Link builders often talk about competitive link analysis and exploring your competitors' link profiles to find link opportunities. The logic here is a link profile that works for one site may work for a similar site. And executed properly, this can be an effective link strategy.
But I'd like to share a link building tactic you've probably never read about. It's very effective and based on the same approach and logic as competitive link analysis. Besides analyzing links on competitor sites, you should also be examining your own link profiles for link opportunities, specifically the profiles of your best performing pages. The objective here is to replicate the success of your strongest ranking page on your weaker ranking pages.
Why is this link building tactic successful?
- If it's working for one page on your site, it may work for another
- It’s exponentially easier to replicate your own link strategy than a competitors
- You have proprietary access to replicate your own site internal link structure that competitors will never be able to clone
So let’s take a look at how you can analyze the link profiles for your site’s best ranking pages and clone those profiles for other pages.
Methods for Link Analysis
The method I use to analyze the link profiles of the top performing pages on my own websites involves three steps.
Step One: Identify Top Performing Pages
First, if you're not already doing so, find the top performing pages on your website. Rather than running individual search queries for your target keywords in Google, you can use one of these rank tracking tools.
- Rank Checker - Export keyword rankings to Excel (free)
- Google Webmaster Tools - Look under “top search queries” (free)
- Advanced Web Rankings - Automated rank tracking and reporting software ($200 flat)
Step Two: Create External Link Analysis Report
Once you have your top performing keywords/pages, it's time to do some link analysis and create an external link profile report.
Yahoo Link Domain - I conduct most my link reporting and link analysis using Yahoo Link Domain. This is some of the most extensive, comprehensive and up-to-date link data available and it's and free. I'd recommend accessing it through the SEO Toolbar from SEO Book, so you can perform page level analysis.
How to Create Your Link Analysis Report:
- Run Yahoo Link Domain on your strongest ranking pages (individually, of course) and export the link data to Excel. Your link report data points should include Toolbar PageRank (TBPR), "domain links," "page links," ".edu links," ".gov" links, all of which you can access with the SEO for Firefox Toolbar.
- To further qualify links, check the linking site's domain in the SERPs to see if Google has awarded site links to that site (demonstrating trust and authority), and add that field to your report.
- Sort by TBPR to get an idea of "relative value" of the inbound links pointing to that page.
- Scrub the list and purge low value links (scraper sites, syndicated article submission links, social links, forum signatures, blog comments, nofollow), as it's unlikely they're passing enough juice if any to impact rank. Even if they are, they're easy enough to replicate. And if you’re doing it for one page, you’re likely doing it for others. So don't dwell on these links.
- Leave only high and/or medium value links on the sheet from trusted sites with strong, authoritative link signals. Point is, you’re looking for links that are unique and passing enough link equity to float it in the results.
So now you should have a solid external links report, which will look something like this:
Step Three: Create Internal Link Analysis Report
It's not just external links that pass link equity to your Web pages. Internal link building also flows juice throughout a site. That's why I preach an aggressive internal linking system, so you can funnel link equity from those "link rich" pages to your "link poor pages." Creating an internal link report will help identify the where the top performing pages are getting their internal link juice.
Webmaster Tools - Gives you a list of all pages on your site that link to your top performing pages, which you can export into Excel.
Yahoo Link Domain - Use the link command "link:yoursite.com/your-deep-page.html site:yoursite.com" to get the entire list of internal links pointing to your top performing pages.
With this data, you will create a spreadsheet like the one you created for the external link analysis report above, again organizing the list by TBPR and purging the list of any low value internal links. This will give you a crystal clear picture of internal link profiles for your top performing pages, which you can then act on.
Now, Clone Your Link Profile
External Links Prospects
With your handy link analysis report in hand, your goal now is to try and acquire more inbound links from the same sources that pass link equity to your top performing pages. Easier said than done, right? Sure, some links may be difficult to duplicate, but many aren't. Point is, if they linked to you before, odds are in your favor that they'll link to you again. This is especially true when replicating links from, say, a trusted directory. With editorial links, you'll need to reach out those sources and inquire about additional link opportunties to other pages on your site.
What's also great about this process is the link intelligence you gain. The practice of analyzing and determining which links are passing equity and trust will give you tremendous insight into what it takes to replicate top SERP performance.
Internal Links Prospects
Replicating your internal link profiles is obviously much easier, yet potentially just as effective. You want to use the results of your internal link analysis report to identify potential targets on your site for additional internal linking.
A word of caution though: realize that if you continually siphon the link juice from a feeder page by adding more internal links, you run the risk of:
- Diluting the existing equity passing to the internal links already living on that page
- Killing that page's ability to pass meaningful link equity to any future links
So keep that in mind when you're tapping these internal pages for juice. I recommend taking precautions by noting all other internal links on page, documenting their existing rankings and monitoring their position in the SERPs closely over the subsequent weeks to make sure you haven’t hurt them by diluting the juice they were receiving from those top performing pages on your site.