as a starting point for your own link prospecting project.
Within your competitors’ profiles, keep a look out for links with high trust flow and citation flow. These terms relate to a site’s credibility and power, respectively, and it’s the highest scoring sites that you’ll want to go after for links yourself.
Always Be Checking
Competitor backlink analysis is not some one and done type of thing.
A good spy never lets their guard down.
Because when you do, you miss out on valuable opportunities to find new link prospects.
Monitor Backlinks shows you how many links your competitors get each week. Each newly-added link could represent a media outlet or website that may be willing to link to you, too.
What’s more is, the reports can reveal places where competitors’ websites have 404 errors or have lost backlinks.
Keeping tabs on these types of changes gives you the edge. For example, if there’s a broken link to an article and you have a similar piece of content that could replace it, reach out to the site owner with your solution.
Do What the Competition Is Doing…but Better
So, we’ve outlined what to look for when analyzing competitor backlink profiles. But, what do you do with this information?
If you’re not coming from a data analytics background, it can be a little tricky to bridge the gap between making the reports and turning those reports into actionable to-do items.
Here’s a look at where to begin:
What are your competitor’s top ranking posts?
Once you’ve figured this out, you’ll want to document both the keywords used in said post and the external link sources.
See which types of content attract the most backlinks.
Are you banging out blog posts while your biggest competitor is ruling the realm of video content? Do your peers have the market cornered on comprehensive how-to guides?
From there, I’d recommend revisiting a content marketing classic, the Skyscraper Technique. Which means, make better posts based on the same keywords your competitors are ranking for.
“Better” can be defined as optimizing those keywords more efficiently. Or creating well-written, well-researched content that goes above and beyond what’s already available. Even better if that content contains high-quality links!
Fill the Content Gaps
Beyond piggybacking on blog topics, you’ll want to fill in the gaps your competitors are missing.
For example, say your e-commerce site features a men’s fashion blog. Your competitor has created a guide to shopping for dress shoes, and you then used your competitive analysis to create a better one.
You’ll then want to cover related topics your competitor might’ve missed. This could be a guide to pairing the right socks with the dress shoes in the last article.
This keeps readers engaged with your content, sets up the opportunity to rank for related keywords and get links from those channels you’re working on building relationships with.
Finally, I want to highlight the importance of keeping tabs on social mentions.
Set alerts, so you know when your competitors are making waves in the industry.
This can help you find new backlink sources, see what’s trending in your space and stay on top of your game.
Competitor Backlink Analysis Wrap-up
Spending time on competitor backlink analysis is so vital to your SEO strategy.
You’ll get a glimpse into how others are ranking for the keywords you want, and find new sources for backlinks.
The most important thing here is using your intel to help your website succeed.
Otherwise, all that gathering wasn’t worth the trouble.
Once you identify where your competitors are succeeding, you can capitalize on those same opportunities.
Link to those resources helping them get a leg up.
Reach out to those people providing links to your competitors. They likely won’t have a problem linking to more great content!