Backlinks are important to SEO. So much so that they remain one the top ranking factors in Google’s algorithm in 2020.
Think of backlinks as votes of confidence to your website from other websites.
One of the easiest ways to build backlinks to your website is by finding websites that are already linking to your competitors. The idea goes that if a website is linking out to your competition, there is a good chance that they will link back to your website as well.
In this post I’ll walk you through a 5 step process to find backlink opportunities by monitoring the sites linking to your competitors.
When doing a backlink competitive analysis, the first step in the process is to identify your competitors. From my experience there can be up to two main types of competitors you can analyze.
Your search competitors will often look different from your traditional competitors, however there can be some overlap.
Start by making a list of both your search competitors and your traditional competitors along with their websites. We will use these lists in the next part of our analysis.
For search competitors you can choose to analyze their backlink profile via a backlink checker on either the domain-level or the page-level.
A domain-level link analysis will look at all backlinks pointing to their entire domain. A page-level analysis will only analyze one specific page on their website.
To decide which analysis makes more sense for you, check to see if your competitor is ranking for their homepage or specific page on their website like a blog post or a service page.
One of the best ways to find websites that are already linking to your competitors is by using a link-intersect tool. A link-intersect tool works by analyzing backlink profiles of multiple competitors to find websites that currently link to your competition, but not to your website.
The idea here is that if a website is linking to multiple competitors, there is a good chance they will also link to your website.
There are many tools that you can use to perform a link-intersect. I’ve highlighted some of more popular tools below:
A link-intersect report is super easy to run. All you need is the list of search competitors you made in the last step in addition to your own website.
You can then choose to export these websites to a prospecting list for when you are ready to reach out and ask for a link back to your website.
One of my favorite ways to search for new backlink opportunities is to monitor competitors backlinks in real-time.
There are two main benefits to doing this:
My favorite tool for monitoring backlink opportunities in real-time is Buzzsumo.
To get started, sign up for a free Buzzsumo account, login and and head to the monitoring page.
From there click the alerts dropdown in the top left corner and click on backlinks. You will then be prompted to create a backlink alert.
Start by creating a name for the alert and add the specific URL or domain you want to track backlinks to.
You also have the option to track backlinks to a specific page or any page on the domain. Which one you choose can depend on whether you are tracking domain-level backlinks or page-level backlinks.
For this example we will choose links to the exact URL which will display all the page-level backlinks for that page.
Next click on the filters & notification settings and scroll down to the section on how you would like to be alerted. I recommend choosing the setting for instant email alerts every time a result is found. Finish by clicking create alert.
You will now be notified by email the second a new backlink shows up for your competitors.
Tracking competitor brand mentions can be a great way to uncover more potential backlink opportunities for your website.
A competitor brand mention is defined as any time your competitor’s brand is mentioned online. By tracking these mentions you can find websites that are covering your competitors that you can target for coverage of your brand.
There are two tools that I recommend using for tracking competitor brand mentions:
On top of your competitors’ brand name, it can also be useful to set up alerts for branded services, company founders, CEOs as well as variations of their business name. This will allow you to find even more opportunities where the direct company name is not mentioned.
Follow the steps below to track competitor brand mentions in Google Alerts:
You will now be emailed every time your competitors brand name is mentioned online. We will cover how you can leverage these brand mentions for backlink opportunities in the following section.
So now that you have a list of competitor brand mentions, how can you go about turning these into backlinks for your website?
There is not a one size fits all approach to this strategy. My advice is to look for trends in the types of media coverage your competitors’ brands are receiving. Brainstorm creative ways to try and replicate their strategies by creating new and exciting content on your own website.
The 5 step-process that I’ve outlined above will guide you to find and analyze your competitors’ backlinks. Backlinks are a crucial part of any successful SEO strategy and serve as a top ranking factor in Google’s core algorithm.
It is important to actively monitor and pursue new backlink opportunities from your competitors so that your website remains competitive in the Google search results for keywords that you want to rank for.