If you want to out rank your competitors you’ve got to have ‘better’ links than them. Too many people think they’ve got to trick or beat Google; when actually you’ve only got to perform better than your rivals.
If you’re on a rush to top the search rankings you need to know what chinks they have in their armour.
Even Kittens have armour nowadays – via jeff
If you know where they are lacking, your efforts constructive efforts will be much more effective.This is a process we’ve been using a lot recently and I thought we’d share how we analyze competitors’ link profiles and how we use that to inform our link building strategies.
Choose your competitors – every company has a few businesses who they have friendly rivalry with, those who immediately spring to mind might not be those you should analyze. I normally take five keywords and see which three websites rank the best across all the terms. We have some in house tools to do some following number crunching, though a few off the shelf tools like SEO Elite work quite well too.
Anchor Text – what proportion of your competitors links use anchor text containing your top keywords. If they have a small proportion you should try and attract more.
Be aware though we’ve found in quite a few cases recently if you have too many links using one kind of linking text it will impair your ability to rank on that term.
For example this blog has a large number of links point to it using the anchor text ‘kelvin newman’ while an old aborted blog I created with next to no links and none with my name in the anchor text consistently out ranks it.
Page Rank Spread – while in many ways page rank is a flawed metric to judge sites, when combine with other factors I still think it’s worth spending some time looking into. Does your competitor have a bigger percentage of high PR links than you or do they rely on quantity rather than quality.
While you should always aim for authority links if you can understand the makeup of those already ranking well it’ll help you target the links that will deliver most quality.
Domain of Link Partners – I don’t think any of the major search engines give links from certain domain extensions automatically, however .ac.uk or .gov.uk can be a short cut to finding links, which have all the qualities of a quality site.
I always target relevant pages on these domains when link building, but if I find the competitors have a large proportion of links on trustworthy TLDs I make it even more of a priority.
Contextual Relevance – imagine you’re Google for a second which link would you see as the most valuable. A site about ponies linking to an industrial widgets site or a page explaining the technology of widgets linking to an industrial widgets site?
Have a good look into the content of the website linking to your ranking competitors. They might rely on links from quality business directories or link pages of suppliers. This gives you a great opportunity by gaining in body links in pages talking about topics similar to your site.
Linked Pages – while perhaps less important than some of the other ways you can look into back link profiles, it’s still incredibly useful to see what internal pages are being linked to. A lot of high ranking websites only receive external links to their home page or a few important internal pages, if you can attract links to a greater variety of pages it send a strong signal about your websites reputation.
Many link builders will already look at these indicators of link quality when deciding who to contact and approach, however if you’ve done some in-depth research and comparison between your competitors back links it will help make your link building even more effective.