Link audit: Analyse the backlink profiles of competitors and derive your own link marketing strategies from them
eologyeo:magazineLink audit: Analyse the backlink profiles of competitors and derive your own link marketing strategies from them
1. What is a link audit
A link audit involves the detailed examination and analysis of competitors’ backlinks in comparison to your own backlink profile. It is a process in which you compare the quality, quantity, relevance and structure of your incoming links with those of your competitors. Here you analyse the data to identify potential problems and take appropriate measures in further link marketing. In this way, you can adjust or optimise your backlink profile accordingly. In short, a link audit is a competitor analysis and comparison.
In contrast to backlink screening, the individual pages from which the external links come are not checked here, but a floor plan is created that shows from which visibility areas (or LRT Power*Trust areas, if applicable) the links of your competitors originate and in which visibility areas your links are to be located. In addition, the following points are examined more closely and compared:
Traffic and keyword development
Ranking of important keywords
Number of domain links
Development of domain links
Ratio of home page and deep links
Ratio of link attributes such as nofollow, sponsored, etc.
From these points of view, similarities and discrepancies can be identified, which can be used as a basis for your further content outreach. A natural link structure (e.g. blogs, magazines, business directories, etc.) or link distribution is evaluated positively by Google. Therefore, it is advisable to orientate yourself on the link structure of your competitors and avoid major deviations. If you have more follow than nofollow links on your domain, while your competitors have a relatively balanced distribution of follow and nofollow links, you should orientate yourself on this. In this case, advertorials may be a good way to strengthen this attribute.
2. Selection of the main competitors
Before you can start your link audit, you should identify the top 3 competitors. These are usually competitors from your sector who address a similar or the same target group. They should also offer the same services or products as you. Here you should check the search engine rankings of your potential competitors. Look at which competitors are well positioned for your relevant keywords and rank ahead of you. These are usually the competitors who have a certain visibility and awareness in the industry. Their link profile can give you information about what can be optimised in your link marketing strategy.
The choice of your top competitors should correspond to your scale to a certain extent. This means that you do not necessarily have to select the leading competitors from your sector. Rather, competitors with a similar starting position should be selected for the link audit. For example, you can orientate yourself on competitors with a similar, tendency to better visibility or traffic development. New opportunities and risks can be derived from their backlink profile and you can push your own link strategy.
3. Suitable tools and methods for link audit
Various tools and methods are suitable for collecting link data from competitors, including:
Link Research Tools (LRT)
In addition to backlink analysis, ahrefs.com offers many other functions and data that are suitable for competitive analysis. At ahrefs.com you can not only check your traffic and keyword development. Via the “Site Explorer” and the tab “Overview 2.0” you can access a view that allows you to compare up to 10 of your competitors. For reasons of clarity, we recommend that you first add your top 3 competitors. There you can also specify the period over which you want to track the development and select the countries that are relevant for you.
If you need SEO metrics for a larger number of your competitors, you can start a so-called batch analysis via “More”. Here you can insert up to 200 of your competitors, for which you will then receive a report containing the following metrics, among others:
Number of referring domains
Number of backlinks
ahrefs.com also offers a kind of content analysis via the so-called “content gap”. Here, the keywords for which you already rank can be subtracted from the keywords of your competitors, which gives you a list of keywords that you are still missing. These may also be so-called “low-hanging fruits” that need to be targeted in further link marketing.
Explanation:Low-hanging fruits are simple, easily achievable goals that can be reached with little effort or resource input. The concept of low-hanging fruit is mostly used in the fields of marketing, business development or project management to make progress quickly and efficiently.
You can also analyse your link profile with SISTRIX. First, you enter the domain to be analysed in the search bar. Here you will already be given an overview which, in addition to the visibility index, also provides the number of keywords, organic traffic and backlinks. If you now click on the tab “Links” and “Overview”, you will receive additional key figures, such as the distribution of follow and nofollow links as well as the distribution of start and subpage links (= deep links).
Here it is difficult to speak of a generally valid ideal ratio of link types, but it would be conspicuous if there were only follow links and no nofollow links. The same applies to the distribution of start and subpages. However, the ratio can vary depending on the type of website. For example, online shops usually have more links on subpages. In general, you should orient yourself to your top competitors and look at the “link landscape” of others from the same industry or niche. If your link profile differs greatly from the majority of the others, you can derive your further procedure for your link marketing strategy from this.
Explanation: Nofollow links are not followed by the Google Bot, i.e. they do not inherit a PageRank and no other signals that flow into the search engine ranking. Nevertheless, nofollow links contribute to a natural link profile. This can increase the trust and credibility of your website, generate traffic and support the diversification of your link sources. Therefore, you should consider both follow and nofollow links when developing your link marketing strategy.
What you can also access at SISTRIX is the distribution of the visibility values of link sources as well as the link texts (= anchor texts) and link targets. Here, too, you should make sure that there is a certain variety of link texts and that they do not only consist of money keywords, for example.
SISTRIX also allows you to compare up to a total of six domains with each other, so that you can also add your top competitors directly here. To do this, click on the cogwheel on the right above your visibility index history and then on the option “Compare chart”.
You can also click on “Compare with competitors” on the domain overview page and enter up to seven domains in total. The toolbox compares the respective domains on a separate page. On this page you will find all the important key performance indicators for the selected domains. Here, too, we advise you to initially add only your top 3 competitors for reasons of clarity.
The following key figures are compared with each other using this toolbox:
The domains to be compared can also be easily changed by clicking on the respective filter above the first table. This opens a text field in which you can enter a new domain and make a comparison.
If you are not sure who your top competitors are, the competitor analysis in SISTRIX is also suitable for this. On the one hand, you can go through the search with a keyword and enter the corresponding keyword in the search bar. Unlike the search engine, SISTRIX shows you the changes in the results. The SERPs table below shows you potential competitors who rank in important positions for the specific term.
On the other hand, you can also start a search at domain level. To do this, enter your domain in the search bar and click on “Competitors” in the navigation on the left under “SERPS”. There you can choose whether you want to analyse potential competitors based on the host name or the entire domain. Since both procedures do not lead to the same results, we advise you to use them in addition to determine your competitors.
3.3 Link Research Tools
The Link Research Tools, LRT for short, offers a comprehensive platform for competitive analysis, because here you can also find extensive information on the link profile of your competitors, such as the distribution of links in the various LRT Power*Trust areas. Here you can check whether the distribution of your links corresponds to the average of your competitors or whether you have noticeably fewer or more links in certain areas.
Explanation: The LRT Power metric evaluates the strength of a page based on the number of links, whereas the LRT Trust metric evaluates the quality of the existing links. Both together result in the total metric LRT Power*Trust.
With LRT you use the “Competitive Landscape Analyzer”, where you can insert your URL and the URLs of your competitors.
Select the “Full Analysis” option here, where you can also select your other desired SEO metrics in addition to the “LRT Power*Trust TM Domain” box. Now you can start the report. Under “Your reports” you will find, in addition to the distribution according to LRT Power*Trust areas, information on link status, link types (e.g. text or image) or the distribution of start pages and subpages. Similar to SISTRIX, you can use LRT to compare the link profiles of your competitors with your own. This also includes:
Number of backlinks
In addition, LRT enables you to perform a comprehensive backlink analysis of your competitors. This gives you detailed information about the origin of the backlinks, their quality, relevance and linking patterns, through which the strategies of your competitors can be better understood.
4. Identification of opportunities and risks
With the help of a link audit, you can not only identify opportunities and rethink and realign your current link marketing strategy; by thoroughly analysing the link profiles of your competitors, you can also identify potential risks that could have a negative impact on your search engine ranking.
Such an opportunity can be found in so-called link gaps. These are websites that already link to your competitors but not to you.
Based on the evaluation of your link quantities and types and those of your competitors, the following can be clearly said
Whether you need more follow or nofollow links to diversify your link profile.
whether more start or sub-page links make sense in the further procedure, or
whether you are lacking links in a certain visibility area in contrast to your competitors (e.g. large and high-reach portals or smaller, but very topic-relevant pages).
The bottom line is not to stand out so as not to send negative signals to Google. Therefore, you should be careful to avoid excessive or unnatural link patterns.
In general, you should keep an eye on the competitive situation, observe trends and further developments in your sector and recognise and seize opportunities at an early stage in order to achieve a competitive advantage. A link audit offers you the necessary basis to have the most important factors and key figures on the screen.
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