All You Need to Know About Competitor Link Building
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There will more than likely be a time when your competitors will exceed you in the search engines. No matter how hard you try to improve your own backlink profile, they might never seem to budge from the top results in Google – and this is where competitor link building comes in.
If you want to become the one your competitors fear, you must observe what they do and become familiar with their online strategy. Once you have done so, you will then need to focus on acquiring some of their powerful links. Thankfully, it is rather easy to analyse your competitors’ backlink profiles. What’s more, you can also do so in an ethical manner.
Competitor Link Analysis
The more you understand your competitors, the easier it will be to beat them in the search engines. You must focus your attention on learning who your direct competitors are, as well as their ranking strengths and weaknesses.
Of course, you will also need to have a firm understanding of your niche market, so you will know the efforts you need to make to provide your business with a maximum return. For example, there is no point attempting to rank for a keyword that no-one is typing into Google.
Tip: Look for Common Link Building Patterns
If a competitor is ranking highly in the search engine result pages, you would be wise to look for patterns in their backlink profile. For example, they might be using one technique more than others, which is securing their online success.
How to Acquire Your Competitors’ Links
Once you have made a list of all your direct competitors, you must build a master spreadsheet of their backlinks, so you can analyse their link building strategy and aim to acquire the same links.
You can gain an insight into your competitors backlink profile by using either free or paid link analysis tools. While a paid tool can be expensive, it will provide your business with a greater insight into your competitors’ backlink profile. You’ll then be able to develop link building campaigns while tracking its progress.
There are various competitive analysis tools to help you analyse your competitors, such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer, SEMrush, Majestic Site Explorer, and Ahrefs.
While the free versions can be helpful, their features will be limited. If you are serious about building a strong backlink profile to shoot up the search engines, a paid tool should be the only option for you.
How to Find Your Competitors
If you want to discover your competitors online, simply type a keyword you want to rank for into Google. For example, if you run a construction business in London, you could type in “construction services in London” to identify your biggest competitors.
Ignore the directories and focus on the competing companies in the organic results. Once you have added them to your list, repeat your search using different keywords until you have a list of between 5 or 10 competitors in your niche. However, various paid tools can automate this process for you once you have entered your domain name.
Separate Domain and Page Level Competitors
There are two types of competitors you will need to go up against online: domain-level and page-level competitors. Domain level competitors will be competing with you for multiple search terms for many landing pages.
Page level competitors will not be competing with you across multiple pages, but they might be ranking highly for powerful keywords. Domain-level competitors will be on your radar, but you should also make a note of page-level competitors who are ranking above you in Google.
How to Create an Effective Spreadsheet
The next step will be to create an effective spreadsheet that lists your competitors’ backlink profiles. You should also add an additional column into the spreadsheet to state whether a link is or isn’t achievable for your website.
Start Acquiring as Many Links as Possible
Now you can start building on your link building strategy, using the backlinks that have determined your competitors’ rank in the search engines. In most cases, you will know how a competitor has acquired a link just by taking one look at it; for example, they might have secured a guest post or commented on an article, so you should do the same. To secure a link, you may need to write a high-quality article or ask a webmaster to use your link over a competitor.
- Identify Quick Wins
You will want to secure as many backlinks to your site as soon as possible to increase your ranking. To do so, identify quick wins in your master spreadsheet, which are links that can be edited without changing an article’s context or value.
A perfect example of a quick win is a list post, as it is easy to update a list with a relevant keyword, which can add value to the article. Tool roundups are also a good option, as a webmaster could simply update a page with an additional resource, which could benefit the reader.
- Use Google’s Reverse Image Search
If you don’t have the budget for paid tools, there are fortunately many effective manual tactics to help you discover your competitors’ backlinks, such as Google’s reverse image search. All you must do is right-click on an author image, click “search Google for image” and then find many posts that contain an author’s headshot.
- Steal Your Page-Level Competitors Links
If a page-level competitor is sitting high in the search engines for a sought-after keyword, you must make it your mission to remove them from their position. The best way to do so is to create better content than theirs on your website. Once your article is published, you will then be armed with a list of powerful sites to reach out to for backlinks. So, they might be willing to swap their link to a competitor’s article for yours, which can help you knock them off the top spot.
Draft the Perfect Email
There is no use analysing your competitors’ backlink profiles if you’re unable to secure many of their links. Give yourself the best possible chance of success by drafting the perfect email. You will need to focus on the following:
- Write a Powerful Email Subject Line
It’s important to trigger a webmaster’s curiosity when sending an email because this way, they will be more likely to read your pitch. As they have mentioned a competitor on their website, they might be familiar with your niche. As a result, it might be worthwhile mentioning a competitor in the email subject line.
- Target the Right Person
“Hi webmaster” will prove you haven’t done your homework or you simply don’t care about whether you will land a backlink. Prove you’re eager to be affiliated with a site by writing a targeted email heading. If you only have a generic email address, visit a company’s About or Meet the Team pages, and address the highest ranking person in a marketing department.
- Keep It Short
You can guarantee your recipient will have many other emails sitting in their inbox, so keep your emails short, clear and friendly. While you must introduce your brand and pitch your idea, you must make sure it is no more than a few sentences long.
Practice Good Judgment
You must use your own good judgment when analysing your competitors’ backlink profiles. Never copy them without doing your homework, as it could have serious repercussions for your website. It’s vital to build high-quality links from high authority websites every time.
If a website looks spammy or untrustworthy, or it doesn’t have a high domain authority, you should avoid it at all costs. Your competitor might be ranking highly despite the spam-filled backlink, but it could have a negative effect on your own backlink profile.
Continue to Track Your Competitors
Don’t stop tracking your competitors once you have secured all the backlinks you need from their profile. You can guarantee they will be looking at your link building strategy too and will be tweaking and changing their strategy to reclaim their position. Continual monitoring will ensure you have a constant stream of powerful backlinks to secure, which will help you to maintain or improve your position in Google.
Consider Other Google Ranking Factors
It is vital to remember that there are other Google ranking factors that can determine a website’s place in Google. While a solid backlink profile is essential to success, a site might also be ranking higher than yours as they feature high-quality content, have mastered on-page optimisation, or have optimised their site speed. You must focus on developing a rock-solid digital marketing strategy to ensure your success online.
All top ranking websites have one thing in common: they have a powerful backlink profile that is Google-friendly. If it weren’t, they wouldn’t be sitting in a top position! The only way to ensure you follow in their footsteps is through competitor link building, so you must learn where they are acquiring their links and identify the different strategies used to secure them.