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Recently, Entrepreneur ran an article entitled, “5 Ways to Beat Your Competition SEO.” As expected, targeted keywords were mentioned, as were focusing on content creation and staying abreast of industry news and trends. One that bears a closer look is monitoring your competitors’ backlink profiles. How do you do this –and, first, why should you?

The Why

We know it’s important to conduct link audits for your own website. Google’s watchful algorithm is constantly on the prowl for suspicious, spammy, and low-quality links. As well, it is important to be able to spot, and stop, negative SEO attacks (which are, fortunately and for now, quite rare). But it is also helpful if we monitor links that our competitors are building for their sites. This is beneficial so you can:

  • Identify link strategies.
  • Identify potential linking partners for your own site.
  • Learn from the strategies of successful sites and adapt applicable techniques.
  • Find niche forums and directories that offer high quality, legitimate linking opportunities.
  • Find out where competitors are submitting articles.

The goal is to extract useful data and use it to build your own link strategy. It’s not to “steal” links, which you cannot do. It is to use the insight.

The How

  1. Make a list of your competitors.
  2. Find a tool that will help you get at the data. OSE is probably the most well-known, but others include Ontolo or Google Backlink Checker Tool.
  3. Next steps will depend on the specific tool, but say we’re using OSE. Insert the competitors’ domains into the tool. Choose filters “External Pages Only” and All Pages on the Root Domain.
  4. Get to work. You can filter results by any number of factors.

Analysing your competitors’ backlink strategies is an important, though often overlooked, part of effective SEO. Since you can find free tools to help you, there’s no reason not to give it a try.

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