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In the world of search engine optimization, competitive intelligence is an indelible source of campaign sustenance. Knowing where competitors are ranking for key terms, and more importantly, why they might have better rankings than your site, is information you simply cannot go without. I am going to walk through a few different ideas that will help effectively analyze search competitors.

Of the many competitive research tools available, Open Site Explorer shines brightly above the alternatives. It’s very intuitive – first time users will find it incredibly easy to use. You simply enter your URL, along with up to 4 competitors, and you get lots of data to start analyzing.


Total External Links

External links are useful see how you compare to competitors in online conversation and presence, and will help you set goals in your SEO strategy.

Link building can be a numbers game, and this report will help you determine whether it’s quantity, or quality (meaning high value) links that you lack compared to other sites in your industry.

Total Linking Root Domains

The Total Linking Domains report gives you a look at the diversity of domains sending links to your competitor’s websites. If you see that they have a high number of links, but a low number of total linking root domains, you know that they are getting most of their links from the same domains. It is better to have both a high number of links as well as a high number of linking root domains.

Linking C Blocks

The Linking C Blocks (or C class IPs) report refers to the IP addresses of linking websites.

While very similar to the Linking Root Domains report, this isn’t the same thing. C Blocks are your way of identifying the true backlink diversity of any given website. Getting 500 links from 500 unique C Block IP addresses is more impressive to search engines than 500 links from 500 different domains that are hosted on the same IP (or even C Block IP), which may look suspiciously like a linking network.

It is always best to have both a high number of linking root domains and a high number of linking C blocks in your link portfolio.

Evaluating the ratio between C blocks and linking root domains is also a quick way to identify whether a particular competitor is using a network of links.

Back Link Portfolio

After we have looked through these stats and set some goals on what you want to accomplish in your strategy we can next pull the backlink portfolio and see exactly where the competitors are getting their links. It is always best to sort their link portfolio by highest to lowest by page authority. This way you can start with their highest authoritative links and analyze and see how they got their link on that site and figure out a way to get a link on that site as well, weather it is a directory that you can place a link or a blog that you can offer a guest post to. It helps to think outside the box and figure out a way to get a link on their site.

Hopefully these tips will help you the next time you analyze your competitors and you will be able to find some high quality links for your site.