Have you ever wondered why your competitors are ranking higher than you and why they are dominating the first page in Google? That’s even though at first glance it looks like they don’t deserve it, right? In this article, I’ll show you how to do a competitor’s SEO analysis and determine what you need to do to outrank them. If you want to rank higher in Google, it’s always wise to check what your competitors are doing to stay on the top results.
For the purpose of showing a real SEO example, I’ll search for the top sites ranking for the keyword “pest control new york”. Below are 5 of the websites that are worth analyzing.
Many would only check the number of backlinks the competitors have and think that’s enough. But it isn’t. As Google uses hundreds of SEO ranking factors, there are many aspects to consider if you are serious about outranking your competitors. Here’s the proof that the number of backlinks is not so important. In the table below, I’ll show the number of LIVE backlinks from unique domains each site has, and also the number of indexed pages in Google.
Isn’t that intriguing? The website that has the least number of backlinks and indexed pages in Google is ranking first.
That’s to prove that the number of backlinks is not so relevant, and you shouldn’t have an obsession with it. Some would probably think the 3rd site deserves to rank first, because of the number of links it has.
Now let’s check the domain age, Domain & Page Authority, and Trust & Citation Flow.
That’s intriguing. The first site is by far the newest, it has a low Domain Authority compared to the others, but it’s doing so well.
Do consider that Domain Authority, Trust Flow, Citation Flow and any other similar metrics, are given by third party SEO tool providers, and each uses a different algorithm. They have nothing to do with the algorithm Google uses to determine the value of a site. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a site that has a high Domain Authority according to Moz will outrank all sites that have a lower domain authority.
To understand more about each competitor, I’ll analyze their content. Here are some insights that I collected.
The first site proves that even though “content is king”, it doesn’t always mean that you must have thousands of words on your homepage to rank first. Content is important in the sense that it can help you attract backlinks, keep your visitors more time on your site and gives you the opportunity to add more keywords.
We’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how many backlinks you have, if they are not from reputable sites. Also, content is very important, but it doesn’t seem to be the most important ranking factor. I’m sure you already knew that already. Let’s talk about backlinks.
While being on the first page is already a sign that you’ve done a good job with SEO, we all aim to have our sites in the first place. For the backlinks analysis, I’ll use the Monitor Backlinks SEO Tool and check the anchor text distribution for each site.
Here are the results for the 1st site:
The distribution looks natural, with the majority of the links using the site’s URL, even though most of those are nofollow. Nothing indicates to an overly optimized backlinks profile. That’s something Google carefully checks, especially after the Penguin algorithm update.
The site ranking 2nd has a slightly different backlinks profile.
Because they have the keyword “pest control” in their URL, they are using that to their advantage to create backlinks using the anchor text “m&m pest control”. That gives them the opportunity to have more anchor texts containing their main keyword.
The 3rd site’s anchor text distribution looks a bit over optimized, but nonetheless, it’s very diverse.
The site name is “PositivePest.net”, but their most popular anchor text is “pest control Brooklyn NY”.
The next site has a natural anchor text distribution as well.
The last site we are analyzing follows a similar pattern.
As you can see, all sites have a relatively natural anchor text distribution. That’s why they are ranking on the first page and dominate the SERPS.
I’ve shown you all the above differences between the first and the other sites, to prove that SEO is not all about the number of links you have or about the quantity of articles you have on your site. There are many aspects to consider, and as long as you follow the SEO best practices, you’ll rank high in Google. You don’t need hundreds of backlinks if your backlinks profile looks natural and you don’t have too many low-quality links. Always review your site’s backlinks and get rid of the bad ones before they start dragging your site down.
Check competitor’s backlinks and replicate the good ones
Only dofollow backlinks will have an impact on SEO, meaning that when analyzing competitor’s backlinks, you can ignore the nofollow ones. Nonetheless, in some cases, nofollow links can help you acquire dofollow links. That’s because a nofollow link on a reputable site can help you get more exposure to your site, and some editors might link back to your site with a dofollow link.
Before you start replicating competitor’s backlinks, acknowledge that even if a competitor ranks first for an important keyword, it doesn’t mean that all their backlinks are good for SEO. That’s why it’s always important to analyze if it’s worth getting a backlink from a site before starting the procedures of replicating it.
You can check your competitor’s backlinks simply by adding the domain into Monitor Backlinks in the competitors section or if you want to see more metrics for each link, add it as a regular domain.
A backlink is worth being replicated if it’s coming from a good, reputable, trusted and relevant site from your industry. Note that contextual links carry more value than links placed on sites with thin content. To determine if you should replicate a link or not, you can check the metrics of the website, and also use common sense.
No magic wand or button can help you replicate a link effortlessly. Get over it. SEO takes time, and manual work, if you want long lasting results.
To get the same useful links of your competitors, you’ll have to understand how they have gotten to have a link from that site and try to use the same technique to list your site as well.
Using the same sites as example, I’ll show you how to replicate some of their best backlinks.
For NyCGoPost.com, I sorted the competitors backlinks by their Domain Authority, so I can see the ones that have the best metrics. The first one looks very promising with a Domain Authority of 95 and a Trust Flow of 91. Surely looks like a nice link to have.
After a manual review of the site, I can see that this is an editorial link from Eric Zerkel on Wunderground.com.
The article is from a few years ago, and it’s unlikely to get my site features on the same page. However, I might have a chance to get a link from that site if I reach out and introduce myself and my website. That’s why it’s smart to get in touch with Eric and tell him that I enjoyed the article he published and also tell him that I might be a right person to contact in case they need the expert opinion about pests.
As Eric’s contact information is nowhere to be found on that site, I can do a simple search in Google that will reveal some ways to contact him. What I usually search is the person’s name and also the website name, to make sure I don’t find someone else that has the same name. Here are the results:
And there’s his twitter account. As tweets are public and they can’t be very long, a short tweet should help you get his contact information. Here’s an example: “ Hey Eric. Just read one of your articles on @wheatherchannel . It was great. What’s the best way to contact you regarding a suggestion for that post? “
Let’s move to a different example for the backlinks of OrganicPestControlnyc.com. After I sorted the links by Domain Authority and Trust Flow, these seem to be the links I should replicate first.
After checking the page that’s linking to my competitor, it’s easy to see that they’ve built that link with the help of an infographic.
If I have a good infographic, I can send it to the editors of that site for consideration, or I can create one right now and get a backlink to my site. It’s that easy to replicate your competitor’s best backlinks. Spying competitors give you access to an endless resource of backlinks opportunities. Here’s a tutorial showing how to build backlinks using infographics.
You can do the same for each type of backlink and then try to replicate it. Whether it’s a guest post, a link from a high-quality directory or a blogger’s mention, analyze if it’s worth having a link from that site and then replicate it. As long as it’s not one of the backlinks that’s violating Google’s guidelines, you should see some benefits for SEO.