Reverse engineering in link building is the process of finding new opportunities and strategies by analyzing a competitor’s backlink profile which can be a regular activity in a link building campaign. There are several things that can be found by using competitive backlink analysis, which include:
- New link building opportunities that can’t be seen through using advanced search queries in Google search.
- Existing content assets that had proven to be effective in terms of the number of links acquired, shares received and their level of reach and visibility towards the target audience
- Top linkable pages of competitors and the number of referring domains that linked to these pages (these domains can be included in your list of outreach prospects).
Identifying competitor’s link sources requires some considerations to be able to come up with valuable and relevant results for your backlinking strategies. Besides getting a list of high quality backlinks, it would be much useful and practical if you can learn how those backlinks can be acquired for your site/brand.
Here are the top three considerations that you shouldn’t miss when you’re doing reverse engineering in link building.
1. Efficiency in Manual Link Prospecting
To speed up your link prospecting process you need first to remember your link building goals. What are you trying to achieve in your campaign, it is to increase your domain authority or rank your content assets in the search results? How would you achieve those goals? What tactics will you use?
Think of such things. The more you understand your link building goals, the more it becomes easy for you to find link targets given that you already know which can quickly evaluate the page’s potential to help you reach your goal(s).
Next is the URLs and anchor texts of every link in the backlink profile.
If you want to write high quality guest articles and use reverse engineering to find guest post opportunities, you may want to consider the URLs of the backlinks of your competitors and also, the anchor texts used in the page.
Shady urls indicates that the page is a waste of time to visit. Will you use ugly URLs for your blog posts? You may have targeted a keyword and place it in your URL to increase your search engine traffic, right?
Without visiting each link/page, you could also identify if the backlink is a contextual link from a guest post by simply looking at the anchor text section of your competitor’s link profile.
Make sure you know which type of link you are looking for to make it easy for you to evaluate if it is a good fit for your link building strategy (even without visiting each backlink one by one).
Tip: Never forget to use Linkclump in link building particularly if you want to visit several links that are placed in one page.
2. Relationships between the linked pages
It’s not enough to see the top domains linking to your competitor’s site, proper link analysis would be much more effective if you can discover the relationship of the linked pages.
With proper understanding of the different types of link building strategies, you can easily determine how the link is acquired or earned by the webmaster. A few link acquisition methods most commonly used today are:
- Blogger outreach — reaching out to webmasters with an intention to get prospects share/see and possibly link to your content.
- Linker outreach — using BLB approach to replace the defunct link in a page with the link of your content.
- Paid values — has higher link acquisition rates than other link building methods since you’re giving webmasters monetary value (which will make them accept any link building offer).
Adding a column to your link building or reverse engineering spreadsheet with the label “acquisition method”, would help you determine which link building tactics would be best suited for your brand and help you get the same backlinks that your competitors have.
Be creative in implementing your link building tactics given that there’s no assurance in acquiring high quality backlinks your competitors have used.
3. Future content and link building strategies
Customize your link building strategies based on what you come up with your reverse engineering initiatives. You don’t want to copy the same link building methods your competitors are currently doing but you want to brainstorm improvements/techniques that you need for your future strategies.
If most of your competitors are using guest blogging to build high quality links to their blogs. It would be a boring and non-sense approach if you will use the same technique without adding a little bit of creativity to make it much more effective.
One way to be creative is to identify the type of links your competitors acquired. If the link is contextual, you can acquire the same link using other link building methods such as:
- Group interview. Crowdsourced content that contains useful and relevant tips from industry experts are highly linkable since they provide new ideas to the community. This type of content can get valuable contextual links from popular media outlets (news sites and top industry curators).
- Reverse guest blogging. Hiring industry writers to create expertly-made content has higher chances of earning passive links from influencer’s followers particularly if the influencer’s content pieces in his/her blog got contextual links in the past from various round-ups and publications.
- Individual interviews. The idea of link reciprocation can be applied for individual interviews. When you interview someone on your blog, you give him a link pointing to his post and/or his homepage. And when he sees the value of the interview, he’ll be much more likely to place your interview in his “about me” page where he listed down interviews he’d been with.
Reverse engineering can also improve your present content strategy in the following activities:
- Content analysis that is focused on determining the type of content that gathered to earn links/shares in the past.
- Content ideation. Anchor texts used by relevant domains to link to your competitor’s sites are good opportunities to target for your future content assets given that these are the phrases webmasters are using for external linking purposes.
Reverse engineering your competitors’ backlink profiles should be a regular routine of your team to get it easier for you to seek for more link building opportunities. The more opportunities you can find, the more you are capable of building relevant and strong links to your site.