In the simplest terms, a backlink is just a link that results from one website linking to another. But backlinks, sometimes called “inbound links,” are vitally important to SEO.
SEO strategists, tasked with improving a website’s rank in search engines, look for ways to encourage backlinks from other websites to their own. The more respected and authoritative a website is that links to yours, the more valuable the backlink. This type of backlink is considered “high-quality.”
In the digital marketing world, this “looking for ways to encourage backlinks” is referred to as “backlinking” or “link building”. SEO strategists are always on the hunt for creative new ways to solicit high-quality backlinks by developing “backlinking strategies”.
Why would anyone spend their time backlinking?
You may not have heard of backlinking before, but it is one of the most vital aspects of SEO. If done correctly, backlinking can help your website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) which goes a long way toward increasing its organic traffic. How? When a search engine returns a list of results (i.e. SERP) to match an initial search request, the searcher usually chooses one of the highest-ranked options. In fact, roughly 80% of traffic on Google goes to the first three positions for any given search. The more high-quality backlinks a site possesses, the higher the site will rank on SERPs and the better its chances of being selected over another site by the searcher. In other words, and more succinctly, backlinks improve a site’s search ranking, which in turn drives more new visitors from search engines.
Sounds great, right? The truth is, getting the backlink strategy right can be difficult. Doing the wrong things can actually hurt your brand.
In this guide, we will talk about how to use a competitor linking strategy to get backlinking right and grow your brand.
Backlinking via a Competitor Linking Strategy
There are several factors to consider when backlinking, from the link-building technique used to the target keywords or phrases being linked to. It’s not enough to get just any backlinks. While the number of external websites pointing to a given site factors into the SEO benefit garnered, the quality and relevancy of the sites you get backlinks from are more important. The best backlinks come from sites that are heavily visited with well-written and current content (i.e. authoritative), and topically related (i.e. relevant) to your site. Google sees these kinds of sites as trustworthy and authoritative, which, by association in the eyes of Google, carries over to your site. But getting the right backlinks to your website can be difficult. You can use several methods to drive organic traffic to your website using high-quality backlinks.
Competitor Linking Strategy
For people without an experienced team, the best way to build backlinks is using a competitor linking strategy. A competitor linking strategy aims to analyze high-ranking competitors’ websites and use their linking strategy as a starting point.
With this strategy, you can learn from the methods used by your competitors to increase organic search rankings for your own website. High-quality links relevant to your industry will help your website achieve higher rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Here is one sure-fire way to build backlinks without risking damage to your brand:
- First, you compile a list of the keywords you want to rank for. Several excellent tools are available to help you with this, such as Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMRush. Or, you can rely on your own subject matter knowledge to develop your list.
- Next, you will compile a list of the sites that rank the highest for those keywords. Again, Ahrefs has a great backlink tool to help with this. With this list in hand, you will dig a little deeper and create a list of all the sites that those sites are ranking for and sort that list by domain rank.
- Finally, you will use the Moz spam score to eliminate links with a Spam score of 20% or higher.
Now that you have your list, you can begin backlink building. The process requires time and dedication since you have to treat each link as a unique case, research relevant articles and websites, and evaluate the best strategy individually.
Assessing the success of your backlinking strategy
So now that you’ve taken our advice and implemented this proven process, you are now left to wonder – is this new strategy having any real impact? The best way to measure the success of your backlinking strategy is by evaluating keyword movement and domain rank. If you are seeing an increase in traffic for a particular keyword, then you are doing something right. Here are the tools we would recommend for measuring backlinking success:
SerpFox is a tried and true tool for measuring SEO success. Their tool lets you set up custom searches in their intuitive dashboard so you can quickly and easily see how your efforts at backlinking are paying off. You can set up custom reports that run on a schedule and even configure the tool to send notifications when certain ranking objectives are reached.
Ahrefs offers analytics that measures relative Domain Ranking for your content. Based on a logarithmic scale, this tool lets you see at a glance how your content is tracking against your competitors, measuring domain authority as a function of the number of backlinks, referring domains, and the amount of organic traffic generated.
Backlinking is a long-term strategy, not a quick fix
Backlinking is an important part of SEO, but results generally take months to appear. Although there is no one formula for backlinking that works for everyone, some general principles can help increase your chances of success.
Consistency is key. To succeed, you must put in the consistent effort—if you’re not consistently finding new sources of backlinks and linking to high-quality content, your efforts will be fruitless.
Patience is needed. You likely won’t see results right away. It generally takes 2-3 months for backlinking to begin showing meaningful results. However, you can do a few things to speed up the process, including creating quality content and using link-building tools.
Iterate as needed. Keep track of your progress and make adjustments as needed to ensure that your backlinking strategy works as it should. Don’t get caught up in the sunk cost fallacy. If your current strategy isn’t getting the desired results, don’t hesitate to change it.
Measure what matters. What are you trying to achieve? Make sure to measure the success of your efforts using appropriate metrics. For example, you may want to increase conversions or drive more traffic to your site to build brand recognition.
In conclusion, backlinking is an effective way to build brand recognition and drive traffic to your website when done properly. A competitor linking strategy is a great option for business owners who don’t have a marketing team or many resources to draw from.
Don’t have the time to manage a competitor linking strategy on your own? We totally get it. Backlinking can be very time consuming and requires research, analysis, and close attention to detail. There are a lot of benefits to working with an expert who knows all the latest strategies and methods to generate high-quality backlinks. At t/Hawk Digital, we specialize in high-impact marketing. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you develop a competitor-linking strategy that delivers results.