5 Steps Beyond Competitive Link Analysis

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5 Steps Beyond Competitive Link Analysis
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The job of link building is getting tougher. The introduction of encrypted searches, the series of Panda updates, and whatever Google come up with next is putting more and more pressure on us all to drop any shortcuts and concentrate on quality link building. And the proven formula for quality link building is ‘great content, well promoted, equals great links’.

Not only must we continue to create great content, we’ve got to find more quality sites from which to get links. And to find more quality sites, we’ve got to go beyond simple competitive link analysis.

For many marketers, the first thought in link building is to do a competitive link analysis and then target the sites that are linking to your competitors but not to you.

That’s a good start, but it will never bring you all you need: if ‘follow your competitors’ is all you do, you’ll only be chasing links from sites where your competitors have already succeeded and that means you’ll always be behind them.

To be really effective in link building we’ve got to be more creative and go way beyond competitive link analysis in looking for new link opportunities.

Step 1: Broaden your idea of relevance

You have got to have relevant links, right?

That’s true but it’s only part of the picture. Many people’s idea of relevance is limiting.

Take BobsRedMill.com who produce whole grain foods. As you’d expect they get links from food sites like Chow.com, Epicurious.com and VegWeb.com.

But they also get links from:

All of these are relevant links in the context in which they appear.

If you take only a limited view of relevance, you won’t even think of opportunities like these.

Step 2: Maximize your relationship with sites that already link to you

Sites that have already taken the step of linking to you, have done so for a reason. Do you really understand what that reason is and what their motivation is for going to the trouble of writing the code that gives you the all important link?


  • they’ve used your products and found them particularly useful
  • you solved a specific problem for them
  • they’re compiling a resource list
  • perhaps they’re posting on a specific topic and they found something you wrote relevant
  • …etc.

Discovering the specific reasons why gives you the basis of strengthening your relationship with a site. That could lead to:

  • further coverage and links in the future
  • keyword-rich linking text
  • links to deep content on your site
  • interest in joint ventures or affiliate relationships
  • and much more…

You get the idea – linking to you is a sign that they’re interested in what you’re doing and you should follow up with something that strengthens your relationship.

Step 3: Check out who links to the sites that link to you

So you’ve looked at sites that link to you, you’ve understood why they linked, and you’ve approached them to strengthen your relationship. Now it’s time to move on and win some new links.

The sites that already link to you can be seen as an informal ‘organic link network’ that has evolved due to their interest in what you do. Sites that link to them are also sites that are likely to be interested in what you do.

For example, Footlocker.com get a link from the fashion blog [Nitrolicious.com] which in turn gets a link from another fashion blog, [ElementsOfStyle.com] – that blog and many hundreds of others could be more targets for Footlocker.com.

So find out who links to the sites that link to you and you’ll find many more linking opportunities.

Step 4: Check out who links to the top magazines in your market

Top magazines in your market can be a great source of high quality link prospects.

Magazines, newspapers and online news sites often quote and link to each other, so compiling links to the top magazine will reveal many other media outlets. This helps you build lists of target publications and identifies journalists and editors who could be interested in your company. Furthermore, bloggers will comment upon, link to and share any interesting article or news piece they come across.

So if you’re interested in ‘gourmet food’ for example, sites that link to leading food magazines like bonappetit.com, saveur.com, cooksillustrated.com, foodandwine.com and epicurious.com
are likely to be of great interest.

Step 5: Collect lists of the top blogs in your market

Link building is a tough task and you need all the help you can get. So how about getting some help from all those wonderful people out there who compile lists on the ‘top blogs’ in any given industry. Such people will probably have reviewed the sites, maybe even published some metrics that can help you identify blogs that you can target.

For example, SportsManagementColleges.net provide a list of the [top 50 skiing blogs]

And even better, you can use the top blogs that you find as I’ve used the top magazines in the example above. Blogs tend to link to and comment upon posts made by other blogs in their industry. So using them as a source for finding new links is very productive.


I’ve outlined 5 techniques for going beyond competitive link analysis and being creative in where you look for new link prospects. But of course, don’t just follow my ideas, develop your own unique methods and you’ll soon be discovering a ton of relevant link prospects that you competitors haven’t even thought of.

And, if you’ve got some good prospecting techniques I haven’t mentioned, please post them in the comments below.

5 Steps Beyond Competitive Link Analysis
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  • http://www.softstech.com Addison Wesely

    Thank you @Admin.
    I like the way you express and I got the thing for what I was searching by continuously 3 hours. I also being a column writer appreciated your writing skills well. Keep it up.

    • http://www.wordtracker.com/linkbuilder Ken McGaffin

      Thanks for your kind words Addison – much appreciated.

  • http://www.modeltrainhobbyist.com/christmas.html Lionel Bachmann | Christmas Trains

    These are some great steps. I liked #3 about finding who links to the sites that link to you. This goes a step beyond competitive link analysis, and focuses on sites that may link to you for topic bridging because you are in the same type of industry.

    • http://www.wordtracker.com/linkbuilder Ken McGaffin

      Hi Lionel – that’s a great model train site you’ve got there! I’m glad you found the article useful and I’d love to hear if it helps your site. Cheers.

  • http://www.em3marketing.com Janyer

    Now this is what I call a great article.

    • http://www.wordtracker.com/linkbuilder Ken McGaffin

      Thanks Jayner – I’d be interested to hear how you get on in applying some of the ideas, please let us know.

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/white-hat-link-building Nick Stamoulis

    “Many people’s idea of relevance is limiting.”

    Great point! Relevant links don’t have to align with your industry 100% in order to be useful. Your examples do a really good job of showing that. Sometimes a little outside of the box brings a lot of new linking opportunities.

    • http://www.wordtracker.com/linkbuilder Ken McGaffin

      Thanks Nick – you’ve picked out the central point. Teaching ourselves to be creative and move beyond the habits that we have to build to do our jobs, can be very productive.

  • http://inkfruitreviews.com/ Ashish Chauhan

    I agree Ken’s about “Link building is getting tougher after introduction of encrypted searches, the series of Panda updates. Now I have to get think 100% before thinking of getting link from any website. Earlier I don’t take so much care about relevancy.

  • http://www.host.co.in/ Ajay@Host.co.in

    Alexa is one more place where I found unique backlinks of competitor’s website. I found them useful.

    Web Hosting India

    • http://www.wordtracker.com/linkbuilder Ken McGaffin

      Thanks Ajay

  • http://www.hrhairstyles.com Hairstyles Editor

    A great place to find backlinks is backlinkwatch.com

  • http://www.srbijapromet.com Agbaba

    What is your suggestion for improvement of internal links,for a pure e-commerce sites , for example: for selling phisical products, every product description of single products must link to his category page and to his parent brand category?

  • http://logo32.com Free Logo Design

    This analysis is masterpiece on link building. These five techniques can be applied to get good results.

  • http://logo32.com Permade Free Logo

    Its a great page of link which give more benefit to user.

  • http://logo32.com Free Vactor Download

    Hi its a great effort put by the designor . My best best wishes with you,

  • http://www.oc-fish.com Troy Winkler

    Great article. Thanks for your suggestions.

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