Researching the competition is one of the most important elements of business success in the modern business world. In fact, keeping tabs on the most successful actors in your field has always been an excellent way to bring prospects to your doorstep and surpass the competition in the long run.
Needless to say, backlink analysis falls right into this category and remains a crucial part of the discovery process. How else are you going to find out who’s linking back to their websites and how many outlets are there that are supporting their growth, brand reach, and boosting their rankings?
You need to research your competitors’ backlink portfolio and strategy in order to gain a competitive advantage and increase your own websites’ traffic and conversions. Here’s what you need to do to achieve this goal.
It all starts with keyword research
In order to improve your online authority in the eyes of the public and reach the top spot on Google’s result pages, you need to rank high for keywords relevant to your brand, services, and niche. With that in mind, your first order of business should be to conduct in-depth keyword research that will tell you what people are searching for. With these keywords in your hands, you can find out how your competitors are ranking for the same phrases.
What you might be surprised to find out is that there are smaller actors in your niche you never heard about that are ranking higher than you for specific phrases, so that you can broaden your search and discover even more opportunities for your own content. Once you have the list of keywords, you can go ahead and Google them.
Identify your competitors
The sheer number of keywords related to your business and niche makes it very difficult for your competitors to achieve monopoly over them. This means that not all keywords relevant to your business are dominated by the biggest competitors in the field.
This creates an opportunity to rank your website higher for select keywords, but it also hints at the possibility that smaller, yet equally important, competitors might be lurking in the shadows.
By Googling the keywords you’re most interested in, you can zero in on the competition in its entirety.
More importantly, this type of research will let you find out if their content is actually delivering and solving their audience’s problems. If not, they might get penalized for going after irrelevant keywords, which is something you should watch out for as well.
Now that you have them in your sights, it’s time to check out their backlink portfolios.
Examine the competitors’ backlinks
Here comes the good part. Find the list of all the links on the web that lead back to your website. Building this network of backlinks efficiently and effectively means positioning organic KWs on these target pages by finding and reaching out to authoritative influencers in your specific industry and niche. Keep in mind, though, you’re not the only one doing this, which is why discovering your competitors’ backlink profiles becomes imperative.
You can use a number of tools to monitor your competitors’ backlinks and discover the blogs that are linking back to their websites. One of these tools is Ahrefs. You can start by finding your domain-level competitors by using Ahrefs Competing Domains option. Results can be sorted by common keywords, keywords unique to competitor or keywords unique to target.
Once you do this, seek for page-level competitors. These don’t necessarily need to be your direct competitors but websites that rank well for a topic/keyword of your interest, thus competing with you. This can be done by using Keywords Explorer option – just add a keyword you’re trying to rank for (in this example I’ve used keyword Onsite SEO)
Then, scroll down for results in the SERP Overview section.
Finally, once you determined your main competitors, use the Backlink Profile option to directly find their backlinks. You can simply do this by adding their website in the Ahrefs search. These backlinks can be sorted by anchor text, date, domain rating, traffic, referring page… (In the example below you can see how Moz backlink portfolio looks like, since it is one of Ahrefs’ main competitors).
With all this Ahrefs data in your hands, you can analyze the top-performing content, the blog they’re featured on, and use it to discover new bloggers and opportunities for your own content and backlink strategy.
Monitor backlinks regularly to discover lucrative opportunities
It’s not just about discovering your competitors or checking out their backlink portfolios one time – it’s about continuous research and diligent backlink monitoring that will allow you to find new backlink opportunities for your website. After all, if a blogger was willing to publish a link to your competitors’ websites, then there is a distinct possibility they will be willing to do the same for you.
This is all provided that you have mastered the fine art of guest blogging, that is. Keeping tabs on their backlinks will also allow you to discover broken links and lost backlinks, which presents the ideal opportunity for you to step in with your own content and fill the gap, effectively replacing your competitor’s link with your own.
Improve on the best practices
If the competition is fierce, you need to be fiercer. There is no way around it, your content needs to have higher quality content, better storytelling, offer a simpler solution, and of course, take a more in-depth approach to every topic. Using the time-tested skyscraper method, you can offer higher quality content to bloggers and thus boost your brand authority while enhancing the authority of the blogger at the same time.
Complementing stellar content with careful social listening will further allow you to keep tabs on your competition and react effectively to their every move in the future.
Building backlinks is an essential part of a winning SEO strategy, as every link that leads back to your website has the potential to improve your traffic, conversions, and ranking in the online world. Use these techniques to analyze your competition’s backlink strategies and capitalize on their success.