Replicate your competitors’ links
1. Search Google for related:yoursite.com to make a list of 5-10 domain-level content competitor websites.
Google’s related search operator shows you sites that may not be direct business competitors, but compete with your website on the search engine results page (SERP). Other tools include: Alexa. Sitechecker. Competitor link analyzing platforms like Moz Link Explorer or Ahrefs to do this automatically.
2. Refer to your business plan or market research to make a list of 5-10 direct business competitors and their websites.
Domain-level competitors are those that the search algorithms believe are similar to you. However, you may have direct competitors highlighted in your SWOT analysis and other business documentation that may not appear at the top of the list of online searches.
3. Enter the domain of each of the competitors you identified into a link analysis tool like the Backlink Checker in Ahrefs.
Such tools generate automated reports on the specific websites that link to each site you entered. Alternatively, you can take a free approach and search Google for site:* website.com -site:website.com to see the specific websites linking back to the websites you identified. A paid tool like Moz, Semrush or Ahrefs has numerous advantages over the free approach: You can set alerts when backlinks change. You get a cleaned-up report with duplicates and spam sites removed. You get access to a larger database than what may initially appear in Google searches.
4. Make a spreadsheet to track the website name and the specific URL that links back to your competitors’ websites.
Alternatively, competitor link analyzing platforms like Moz Link Explorer or Ahrefs create .CSV spreadsheets automatically listing these details.
5. Review the list of links in your Moz, Semrush, or Ahrefs link analysis reports and highlight domains with high authority.
Domain authority is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that calculates how valuable a link is in a search engine’s eyes. Most of the major backlink analysis platforms incorporate some version of Moz’s approach, such as Semrush’s Authority Score. By highlighting links with a high authority, you focus on links that have the greatest impact on your SEO should you replicate them. Alternative factors to rank your link priorities include: Link strength: How authoritative and trustworthy the linking website is. Link relevance: How appropriate the embedded link is to the overall page content. Link placement: Where on the page the link is located, with a link in the main body text being more valuable than a link in a footer or sidebar.
6. Highlight 3-5 valuable backlinking URLs from your list to focus your replication strategy on.
Ideally, each link should come from trustworthy sources, be highly relevant to your website, and include a link in the body of the content and not just a sidebar, menu, or footer.
7. Identify the topic, theme, and content of each competitor page that these 3-5 valuable URLs are linking back to.
For example, if your competitor is an air filter company and their page is a post about buying a new air filter, you might note down: Topic: Air filter features and what to look for. Theme: Education, buyer’s guide. Content: Features, pros and cons, glossary, research studies, product suggestions. This essentially creates a skeleton outline of what your competitor is publishing.
8. Create new content or update past content to make it more in-depth or up-to-date than your competitors’ pages.
Your goal is to create your own content that covers the same topic, theme and content as your competitor, but is: More up to date. Longer in length. Easier to read. Appears more credible. Covers more breadth. Shares better guidance. Look at the 5-10 top Google results for the topic’s pain keyword, for example, allergy air filter, to see what these different pages discuss, then create an in-depth outline that covers all the topics that these pages touch on.
9. Contact the author of the backlinking website and ask them to share your content.
Your email should be personalized and short, and explain the exact page you want them to update with the exact URLs you want changed. Ideally, they will replace the link to your competitor with a link to your page. Alternatively, they may simply add a new link to their page.