We've discussed web page optimization, link building, and an effective link building strategy... so you know that you need backlinks to your pages in order for them to rank well in the major search engines.
But how many backlinks do you need?
The answer is: the number it takes to out-rank a competing page. If both pages are equally optimized for the same keyword phrase, and in most cases even if they're not, it's the number of backlinks that will determine who ranks highest for that search query. But not just the number of backlinks...
Why Some Sites Rank Higher Than Others... With Fewer Backlinks
Often, when analyzing backlinks, you'll notice that a page with fewer links outranks a page that has more. The reason for this is in the quality of those links. Link Popularity is the number of inbound links, Link Reputation is the quality of those links. Quality is determined by a number of factors:
The type of link - article directory, social bookmark, etc. The variation in link types. The location of the link (content area vs footer, for example). The relevancy of the page linking to it, the anchor text used in the link, etc.
Another factor is the total number of unique domains linking to that page. Three links from one domain will not carry as much weight as three links from three different domains.
A little digging in the competing page's list of backlinks can usually tell you exactly what it would take to outrank that page with your own. All you need is more total links, or higher quality links than theirs.
How To Analyze Backlinks
This method works well whether you want to analyze your own backlinks, or those of a web page you are competing with for placement in the search results.
Since inbound links (off-page optimization) carry so much weight in Google rankings, this is the one area you'll do most of your competition analysis.
Here’s the quick & easy process I use to analyze backlinks:
- Search your chosen keyword phrase at Google.com.
- Click through the top results, and view the web page.
- Copy the URL of that page from the address bar.
- Go to Yahoo.com and use the search bar…
- Type in “link:” and then paste in the URL of the page.
That will take you to Yahoo Site Explorer and will show you the total number of inbound links to that specific web page (URL). Once you’re there, you can use the drop-down box to select “except from this domain” to exclude all of that site's internal links and see only the inbound links from other domains.
It’s easier than it sounds once I type it all out – give it a try and you’ll see it actually only takes a minute tops. A lot of people use fancy software programs, browser plugins or various other methods. I like to keep it simple.
Let's walk through this together so you can see exactly how it's done:
Tip: use the buttons in the lower right hand corner of the video to view it in HQ (high quality), or to view it in full screen mode.
What you're looking for is the total number of backlinks to that page, and the total number of external backlinks (not including the site's own internal linking). I tend to go for less competitive keyword phrases, and rule out competing with large numbers of backlinks and/or obvious authority sites.
That said, sometimes the number of backlinks alone can be deceiving so you may want to dig a little deeper. If they have a lot of backlinks and you really want to compete for their spot, then you can analyze the quality of those backlinks.
When analyzing a list of backlinks, count the actual number of unique domains linking to that page. If there are 5 links from one domain, count that as just one. You can also click through each link in the list, and look for the backlink.
See where it is placed on the page, as links within the content area carry more weight than links in static areas of the site: sidebar, footer, navigation, etc.
How relevant is the content to the page it's linking to? Is it a pet site linking to a dog page (relevant), or a gardening blog leading to a dog page (not relevant)?
Also see if they are using your keyword phrase as the anchor text for that link.
The most important part of that research is to count the number of instances they use your keyword phrase in the anchor text. The total number of those links... will tell you how many links you need with that exact anchor text to out-rank the page.
While you're analyzing the backlinks of competing web pages, you'll often find great sources for inbound links for your own page. Look at who is linking to their page, and how, and make notes of places you can get your own link on that page - or on similar pages. Your competitors backlinks are a goldmine of link sources!
Watch the video, try it out, and see for yourself how simple this is
p.s. Next we'll look at ways to get high quality inbound links, and exactly what types of links you'll need for your pages to rank well in the major search engines.
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