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Backlink Analysis: 20 Uses Beyond Link Building, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to the third and final installment of our group interview of 30 link building experts. In part one, we asked about backlink analysis as it applies to link building campaign design. Then, we followed up with the technical factors which our experts analyzed within the backlink graph. In this third and final installment, we look at ways that the experts apply backlink analysis beyond link building campaigns, and wrap up with questions the experts suggested and then answered.

20 applications for backlink analysis beyond link building

Links are an astoundingly rich source of data for all manner of marketing and business decisions. Here are 20 different ways our experts suggested to draw value from backlink analysis, ordered based on the number of mentions each one received.

  1. Competitive intelligence: 7 mentions
  2. Find new content ideas: 6
  3. Appraise a domain for purchase: 3
  4. Measure previous SEO efforts: 3
  5. “Risk tolerances” of competition: 2
  6. SEO-awareness of competition: 2
  7. Gauge budgets of competition: 2
  8. Online reputation management: 2
  9. Find ad publishers (PPC, affiliates, banners): 2
  10. Penalty diagnostics: 2
  11. Decide whether or not to link to a site
  12. Find new site/product feature ideas
  13. Gauge social media presence of competitors
  14. Relationship building
  15. Finding niche communities
  16. Keyword research via backlink text analysis of competitors
  17. Identify pages on competing site that convert well
  18. Degree of competitiveness in the space
  19. Gauge how deeply connected a site/company is within a space
  20. Press list creation

Key comments on backlink analysis beyond link building

“The one aspect I get out of viewing a competitor’s backlinks is how prevalent their social media presence is. Not only will you know which profiles are passing link juice, you’ll know where to put some effort into your social media campaign. I usually try and tie the two types of marketing together as much as possible, so I always take note of company social profiles.”
-Ryan Clark

“By analyzing the client’s backlinks, you can get a very good measure of their previous SEO efforts as well as their overall SEO budget when making that all important sales pitch. If for example, you find the client to be listed on Yahoo! Directory, Best of the Web and other expensive web directories you can assume that they have a fairly decent budget to work with. You also need to do a full backlink analysis when considering taking on any client so that you avoid dealing with any clients who have previously engaged in any blackhat or shady link building.”
-Paul Teitelman

“I suppose my approach could be summed as ‘market research’ – I want to gather as much understanding of the market as I can and I don’t think there is a better way to understand a market than through link analysis. Importantly, I won’t do link analysis just on competitors, I’ll do link analysis on news and information sites – it’s very revealing! I also use link analysis to build my press list – this takes time but it’s pure gold.”
-Ken McGaffin

“Establishing rules based on a link analysis of certain kinds of sites will allow you to create a rule to prohibit linking to certain kinds of sites. Any kind of venture you engage in where your site becomes a partner, the link analysis should be a part of the decision making process. This includes guest posts, advertiser screening, and helpful resources to link to.”
-Roger Montti

“If it’s a commercially oriented website, sometime you can gain some insight into pages that convert well. If someone has a focus of anchor text or links to a specific page, you need to look is it a “money term”? Are you targeting it as well, does it tip you off to other variations?”
-Michael Gray

“Competitive Intelligence. I use it to identify everything from advertising opportunities to link spam. If you know what to look for, a good backlink analysis that goes deeply within a narrow vertical is like an X-Ray into any an amazing number of things.”
-Eric Ward

Closing thoughts: “What questions did I leave off?”

When given the opportunity to interview experts, it’s always a good idea to ask what questions you may have left off. Here are the questions (and answers) that our experts appended to the group interview.

“Maybe one question could be the implications of the history of the domain and DNS ownership as it relates to backlink analysis. Specifically in regards to dropped and or expiring domains, which I see webmasters trying to pass off all the time. Basically my point is that a backlink profile can be manipulated quite easily, so it’s crucial to always undercover the true story of the link profile by first exposing the history of the domain itself, so looking beyond just Pagerank, number of links, cache dates, etc. to analyze the true power of the website as a whole.”
-Paul Teitelman

“Real Time link analysis – it’s incredibly easy and useful to get an idea what the competition are doing right now simply using Google Alerts and Technorati for instance.”
-Shaun Anderson

“I don’t know if this is a viable question for anyone else, but if I was asked What is the most valuable take away from a back link analysis? I would have to say: inspiration. Whether I’m doing a client back link analysis or a competitive one, inspiration is what I’m, looking for. I want to have an “Oh my god!” moment where something hits me, an idea, or a realization that can lead to innovation.”
-Jennifer Van Iderstyne

“I’d certainly include some statements that we really can’t definitively valuate links given we don’t know many parameters such as actual PR weighting and things like temporal anomalies, phrase based IR and page segmentation. There are simply way too many element we’re unsure of the usage, weighting and implementation. That’s not even inclusive of dampening factors (spam signals etc…). I believe that there is an inherent ‘art’ to link profile analysis. There are no tools that can account for elements stated above…”
-David Harry

“Link building is an ongoing process, it’s not something you can do once or twice and forget it. You may be able to put it on the back burner, but it’s never something that you can ignore.”
-Michael Gray

“‘Are you single?’ Yes, but don’t get your hopes up 😛 hehe.”
-Gab Goldenberg

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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