A successful link building campaign is crucial to your company’s ability to generate leads and sales. Not only does having a backlink profile full of great links increase your site’s ability to rank in organic search, but also, more websites have the ability to send you referral traffic. More traffic can then yield more conversions/leads.
Where do you start looking for potential linking targets? What types of links should you be shooting for? These questions and more can be answered by looking at the backlink profiles of sites that rank well for terms you would like to rank for. I will discuss how to perform a competitive analysis that will help your team form a link building campaign with a high chance of success.
1. Get the Tools
To start any backlink analysis you need two pieces: A site to analyze and a backlink analyzer tool (Majestic, Moz, Ahrefs, etc.) to find all of the backlinks for that site. The easiest way to find a good site to analyze is by organically searching a keyword you would like to rank for. Odds are, the websites ranking for that term have a decent amount of backlinks in their backlink profile. However, don’t limit yourself to the terms you want to rank for. As an example, we have a client in the textbook rental space. We could look at the profiles of their direct competitors, but to give us a better idea of what else is out there, we spend time looking at bookstores and other similar companies to make sure we are exploring all possible opportunities.
2. Classify Backlinks
Now that there are a few sites to analyze, we can start classifying their backlinks. To set up my analysis, I typically open an Excel spreadsheet and create two tabs — one to hold the link classification and one to house any notes or ideas I get while doing the analysis. The analysis tab is usually three columns: the URL, link type, and any notes I want to include.
The key to make this an actionable analysis is the link-type column. Consider the following questions:
- Is the link on a profile site?
- Is the link part of a resource list?
- Is it part of a guest blog post or a link bait campaign a client is running?
- Is the client being interviewed?
3. Search for Link Opportunities
Those are just a few of the questions I answer in the link type/notes column. When I finish analyzing the number of links I feel comfortable with, I then filter each link type and try to find patterns in them. For example, I was doing an analysis on a few car donation sites. I noticed in the first three list-style links in the site’s body, I saw the phrase “car donation sites” and in the URL the word “link” was present. With that data I did a quick search in Google — intext:”car donation site” inurl:links — and quickly I was able to identify three or four different types of sites that also had lists. This led me to a few more searches. In three minutes I had 10-12 new link opportunities that I could reach out to.
4. Determine Which Industries to Target
Obviously, this is an oversimplification of the process. However, it’s important to remember, just because you don’t see a certain type of link opportunity in your analysis does not mean you should not peruse it. A competitive analysis can be a great tool to determine what niches to target.
For example, we have a car care client. In a competitive analysis, I noticed car clubs frequently linking to its competitors. I then realized that car enthusiasts would be a great target market to contact. As I started to think of ways to target them, I searched for car clubs with “our sponsors,” which returned over 1 million results. This could be a great avenue to consider, because it fits my client’s target market, and there are times where these sponsorships offer a link in exchange for becoming a sponsor.
This blog post only scratched the surface of insights you can gain while crafting a highly successful link building campaign. However, you can gain a lot of insight from your competitors, so keep in mind the following:
First, figure out who links to your company and how this could benefit you. Second, remember this is not done to merely copy the competition. A competitive analysis is not meant to find specific links to target, but rather to give you a bigger idea of different industries and companies to target. From there, it is your job to figure out how to find more avenues like it.
Ultimately, a competitive analysis tool can be a great tool to drive on-site and off-site content plans. Stay tuned, this topic will soon be covered in a later blog post.