In last week’s post I mentioned that good link builders had to consistently add new strategies to their link building mix. I was really surprised, however, to find out that a lot of people (especially clients) have very little knowledge about link building PERIOD; if at all. Even more puzzling was that this response wasn’t an anomaly!
It ALMOST seems like a standard in the industry…the mysterious link builder…hiding behind closed doors…where do they get all those quality links? How can I get some of those much sought after links for my client?
The answer to this old-age question is surprisingly simple. They have to SEARCH for them just like anything else. Now you can’t just type in “find good links” or “buy links” into Google or Yahoo, unless of course you want some really bad links that will probably do more harm than good. This is where the power of search queries comes into play.
The tools and queries I am about to discuss are targeted towards the novice link builder and the client that has very little knowledge about the powerful role that link building plays within SEO. Part 2 of this series will look at some of the more advanced search queries that can help you find everything from .edu and .gov links to high-quality and niche-relevant do-follow blogs that you can comment on.
One of the most important but often overlooked aspects of SEO and link building is competitive analysis. Sure most SEO's and link builders check to see how competitive their targeted keyword is, but do they investigate WHY a competitor is ranking well and HOW they can beat them? Usually not… well this is the FIRST process I use when setting up a new link building campaign for a client. Here’s how I do it…
1.) Use Yahoo! Site Explorer
Yahoo! Site Explorer is probably hands down the easiest, fastest, and cheapest (100% Free) way to check the number of links coming to your site. You can either go to Yahoo! and enter in this query:
site:www.yourwebsite.com (replace your domain with "yourwebsite")
Or you can go straight to Yahoo! Site Explorer. After you type in your URL you will need to make a couple changes in order to see the number of links. At the top of the page, simply click on "Inlinks" – "Only this domain". Then from the drop-down boxes select "Except from this domain" and "entire site"… and VOILA!
2.) Export Results to a Bulk Page Rank Checker
The next step in the process is to export the Yahoo! Site Explorer Results into a bulk page rank checker. I have personally tried over twenty bulk page rank checkers and the best free PR checker I came across is available here.
This tool allows you to check the PR's of up to 100 URL's within a matter of seconds. There are many other bulk page-rank checkers available so do a little research if you don't like this one. I use it because it's the fastest one I came across: some can do up to 500 at a time but it takes forever and remember, TIME=MONEY.
Now in order to get your Yahoo! Site explorer results into the bulk page rank checker you will need to export the results to Excel- at the top right of the page you'll see a button to Export Results to TSV- click it and then open up the results in Excel.
3.) Find their High Authority Links
Once you've entered in the first 100 URL's scroll down to find out where your competitor's high PR links are coming from. If you know what to look for you can quickly find out a lot about your competition: what directories they submitted too, whether or not they are internally linking within their own site(s), and most importantly: where they are getting the majority of their backlinks from.
But don't just stop after the first 100 links. I usually like to do around a 1,000 or so (on average= not all sites have this many and some have WAY more) to get a really good feel of what type of strategies my competitor's are using.
This helps me evaluate how to best allocate my budget and time when it comes to formulating a link building campaign for a new client or new keyword. Now I know this is a pain-staking process, but it's one of the most effective techniques to initiate a link building-campaign from the ground up.
4.) Get the Same High Quality Links, and MORE!
Now that you see where all their high quality links are coming from= TRY TO GET THE SAME LINKS! If they are ranking well (first page) then their link building strategy has obviously been working so why wouldn't you try to get the same links? You can submit to the same directories as well as long as they haven't been penalized by Google.
The best part of this strategy is that you can really target the strategies that your competitor's aren't implementing. So by using a combination of their successful link building strategies along with your own successful strategies you can be assured that your new client/keyword will get some great results much sooner than expected!
Keep in mind that this is just the BASICS!!! There are literally hundreds of SEO and link building tools and software programs available. Some are really great, and some are just a big waste of money when there are a plethora of free tools readily available on the web. Just because some of these tools are free doesn't mean they aren't effective; in fact it's usually the opposite scenario.
Don't forget that the strategies mentioned in this post are both free, user-friendly, and can certainly provide an in-depth analysis of your competition's link building strategies for you to emulate and capitalize off of. As promised, next week will be part 2 of this two-part series where I will be examining more complex search queries that will really get you advanced link builders out there excited again!
I'm a SEO Manager here at SEP and am responsible for overseeing the organic ranking of clients for their major keywords. When I'm not in front of computers my main passions are drumming, hockey and hanging out up north at my cottage in Muskoka.