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Link Building Techniques : Competitor Link Analysis

Author's avatar By Chris Soames 27 Jan, 2011
Essential Essential topic

As part of my series of blog posts on link building techniques I have decided to look at how we can use tools and build a process to analyse a competitors backlink profile to help create a list of target sites for you to approach. After all, if your competitor can be on that website then why can't you?!

If you're new to the term "backlink" it's simply a link from another site to yours which Google may count to boost your ranking if it considers it's a quality link.

The key to this process is getting the appropriate data about yours & your top 5 / 10 competitors (in search) back links so you can filter & prioritse the actions off the back of it. Both you and your competitors are going to have backlinks which do very little for your website both in terms of ranking & referral traffic so be sure to spend the team filtering.

I also worked with Dave on a separate post reviewing 5 backlink analysis tools.

Benefits of using Competitor Back Link Analysis

  1. Relatively easy compared to other link building methods
  2. Data is readily available to help prioritise
  3. Targeted towards sites you know will have a positive impact on your search efforts

The aim

  • Identify who are your major competitors in Natural Search for your top 10 keywords?
  • Which backlinking approaches do they use?
  • How does their backlink profile vary in number of links, types of sites, age and growth of links

The Process

Collating the data on you & your competitors

While writing this blog post I noticed that SEOMOZ had just written a guide on how & what to analyse for competitor link analysis. You should definitely checkout the blog post here. Following Justin's blog post will allow you to appropriately analyse your competitors backlink profiles and arrive at the list we need to progress this process.

In short armed with the tools Justin talks about & armed with your top 10 keywords you need to arrive at a list of websites you need to target in your link building activity. To make the decision on which websites to prioritise you need to understand:

  • The volume of links with the appropriate anchor text against them
  • The quality of the websites the links come from

Prioritising & Planning

Now you have more data than you could ever want we need to turn this into a plan & a focussed todo list. Starting at keyword number one you need to choose the top 10 domains that you want to target from your research. Repeat this process for the other key-terms. You should now have a list of 100 websites to target, though you will probably need to de-dupe this list as well.

Once you have your list of websites to approach you need to spend time on each website & determine your approach. Key questions you should answer when considering each website:

  1. How important is this website to my plan?
  2. Who would visit this website & why would my business be relevant to them?
  3. What would this website find valuable (content, guest post, guides, widgets etc) that I could gift them in return for a link?
  4. What has no other company done on this website that I can do to show my businesses value?

Once you have made comments on this for each website you need to create the relevant to-do list and manage the process through. Once you start the process keep a track of websites you did get a link off and ones where you didn't. From such a focussed list I would expect that you will be successful with 50% of the websites.


So considering you now have a good proportion of the links your competitors do, as well as some links of your own + what you would hope is a highly optimised web page for each keyword, have your rankings improved? One month in I would start a weekly ranking check for the keywords you selected and monitor over a 12week period. This should be plenty of time for any impacts to show. Remember though your competitors will not be sat idle and you are most likely using other link building techniques so it is sometimes difficult to tie & action with reaction in this industry but you should get some indicative results.

Crucially though if you do rank better than before the activity you need to understand how this has impacted, traffic & ultimately sales.

Tools required to complete the process:

Recommended Link : SEOMOZ Guide to Competitor Link Analysis

Do you have any tips / stories our questions on competitor link analysis? Please get intouch below if so!

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Author's avatar

By Chris Soames

Chris Soames is a Smart Insights blogger and consultant, he has worked in digital marketing for over 6 years with the last few years managing international web strategies for a leading travel brand. Now the Commercial Director at First 10, an Integrated marketing agency, he helps clients get clarity on their marketing strategy and create campaigns engineered to engage with their consumers to help drive sell-through. Most of all, Chris enjoys working with talented people who want to create great (& commercial) things not just tick boxes.

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