There are countless posts online about competitive link building and also about broken link building, both of which can be very powerful tactics when working to acquire links for your website. In today’s post, I want to talk about competitive research and using your competitors pages that are dead to your advantage. I hope that this post is laid out in a very clear road map on how I approach this tactic and hope that you can take what you learn and work it into your mix of link acquisition tactics.
Phase 1 Research
The first step in any competitive link building is the research. First and foremost, you will need to identify the competitors you want to analyze with a tool like Open Site Explorer (OSE) or Majestic SEO. Once you have that, run the report. For this example, we will be running the data through OSE and doing it on one of our competitors SlingshotSEO.
Once you’ve run the report, you need to jump over to the top pages section:
Here we are looking at first, the HTTP status (look for 404 pages) and then looking at the number of linking root domains.
Here’s one… Hey friends over at Slingshot, you are gonna want to get that fixed today
Check the URL to make sure it is in fact a dead page and then it is time to move on to our next section of research!
Phase 2 Research
The next thing you will want to do is click on the little magnifying glass next to the dead page. This will open up a list of the links that point to this page. There should be six.
Sure enough and they look like they have some decent page authority and domain authority. This is BEAUTIFUL!!!
Content Build Out
Once you know your competitor has a dead page on their site that has some good links coming back in, you need to put together a content plan to help you approach the linking sites to have them replace the dead link with the new link from your site.
The very first thing I do, is run the dead URL through the wayback machine to see if I can see a copy of the content. If so, I take that content, re-write it, and re-publish it. If not, I need to determine what could have been on that page and build on similar. The latter is definitely more time consuming.
The last piece of this puzzle is performing the outreach to each of these sites. I have found one very effective way of doing this and one semi effective way. The way you approach it depends on your linking strategy.
First, the very effective one! Before I contact the webmaster, I try to find a similar resource on the competitors site, maybe they moved the content, maybe they updated it and it moved to a new URL. If I can find this, I will email the webmaster letting them know the link is going to a dead page and give them the right page it is supposed to go to. I will then offer them another similar resource that I think will be a good addition to his page. This tactic is crazy effective!
Second, the semi effective one. So, take what I last just told you, except cut out finding the same resource on the competitors site and just go for the kill. Tell the webmaster that the link is dead and that you have another resource, yours, that he can replace the link with. This still works, but the first works MUCH better!
Taking the time to do some competitive research and leveraging your competitors laziness can mean huge returns for you or your clients. I highly recommend you make this a part of your link strategy from month to month.