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Reviewing SEO Competitive Ranking with Ahrefs

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 31 Mar, 2015
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Check your competitor’s SEO strategies with the Ahrefs Site Explorer and Backlink History tools

We live in an age of competition where you have to be at the top of your game to survive, let alone thrive. If you are in the field of Internet Marketing, then you have probably been encouraged to improve your content and your promotion techniques on several occasions to achieve better results. All of these work perfectly fine, but they are not enough to get you across the finishing line ahead of your competitors.

Sometimes you are required to broaden your horizon and think slightly out of the box. How can you do that? Well it’s simple. Tap into the minds of your competitors and figure out the strategies that they are devising. This way, you can better equip yourself to compete with them and outsmart them.

When it comes to SEO, checking your competitor’s strategy with Ahref's Site Explorer and Backlink checker can help you gain a competitive edge by reviewing their techniques and improving on them

Competitive backlink analysis

There are several factors that determine whether a website will pop up at the top of your search results or not.

Getting hold of quality links is one of the best ways to be highly competitive in a search vertical.The problem with doing this is that a lot of people do not understand the basics of building links. Those who do have a certain degree of knowledge, tend to be too nervous and tentative to put their skills to the test. Some resort to shortcuts by buying spammy links.

If you have been in the SEO business for a considerable amount of time, you should know that spammy links will only get you so far.  In such a desperate situation, the best option available to you is checking your competitor’s strategy with Site Explorer.

In other words, you are required to conduct a complete competitive analysis. As mentioned before, it helps you to figure out the nature of the quality links that your competitors have come up with and allows you to replicate their success or even better it to a certain extent.

Forming the Key Phrase List

The first thing that you need to do is create a list of all the competitors you have. In doing this, do not mix up the real world competitors with the SERP competitors. Keep them separated in your head and in your work. The URLs that you can see at the top of the SERPs are the real search engine competitors. It is their backlink profiles that are to be subjected to analysis for your own benefit.

A simple way of starting out is forming a list of important phrases that you may want to rank for. The list does not have to be too big, in fact you are encouraged to keep the number of entries confined to 10 or less. If you are jotting down a huge list, then the results become far too broad for your own convenience.

Below is an example of a list of important phrases, also known as a keyphrase list. This was created to analyse backlinks for food delivery companies

  • “food delivery company”
  • “ food delivery companies”
  • “ home delivery service”
  • “ take away service”

Your main aim here is to find out the people who are linking to other food deliver companies that are on display at the top of the search results. This process can be done manually or automatically.

The advantage of using Ahrefs Site Explorer

Needless to say, the automatic process is far easier and much more efficient. If you are going to resort to a site explorer to carry out this function, then you are recommended to use Ahrefs Site Explorer. This provides you with your own index that contains information on trillions of website connections. The index, besides being endlessly vast, is always up to date as it refreshes every half an hour and is updated every other week. Ahref will also provide you with a daily list of New and Lost backlinks. In addition to that, you can avail a CSV export for Site Explorer, Reports and Batch Analysis.

It comes with its own crawler that goes through billions of pages on a daily basis. Next you have the rating system which is quite crystal clear as it takes into account the number of links and the quality of each link. As cherries on top, you also get the luxury smart reindexing and improved crawler system.

ahref site explorer

ahref search

Pointers for using Site Explorer

  • 1. Competitor URLs that are ditto copies of domains of a given keyword should be avoided. Their high ranking can be attributed to the domain name and not their link profile. Analysing their backlink profile will do you little good.
  • 2. Sites that have no external links should be avoided. If you are running an Ahrefs report on a URL, you are likely to come across a profile with no external links. Do not bother exporting this piece of information.
  • 3. Have patience because exporting 10 to 40 different site explorer reports will not be a joyride.

The all important analysis

Once the CSV exports are completed, you are required to bring all of this data under one roof in the form of a spreadsheet. When you are done with the spreadsheet, you will have before you a perfect list of competitor backlinks that is simply waiting to be sorted and analyzed.

During the analysis, you’ll notice a variety of backlink tactics coming into play. These may include guest blogging, trusted paid directories or educational content.

The number of ways to investigate your competitor’s strategy with Site Explorer is endless. It is up to you to come up with a tactic that falls in your comfort zone. Till then, keep your head in the game and keep one eye fixed on your competitor.

[Editor's note: We have a comparison of backlink analysis tools in this other post, but Ahrefs is well established and has one of the best, free one page summaries of link profiles - useful for consultants to present to prospective clients for competitor comparison.]

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