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Advanced Techniques for Competitors’ Link Analysis in SEO

Advanced Techniques for Competitor Link Analysis

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Competitor link analysis is a crucial part of any effective SEO strategy. Understanding where your competitors are getting links from can unlock opportunities for your own site to earn high-quality backlinks and improve search engine rankings. However, competitor link analysis goes far beyond just looking at a list of referring domains. Advanced techniques allow you to extract deeper insights from competitor links so you can precisely model their most successful link building efforts.‌‌

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore advanced strategies and actionable tips to take your competitor link analysis to the next level. Follow along to learn how to:

  • Leverage link intersection and first-degree linkage data‌
  • Analyze links at a page-specific level‌
  • Identify lucrative anchor text optimization opportunities‌
  • Uncover competitor partnerships and guest posting‌
  • Map clusters and patterns within referral networks‌
  • Track changes in link profiles over time‌
  • And much more

By the end, you will have a proven framework and toolkit to run an in-depth competitor link analysis that fuels your own link building and SEO success. Let’s dive in.‌

The Limitations of Basic Competitors’ Link Analysis‌

Most SEO tools provide a basic overview of your competitors’ backlink profiles, displaying a list of referring domains and often some aggregate metrics like:

  • Total linking domains
  • Total backlinks
  • Domain authority/Page authority

While this high-level snapshot is useful, it lacks the granular detail needed to replicate your competitors’ link building strategies. Just having a list of linking sites is not sufficient to understand:

  • Which specific pages are providing competitor links
  • The anchor text being used for those links‌
  • Link velocity and change over time
  • Underlying patterns and clusters within the network

Advanced analysis techniques unlock these critical insights so you can move from just imitating domain-level links to precisely replicating your competitors’ most effective links down to the page level with optimal anchor text.‌

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Link Intersection for Shared Link Opportunities

One simple but powerful concept is analyzing link intersection or overlap between competitors’ backlink profiles. Sites that link to your close competitors likely cover similar topics and are good candidates to target for links yourself.‌

You can take this a step further by looking for sites that link to two or more of your competitors but NOT to your site. These present prime opportunities to fill a gap by earning a link from a site that clearly links to sites in your space but has overlooked you so far.‌

Some key steps for utilizing link intersection:

  • Gather backlink data for your 3-5 closest competitors using a tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Moz.
  • Download the full list of linking domains for each competitor site.
  • Use a spreadsheet tool like Excel to combine the separate lists into one master list.
  • Filter the combined list to only show domains that link to 2 or more competitors.
  • Further refine this filtered list by removing any domains that also already link to your site.‌
  • Sort the resulting list of shared link opportunities by domain authority or traffic to prioritize your outreach.
  • Develop personalized outreach campaigns to earn links from these sites by filling a gap in their existing content.

With this type of targeted analysis, you can identify the shared hub sites that offer the greatest potential for earning links that multiple competitors have already achieved.‌

First-Degree Linkage Analysis

Intersection identifies sites linking to two or more of your competitors. First-degree linkage analysis looks at sites that are only one hop away, meaning they link to just one of your competitors but not others.‌

This can surface promising opportunities that are under the radar since the site has linked to Competitor A but not Competitor B. Outreach pitching relevant content to fill that gap can tap into new linkage potential.‌

Steps to leverage first-degree linkage:

  • Gather backlinks for Competitor A and Competitor B
  • Filter each list to only show unique domains not present on the other list
  • Combine the two filtered lists to create a master list of first-degree domains
  • Remove any that already link to your site
  • Prioritize by DA/traffic and identify best fits for outreach

With intersection and first-degree linkage analysis, you can systematically discover hidden opportunities where key sites are missing links to some but not all of their relevant industry sites. Strategic outreach can turn those gaps into wins.

Page-Level Link Analysis for Depth‌

Domain-level link data is useful for initial opportunity discovery. But page-level intelligence adds depth revealing specifically which competitor pages attract the most valuable links.‌

With this insight, you can precisely model their most successful pages for earning tier-1 placements. Rather than just knowing “New York Times” links to a competitor, you see specifically which articles, such as their roundup of industry trends, have attracted authoritative links.‌

Key steps for page-level analysis:

  • Using Ahrefs or another tool that provides page-level data, analyze links to specific high-value competitor pages such as their service pages or industry resources.
  • For each page, sort their linking pages by domain authority, social shares or other metrics to surface the most valuable placements.
  • Aggregate page-level data across top competitors to identify recurring themes and content types that attract authoritative links.
  • Audit your own content and look for gaps where you lack pages attracting links from the same caliber of sites.
  • Expand or optimize thin content areas to attract links from tier-1 sites linking to related competitor pages.

While domain-level data spots general link opportunities, page-level intelligence reveals exactly where competitors are earning their most powerful links. Align your own content and outreach to mirror their success.‌

Uncovering Valuable Anchor Text Links‌

Anchor text is vital for SEO success, and analyzing the specific phrases competitors have earned links for provides a blueprint for optimizing your own anchor text distribution.‌

The most direct method is checking competitor links sorted by anchor text in Ahrefs or another tool that provides that data. However, here are some additional techniques to uncover valuable anchors competitors have secured links for:

  • Analyze their ranking pages for phrases they rank #1 for but you lack presence. Use quotes in Google to confirm they have anchor text links for those terms.
  • Search for recurring themes and resources frequently linked to from related sites. Check if competitors have links for those anchors but you do not.
  • Use ahrefs Site Explorer to view their internal links. See which phrases they systematically link out to related sites for.
  • Check their social shares on Facebook and Twitter. Any brand name anchors and other phrases present opportunities.

Optimizing your anchor text distribution based on proven results from competitors helps naturally earn links using phrases that topic-relevant sites are already linking for. Just avoid over-optimization.

Uncovering Guest Posts and Partnerships‌

One extremely insightful technique is identifying guest posts, contributor content, or other partnerships your competitors have secured on authoritative sites.‌

This allows you to model their success by pitching similar partnerships, or expanding on their existing content with a new perspective to the same publisher. Here are some tips for uncovering competitor guest posts and partnerships:

  • Google search operators: search for “Contributor Name” + “Competitor Brand”‌
  • Check author bios on their most valuable linking pages for contributor names. Search those names directly to uncover other guest posts.
  • On high-authority articles linking to competitors, click author names and review their full article history for other contributor pieces.
  • Use advanced Google search filters like “site”, “inurl”, or “inauthor” to systematically uncover contributor content related to your industry from major publishers.
  • Check competitor staff member bios to find guest post titles or partnerships they discuss.

Finding competitors’ guest posts and partnerships gives you an instant list of proven link opportunities to pursue. Pitch updated versions of the same stories or develop complementary content suited for those same sites.

Analyzing Link Velocity and Growth

While a snapshot of current links is helpful, also analyzing trends over time provides key insights that can inform your link building strategy.

Assessing link velocity and growth reveals:

  • Seasonal linking trends you can align major content launches or outreach campaigns with
  • New sites recently linking to competitors that present fresh opportunities
  • Sudden gains from possible link schemes to avoid mimicking
  • Lost links that may present an opportunity for you to step in

Regularly comparing link profiles over time spots emerging patterns and opportunities you can capitalize on. Important dimensions to analyze:

  • Link growth by month – Any seasonal peaks from recurring content types or events?
  • New root domains by month – What new sites recently started linking that present opportunities?
  • Lost links – Have competitors lost valuable links that you can try to earn?

Keep time on your side by understanding link trends and capitalizing on emerging opportunities before competitors do. Link building is a moving target.

Analyzing Link Types and Locations

Not all links are created equal. Certain link types and placements on a page pass more authority and should be prioritized for outreach efforts.

By analyzing competitor links you can identify the most valuable link formats to pursue, including:

Resource Pages: Links placed prominently on dedicated industry resource pages pass significant authority. Competitors often attract links on roundup pages for related tools/services. Identify resource pages in your industry that competitors are listed on but you’re missing from. These provide prime opportunity to earn valuable placements.

Content Links: Editorial links within a relevant article pass more authority than those buried in blogrolls or sidebars. Analyze competitor content links to identify publishers and verticals frequently linking to related articles.

Infographics: Links within image-based resources like data visualizations or infographics are highly valued by Google. Assess what infographic links competitors have earned from image-friendly sites.

The highest impact link placements are ones prominently integrated within on-page content, not just tossed in a blogroll or footer. Pattern your outreach efforts based on where competitors are earning the most authoritative placements.

Link Clustering and Patterns

The distribution of links across domains provides clues on underlying link building strategies. Analyzing link clusters and patterns sheds light on:

  • Potential partnerships with niche sites
  • Batch link building across similar types of sites
  • Automated link networks
  • Patterns of guest posting in certain verticals

Identifying clusters requires first categorizing all competitor links by type, such as:

  • Industry – Links from niche site in your exact industry‌
  • General Business – Links from broad sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc.
  • Aggregators – Links from blogs/directories that curate industry-related content
  • Geography – Links clustered around certain locations

Look for unusual concentrations within a category, such as 20+ aggregator sites linking to one competitor. This reveals patterns you can replicate or avoid depending on the tactic.

For guest posting, clusters within certain verticals reveal link building targets. A flood of lifestyle blog links likely signals guest campaign focus.

Keep an eye out for potential automated links as well based on unnatural patterns. Use clustering to inform link building priorities based on competitors’ proven results.

Tracking Changes Over Time

Link profiles are fluid. They evolve as new links are earned and old links disappear. By regularly comparing changes in competitors’ backlink profiles over time you gain key insights into:

  • New authoritative sites recently linking to competitors that present fresh link opportunities
  • Lost links you may be able to acquire from sites that have dropped competitors
  • Seasonal link trends you can mirror in your own link efforts
  • Potential toxic links you may wish to avoid

To track changes, capture a snapshot of key metrics for competitors’ link profiles on a regular basis:

  • Total linking root domains
  • Total new root domains
  • Total lost root domains
  • Strongest new backlinks ranked by domain authority
  • Lost backlinks from previously linking domains

Analyze trends over time in the above metrics to spot positive momentum like an influx of new authoritative sites. This demonstrates link building priorities and tactics that are working to replicate.

Conversely, downward trends may reveal opportunities to connect with sites that have recently dropped competitors. Maintaining a pulse on backlink profile changes provides an evolving picture of link building opportunities.

Leveraging Rank Tracking Data

Your competitors’ rankings provide validating data on the most effective link building tactics in your space for driving results.

Analyze competitor rank tracking with these insights in mind:

  • What new keywords have they gained rankings for recently? This demonstrates successful link building around those terms. Verify with their backlink data.
  • What competitors’ sites are they outranking you for important keywords? Their link profiles offer proven models to emulate.
  • Review their most valuable linking pages. Do they align with ranking improvements for keywords those pages target?

Let your competitors’ ranking success guide your link building efforts. If they are driving improved rankings through partnerships with niche sites, you know that’s a worthwhile strategy as well.

Competitive Link Impact Analysis

The acid test for any competitor link analysis is determining actual search impact. Rather than just imitation, focus on validated link building tactics that demonstrably move the needle for competitors in order to replicate their success.

Isolate the factors driving competitors’ success:

  • Compare rankings for core keywords before and after they acquired new links
  • Look for ranking improvements shortly after link acquisition from certain sites
  • Find patterns where specific link building tactics precede jumps in rankings

Reverse engineer what worked based on the data. Don’t just emulate any link—focus on proven placements that had tangible SEO results. The ultimate goal is driving your own search growth through competitor link analysis.

Competitive link impact analysis

Final Verdict: Master Competitor Link Building

Competitor link analysis is a cornerstone of effective SEO. But simple imitation of domains is not enough. By following the advanced techniques we’ve covered you gain actionable, granular data on precisely which links and tactics are working in your industry.

The key lessons:

  • Look beyond domains to analyze page-specific links, anchors, clusters, and trends over time
  • Identify high-potential sites through intersection, first-degree linkage, and changes
  • Uncover hidden partnerships, guest posts, and patterns
  • Validate link impact through ranking analysis
  • Zero in on placements and strategies with proven SEO results

Armed with these insights you can craft a high-impact link building strategy that replicates your competitors’ success to drive your own growth and rankings. Competitor link intelligence is a key ingredient fueling any effective SEO campaign. Master it and you have a blueprint to reach the top.

Jesus Guzman

M&G Speed Marketing LTD. CEO

Jesus Guzman is the CEO and founder of M&G Speed Marketing LTD, a digital marketing agency focused on rapidly growing businesses through strategies like SEO, PPC, social media, email campaigns, and website optimization. With an MBA and over 11 years of experience, Guzman combines his marketing expertise with web design skills to create captivating online experiences. His journey as an in-house SEO expert has given him insights into effective online marketing. Guzman is passionate about helping businesses achieve impressive growth through his honed skills. He has proud case studies to share and is eager to connect to take your business to the next level.