One of the biggest questions that we get asked at Get Me Links is “how many links should I build” or “what link building package should I buy for my website?” While we don’t take on responsibility for rankings, we still want to see our clients websites get insane success so that we can use them for a quick case study pic… 📷
And it’s also just good for business. If you get results: we get to sell more links. Simple, right?
In this post, I’m going to go over my personal process that I use for competition analysis which allows me to analyse some of the most competitive niches up front to get an idea on what I’ll actually be able to achieve with the budget that I’ve set for that website. Here’s a video where I go over everything:
We’ll talk about:
- What you need to focus on when understanding relevance
- What factors come into play when it comes to analysing competition
- Bringing that together with real life examples of what to do
Important Statement: I want to make it very clear that this article makes strong general statements surrounding individual backlinks. For the purposes of understanding my analysis, please assume that all RD’s count for exactly the same. This is not the case in reality but thinking about things in this way for the purposes of this training will help you to understand things better.
I have tons of people come to me with their websites saying for example “my traffic dropped 40%” and they want me to tell them why. Here’s the truth guys – I don’t know & I don’t care about that…
Well I do care, but I don’t look at things in that way.
I look at a lack of success in SEO like this:
I first of all need to know what keyword I’m going after and for what page I’m trying to rank for that keyword.
Then I want to know where my website is currently at? I.E. How many referring domains do I have to my overall website and how many do I have to the page that I’m trying to rank.
Then I look at what other people have to their website that have the same or similar levels of site wide relevance to me (more on this later).
You’ve probably read that and you’ve thought duh…
Well yeah, duh… If your website fell back go and check if you should have even been ranking in the first place. Maybe the SERP that you were competing in slightly shifted towards authority over relevance? I’ll sit and brainstorm with you if you have more than enough authority and relevance to be smashing the competition, but 99% of times that I’ve looked into things, I’ve found that this is generally not the case – I’ve noticed that a lot of people just seem to think their site should rank because it once did.
Understand Relevance and Authority
I look at Relevance and Authority as the 2 main pillars of SEO. Relevance comes down to how relevant your website and it’s links are. In this guide, we’re focusing in on your websites relevance and not individual link relevance – more on this on the comparison sites section.
The next thing I care about is Authority. I usually analyse this at a broad scale by looking at RD’s of both the whole root domain of my competition and the RD’s going to the specific pages that those websites are trying to rank for.
So, 3 main things to keep in mind here:
- Relevance of your domain as compared to the competition
- How much root authority (RD’s to whole site) you have as compared to your competition
- How much page authority (RD’s to the page) you have as compared to your competition
The tipping points
I explain tipping points very well in the video at the top of this article, but essentially we need to look at the 2 main pillars of what makes sites rank from an off-page perspective.
I explained the concept of relevance and authority being the 2 main things that go into what makes a site rank. Google essentially establishes certain scores on each of your links based on how well you do each of those things.
Mastering the art of understanding how much Google favours each of those 2 signals will help you greatly in understanding how much of a tipping scale you need to push for on each side. You might have lower RD’s than a site but have higher relevance in your root domain, or opposite to that you might have higher authority but be up against sites with more topical relevance – you need to get a gauge on how to balance the scales of those 2 things in order to find your place in the SERP, I talk about how to do this in the next section…
Understanding & Finding Comparison Sites
Finding comparison sites essentially means find a website with the same or extremely similar site wide relevance as you. This allows you to compare apples to apples on a relevance basis allowing you to focus in on just the authority side of the equation. I usually categorise relevance into 3 separate groups:
- Keyword Relevant
- Category Relevant
Let’s look at some examples…
Let’s say your target keyword is “best dog toys” and your domain name is dogshub.com. You have single word keyword relevance for this term in your domain name.
You load up the imaginary Google SERPs and you see the following results in the top 3:
Position 1 – amazon.com/dog-toys (general website)
Position 2 – dogshub.com (keyword relevant)
Position 3 – petsguide.com (category relevant)
Okay, so to compare yourself within this serp, you’ll want to compare yourself to the other keyword relevant website (dogshub.com) as comparing yourself to amazon.com or petsguide.com isn’t going to make your job easy and give you an easy comparison. Those sites might have higher authority but you’ll have the edge on relevance meaning you can’t compare links to links.
It’s important to understand that websites can have higher keyword relevance than you even if you have keyword relevance. For example, ranked number 4 could be an exact match domain, bestdogtoys.com. These guys, again, would need much lower amounts of authority in order to compete than you as they have more keywords and topical authority surrounding different things than you do.
Bringing it all together
Your goal is to first of all understand the exact keyword that you’re going after and throw that into Google.
In the back of your head keep in mind your overall site wide RD’s and your individual page RD’s.
Next, look for the closest ‘comparison websites’ that are ranking on the first page to try to gain an understanding of where you are as compared to them.
Let’s quickly bring back the ‘best dog toys’ example again.
Your imaginary website: dogshub.com – currently has 0 links to the target page (dogshub.com/best-dog-toys) and 200 RD’s to the entire website.
Position 1 – amazon.com/dog-toys (general website) – 3.4M RD’s to whole site – 0 to page
Position 2 – dogshub.com (keyword relevant) – 100 RD’s to the whole site – 3 to the page
Position 3 – petsguide.com (category relevant) – 500 RD’s to the whole site – 0 to the page
What do you need to do here in order to rank better?
Look for your comparison website (dogshub.com) and you’ll notice that you have the SAME site wide relevance, HIGHER root authority but lower page authority. Your comparison site currently has 3 links to their inner page and you haven’t built any yet. Winning in this SERP is simple, you’ll probably beat them with a few links but you can be fairly certain that if you personally build 3 links to your page, you’ll win as your root authority is higher than theirs, beating them in one of those key pillars.
Once you understand if it’s page power you need, root authority you need or it’s a mix of both, that will help you better understand what links you need to buy. Dive into things further than what I’ve mentioned on here and try to understand how good your competitions links actually are by looking at them on a link-by-link basis. This will give you clearer indications on things and more data to build a better picture of what you actually need in order to rank and win in the SERPs that you are going after.