How To Perform A Competitive Backlink Analysis?

Posted by Vikram Rathore

September 09, 2016

Link Building 36 min read

Your site’s authority, its position in Search, and the quality of your website are mainly affected by your website’s backlink profile. Hence, Backlink profile auditing plays a significant role in your link-building strategy and your overall SEO campaign. It also helps you to detect the problems or opportunities with respect to backlinks.

Link auditing helps to sketch out an effective plan of action and leverage a more scientific approach to your SEO strategies. In August, we published How to analyze your link profile to avoid a Google Penalty on Blurbpoint’s blog. But we’ve got more to say, an equally significant post that covers backlink profile analysis.

Why Is It Essential To Audit Your Backlink Profile?

Search engines use links to arrange the rankings which then, endorse your website. This implies, the more trusted domains you have in your link profile, the higher your site ranks and the stronger it becomes.

What are more domains, domain diversity, and quality backlinks that derive a much stronger impact on your site’s ranking in Google’s algorithm? Your website’s ability to rank in Google largely depends on the websites linking to it. (i.e. backlink profile).

Before you begin a link-building campaign, you need to understand your site’s current link portfolio. That’s the reason, it is essential to analyze your backlink profile and come up with a competent link-building strategy.

Basic Elements of a Backlink Profile Analysis

Running up backlink analysis can efficiently help you develop the fundamental knowledge of your website’s links, link building strategies, and link authority. Here are 8 link building elements of a thorough backlink profile analysis which you’re going to learn further in this article:

1. The total number of links
2. Number of unique domains
3. Linking domains vs total links
4. Anchor text usage and variance – branded, keyword-rich, etc.
5. Fresh/incoming links
6. Link Authority
7. Social Media Mentions
8. Competitive Analysis

Which Tools To Use?

There are various tools available and they seem to grab the interest for the insights they provide. Mostly, all these tools do a great job, but choosing one mainly comes down to the matter of preference. If possible, you should use two or more tools to ensure you’re not missing out on any information.

Open Site Explorer from Moz
Majestic SEO
Raven Tools
SEO SpyGlass
Cognitive SEO

Currently, I use MajesticSEO – the most effective tool for in-depth link analysis. So, the walkthrough will be based on the use of this tool. The screenshots you see will also be pulled from this tool.

Getting Started

To start, just go to your chosen tool’s website and enter the target website’s URL. This will take you to an overview page where the target website’s backlinks are summarized. The first element you should analyze is the total number of links.

1. Total Number of links

Open Majestic Site Explorer

Blurbpoint backlinks

As highlighted in red, you can see the number of links.

Knowing the total number of links, especially looking at your competitor’s links too can help you better understand how competitive is your website currently. However, it is very easy to spam a higher link count with various tactics such as article directories, sitewide links, blog comments, etc. So, a total number of links definitely do not correlate to the high quality, strong link profile, or higher rankings.

The next point leads to link quality, which is checking out the number of linking domains.

2. Number of Unique Domains

Referring Domains

The number of unique domains is typically a better measuring factor than the link count. The number of linking root domains is correlated to higher rankings. The first thing you should check out is how many root domains(unique domains at the highest hierarchical level) link to your site with individual links number.

The tool also filters your backlinks by separated domains, along with their follow type(do follow or no follow), anchor text, and quality level, and also tells you whether they’re active or not. This provides you a clear picture of the health of your backlink profile.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to grow your backlink profile, you should explore the domains having the strongest authority such as The Huffington Post, The New York Times, Tech Crunch, Wikipedia, etc. Some time back, Aaron Wall wrote an article about link growth and the role of link growth rates on your backlink profile.

Obviously, there are other factors that weigh in such as site quality, relevance, link placement, anchor text, etc. But you still need to ensure you’re analyzing the linking domains as well as the total links.

3. Total Links vs Linking Domains

This is done simply by comparing both the numbers we’ve seen so far. If you have thousands of links per linking domain, it could be definitely the red flag for an unnatural link portfolio. Moreover, the more links you accumulate from a single domain, the more you have dropped off in value.

The goal should be to have a proper ratio of unique domains vs total links, although obviously, there will be always more total links than the linking domains. A single site-wide link can swiftly boost this ratio and should be looked out for when needed.

4. Various Anchor Texts & their Usage

As you get backlinks, you’ll notice there are few types of anchor texts:

Zero anchors: Here / Click here / Read this – They don’t provide any added value
Exact Match Anchor Texts: Chicago SEO and Newyork SEO Services which includes core keyword and localization factors.
Partial Match Anchor Texts: SEO Services which doesn’t have any geo-localization.
Hybrid Anchor Texts: these anchors include branded, related, and non-branded texts.

Anchor texts need to be relevant just like the meta tags and meta descriptions. Anchors should not only be relevant to the topic of a page but also varied. So, what should you look out for while examining anchor text – Variance and Usage.

For Majestic, we click on this tab.

Anchor Optimization

It displays a list of anchor text terms, the number of linking domains using that particular anchor text, the number of total links using that anchor text, and the trust metrics.

Or, you can flip over to Majestic’s summary tab, which has an anchor text graph available.

First, by doing a quick Google search, you can find out how your site is performing based on the linked anchor text and get revealed potential insights. Although many link builders have been using keyword-rich anchor text like “dog biscuits” in recent years, with the implementation of Google’s algorithm, Penguin 2.0, you need to ensure linking brand name as well as diversity instead of the money keyword you want to rank for.

Understanding the current anchor text portfolio is necessary before launching a campaign. Furthermore, you need to ensure avoiding anchor texts that have been already overused and implement other anchor texts which are underutilized.

5. Incoming/Fresh Links

There are tabs within the Majestic tool that show you the recently discovered, fresh incoming links. Majestic also shows a handy graph for quick reference and monitoring the incoming links day-wise or date-wise.

Let’s see the importance of fresh link data:

By examining the recent links built, you can comprehend the current/recent strategies, if any suspicious linking activities are underway, and notice if there is any unaccounted link growth(number of links built in a short time). If you have thousands of links build per day, it is surely a red flag, unless the website is sizeable or well known.

Fresh links are a great metric to check upon if there’s a ranking change that happened recently. However, often Google’s algorithm and updates are out of our control so we should always be aware of what’s going with our site as well as our competitor’s.

6. Link Authority

This is the factor for which I spend time manually clicking around, exploring links, and checking everything out. Surely, it’s good to have various tools helping you understand your website’s backlink profile, but honestly, if you’re not spending a good time examining the links yourself, you’re surely missing the point.

Here are some important things to be looked out for better link authority
Site, page, and link relevance
The Domain Author/Page Rank of your site and the Page Authority/Page Rank of the page
The anchor text
Link placement
Trust rate

The authority of your domain is measured by the domain authority metric and an individual Page’s authority is measured by the Page authority. Both DA and PA are grounded on 100 points scale, where 0 indicates super weak and 100 points out maximum authority. When the page is linked to from a number of strong pages, it is considered to have an authority on the topic, which further leads to an increased page authority score and higher ranking.

Therefore, a growing authority metric demands a link building strategy that brings in high-quality backlinks from various, strong domains.

7. Social Media Mentions

Yes, we all know today social media presence is a factor that contributes greatly to your website’s success. And as the web becomes more and more social, the importance of your site’s social engagement boosts.

Social Mentions

The first thing is ensuring that all your website’s social sharing work is flawless and all the primary channels are well integrated. So that, your site’s visitors can easily post the contents on their profiles.

What’s more, you also need to check if your content is shared by the influencers in your niche and other esteemed identities.

8. Competitive Link Analysis

Finally, it’s vital to compare yourself with your competitors and check out how you stack up against them. You can discover more about this topic by reading our post: Be Smart & Stay Ahead! By Analyzing Your Online Competition.

Competitive Link Analysis

The backlink profile analysis can enlighten the link builder as he can identify which of his competitors are implementing white hat(ideal), black hat, or grey hat SEO techniques.

Moreover, you can also know what kind of sites, your competitors are using for their backlink acquisition process.


Lastly, I hope this article has helped you with an in-depth insight into how to link data can be used to create and implement an effective link-building strategy or understand your competitors.

That’s all for today! Let us know how these tips for backlink profile analysis helped you. Were they eye-opening and useful to you? Feel free to tell us in the comments below.






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