SEO is a race. And in any race learning from your competitors makes you a better runner. Even when youre running first its sometimes good to look back and check the runner-ups. And if youre not the yellow jersey guy, you absolutely should examine the leaders: their gear, their training, their strategy. In SEO the most interesting thing about your competition are their links.
Whether you like it or not SEO is still pretty much about links. Good link profile can make up for almost any lack of optimized content and other on page flaws. Love or hate, the best thing you can do about it is embrace the fact and run with it.
So lets go through some tricks that will enable you to look deeper into your competitions link profile granting you access to the restricted areas: their locker room, dirty laundry and even the briefing hall where they plan their link building strategies.
Lets Talk Competitive Link Research
Finding out where your competitors links come from is not all that hard. You just go to Yahoo! or Google and type in link:www.your-competitor.com to get a list of inbound links to the site.
Yahoos much better in that respect as it tends to give more extensive and accurate data. The problem here is that theres a limit of 1,000 links per website which is often not enough as the fattest link sources get left behind the limit fence.
Herere some tips to break through to the other side.
Note: If youre lazy like me skip to the end of the article where Ill share a tool that does it all much quicker.
Trick 1: Search for Links to Particular Web Pages of a Competing Site
Alongside with link:www.your-competitor.com search for link:www.your-competitor.com/products.html or link:www.your-competitor.com/services.html and so on.
Trick 2: Exclude Internal Links
You may examine the internal linking structure of your competition if you want to gain some insight on their navigation and marketing steps. But as we want to find more external links, lets exclude the internal ones.
You can do this by adding -site:site.com operator to your search query. Type in:
link:http://www.your-competitor.com -site:your-competitor.com or linkdomain:www.your-competitor.com -site:your-competitor.com and youll get a list of external backlinks only.
Theres a dropdown option in Yahoo! site explorer that does the same.
internal links 7 Tricks to Get a Google of Links
Trick 3: Exclude Links Coming from Certain Domains
The -site: modifier lets you exclude links coming from specific sites. So, whenever you see a large chunk of links coming from the same domain add -site:thisdomain.com modifier to your query and the links from this site will get replaced with new ones.
You can add -site: multiple times in one query so that you have something like this:
long query 7 Tricks to Get a Google of Links
Trick 4: Check Links Coming from Certain TLDs
This is a little known trick. The site: modifier actually lets you get a list of links coming from domains with certain TLDs:
.com, .org, .edu, .co.uk and so on. Just type in link:http://www.your-competitor.com site:.gov or linkdomain:www.your-competitor.com site:.gov and youll get a list of .gov sites linking to your rival.
Note: Do this in Yahoo! regular search, not site explorer
Trick 5: Exclude Links Coming from Certain TLDs
This is an even lesser known trick. You can exclude certain TLDs from the results with the -site:.tld modifier. Usually the biggest chunk of links comes from .coms so add a -site.com modifier and youll get lots of new link data.
Trick 6: Use Different Combinations of the First 5 Tricks
Try link:http://www.your-competitor.com/page.html -site:your-competitor.com -site:.com
Or link:http://www.your-competitor.com site:.org -site:wikipedia.org
Give it a thought and Im sure youll come up with lots of your own. Feel free to share your findings in the comments
Trick 7: Use the Above 6 Tricks in Different Search Engines
Dont limit your searches to Yahoo! and Google, go to AltaVista, Alexa, (Bing doesnt give you link data, so forget about it) but then therere Exalead, Excite and tons of regional search engines. Search them, remove the duplicates and youll have a goooooooooooooooogol of competitors links to study.
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