Let's face it – when it comes to beating your competition, you want to gain any edge you can.
And, as far as SEO is concerned, we should all be familiar with the importance of link analysis. After all, search engines seems to care most about quality backlinks these days.
The idea is to benchmark your site's performance, and then figure out what your competitors are doing in order to position themselves optimally.
However, interpreting the data can sometimes be tedious and confusing.
Don't worry; there are far better tools available to you now than ever before, and many of them are easy to use.
Let's start by taking a look at a few of the tools that are out there.
Link Analysis Tools
Every link analysis tool has some upsides and downsides.
Here are a few thoughts concerning each of the main ones that are out there:
- Bing Webmaster Tools: you can use Link Explorer within Bing Webmaster Tools to analyze links. However, it only shows the URL and the page title for each link, and if you're looking to reverse-engineer competitor backlinks, this isn't ideal.
- Open Site Explorer: Moz's Open Site Explorer is a far more powerful tool for analyzing your competition. Unlike Bing Webmaster Tools, you can also view page and domain authority information on each link.
- Majestic: Majestic is very similar to Open Site Explorer, and offers much of the same functionality. A feature unique to Majestic is Trust Flow, which is used to determine how trustworthy a site is.
- Ahrefs Site Explorer & Backlink Checker: Ahrefs is an excellent link analyzer. The data is presented in a visually appealing format, and there's lots of it too!
How To Use A Link Analysis Tool
Hopefully you've had the chance to try out a tool or two by now, but if not, it's really quite simple.
Most sites just require you to enter a URL into the box and it will automatically spit out a report for you.
If you are analyzing competitor link data, than you may want to filter the data by clicking "external links" or similar.
Here are a few more ideas on what you can do with competitor link analysis tools.
Cross-checking data is one of the ways you in which you can take advantage of competitor link analysis tools.
For better or worse, different tools are going to give you slightly different reports on your site.
This could be an issue of accuracy, of course, but it may also have to do with the proprietary algorithm the tool uses to calculate relevant scores.
And, as was already established, different tools are going to give you more or less data depending on what you're looking for.
You can consolidate the data you gather from various sites to build a more holistic report for your efforts.
Learn From The Competition
Perhaps you have your own link analyzer tool, or maybe you're thinking about getting into the industry.
This is where being able to look at the competition to figure out what sort of features they're offering is incredibly useful.
After all, the link analysis tool market seems to be on the grow, and you may have something unique to offer it.
No matter what kind of SEO campaign you have underway, being able to learn about your competition, what they're doing, where their links are coming from, and anything of that nature is immensely useful.
Link analysis tools can offer you an opportunity to get an inside look into what your peers are up to, and may offer some clues as to how you can duplicate their efforts or even outsmart them.
Make sure to keep link analysis a high priority in your SEO efforts!
Image: Clwyd Probert