Finding Link Opportunities Through Backlink Analysis

Article by: Matt Polsky

Finding linking opportunities through backlink analysis requires you to have some common sense, basic knowledge of your competitors, an idea of what good links are, and you'll also need access to a quality backlink analysis tool like SEOmoz's Open Site Explorer.

I'm a huge fan of Open Site Explorer, but I've also come to like using Ahrefs Site Explorer, due to the in-depth reports you can run, such analyzing anchor text by terms, shown here by Ross Hudgens; however, with this example I'll be focusing mostly on Open Site Explorer, since it gives me quick access to the metrics I like to see on the fly.

Let's say you just started XYZ Off-Road Bicycle shop and you're wanting to drive targeted traffic to your site, increase rankings and become a major competitor in the Mountain Bike and off-road biking niche.

You've built your site, loaded it with high quality, original content and now want to build a strong online presence and become an authority in the space.

Since we just started out in the example, the first thing you need to do is establish a list of major competitors and outlets that are heavily ingrained in the mountain bike industry. A short example list could include:

  • Trek Bikes
  • Connondale Bicycles
  • Mountain Bike Review (industry news)
  • Bike Radar (industry news)

From here, take these sites and plug it into a backlink analysis tool to see what kind of links these domains attract. On Open Site Explorer, go to the Inbound Links tab and filter the settings so that it shows all links from only external pages that are leading to the root domain. It should look something like this:

From here, you can export the link profile as a CSV for Excel.

If you are pulling data from an enterprise level site, you may need to go to the Advanced Reports tab, which allows you to download up to 100,000 links instead of the 10,000 limit placed on the Inbound Links tab.

To do this in Advanced Reports, make sure you select inbound links/linking pages and include any link from external linking pages that link to any page on the root domain. After making those selections, you can download the CSV.

If you are using Ahrefs, enter the URL and click Search Links, go to the external tab, where you will be given the option to filter between the links in text, image, frame, dofollow, nofollow, sitewide, not sitewide, redirects or forms. You can even filter to show one link per domain, which helps when you're dealing with tag archives.

After grabbing your selection, you can easily export the data file.

With Ahrefs, if you hit the max download limit, you can go to raw export and download the entire profile and simply use Excel to filter through the link data.

Once you have downloaded the excel file, weed out the prospects that provide no or are even harmful to your site - through your desired metrics or by using common sense - then start compiling a list of those you want to connect with. This method provides a continuing list of prospects, since if a site is in your niche, and linking to a competitor or industry expert, then their link profile could be valuable as well and you should analyze their profile next.

Fast Forward

Let's fast forward to our first piece of link bait and say we are wanting to make a statistical arrangement for mountain bikers that shows them all available trails, the length of the trails and the difficulty of the trails.

Once we created the piece, we want to know where to push it, enter a similar strategy to the one above.

With this strategy, we go out and find statistical arrangements, infographics and guides that are similar to our topic and analyze these pieces of link bait like we did the domains above, but with this, you want to see the links pointing to the exact page and not the entire domain.

You default settings on Open Site Explorer give you the single page, but you still will want to double check that you are grabbing all links from external pages that point to a single page, then filter it. Right after you do this, we're given a list of sites that are already primed toward this type of content.

This is a pretty basic look at what can be a very targeted approach to link building, and after recent updates involving link types and quality, compiled with Matt Cutts going on record to say that guest posting could be seen as negative when taken to extremes, it is important you find natural, true and lasting relationships when building links to your site.

In short, no matter what your strategy is, you should work toward getting a message across. Throwing your link in a low quality directory isn't going to push traffic to your site, just like posting on a blog without a viewership isn't going to get you visitors or conversions either.

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