You can use whoicompete. This is one of the easiest ways to filter out real competitors, of course manual work is needed as well. Once you find top 5 top 10 or 20 competitors, you need to do the hard work, check their backlinks. What I tend to do is use open site explorer for this; I run a backlink check on each competitor and export the results in CSV.
I list the URL of the linking page, the title of the page, anchor text linking, page authority, domain authority, numbers of domains linking to the website and whether links are dofollow or nofollow. The first part you need to do is research each competitor separate, find out as much as you can about them and why they are ranking for key terms you want to rank for, write that down as you will need it later for your link building plan. Some websites rank due to their long age and authority they got back in the day, some because of their amazing quality and creativity, some due to a great link profile, you need to find out what that is.
When comparing your competitors it is very easy to visualize what needs to be done on some level.
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You can see which ones have true authority and which ones created it with link building and even shady efforts. By placing several factors of each competitor next to each other some pattern may emerge to enlighten you on the best course to take. As you can see the authority of the ranking page is not an issue here, they are mostly on the same level even though their backlink profiles are quite diverse. You have pages with almost linking domains and a page with only 2 linking domains.
You can see that two sites fall out with the number of exact anchor text links, which is rather fishy. If we visualize the spreadsheet we can see that one of the two sites has really packed on some low quality link building focusing on just one keyword, with not much success I would say. After examining your competitors pages and rankings for various keywords and of course their landing pages for content that ranks, I tend to look at the numbers. The first part is the percentage of exact anchors linking to the page if the page ranks for several keyword variations do percentages in bulk for all variations.
Although it says type of sites this is just one of the things you need to analyze to get a better picture of your competitor backlink profile. Understanding why a certain page links, how it links and the effect of that link are necessary. This image can sum it up, but there is always more to it. The first part is understanding why is there a link, is it a paid link, a link to a great resource, a negotiated link like a guest post, or is it because of some relationship like business partnership or associations.
You can also filter out by type of content and sites linking, are those blogs, directories, news sites. It will be fairly easy to duplicate guest posts, comments and profiles and create unique ones, but duplicating news mentions and links from relationship based opportunities will be close to impossible.
Hint : this is where creative content comes into play. By now you should know what keywords to focus on, how to use those keywords and their variations, what types of links you need and the overall length of the campaign. Most importantly, you know by looking at the ranking pages if your content needs to be improved or maybe redesigned as well or it needs to be totally new, provoking, showing, insightful and linkbaiting.
About content creation, here is a great graph showing the though process that needs to be implemented when creating high quality content. Not much need for words here. Once you have your basic keyword research done and you already saw the competition you need to fire up some brain muscles and do some creative thinking. Creating your link building strategy will not be as hard as you may think after the research done. Once you understand the competitors this will come easy, in some cases you will clearly know what needs to be done, in others you will have to use trial and error.
You need to make priorities for your link building, if you go all out on one keyword search engines may be alerted on high velocity link building and you may also wake up some sleeping competitors.
Prioritize your keywords based on probability of success and go for the easy wins first, but plan to work on them at the same time. To know how much time you will spend and to be able to organize yourself better you also need to plan the number and types of links as well as the speed at which your build your links.
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You can plan according to competitor research you did. Creating great content that will get you links on its own is the best way to accumulate quality links. One of the best search query tools is Ontolo search query generator. As you can see on the image below, you need to enter the target keyword or general topic keyword or MDK keywords market defining keyword and setup the types of pages you want to find like content, directory, sponsorship opportunities etc… Very easy to use and you will get tons of search queries to find new link opportunities.
This is a tough nut to crack and it will take a long time, the best way to go about it is to create compelling content that people will want to share. By making yourself stand out as authority, entertaining or simply communicative you will be able to compile a targeted audience. Again, this takes patience and dedication. If you are managing social media for a company make sure to respond to questions and share your news through social media.
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The same goes for bloggers and webmasters, communicate, communicate and communicate! Social media can be tough, but you need it, some of the best and most worthy relationships are formed through social networks and some of the highest quality links will come from the people you talk to online in characters. Important part of your plan should be reevaluation of work and results. You need to set your goals and evaluate them periodically, this will allow you to examine what has been done and what has been achieved, through that you can tweak your campaign and correct the mistakes. Go over what has been done, how many links acquired, of what quality, type, anchor text breakdown and of course ranks and traffic gain, or loss.
After you get everything on paper analyze wins and losses. What caused certain keyword to gain in ranks and traffic and vice versa, what caused a certain keyword to lose ranks and traffic. You may even notice certain keywords that gained rank but not traffic, so filtering your keywords will be one of the options in this stage. Look at link velocity, peaks in link gain or certain anchors used aggressively. If you hire someone to do link building for you this can happen, if you do your own link building you should be careful and do everything according to plan. When all said and done you know what works for you by now, so changing the course of your campaign will not be as difficult as you may think.
The most important thing to keep in mind is your audience, this is the part that is hard to implement in any SEO or link building strategy, but getting to know what your target market wants is essential. All of his free time he dedicates to his Practical SEO blog and giving free advice as well as participating in the blogging community.
The preparation plan you have chalked out is really advanced. Your link-building blueprint also offers great functionality if it is applied religiously for long term rankings. Thumbs UP! This post is fantabulous!!! The way that you detailed each of the steps that an SEO does is awesome. It should be an ebook. Tweeting it right now.
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All the best, Eren. Hi Zarko, Wow, this is a very comprehensive post here. I am still learning a lot about SEO and your post has tons of great tips. I will bookmark this one for future use. SEO audit and recommendations. Content management recommendations. Strategic social media.
Email marketing consulting. Reputation management. Website audits and conversions. Increase sales and revenue. Hiring a professional, experienced webmaster for your monthly website maintenance and updating activities will enable you to focus on generating revenue for your business. Robin Kelly is a nationally-recognized speaker and trainer.