Early in the campaign (very early actually…it’s one of the first things we do) we do two things, 1. Keyword Research and 2. Competitive Analysis. We’ve been posting a lot lately about doing keyword research portion, but I wanted to include a small introduction to a critical competitive analysis task- the competitor link profile creation.

What is the Competitor Link Profile? We really look into 3 competitors that are ranking well when doing our initial analysis. For each of these it is helpful to identify 2-3 different link building techniques that each is using. We call this a link profile. Looking at our 9 levels of link building, we can usually pick out 2-3 that each competitor is utilizing to get their high rankings. Once you’ve identified your competitors, building this profile can be done in 3 easy steps.

1. Enter a competitor name (high ranking competitors, please) into SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer tool

2. Comb through the list of links, looking for different types of link techniques

3. Bucket the identified links into 3 general link building technique silos

The best way to illustrate is by going through an example case. I selected randomly a high ranking site for the phrase ‘Portland Real Estate’. Currently, the #1 ranking site is www.jmaproperties.com. I’ll create a link profile for this site, pretending that I want to compete for the same phrase (I in no way am trying to do so). I’ll follow the steps above to build this link profile.

1. Entered jmaproperties.com into SEOmoz’s Open Site Explorer and clicked ‘Get Link Data’

Open Site Explorer from SEOmoz

2. Looked through the list of links, and I see a lot of no follows that have high link juice (nice page and domain authority).

Looking for Page and Domain Authority or Link Juice

3. Next, I filter out the no-follows (using the filter feature at the top of the list) and I look for specific types of in-bound links. Here I see blog comments, guest blogging, a directory and a sponsorship for a local cause.

Looking for juicy links

I need to now see if these are aberrations or if there is a consistent trend towards these types of links…so I’ll look further for more evidence.

Looking for link trends

Looking over the list further, I see that blog comments, guest blogging and directories are fairly common from the highly potent ‘juicy links’. From this, I would make this list my link profile for jmaproperties.com. Finally, I would run another 1-2 high ranking competitors through the same process, if I create a similar profile for the additional competitors, then I have a great place to start with my link strategy. Why reinvent the wheel, when I can utilize a portion of the strategy used by sites that are already succeeding?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on creating a competitor link profile. Do you have a better way of doing it? Let me know!