Have you ever wondered why rankings matter a lot? Well, that's because it is vital for directing people to your site (traffic). Ranking on Google is easy. With good content, you're ready to go. However, ranking high involves much more. You'll need to optimize that content. And what's more, you will need several referral hyperlinks from other websites. These are known as Backlinks.
In the SEO world, backlinks can improve your site's ranking significantly. And that's why most websites you see out there on the web have multiple backlinks linking to them (The high-ranking ones though!).
But how do you even get these backlinks? Here's the most effective method - steal from your competitors. Wait, what? Don't worry, it doesn't involve anything illegal. Instead, it is an accepted SEO practice. And this article will take you through the whole process.
But first, let's briefly go through the basics to help you, as a beginner, to better understand why backlinks are necessary. And if you are a regular, you'd want to stick around to learn new ways to outsmart your competitors and generate backlinks.
Backlinks and their importance
The essence of backlinking is to pass PageRank to websites. PageRank is a way of telling Google that a web page's content is credible. And Google rewards such websites with higher rankings. More so, if the link is coming from a high-ranking site.
However, there is typically only one type of link that generates that PageRank. It is your common dofollow backlink.
Dofolllow. Any Dofollow link informs search engine bots to pass authority to the linked-to website. As a site owner, generating this type of backlink is necessary for higher rankings. Without it, you may find that your SEO progress is stuck in place.
But does this mean that the two other types of backlinks offer no value? That's what many think. However, both the Sponsored and Nofollow 'rel' backlinks have a unique benefit.
Nofollow. Again, high rankings are vital for generating traffic. And for ranking high, you need backlinks. However, backlinks also help you start generating traffic directly. And this is especially true for the nofollow link attribute used to refer readers in blog posts. But that's not all.
Nofollow links sometimes affect rankings. Apart from how traffic boosts your site's engagement (which eventually leads to improved rankings), nofollow directly influences rankings. So, you'll need lots of nofollow links as much as Dofollow. Fortunately, it is easier to get than the latter.
Sponsored. Recently, Google introduced a new type of backlink for advertisement campaigns. The sponsored backlink, like nofollow, doesn't drive authority to websites. And while nofollow sometimes influences rankings, sponsored does not.
The importance of backlinks is seen in the SEO industry. So, generating links is a whole ball game on its own. However, many don't understand how to go about it. “Why?” you may wonder. After all, there are several methods to earn backlinks, both paid and non-paid strategies.
Well, that is the reason why. Because there are so many routes to take, one may get confused about which is correct, faster, and more productive. Well, this comes back to the main topic of the day - stealing backlinks from your competition. What is that all about?
Stealing your Competitors' Backlinks
If you are a regular in the SEO community, you may have come across the phrase ‘spy on your competitors’. That is a common practice used by many to learn the strategies of other brands in their niche. Whether it is keyword or backlink, you can learn a lot from how your competition does things.
And by getting that info, you can use it to overtake them on SERPs. Let's face it - if you are ranking pretty well on Google, there will be other businesses watching your strategies. So, why should you hold back from doing the same? After all, what could you possibly lose? Nothing!
Keeping that in mind, you need to get started on your competitors' backlinking. But to do that, you need to know who your competitors are.
Your Competitors - Who are they?
At first glance, 'competitors' refer to other businesses similar to yours. That is correct. But it means more than that. To better understand it, SEOs have divided it into two categories. These are the Domain-Level and Page-Level competitors.
The above definition perfectly applies to Domain-Level competitors - similar brands. These brands compete on SERPs for the same keywords and audience. And above all, they offer similar, if not the same services. For these brands, every page of their website parallels each other.
On the other hand, brands that compete at Page-Level may be offering different services. Their target audience and keywords might not relate in any way. But if just one of their web pages is ranking for the same term, they are page-level competitors.
For instance, brand A is into fashion designing and has a post about wedding dresses. On the other hand, site B belongs to a photographer and also has a post on wedding dresses. Both businesses have different target audiences and keywords. But since one of their posts parallels each other and ranks for the same term, they are Page-level competitors.
Identifying your competitors is no doubt the starting point of your strategy. Doing so is very easy and doesn't require you to break a sweat. With Google's SERP, you're good to go. That is if you've already taken the time to research your main keywords.
If not, it will be harder for you to determine who your competitors are. Remember, they compete with you for almost every keyword. So, knowing what those keywords are is the first step. To do that, a simple keyword tool will be effective. An example is Ubersuggest by Neil Patel.
On Ubersuggest, enter your site's address.
After that, Ubersuggest will display a list of keywords you're ranking for with your performance and search volume.
Note down all the terms you're performing well for. Start with these as they will bring you more traffic and results than low-performing keywords.
Once you've done that, it is time to identify your competition. As seen above, Google is effective for this:
A simple search like "websites related to [Your Domain]" will do the trick. You'll get a list of brands that compete with you on the Domain-Level.
Next, search each of those keywords you got from Ubersuggest. Do this one at a time.
Websites that rank for only one or two of those keywords are your page-level competitors.
And those websites that keep on appearing multiple times for your target keywords also compete with you on the Domain-Level.
Other tools like Keyword Planner and Keywordtool.io will give you insight into your focus keywords. And Spyfu is another option for identifying your Domain-Level and Page-Level competitors.
To successfully steal your competitors' backlinks, you need to do two things. First, find the backlinks and use them. That's obvious, right? But those two steps involve so much more. Without any further delay, let's get started.
STEP ONE: Finding Backlinks
The following are simple methods for finding your competitors' backlinks. In other words, finding those websites that are linking to them.
1. Analyzing your Competition via Backlinks Competitors Checkers
Backlinks Competitors Checkers or simply backlinks checkers are SEO tools that give you insight into a site's link profile. Such tools include SEMrush, Ubersuggest, Moz link Explorer, and Ahrefs. While Ahrefs and SEMrush offer detailed information, they are premium tools. And this might not be a great place to start especially for beginners.
Thankfully, you can use Ubersuggest and Mozlink Explorer's backlink checker for free. For Ubersuggest, you simply need to insert your competitor's URL. Afterward, go through the relevant info that Ubersuggest will display on your screen. Amongst them, note the following:
The source page. This shows you the websites that are linking to your competitors. It also shows you which of their pages provides the link.
Domain score. Take note of all those sites with high domain scores. It shows how credible they are on Google's SERP. Hence, you need to aim for these sites especially.
Last seen. The 'last seen' feature allows you to ascertain the site that's been placing up backlinks recently.
Anchor text. It shows you the keywords that those sites use to link to your competitors. It may not seem flashy, but it holds more value than it appears to have.
While Moz link Explorer does not display the Anchor texts, it makes up for it with a ‘spam score’. A spam score shows that the website has characteristics that are against Google's guidelines. The higher the score, the lower the backlink's effect. Hence, aim for those websites with low spam scores and high domain scores for better backlinking. This applies to both your levels of competition.
2. Analyzing Competitors that rank for related terms
Some competitors might not be ranking for the specific term you are. But they may show up for keywords that are very similar to yours. It is also important to analyze them as they may be a good source of backlinks for you. Ubersuggest allows you to do this with ease.
Repeat the same process you did when identifying your keywords then follow these steps:
Click on your top-performing term.
This will display a table on the right side of your screen.
The table shows the websites that are ranking for those keywords. It also shows pages that are ranking for related terms. (Keep in mind that you can use this feature to discover Page-Level competitors.)
All that is left is to check the backlink profile of those websites.
Remember, aim for those sites with high domain scores and low spam scores. A site with a recent 'last seen' date is also helpful. After all, you'll be confident that their backlinks are still effective. With all that said, let's take a look at our second step.
STEP TWO: Generating Backlinks
Without a doubt, finding competitors' backlinks but not utilizing them is a waste. To avoid that, you need to implement them into your linking strategy and generate backlinks. But how? Below are three sure-fire methods of doing so.
Improve your content's quality
Look for broken backlinks
1. Improve the level of your Content
The first thing you need for your backlinking to work is quality Content. Without good content, no website out there would even think of putting up a backlink that links to your page.
Thankfully, On-page SEO is a common practice in the industry. With the use of Meta tags and the right content structure, you can develop rich and engaging articles. And that is bound to attract links from other webmasters, particularly bloggers.
You can also improve the quality of your articles by learning from your competition. You have to develop articles as good (or even better than) theirs. So, if they are getting more backlinks than you, it means you're doing something wrong. It wouldn't hurt to go through their content structure and learn from it.
2. Look for broken backlinks
A broken backlink is as it sounds - a link that does not work anymore. It is an effective method because such links can damage the SEO of the source website. Hence, those webmasters will most likely accept your request to replace that link.
But before you pitch in your link, you need to meet the following criteria:
Your link's article must be similar to the broken one, especially in a blog post directing readers to gain more info on the topic.
Your link's content quality should rival that of the broken link. That's why improving the quality of your article is number one on this list.
If you have content of such quality, you are good to go. Contact the webmaster and present your link tactfully. Since broken links endanger a website's SEO, the probability of this working is high.
That said, there is a downside to this tactic - it is time-consuming. It will take a lot of time to find a broken link on a high-ranking page within the same niche. But if you do find one, don't waste any time. Approach the webmaster ASAP.
3. Reaching out to bloggers
Reaching out to bloggers is the number one method of generating backlinks in the SEO industry. And what's more, it makes it easier to steal your competitor's backlink. After all, blogs make up a large number of the web. But it takes different forms. Here are two of them:
Ask a blogger to write a review. If a blogger reviews your services, they'll surely place a link to your website. However, depending on the case, this might cost you.
Ask websites to place your link in an already-existing article. Rather than requesting them to write a new article, you can be more direct. Ask them to insert your link in one that already exists. This is another form of buying backlinks.
Did you notice that these two methods allow you to steal from your competition? If not, consider step one once more. After finding what websites links to your competitors, you can approach those same sites and pitch in your link. By doing so, you'll be stealing your competitors' backlinks.
It is no wonder why backlinks are a vital part of SEO. They help direct visitors to a website and ultimately improve the site's standing on SERPs. But despite this, many websites have no link pointing to them. Whatever the reason, this is a good opportunity for you. Google will no doubt place a site with quality links higher than those without one.
So, if you have not already generated backlinks, now is the time to take action. With this article by your side, find your competitor's backlink and use it to overtake them. Once you do, you'll see just how strong a link can be.