Digital Insights

Get Quality Backlinks and Improved Google Rankings by Spying on Your Competitors


Published: July 3, 2014

No, we’re not suggesting you do something illegal or even unethical. Competitive backlink analysis is done all the time, and uses commonly available tools like Open Site Explorer, AHrefs and MajesticSEO to examine the quantity, source, and quality of the links that fuel your competitor’s rankings. Armed with this information, even a complete SEO newbie can successfully build quality rank-building links for a fraction of the time and cost associated with creating a link building campaign from scratch.

Detailed information about any website’s link profile is readily accessible if you know where to look, and checking out the competition’s links is really no different than a retailer “shopping” the competition to make sure that his or her products are competitively priced. Once you have a list of the links that are driving your competition’s search engine rankings, you can go after those same links to power your own website.

Why Backlink Analysis is the Core of any Successful Link Building Campaign

The quantity and quality of your inbound links remains one of the most important factors in determining how your web pages will rank in the search engines results. A thorough understanding of the link profile of both your own website as well as that of the competitors who are ranking above you is essential to building the right type of links that will improve your rankings. A backlink analysis arms you with that information by examining

  • The total number of inbound links.
  • How many of those links are coming from unique domains. Too many links from any one domain might get you red-flagged for having an unnatural link profile. Another problem is that the ranking value of each link starts dropping off as additional links from the same domain are added.
  • Anchor text diversity. You want to maintain a balance with different anchor text in order to have a natural-appearing link profile; use a mix of branded keywords instead of the money keywords you’re trying to rank for. You can also vary your anchor text by using “click here” and “for more information.”
  • The number of new links added.
  • Individual website page performance. By knowing exactly where your inbound links are going, you can better focus your link building efforts by directing new links to the pages where they’re needed most.
  • The quality of the inbound links. Remember that not all links are created equal. Consider the link relevance, the authority and Page Rank of both the linking site and the specific page being linked from, the natural appearance of the link within the surrounding text, and the anchor text itself.

Two highly recommended tools to help you in your backlink analysis efforts are Majestic SEO and Moz’s Open Site Explorer. Majestic offers a free limited-option plan, and Open Site Explorer has a free 30 day trial.

How to Profit from Your Backlink Analysis

Once your backlink analysis is complete, you can export everything to an Excel spreadsheet for detailed study. The information collected will enable you to

  • Discover the most effective links that your competitors are using against you. Unless those links are coming from a privately-owned blog network, you should be able to add links to your own site from many of these domains.
  • Uncover new sources of links highly relevant to your industry and niche.
  • Clean up your own link profile by identifying and removing bad links.
  • Ensure that your anchor text and overall link profile is properly balanced and natural appearing to the search engines.