Do this real quick (it’s simple but eye-opening… promise):
Search one of your target keywords on Google.
Now, look at the top 10 results. Pay close attention to the names of the websites listed.
All of those sites are getting approximately 70% of all clicks from those who search that keyword.
And do you know why they’re able to do that?
It’s because they have more high-quality backlinks than everyone else.
Do you want to be in the top 10, too?
All it takes is analyzing what these competitors are doing right in the backlink department.
And today I’m going to help you do that by showing you how to check backlinks of competitors using Monitor Backlinks.
By the end of this post, you’ll know how to find new backlink opportunities that’ll propel your site to the top of the search engines.
Let’s get started!
How to Identify Your Top Competitors
Before you can track your competitors’ backlinks, you need to know who are your true competitors?
According to TheHoth.com, there are four different types of competitors:
1. Direct. Companies offering the same products and services you are.
2. Indirect. Companies that sell the same products but operate in other areas, too.
3. Perceived. Companies that don’t offer the same products but compete for the same customer base.
4. SERP. Sites that are ranking for keywords you want to rank for.
While all competitor types are important, for the sake of ranking on search engines, the only one you need to concern yourself with is SERP.
They’re the ones directly competing with you for shares of organic search traffic.
But we’re not done yet.
The question now is:
Who within the SERP competitor type should you track for backlink analysis purposes?
There are possibly hundreds of potential targets.
How do you narrow it down to just 2-4 competitors?
It’s simple really:
You only focus on the ones who consistently rank at the top of Google.
Those competitors who regularly rank in the top 10 of search results will have stronger link profiles.
And you want to spend your time analyzing the best.
That said, here’s what you should do to find your top competitors:
First, search 20-30 of your strongest target keywords on Google.
As you do this, keep a running tally of how often each competitor shows up and their ranking for that particular keyword.
Take this result for example:
I would add the following to my tally spreadsheet:
Now, let’s say the next result looks like this:
I would then modify my tally spreadsheet as follows:
Notice that the “# of Appearances” column for Moz.com now has 4 (because it showed up in both searches twice), and a ranking total of 8 (because it ranked 2nd and 3rd in the first result and 1st and 2nd in the other).
At the end of your tally, find the top 2-4 competitors that have:
- the highest number of appearances and
- the lowest ranking total.
These will be the top competitors that you’ll add to Monitor Backlinks so you can start tracking and analyzing their link profiles.
How to Add Competitors to Monitor Backlinks
So now you have your top 2-4 competitors.
The next step is to add them to Monitor Backlinks so you can check their backlinks.
Monitor Backlinks offers different membership plans that allow a specified number of competitors to be added to your account:
- The Startup plan lets you add up to two competitors.
- The Freelancer, Small Business and Agency plans let you add up to four competitors.
Once you’ve signed in or signed up (get your risk-free trial here):
Go to the Competitor Links module…
…and click the “Add Competitor” button:
Next, type in the domain name of the competitor you want to track…
…and (this is important) verify this is one of your competitors.
(Note: You can change your competitors once each month. So it’s important that you add the right domain the first time.)
Once the domain name is entered, click “Add New Competitor:”
And that’s it! Your competitor’s backlinks will now be tracked by Monitor Backlinks.
From here, you’ll be able to view a whole buffet of useful information about your competitors’ sites and their individual backlinks.
And that’s what the next section is all about.
How to Check Backlinks of Competitors (and What to Do with Them)
Once you’ve added your competitors, you’ll see them listed in the main dashboard of your Competitor Links module:
This summary gives you a snapshot look at the following:
- Total number of backlinks
- Number of new backlinks since the last update
- Total number of unique domains
- Total number of unique C Class IPs
- Majestic Trust Flow and Citation Flow scores
Then click on the competitor’s name and you’ll be taken to their backlinks list:
This is where you’ll spend most of your time.
This list displays each new backlink your competitor has received since adding them to Monitor Backlinks.
Not only that, but it also gives you the following for each link:
- The date it was added
- Linking page (referring page)
- Anchor text and Link To page (target page)
- Status of the backlink
- Majestic Trust and Citation Flows
- Top-level domain and IP
- Number of external links on the page
Each of these metrics gives you valuable clues as to whether the backlink in question is good enough to be duplicated on your own site (I’ll show you how to do this in just a sec).
Using the “Sort” function, you can order any of these columns by either numerical ascending or descending and alphabetical values.
Just click the title of the column:
Once for ascending/alphabetical and twice for descending/reverse alphabetical.
How to Analyze Your Competitors’ Backlinks for Maximum Impact
Now, you might be wondering:
How do I approach all of this useful information?
The first thing I recommend you do is to click the “Show Live Links Only” button:
This button automatically eliminates links from pages that are no longer active. After all, we’re looking for valuable backlink opportunities, and we can’t get those from dead sites.
Next, you’ll want to order the list by either Trust Flow or Citation Flow:
This will order the competitor’s links by the highest quality, showing you the sources of their most powerful backlinks.
Also, remember we’re looking for unique link building opportunities.
This means you shouldn’t spend your time reviewing links from sources that you already have a backlink from (called a “common backlink”).
So, for now, you’ll want to ignore any backlink with the “Common Backlink” tag:
Now, it’s time to analyze the individual backlink.
Let’s look at how this works in actual practice by analyzing a couple of links from a competitor’s list.
For the first example, let’s say we come across this competitor backlink:
Here’s what we can gather from looking at the info:
- The linking page is about marketing blogs
- The backlink links to the competitor’s main blog
- It’s a followed link
- Trust Flow is good at 40 (hovering over the graphic will show the actual score)
- Citation Flow is 38 (you can also hover over this one)
- TLD originates in the USA, which means it’s not a foreign link
- There are a high number of external links (304) on the linking page
At first glance, the only concerning metric is the high external links, which can be a spam indicator.
But this link is definitely worth studying live.
So we’ll click on the title of the linking page and be taken to this page on MarketingTerms.com with the backlink:
Right away we can see that this is a selective directory page for online marketing-related sites.
And if we search for the anchor text used in the backlink (“Gotch SEO”—use Ctrl +F to find), we’ll come across it here:
This is a valuable backlink (it’s obvious by looking at the information in our backlinks list) and the external links shouldn’t concern us due to the nature of the page the link is on.
Assuming we’re also in the online marketing niche, we should reach out to this site’s owner or admin and request that we also are included in this list.
This by itself could score a significantly valuable backlink.
Let’s look at one more.
For the second example, let’s say we come across this competitor backlink:
Here’s what we notice at first glance:
- The backlink points to the competitor’s main site
- It’s a followed link
- The Trust and Citation Flow scores aren’t very high
- TLD originates in the USA
- There are quite a few external links, but not too many
Let’s go ahead and visit the referring page:
Okay, so it looks like this is an interview podcast with the competitor that includes a transcript.
Where’s the backlink located?
Let’s search for the anchor text on the referring page…
Looks like it’s included in two places:
- At the very beginning of the transcript and
- At the very end of the transcript.
What can we learn from analyzing this link?
First, podcasts and interviews (regardless of the form) are smart strategies for generating backlinks.
Second, written transcripts create a solid reason for including a link within the text.
So the question remains…
Should we pursue a link from this source?
Given the information we gathered from our competitor’s backlinks list, I’d say this is a valuable potential candidate, but not one that would take top priority.
Now It’s Your Turn
I just showed you how to check backlinks of competitors using Monitor Backlinks.
Now it’s your turn to put what you learned into practice.
(After all, you want to rank with the best. And you need to analyze your competition to do that.)
So, if you haven’t already, sign up for your free trial of Monitor Backlinks…
…and start finding your top competitors, add them to Monitor Backlinks, and use the Competitor Links module to study and analyze their highest quality links.