I’m willing to bet you have a pretty great product or service and you want to rank well for your key terms. It’s quite likely that you’re going to have some competition. If you have the tools and the know-how, then you can use your competitors’ efforts to your advantage, both for learning and for getting some really good links.

If you’re doing any sort of SEO, I’m sure you’ve come across the need for backlinks. Backlinks will always be a very important part of SEO, and Google has by no means ruled out their importance.

Horizontal Link Analysis

We don’t want to limit ourselves to only getting the links that our local competition has so we want to expand our scope to incorporate horizontal link analysis for pages that are ranking nationally for one reason or another.

There are many tools you can use to do this including Link Research Tools, AHREFS, MOZ, Majestic SEO, SEMrush, BuzzStream, etc.

Keep in mind that every site is a potential link, either via guest posting, blog commenting, broken link building or some sort of partnership (which may only result in social shares, but may then result in links).

We’ll target the quick wins first and accumulate a good amount of contact info for each site. We’re going to utilize many tools to do this effectively and thoroughly.

Link Research Tools vs MOZ and Ahrefs

Google Adwords Keyword Planner1. Keyword Analysis

First, we will have to perform keyword analysis using Google Analytics Keyword Planner.  You will need to add payment info into Google Adwords to use this tool, but it’s free to use for research.

Link Research Tools SERP tool2. Keyword SERPS

Next we will want to analyze these Keyword SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) for both local and national results. I recommend using Link Research Tools SERP tool. Note: Limit the ranking to 10 and then sort by low to high to speed up the report; it will give you very strong results.

3. Manual Review

Now you’re going to open each page in a new browser tab and manually review these results to determine which pages you want to do a competitive analysis on, and which ones you think you can actually get a link on.

  • Some questions you may want to ask are:
    • Is there a blog?
    • Is there a resources section?
    • Do they allow guest posting?
    • Is this page currently maintained?
    • Are there dead pages or links?

4. Domain Analysis

If you are using a tool like Link Research Tools, you can run a QBL (Quick Backlink) domain analysis on each competitor and domain that looks promising to see how they’re ranking.

Power Trust Link Metrics

You want to make sure that you’re getting all of the local competitor’s links you can. With Link Research Tools, the POWER*TRUST metric is one of the calculated metrics that determines the overall strength of the link. Each tool typically has a metric like this that should be able to gather multiple metrics for you.

BuzzStream Import5. Collect Contact Info

Now import or paste the sites into your outreach tool (BuzzStream so it can collect contact info, Pitchbox, or just a spreadsheet like Google Docs). Advanced Tip: If you find any Wikipedia entries along the way, you can search Google for “site:wikipedia.org KEYWORD ‘dead link’” to see if BLB possibilities exist. You can also queue up any large sites you think you may want to rebuild broken links on as well into a program like Screaming Frog.

6. Review Contact Info

Review the Discovered Contact Info and add the best contact info. In BuzzStream, click “add” on the primary TWITTER, EMAIL, and PHONE NUMBER.

BuzzStream Contact Info

7. Classify Sites

Assign appropriate tags to all sites. Try to make them broad enough and useful for other clients. Then search for existing ones.

Buzzstream Tags

8. Begin Outreach

Check the box next to sites with email addresses and begin outreach. Use BuzzStream to outreach by creating or using an existing template. If you want to run an SSPT (Link Research Tools Strongest Subpage Tool) on the site to determine what subpages are getting the strongest links, that might also be helpful to find what you should create and promote.

I recommend trying to word your template so that is is applicable to all of your outreach sites and delete any info not pertinent to that site (if there is any as you submit them). Buzzstream Outreach

Wrapping Things Up

If you have followed this guide, here’s what you can expect to have accomplished:

  • Discovered a ton of competitors
  • Found local and national linking opportunities
  • Completed some outreach
  • Been listed in valuable directories and on authoritative pages with backlinks to your site.

Well done! You’re on your way to having a strong link profile!

Keep analyzing your competition, partnering with the right people and companies, creating good content, doing mentionable things and letting the world know about it!