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Expert Guide on How to Do a Competitive Backlink Analysis
- 13 Aug 2019 8 min read
There are various ways to increase your website’s online presence. One way to do it is through the search engine optimization technique of using backlinks wherein another website links back to yours. This might be something you already know when it comes to the basics in backlinking. However, there is more than meets the eye in the entire process of using backlinks. You can use backlink analysis to improve your digital marketing strategy framework and increase your domain or page authority.
If you want to take your backlink game to the next level, you’ve come to the right place. As a data-driven and success-based digital marketing agency in the Philippines, let us guide you through an in-depth backlink analysis.
For quick navigation, here’s what you’ll find in the article:
- The Importance of Backlink Analysis
- How to Export Backlink Data
- Analyze Key SEO Metrics
- Compare Competitor Links
- Key Takeaways
Let’s get started? This is your advanced SEO Guide to backlink analysis.
The Importance of Backlink Analysis
How do you find out who backlinks to your website? Can there be someone out there doing backlinks the wrong way that can result in you being penalized by Google? Backlink analysis will help you discover all of that. Doing an in-depth backlink analysis can also reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, which you may use to your advantage and raise your website’s domain authority and overall SEO. Here are the benefits of conducting a backlink analysis:
- Off-page SEO Improvement
Backlink analysis is good for off-page SEO. SEO link analysis will help you perform an audit of the pages linking back to your website. Through this, you can monitor the performance of each link, and discover bad links to avoid getting penalized by Google.
- Better domain authority
Internet statistics for 2019 show that there are already 1.94-billion websites on the internet. With this high number of competitors, how can you stand out from the rest? Or more importantly, how can you beat them? You may do this by checking your domain authority. With backlink analysis, it will be easier for your business/company to check how high your website ranks among competitors. These are sites with a similar niche to yours and we will discuss below how you can analyze them using special tools.
- Gain an increase in website traffic
Based on the points discussed earlier, it is obvious that an increased website traffic is one of the benefits of backlink analysis. How does this happen? Better off-page SEO and domain authority result in a higher page ranking in the search results page. This means that the higher your rank in search engines, more people will see your website.
Analyze Key SEO Metrics
- Anchor Text Usage
How are the backlinks to your website used? Is it spammy? Is the anchor text usage natural? How well is it distributed between the brand? These are just some of the questions you need to answer when looking at the data.
Bad backlinks are sometimes created unintentionally or the other way around, which is to destroy your SEO. Either way, both of them can result in your website being penalized by Google. Link explorers such as MOZ Open Site Explorer and CognitiveSEO can help you find misused anchor texts. Aside from that, you can also use anchor text distribution to spot unnatural links.
- Top Linked Pages
Which pages of your website are being linked at? Is it going to the most important pages of your website? One way to spot misused backlinks is to check where it is linking back such as your blog, contact pages, frequently asked question pages, etc. If you see backlinks that are out of context, you could be dealing with a bad backlink.
- Link Velocity
A KPI is the rate at which others link back to your website or the rate of growth over time of your backlink profile. Backlinks must build naturally and gradually over time. Watch out for irregular spikes because it can mean an unnatural growth or there’s a negative SEO attack to your website.
- Link Authority
Link influence or Authority are links from websites that established trust and authority in search engines because of its age, size, and quality. Google doesn’t have solid guidelines on how to spot high influence websites yet. Aside from a high domain or page authority, websites from established brands or government websites are good sources of link influence. In addition, a website with an updated blog, social proof of business, customer reviews, and consistent website updates are good signs of a trusted and influential website.
- Toxic or Unnatural Links
Toxic or unnatural links, in general, are the links intended to attack the SEO to manipulate a website’s ranking. There are several ways this can happen, such as purchased links or spammers/scrapers creating links that may potentially link your website to pages with a bad reputation. Luckily, there is a way to stop toxic or unnatural backlinking to your website.
Since its release of the Penguin algorithm update in 2012, Google has penalized low-quality links, over-optimized anchor texts, and keyword stuffing. It’s a good thing the tech giant has made way for websites to disavow toxic or unnatural links.
- Nofollow / Dofollow linking
It’s a simple code in the aHref tag. NoFollow links are tags that tell the search engines not to crawl that link. Alternatively, DoFollow links allow Google to crawl the link, affecting the ranking of your website on search engine ranking pages (SERP).
It is highly recommended that one website or page should not have a single type of link, or too many/few dofollow/nofollow. Doing so may lead Google or other search engines to think that there are unnatural linking happening within your website and bring down your position in SERPs.
- Link Type
Are your backlinks coming from blogs, forums, new sites, or directories? How do you know if these are good backlinks from the ones that you should disavow? To put it in Layman’s terms, any backlink that comes organically from an authoritative source such as a popular brand or government website is a good backlink.
Backlinks coming from editorial or news pages to cite you as a source, relationship-based backlinks, and guest blogging are good organic sources of backlinks. Paid links, comment spam, general directories, and backlinks from irrelevant websites, on the other hand, are backlinks that you must disavow.
Compare Competitor Links
Are you curious to find out how well your website is doing compared to other pages within your industry/niche? Do you want to take a peek into your competitor’s backlinking strategies or compare KPIs? While your competitor will most probably not willingly hand you the data, there are ways for you to take a look and compare stats to improve your own strategy and it’s called competitor backlink analysis.
Competitor backlink analysis allows you to review websites preferably within your industry. Doing this will help you assess your position compared to your competitor, see what helps them rank well, and take what works for them and use it in your own digital marketing strategy.
So how do you do it? Here are the steps on how to perform a competitor backlink analysis:
- List down your competitors
If you want to know who you’re competing with, list them down. Use tools such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Open Link Profiler to find out a wide range of information including who are your competitors, what’s the industry breakdown, link age, and more. Knowing who you’re competing with will help you develop the proper digital marketing strategy .
- View and analyze their backlinks
Take a look at how many backlinks your competitors have. This information will give you a great insight on who has the largest backlink portfolio, which may help you find link-building opportunities.
- Check the DA/PA of linking sites
Find out who is King of the Hill in your industry when it comes to domain or page authority. Find the backlinks with the highest online authority and target those websites. Remember, links from a high- page authority website are very valuable.
- Investigate who is driving the most traffic
Among the many links from your competitors, find out which of those bring in the most traffic for them. Take note of these websites and look for ways wherein you can link to these pages.
- Keep a database of websites with good backlink potential
In case you can’t use the links you see right now, it would be helpful for future campaigns to save websites with good backlink potential. Some backlink tools allow you to download the data for future reference or you can always do it manually and use a spreadsheet. This way, you can build your portfolio on already tried and tested sources.
There are a lot of things that you need to consider in order to do a backlink analysis. Take a look at these key takeaways so you can create more effective SEO strategies – especially when it comes to backlinks.
- Every website needs backlinks in order to increase its domain or page authority, as well as website visits over the competitor.
- There are plenty of tools for you to organize data and backlinks. Maximize each one of them.
- Aside from the number of unique linking domains and number of backlinks, there are more things to consider when creating a strategy for backlinking.
- Know the difference between nofollow and dofollow. The former does not send bots to crawl the destination link, while the latter does, which is good for SEO in most cases.
- Take a peek into your competitors backlinking strategies using the tools mentioned above. This will help you identify areas you can improve on to increase domain authority.
If left unchecked, backlinks can cause major havoc on where you are positioned in SERPs. This guide, however, is more than enough to help you get your website back on track.