How to Find and Use Competitor Backlinks to Boost Your SEO Rankings

By Practice Growth April 13, 2020

When it comes to ranking on google and SEO for healthcare, backlinks are one of the harder and more sophisticated strategies. But what are they? Backlinks are any outside link that points from one website to yours. In short, backlinks are a vote of trust from external sources that your website and its content are reputable and worth ranking. Out of the 200+ ranking factors, backlinks are one of the top ways Google ranks web pages.

A commonly used tactic in SEO is spying on competitor's backlinks. In this article, we'll cover how to find competitor backlinks, the advantages, and what to do with those backlinks after discovering them. 

The advantages of keeping track of your competition's backlinks

Backlinks are a vital player when it comes to ranking on Google. The more backlinks one has and from more authoritative sites, the more likely they will rank for target keywords. But why should you care about your competition's backlinks? Well, for one, it's what's helping them outrank you in search results. Here are four advantages to keeping track of your competitor's backlinks:

  1. It offers insight into what types of content and topics perform best. Backlinks are one of the more significant signs of quality content. Chances are, if a large number of sites are linking to a piece of content, then that content has adequately answered the questions the audience has. This insight offers a good idea of the content type and length you should be trying to create.
  2. It takes the guesswork out of content creation. Great content does not rank for keywords by chance. It has specific traits and qualities that make it perform well. By keeping track of your competitor, you can get an insight into what types of content work, don't work, and why.
  3. It gives you a starting point for your backlink strategy. Backlinking is one of the more overwhelming aspects of SEO. After all, you're trying to convince another human to link to your website. Most of the time, you'll never hear back from them. And trying to decide where to start can be overwhelming. Tracking your competition's backlinks takes the guesswork out of the process and offers a starting point.
  4. It opens the door for you to replicate and mirror their strategies. By seeing the backlinks your competition has, you get an idea of the types of websites they're attracting, reaching out to, and their overall content strategy.

How to track competitor backlinks

Now that we've covered why you should monitor your competition's backlinks, it's now time to show you how. Here are two simple steps to seeing competitor backlinks:

  1. Identify your competition. Create a list of sites you consider to be competition. It can be a list of other practices in your industry or geographic area. Don't limit it to your direct industry. You can consider any website ranking for the same or similar keywords as competition. For example, an optometrist may identify other optometrists as competition. But they should add sites such as healthline.com too because they create content ranking for vision-related keywords.
  1. Enter your competition's URL into a backlink checking tool. These tools crawl google and see which sites are linking to whom. For this example, I'll be using UberSuggest (it's free, or you can pay $10/month for added features and results). If I'm an optometrist, I would consider NVision, a competitor. They're a company that not only helps people with their vision but creates content that ranks for related keywords. Using UberSuggest's backlink tool, I can see what pages see the most visits and have the most backlinks.

Now that you know how to see your competition's backlinks, it's time to use that insight to gain backlinks from the same websites. Here are two common tactics used to acquire backlinks:

Create better content and then ask for a link. In today's internet atmosphere, it's not enough to reach out and ask for a backlink. You have to give them a solid reason for doing so. One of those reasons is better content. Look at your competitor's content and ask yourself:

·         How can I create better content?

·         Did they leave any questions unanswered?

·         Do they lack visual appeal, such as photos and graphs (Google does consider visuals when ranking content)?

·         Is their website lacking in user experience? 

After you've answered those questions, go and create better content. Then, when you reach out to the website, you can state that the content they're linking to is missing a few things.

Guest post. Guest posting is one of the most common strategies for gaining backlinks. Reach out to the site and ask if they're looking for any guest articles. Most likely, they already openly accept guest posts on their blog. Be sure to follow and look for any guidelines before submitting anything. Chances are, they'll allow for one link in your post to your website. It's essential to build a relationship with them first. Ask them if they're looking for any specific topics or types of content. If you show you're there to build a relationship first, you'll build trust with them. Trust is vital when attempting to gain backlinks.

As the old saying goes, "keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Consistently peeking on your competitor's backlinks opens up a world of insight and offers you the chance to improve your SEO strategy, find new content to create, and build more domain authority. When attempting to help oneself and feast on your competitors’ backlinks, always remember to build relationships first and offer as much value in your content as humanly possible. The stronger your content is, the more likely you'll be able to gain backlinks and improve your site's domain authority.

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