Learn How to Conduct Competitor Backlink Analysis Effectively
Link building is one of the most important ranking factors on Google and forms a crucial pillar of a successful SEO strategy. Simply put, link building is a process of getting other websites to link to our site and increasing our site’s credibility, trust and authority for search engines.
Whether you have recently started with your SEO endeavour or looking at revisiting your existing link building strategy, a backlink analysis is inevitable. Let’s first understand the meaning of backlink analysis.
What is Backlink Analysis?
Backlink analysis is a thorough review of your website’s link quantity and the quality of the sites that are linking to your website, webpage or subfolder. A holistic backlink analysis includes the number and quality of links, anchor text analysis, content relevancy, broken links and much more.
Understanding your current standing through backlink analysis is just the beginning, the real meats and potatoes are in analyzing your competitor’s backlink profile. The insights drawn here will help you determine the link building tactics and content types that are working for your competitors and the ones you should focus on in the near future.
Word of caution: Before we move ahead, remember that the backlink analysis of yours and the competitors websites will offer you an OCEAN OF DATA, it all boils down to how effectively you PRIORITISE and QUALIFY the backlinks you would like to aim for.
The Importance of Competitor Backlink Analysis
Competitor Backlink Analysis provides a more scientific and data-driven approach to your overall SEO strategy. It answers two key questions:
- What you’re up against
- How you can reach there or surpass your competitor
Above all, why reinvent the wheel when you can immediately leverage your competitor’s strengths and learn from their mistakes.
That said, you should not be looking at competitor’s backlinks in isolation, rather aim at procuring a high-level view of your competitors successful link building tactics.
Let’s have a deeper look by conducting a SWOT analysis for your competition backlink analysis.
How To Conduct a Competitor Backlink Analysis
Now that you know what is backlink analysis and its importance, let’s dive in deeper to understand the process of effective competitor backlink analysis:
1. Determine Your Competitors
Get started with deciding on the sites that you would like to analyse along with your own site. Your list must include:
- The real world competitors, offering same products or services
- Sites that are outranking you for your targeted keywords on search engine
You can find out about your competitors by manual search on Google or use tools to help you with determining the competitor’s sites and their competition level.
2. Select a Backlink Analysis Tool
Even though we have an option to conduct manual backlink analysis, it is always recommended to use a backlink checker tool for an exhaustive analysis, improved efficiency and saving ample amount of time. There are a plethora of free and paid tools available in the market, some of the most popular and effective paid tools are:
These are all very powerful tools and to select the one that would match your requirement and budget, you can opt for a free trial and analyse. Ahrefs however charges $7 for a week’s trial, while SEMrush and Moz offer free trial for 7 and 30days respectively.
The tools are easy to use and navigate through. With the help of tools you can get complete details about your competitor’s backlink portfolio, which includes, their referring domains, most popular content, top performing anchor texts, domain authority, broken links and much more.
3. Check the Total Backlinks, Referring Domains and Top pages
Now that you have determined your competitors and selected a backlink audit tool, it’s time to conduct the competition backlink analysis with focus on few important metrics initially-
- Total number of backlinks: The starting point is always to know the competitors’ total number of backlinks compared to yours. This information helps you identify the competitor with largest backlink portfolio and certainly offers a higher link building opportunity. That said, the question here is how valuable these backlinks are?
- Referring Domains: To know the value of the backlinks, you need to look beyond the number of backlinks and assess the unique domains linking to the site and referring domain authority. For instance, website X pointing one link to website Y is a unique referring domain. A site can get multiple backlinks from same referring domain; however the value reduces in such case. You must aim at building diverse link profile for great results.
- Top Pages– Find your competitors top linked pages, this will give you a perspective on their most popular and valuable content. For instance, if few of their blogs covering a specific topic are generating high number of backlinks, this gives you an idea on the kind of content you must also generate. Try to craft content better and more insightful than theirs, to steal those links.
4. Assess Broken Links & Anchor Text
Another quick check that can bring to you a sense of accomplishment is by analysing the broken links & anchor text for both your site and your competitor’s. Broken links hampers your link juice and make the website harder to crawl.
To fix broken links on your site:
- Redirect the broken page to a relevant page on your website
- Contact the webmaster and ask to replace it with another link
Why identify competitor’s broken links?
- Reach out to the referring domain and get that link by generating similar content
- Allows you to create a good relationship with the webmaster, let them know about a broken link and they may reciprocate in future, if not instantly.
Anchor Text are words that are hyperlinked to your site. They convey to Google and the user what the destination of the link is all about. Anchor text analysis will help you identify where all your competitors are getting mentioned, giving you an opportunity to reach out to the relevant domains and offer additional content and a brand mention.
The best practices include that the anchor text terms should be relevant to content of the site and must be diverse.
5. Link Velocity & New links
Link velocity represents the link growth rate overtime. Comparing your link growth with your competitors can provide a lot of valuable information. A competitor with a declining link velocity over the years, is a good sign, in case you are looking at outranking them.
However, link growth rate varies for every niche and you must understand what is acceptable by the search engine. Going very aggressive on link numbers all of the sudden can attract penalty from Google. So generally the link growth rate should be proportional with the content development.
New Backlinks generated by your competitors are a good way to figure out which domains in your niche are linking out. This also opens up new avenues for you to attract backlinks. To keep a track on your competitor’s new backlinks you can schedule notification on your backlink checker tool. The key here is being prompt in reacting to these opportunities.
Ready to discover link building opportunities for your site?
Competitor backlink analysis gives you an understanding on how and where your competitors are building links. The question that you need to ask at every stage is- “Why these websites are linking to my competitor and not me”? The whole crux of conducting the audit lies in here, you must aim at discovering the answer to this very question.
Once you develop an understanding of the gaps, kind of content you must develop and make changes to your overall strategy, success is bound to follow.