Search engine algorithms come and go but the act of link building remains right the forefront of SEO. If you want your site to be discovered by Google, then it needs to have lots of inbound links for the spiders to crawl.
And if you want your website to be trusted by Google, then you need to ensure that you have lots of good quality links as well.
Actually, that’s the only bit that has changed: Google now places more emphasis on the quality of your links than ever before.
There was a time where Google would let you off for a lack of quality links as long as you had a high quantity of links.
These were the good old days of SEO.
Back then, you could write a thousand articles for ezinearticles.com and that would be a legit way to build a massive backlinks profile.
I genuinely know someone who had the top spot for ‘Make Money Online’ using that exact technique!
NOW though, Google cares 100% more about quality.
If you could get 1,000 links on random blogs or 1 link on Harvard.edu, you should go for the latter every time.
But you probably aren’t going to get a link on Harvard.edu.
Problem is, you’re not a researcher/scientist. You also probably don’t have any peer-reviewed papers in top journals.
Unless you are and you do, in which case I apologise.
Most people reading this are fitness bloggers. Marketing ‘gurus’. Affiliate marketers.
So we need to look elsewhere for those all-important backlinks.
The only question is where? And how can small businesses and marketers gain these links?
Where to Find High Quality Backlinks
There are a few ways that we bloggers can get high quality backlinks without necessarily needing to find some dirt on a university professor.
Method #1: Degrees of Separation
One method is to use the ‘degrees of separation’ system.
Ever heard of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon?
Well this is ‘the six degrees of Harvard’.
In case the reference is lost on you, the idea is that everyone is connected to Kevin Bacon by six degrees of separation.
Well, likewise, you can potentially connect yourself to Harvard by six degrees of separation. Or Yale. Or the BBC or some other high profile, trusted website.
Each time you remove yourself from a trusted source by one connection, you lose a little of the authority and the boost that comes from that association. But you still get some of it, so we aim for as high as we can get.
Method #2: News Sites
Another good place you can get great quality and authoritative backlinks is from Google News Sites. Google has gone on record as saying that these are a great way of building trust and that makes sense seeing as Google vets all of these sites very thoroughly before including them.
Yes, I’m as confused as you are as to how some sites make it through…
But the point is, is that if a website good enough to be considered a Google News Site gives you a backlink, this is likely to count for a lot and will help your site a great deal.
Now you just have to find one of the most trusted and authoritative sites in your niche and you have a perfect spot to gain a high value backlink.
But It’s Not That Easy, Is It?
So you need to either find your way onto a site that is already highly trusted by Google, or one that is referenced by a trusted domain.
I’ll just go and do that then.
That’ll probably just take a minute…
You see, that’s the problem.
That’s why so many people still continue to build thousands of backlinks on low quality sites. It’s why they still write articles for content farms and it’s why they still submit themselves to all kinds of directories.
People are happy to put in countless hours of work but only if they know they’re going to get something back for it. Which is fair enough really!
But that’s the thing: when it comes to landing the biggest blogs in your niche, there’s really no guarantee. There’s no way that you can be at all sure that you’re going to get your site onto the highest PR sites or even that they’ll respond to your messages.
Think about it: why would one of the largest sites in your niche, a site that is potentially a Google News site, answer the email of a small-time blogger?
It’s nothing personal of course: these sites have got hundreds of people emailing them every day and they just don’t have time to respond to 99% of those messages unless you have something really good to offer them in response.
Here’s what happens:
- You spend ages researching the top sites in your niche and the ones that Google regards most highly
- You seek out and collect their email addresses
- You write individually-crafted emails to each of those potential candidates
- You wait for a response
- You don’t get one
- You feel bad
So what's the alternative?
The Secret to Quickly and Effectively Building an AMAZING Backlinks Profile
So what’s the alternative? Simple: you "steal" your competitors’ backlinks!
We’re not talking about any dodgy, black-hat stuff here. You’re not somehow depriving your competitors of their links.
Instead, all you’re doing is quickly learning where all your top competitors’ links are coming from and then getting those same links for your own site.
By spying on the inbound links that lead to a website, you can quickly identify the backlinks that helped that site to get to that point.
This then tells you one important thing: this link profile works.
Thus, if you can land those same links for your website, you’ll be certain to enjoy the exact same success that that website is.
And it also tells you something else:
These links can be gotten.
In other words, the site you’re looking at right now somehow managed to acquire all these links, which means that the websites on that list responded to their emails and gave them guest posts/covered their press releases.
Instead of chasing after the biggest sites on the net – sites that might well simply ignore your emails – you’re now chasing after the biggest sites that you know listen to people like you. This is the perfect way to stack the cards in your favour.
It’s an almost fool proof plan.
You just struck gold!
What to do With A Backlink Analysis
I say that it’s an almost fool proof plan because it’s exactly that:
Almost fool proof.
There is still a definite right and wrong way to proceed next and you still need to be strategic and careful going forward.
The wrong way to proceed, would be to send all of those contacts you just found automated link requests. Urgh.
And the other wrong thing to do would be to go straight to the top name on that list and ask them if you can write a guest post.
You have the same contacts as your competitor but there is still one big key difference: they are them and you are you. That is to say, that just because these contacts gave one website links, that doesn’t automatically guarantee that the same website will give you that link.
It might well be that your competitor approached this blog with an offer that they absolutely could not refuse – they had the best written and best crafted guest post in the world and that was something that gave them the key to the city as it were.
More likely, your competitor might have approached the top names on that list only once they had built backlinks with all those smaller sites. So you see, at the time they contacted that source, they were already well established and well respected. That means they had something to offer in return and it means that the site they messaged would want to publish their link for their readers to see.
So what should you do with a big list of backlinks?
Here are some tips:
1. Research the Links
So your competitor managed to land a link on Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Blog? Good for them! But now you need to find out how they got that link. That link could be a guest post, it could be something that Tim mentioned, or it could even just be in the comments section!
This is very important because if the link is part of a story written by the site, then they might not take guest posts at all – a lot of big sites don’t! Instead, you’ll need to try and get them to mention your brand in a story and that means sending out press releases.
And if it is a guest post? Then take a look at that guest post. Examine what worked about it, why the site took it and how it benefited their audience.
2. Have Something to Offer
This brings us nicely on to our next point: having something to offer!
Very few websites will give out links out of the good of their hearts. If a blog is offering you a link, it’s because you’ve traded something that they think is worthwhile. That in turn is likely to be a guest post or perhaps a news story that will help them to get more exposure and views.
This is a mistake that a lot of people make with their press releases – they write press releases that simply promote their business and don’t benefit the readers or the site publishing it. News sites write stories and news. You need to look for the ‘angle’ that someone will actually want to read, whether that means using some kind of exciting promotion or talking about your meteoric rise to fame.
3. Get a Link From Them
Here’s a sneaky trick you can use: get a link from the site that you’re currently looking at!
If you can manage this, then that will right away give you a lot more credibility. Why? Because you know for a fact that every website you’ll be contacting knows the website you’re talking about. That means that the fact you’ve written for them will give you more credibility and give you more chance of getting your email opened.
In fact, you can even take this one step further! Add the blog owner on LinkedIn and suddenly you’ll be connected through social media to all of those site owners and you’ll be able to message them directly through InMail.
4. Start From the Bottom Up
Start with the least known, smallest time blog on that list. They will probably say yes and that means you now have one more link when you approach the next rung up. By the time you reach the big players, you should now have the same kind of impressive links profile that your competitor had when they first contacted them.
Tutorial: How to Conduct Backlink Competitor Analysis in Simple, Fool-Proof Steps
Okay, so now how you see how this works and you know that when executed properly, there’s very little room for this strategy to fail.
Now all you need to do is to get out there and start putting it into practice!
So here are some straightforward steps you can follow to start doing that…
Step 1 – Find the Competition
The first thing you need to do is to suss out your competition. To do this, just head over to Google and search for the key words you want to rank for. Make a note of the top 10 organic results for that keyword and then add the URLs to a spreadsheet.
Step 2 – Grab the Backlinks
Now you’re going to need to use a backlink checker in order to start looking at each of the URLs and in order to grab their backlinks.
There are a number of different tools out there on the market that you can use to this end but not all are made equal.
One example is Ahrefs.
Another good option is Majestic SEO. Both of these have free and paid account options but you’ll find that the free accounts leave some more advanced features out.
For instance, the free version of Ahrefs will only give you access to the top 10 backlinks for each of the reports. Likewise, the same goes for Majestic SEO.
Other options include SEO Spyglass, MOZ Open Site Explorer and Backlink Watch.
Another option is to pay someone to do this for you. If you look for a virtual assistant, then you’ll normally find that they’re capable of helping with most SEO-related tasks and often they will already have paid access to a plethora of tools.
This is good news because most virtual assistants only charge a few dollars per hour for their work. This means that you can get yourself a rather nice spreadsheet filled with backlinks and even the contact details of each site ready to go – and it will probably cost you well under $10!
If you do a lot of SEO, then looking for a good virtual assistant service is actually a very good idea and can potentially save you a huge amount of work.
Step 3 – Analysis
The next step is to analyse all those links and to make sure that they’re what you’re looking for.
Because some of these websites are going to be dross. Some will be attempts at negative SEO, some will just be links that people posted in nothing forums. Some of the links will be on sites that stopped posting years ago.
You also need to remove the duplicates.
But others will be gold. So this becomes like ‘sifting’ for gold.
Fortunately, there are a few great tools and resources you can rely on to help make the process significantly easier.
One example is Free Dupe Remove from ScrapeBox. This allows you to remove duplicate domains or URLs from things like spreadsheets – and it’s obviously going to save you a lot of time.
You can also use a number of tools such as CheckPageRank.net in order to identify the rough page rank of a website. As you’re no doubt aware, a page rank is a fairly good indicator of how much authority and trust a website carries (and usually correlates with ranking). This is a useful way to check whether a site is high quality, though you will be testing each individually…
You didn’t think I’d make you do that though did you? Try heading over to SEOToolsForExcel.com and here you’ll be able to download a bunch of tools to save you some time – including one that lets you automatically check the page rank of multiple sites in a spreadsheet.
Of course you can also just take a look at the websites in your list and identify whether or not you think they look/sound impressive. If you’re unsure, check them out and decide for yourself if they’re a good gambit for your link building activities.
Step 4 – Checking the Links
Now ideally, you want to check these links yourself to see if they’re potentially possible for you to replicate. If this is a blog comment then great! All you have to do is post a comment in the blog and you’re done.
But be weary of this.
Some websites will tell you that you can recreate a backlink profile simply by posting comments on blogs.
Do you really think Google is that dumb?
Not only will some blogs prevent you from posting links, or will make your links ‘nofollow’, but it’s very likely that Google can tell when a link is a comment.
And if you suddenly get thousands of links in the comments sections of other blogs overnight…
Don’t you think that might make you a good candidate for being penalized?
Nope – the only way to do this is to play the long game and that means building the same kinds of links that your competitor has in each instance.
How do you find out what kind of links those are?
One option is to search for the brand name or the author on Google, but to keep that search within the website.
For instance, if you search:
Then you’ll be able to see all the places that Tim Ferriss gets mentioned within The Art of Manliness. Handy!
Step 5 – Start Connecting!
Next begins the influencer marketing and this will involve trying to get in touch with the bloggers and webmasters that you want to get links from so that you can start trying to land one.
This is a delicate process and you need to be careful with the way you go about it!
If you simply send an email stating that you want a guest post, you’ll likely be ignored. In this scenario, you’re not giving the recipient any reason to open your message, you’re not offering them anything in return and it’s somewhat rude.
Unless you have the perfect idea for a guest post you can write them, a better method is to build some familiarity first – either by commenting on their blog or by writing to say you’re a fan. If you can get them to recognize your email first, you’ll find they’re much more receptive to your invitation to work together.
Remember too: start with the smaller fry first!
Or Skip These Steps Altogether
- Use our PR knowledge to start gaining links using our Diesel Outreach service, which enables small businesses to secure high authority, niche-related backlinks easily and quickly.
Backlink Competitor Analysis Tutorial: Summary
It’s still a lot of work but if you go through these steps and if you put in the time, then you can be sure you’ll get at least some very valuable links out of all that work.
And it sure beats uploading 1,000 articles to ezinearticles.com…
Follow this Backlink Competitor Analysis as outlined above and start building quality backlinks for your site.