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Search engines rely on links to determine whether your web pages are trustworthy and authoritative. And to earn and uphold that status, it's important to always be on the lookout for new link building opportunities that you can take advantage of. One simple way to find new opportunities is to analyze the backlinks of other websites' ranking for a target keyword phrase. The logic here is pretty straightforward. If a web page is ranking well for the keywords you're targeting, then they must have some good backlinks. By examining their links, we might find some that we'd like to go after as well to help out our own rankings.
Let's take an example, and say we want to find new link building opportunities for the phrase "backpacking tours." The first thing to do is head over to Google, and do a search for that term. The top results here are ranking high in part because of their on-page optimization, but another strong reason they rank so well is because they have a lot of good links pointing to those pages. What we want to do is analyze who is linking to those pages, determine how they got those links, and create a link outreach strategy to emulate those efforts.
One tool we can use for backlink research is Open Site Explorer, another tool that's part of the SEOmoz tool suite. Let's pick one of those top ranking URLs from the previous search and enter it in. You will see lots of tabs of information about this page, but the first tab, labeled Inbound Links, lists out all the pages linking to the one we're examining. You can play with all the various filters to narrow down this list according to different criteria, but for now we're going to show links from only external sources.
This means we're not going to list links coming from somewhere else on the same site. You can examine each of these links, and your goal here is to gain an understanding of whether or not the link would be a good fit for you, and if so, what will be your link outreach strategy. One thing to remember is that you want to build strong, quality links to your own site. So try to focus on backlinks with a high page authority or a domain authority. You will want to be on the lookout for a few different kinds of opportunities as you go through these lists, and one thing you may discover are additional directories that you can submit your site to.
You should have already submitted your site to many high quality directories, but there is a good chance that you've missed some, and this type of analysis will let you see what other directories your competitors have discovered that may be able to help you as well. Another common strategy that may uncover opportunities you can take advantage of is guest blogging. This is when you reach out to another website and offer it to produce content for their blog. This can be a win-win arrangement where the blog gets content that helps their site and their users, and in return you include back links to your site within the content that you've produced.
Not only does this help with backlink development, but it can also strengthen your industry relationships, provide an outlet for thought leadership, and improve your status in your industry. You'll also want to be on the lookout for links from nonprofit sites. Many companies will support nonprofit organizations through donations, expertise, or in-kind work, and many times these organizations will link back to your site wherever they may highlight their sponsors and organizations they work with. Links from these domains are generally considered very trustworthy by the search engines.
So you might want to think about what causes are important to your organization and consider supporting them. Or reach out to the nonprofits you're already working with and see if there is an opportunity for a link or a story that can be published on their site. Another great method is to produce high quality educational content to post on your website for the specific purpose of garnering a link back to it. There are many sites in just about every industry vertical whose primary purpose is to promote industry- specific education and guide their users to informative content.
By creating high-quality, informative content that fills gaps, or by creating relationships with these sites to understand what content they're in need of, you'll gain a network of people and pages that are happy to link to you. Once again, this is a win-win situation, where the third-party site gets the benefit of directing their readers to trustworthy content, and you get the benefit of gaining links from trustworthy and relevant sites. There are many more strategies that can be uncovered from competitor backlink analysis, and the key is to spend the time analyzing what opportunities are out there, and how you can take advantage of them.
And remember to repeat this process with a handful of top ranking pages for each of the keywords that you want to rank for.
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