How to Spy on Your SEO Competitors: A Competitive Guide

To keep up with the competition, you have to be engaged in a wide variety of marketing initiatives to make your brand and products top-of-mind for prospective customers. But, like it or not, possibly the most important thing you can do to get yourself in front of your target audience is to improve your Google rankings (and don’t forget Bing and others).

Organic search results are one of the most important markers of a company’s status and reputation in the industry. Ranking toward the top of organic search results for your target keywords is not something you can buy. SEO and SEM are both important elements of your marketing strategy, and learning how to spy on your competitors’ SEO profiles is a great way to figure out how to give your rankings a boost.

The importance of backlinks

One of the most important things you can do to improve your SEO profile is to make sure your website has the right density of keywords for which you want to rank. But, the old adage, “content is King,” is a bit of an oversimplification. Content has to be engaging, keyword rich, and fresh, but it also has to inspire others to link to it.

In some cases, your backlink profile might be the most important factor in your organic search engine rankings. Let’s say your content is mostly in the form of images that have limited metadata for search engines to crawl. If enough other sites link back to your page, you might outrank a competitor whose site is page after page of keyword-rich text. This is because Google puts more stock in what other sources are saying about you than in what you say about yourself.

One way to increase your own rankings by putting a dent in the competition is to steal your competitors’ backlinks. Here are a few methods to help you:

1. Define your Competition

In trying to figure out how to spy on your competitors’ SEO, defining your competition is a critical first step. If you know the keywords you’re targeting, do a search in Google to see where you rank and who ranks above you. If you search for “dallas tx landscapers,” for instance, you might see this when you scroll down past the paid search ads:

Unless you’re a large, well-known company in the area, you’re probably not going to be able to compete with the rankings of an aggregating site like Angie’s List. But, whoever is below those sites in the rankings is the company to beat. Additionally, sites like Angie’s List or Houzz can be great places to find out who your direct competitors are and what their status is in your target market.

2. Check out their Backlink Profile

Once you’ve got specific competitors in your sights, find out who is linking to them. There are a lot of backlink profile analysis tools out there (just Google it, obviously). You can add your competitors, then drill down into who is linking to them, how they are linking to them, and when they linked to them.

Source: Growth Hack Scale

You’ll want to identify which of your competitors’ pages are getting the most backlinks so that you can put your own spin on their content strategy. If you see that a particular topic is getting a lot of link love on their site, you may want to do your own take on that topic.

3. Contact your Competitors’ Backlinkers

One of the easiest ways to steal your competitors’ backlinks is to simply ask their backlinkers. If a competitor is getting a backlink from a respected site in your industry, and you have relevant content, you can request that whoever is linking to your competitor’s site also link to your site. Do you have a whitepaper that addresses an important issue in your industry? Or a new free tool that can help consumers in your industry? These are things that may interest them.

And you don’t have to get a backlink from the same exact page as your competitor. You may want to find a page on the backlinker’s site that relates more closely to your products or services.

Don’t Simply Copy your Competitors

You don’t want to just go around trying to steal your competitors’ backlinks without providing something worthwhile to link to. The most important element of your SEO strategy is to effectively communicate the value of your products, services, and ultimately your company. What does your company provide that no one else does? If you can answer that question clearly, your SEO strategy gets a whole lot easier.

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