Good, effective links require the right context and the right audience. Competitor backlink analysis is a great jumping-off point for a link building campaign. If you are targeting the same audience, any links your competitors win should work for you too.
There is more than one way to go about using competitor link information. For the most successful link building, you need to understand the strategies and use a good mix of them. One link strategy that you may have overlooked is taking advantage of your competitors’ brand mentions.
Researching what successful competitors are doing in SEO, to earn links, and to improve traffic and page rank is always a winning strategy. If it works for them, and they are targeting the same or a similar audience, why wouldn’t the strategies work for you? There is no reason to reinvent the wheel.
When it comes to backlinks, analyzing what your competitors are doing helps guide your strategy. Also, finding your own unlinked brand mentions in content is a great way to find sites willing to give you a link.
You can take this strategy a step further and find your competitors’ unlinked brand mentions. These may be on sites that don’t know about you yet but should. Harness these for links. There are several good tools for doing competitor backlink analysis:
These tools can give you a long list of sites mentioning competitor brands, but it’s important to prioritize them. You probably can’t target every site that comes up, and some are worth skipping. Filter results to target sites with higher domain authority, impressive search traffic, and relevant keywords.
The purpose of doing the above research is to understand what competitors are doing, what works for them, and what doesn’t. With this information you can determine your own strategy for getting more backlinks.
For example, just by looking at the referring domains sending links to your competitors’ pages you get an idea of where to target your own outreach. Sites willing to link to competitors are likely to be open to links to your pages as well. Especially useful are those sites that have linked to more than one competitor.
Also use any of the research tools to dig deeper into the referring domains. Take a look at the actual pages that include the links. You should see some patterns that indicate the topics, types of content, and keywords that will be useful for directing links to your pages.
Also look at the anchor text that those sites are using for the links. This is another clue as to how you can direct links in your own campaign.
Competitor backlink analysis is a smart way to work on a link building, but there are many more things you can do with it. Find the brand mentions that aren’t actually linked back to your competitors and you have fertile ground for getting your own links where they missed an opportunity.
Brand mentions are so useful for backlinks because you’re targeting domains and pages that are already aware of and interested in the brand, a particular product or service, or a content topic. This won’t be a random link request. They are already primed to be more willing to give you a link.
Getting links using your own brand’s mentions is a no-brainer. But you can also harness the power of a competitor’s unlinked mentions. Those sites mentioning them are interested in your niche, but they may not know about you yet.
Finding the unlinked messages using SEO tools and prioritizing a list of prospects for links is the first step. To actually succeed in getting the link, you need to do outreach.
Outreach for less targeted, specific sites can be done in bulk with a tool like Buzzstream. But because you’ve done the work to nail down sites that are excellent prospects, take more time with outreach. You’re introducing your brand to someone who may not have heard of it yet take the time to make outreach personal:
The skyscraper method involves finding your competitors’ content that gets a lot of mentions or links, writing something better, and then stealing those links and mentions. Use your list of competitor unlinked brand mentions to create superior content those referring domains will consider linking to.
Let’s say you have a content marketing site. You find mentions of a competitor site on a popular, high domain authority blog for freelance writers. The page with the mention refers to your competitor as a good source of information on learning content marketing best practices for beginners.
Now you have a relevant topic to tackle. Take a look at the type of content that competitor is offering and create something better. For example, maybe they have an article titled “What’s new in content marketing for 2019.” Write a better article with 2020 trends.
This can be resource intensive, but the pay off is potentially big. You are tailoring your content to appeal to your competitor’s referring domain for the best possible chance of getting a positive response to outreach.
And the next step is outreach. Put as much thought into this as you do in researching and creating content. Craft a personalized email and explain why your content is better, relevant, and deserves a link.
Sometimes a competitor brand mention is linked but the link is broken. This is another good opportunity for you to step in and offer the referring domain something better, namely a link that works.
This is an especially foolproof way to get links because no one wants to be linking out to dead pages. If you can find those broken competitor links and reach out to the referring domain with a better, working page to link to, they’ll likely take it.
Here’s the basic, four-step process:
1. Find the broken links that mention competitor brands.
2. Determine what the content was on that broken page. If it isn’t obvious from the URL or anchor text you can use the Wayback Machine to see the archived content.
3. Create similar, but better, pieces of content.
4. Reach out to the page with the broken link and suggest a link to your new, improved content.
You can find your competitors’ broken brand mention links with SEO research tools. Ahrefs Site Explorer is great for this research:
You get a list of pages that are broken and all the sites linking to them. These sites are relevant because they linked to your competitor, but now they’re left with a broken link. Reach out and offer a working page with better content to replace that link.
There are so many different ways to get links to your pages that go beyond simple outreach. Competitor analysis is just the beginning of several winning strategies. If you can find where other sites mention competitors, you’re halfway to getting a brand new link.
Satya is skilled in SEO, traditional link building, and has sharp knack when it comes to email marketing techniques and deploying email campaigns.
Fun fact: Satya loves shopping and believes in staying stronger together.
Mike Woellert is PureLinq’s digital marketing manager and has several years of digital marketing experience.
Fun fact: Mike is a huge Disney, Star Wars and Marvel movie fanatic.
Richard Cummings has been practicing SEO and online marketing for years. He has set up, analyzed, and optimized countless websites and always looks forward to new, creative challenges to improve website traffic for clients.
Kristie performs business admin and HR tasks for PureLinq.
Fun fact: Kristie loves shopping!
Angela began link building in 2007 and quickly became known as the go-to expert in all things offsite marketing. By combining content marketing, traditional link building, and social media, she was able to set clients up with outstanding programs that delivered results in the form of organic rankings and traffic. Angela joined PureLinq as the Director of Operations in October 2020. Fun fact: Angela is an NFL team owner, as she owns stock in the Green Bay Packers.
Kevin Rowe is one of the top innovators in the search marketing industry, developing industry-leading programs for SEO and link building. He has built world-class programs for a range of companies from fortune 100 to Silicon Valley startups. He is a thought leader with his thoughts being published in Search Engine Journal, Fast Company, Forbes, Huffington Post, and Search Engine Land.
Read Kevin’s latest articles on Search Engine Journal.
Kevin’s personal podcast: the Future of SEO
Kaitlin helps manage freelance writer content, putting her BA in Journalism from Mississippi State University to good use. She also has a minor in French, but don’t ask her to speak it.
Fun fact: Kaitlin was a barista for many years and is on a mission to sip the best coffee in every state.
Jon Lightfoot was founder and CEO of a successful chemical and fragrance company. Upon exiting that role he spent more than a decade agency side and several years brand side wherein he honed robust marketing, strategy and data intelligence acumen. Jon’s strategic marketing initiatives have stewarded healthcare providers, agencies, learning and education based companies, eComm and Fortune 500 companies alike in meeting or exceeding their SEO, branding, performance and audience expansion goals.
Lindsey manages the day-to-day management of freelancer writers and editors as well as content production. In addition to holding two BAs in History and English from Binghamton University, she has a Masters in Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications.
Fun fact: Lindsey has traveled to 11 countries and it’s on her bucket list to visit every continent.
James is the PureLinq Developer. He is responsible for building and maintaining the client portal.
Fun fact: James lived in Japan for five years.
April’s position at PureLinq has her overseeing all content production, managing a team of freelance writers and editors, and building out our content guidelines. She has an MA in print and digital journalism from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University and a BA in Communication Studies and Marketing from Cazenovia College.
Fun fact: April basically runs a zoo with a pet rabbit named Lily and two Australian Shepards named June and Hank; chickens coming soon. She also likes to refurbish furniture in her spare time.
If it needs to get done, Marcus can figure it out. He has worked on e-commerce and lead generation programs for a variety of digital marketing projects. These experiences include SEO, PPC, web analytics, minor development, and email marketing.
Fun fact: Marcus, otherwise known as Larabee Live, is a one-man-band that plays all around Central New York.
Joseph helps to scale up the PureLinq database through blogger research and outreach. He builds white-hat links for high-value content and pages with niche audiences.
Steve has over a decade of SEO and link building experience. He focuses on building white-hat links for high-value content and pages with niche audiences.
Colin performs link mining and outreach for PureLinq’s clients and brings a high level of organization to manage a large number of link placements each month.
Fun fact: Colin loves techno music and playing video games.