In our recent posts we’ve tackled topics of content, natural growth and Start-up Strategies and focused less on link building. Well, in this article we’ll talk about just that, a way to build new & relevant links to your site, after reading and understanding an in-depth competitive analysis. We’ll present the link intersection technique, a way to go even more in-depth with the competitive analysis and link commonalities study. We’ve always advocated natural link building and this technique comes as a confirmation that SEO strategies with nothing shady in them are possible.
Let’s go right on it and find out how this great feature can lead to a competitive advantage in your niche.
What Is the Link Intersect Technique?
To answer this we must do a short definition of the competitive analysis. We see this analysis as a benchmark of your website’s most important metrics compared to those of your competitors’ to see how you’re ranking. In the analysis we study and display “link ranks”, “referring domains”, “total links” and other metrics such as page ranks and trust of a page. With the Link Intersection Technique we’ll focus just on a few metrics, “Common Referring Domains” and “Common Links”, and delve deeper to find new opportunities for your website to take advantage of.
Let’s take a look at a regular competitive analysis to see exactly what we mean.
As mentioned earlier, we’ll only focus on the highlighted metrics. That doesn’t mean the others are not important, on the contrary, take them all into consideration when trying to find out how your business is doing in your niche. However, these common domains and links represent places from which you and one or two of your competitors are linked. You’ll find opportunities in the intersection of your competitors, and let me explain why and how it works:
In the chart above we’ve represented the competitors and their links as “Site A”, “Site B” and “Site C”. On the left side you have the complete backlink profile of two of your competitors. The junction between the link is the sweet spot, those are the links that point out to businesses similar to yours, links that you can get for your business as well. On the right side we’ve represented the commonalities between three competitors. It’s the same idea here, three of your competitors are linked from the same domain or page, and all you have to do is reach out to that website and present your business.
The difference between link intersection and domain intersection is the fact that you will get a lot more commonalities and areas of opportunities in the domain intersection. But we’ll get to detailing the differences a bit further down. First let’s see how you can use link intersection to your advantage.
What Can I Do with the Link Intersect Tool?
Basically you will be able to compile a list of domains and links that are interested in your line of business. You can further investigate each of them, take note on how you may acquire that link or how you can make an appearance on their website and start an outreach campaign. Moreover, by learning to use the link intersection tool, you’ll be able to get a clear view of your position in comparison to your competitors. Who has the most links? Who advertises where? How did they get their link there (paid, natural, shady)? All are questions that will be answered with the help of the link intersection feature.
But for us, the main advantage of having this tool is making a complete list of domains relevant to your business that will help you create an outreach strategy. Websites that are already linking to your competitors’ businesses will have a higher chance of having your own business displayed on their website since it’s in their audience’s interest.
You will have the chart above at your disposal. The chart is set to display which two competitors are linked by the same domain. All that is left is to analyze each link in particular and see if it’s worth getting it in an outreach campaign. To make the analysis easier you’ll be able to add additional filters to find only high authority domains, or domains from a certain niche.
We should take an example to see exactly how you can take advantage of this great functionality of the tool.
Link Intersect Example
We think that’s enough theory till now. Let’s take a clear example of how you can uncover some new link building opportunities. First let’s do an exact link intersection to see what we can find out:
What we have in the chart above is what could be your website, placed in comparison mode to other 5 competitors. The tool will display any two competitors that have common domains linking back to them. Once this step is done and you realize that there are quite a few domains in which your business is not present yet, it’s time for a more in-depth view. But first let’s see what this domain is about:
Just like the domain states, it’s a daily business news website. It’s here where you find out if it’s worth it to get promoted here and how you can appear on this website. Now we can’t speculate on how the competitors got those links, whether naturally or by paid advertising, it requires a further investigation. So let’s try to find the exact articles and see how you can get on this domain.
To find the exact articles, all you have to do is scroll down to the detailed links view and filter them by using the domain name. Additional filters can also be added. In this case we’ve filtered by “link status is live” and “not-ignored links”. The result will be the exact pages in which the competitors are being mentioned. We can see that one competitor is mentioned on two pages and the other one only on one of them, but they don’t have the same link in common. Let’s check the pages to find out why and how they are mentioned.
We have one of the competitors mentioned in this article. It’s actually being quoted for some data that they have released, so it could be a natural link. In this case you could present the author similar statistics researched by your business or publish similar data in the future to increase the chances for your website to be quoted. Let’s take a look at the other competitor and his mention.
This one seems to be in a form of list of businesses in which one of the competitors is mentioned. It could be a paid advertisement since it appears in a list of links. The best way to take advantage of this new link opportunity is an outreach to the website owners in which you present your business and find the best way to collaborate.
These are the steps that you take in order to fill the list of domains that are useful to promote your business. After you’ve went through this process for all the link commonalities, populated the list, you may begin an outreach campaign to those websites. Keep in mind that these websites are already linking to businesses similar to yours and you may find that your website is in the interest of their audience.
Link Intersect vs. Domain Intersect
We’ve used this in the example above and we want to talk a bit about it. Even if the technique is called “link intersection”, it’s more about domain intersection since in the end your outreach should target the domain owners not the page owners. Domains intersection provides you with a lot more common links that your competitors have. Let’s take a look at the chart below to explain why:
With link intersection you’ll only get pages which two or more of your competitors share. The likelihood of that happening is somewhat reduced, but not impossible. You do get some results when doing an exact link intersect, usually for pages which have lists of links, but not always. Well, when you choose to expand the analysis to domains, the tool will display all websites which have two or more competitors present, giving you a huge number of websites to investigate, filter and find out if they are worth the effort to get your website there.
Take a look at the chart below to see the difference between link and domain intersection opportunities:
The difference is easily noticeable. There are a lot more domains in common for these competitors than links. As mentioned above, while focusing on the domains in common you will be able to find a lot more opportunities to get promoted.
You Can Even Do an IP Intersect
IP intersect is especially useful to find out if your competitors are doing something shady in terms of link building. Take a look at the IP Intersect chart and let me explain a bit.
Having a large number of domains linking back to a website is what we are all looking for in link building. But if a majority of those domains are from the same IP address this will raise a flag at Google since it’s a sign of shady link building tactics. They can be link networks that sell links and you can uncover here if your competitors have been using this kind of tactics to get ahead.
Link Filters Come to the Rescue
We’ve mentioned above that the tool has many functionalities. You can view the exact link commonalities between competitors, the exact junction between the domains of your competitors and an in-detail view of the link on each domain. An extra feature that will help out in link building strategy is the fact that all those data can be filtered. This is where the tool becomes extremely powerful. Let’s take a look below:
In this example, the filters are set only for live links with the anchor text containing the word “business”. This narrows the options considerably since you can now focus your link building efforts on business related websites.
Additionally you can filter by page authority. This greatly increases the productivity of an outreach campaign since you can focus the majority of efforts on domains that generate value if you have a link there. We’re not saying that low authority domains should be ignored, but it’s best to have a clear image on which domains you should focus first and which ones deserve more effort.
Why Is This so Much Better than Excel or Any Other Tools?
Yes, you can do this with an excel, with countless CSV imports and table pivoting from one place to another and complicated function. There are a lot of tutorials which help you in that regard. But in today’s world, time is such an essential factor that it raises a serious “Is it worth it?” question. We think not since time is the most valuable resource there is.
With cognitiveSEO you have it all at one click of the button. And by all we do mean it all, since you have a visual representation of the links, interactivity and the ability to filter the data by any means you want. And since we’re familiar with the excel option (we worked with it in the past), we can definitely say that you will considerately reduce the time to find out the link commonalities between your competitors. And time is not all that you will gain here, together with a proper use of filters you can find the exact domains that you wish to capture, sort them by authority and page rank and get to work on your outreach campaign.
In our opinion, the competitive analysis is an ongoing process that lasts as long as you wish your business to stay in the lead. You will get there once you understand the way the market evolves and what are the moves of your competitors. The link intersection feature can be the extra step to push your business in front of your competitors. Any opportunity that you don’t see, or don’t use could be used at this moment by competitors and that’s why it’s important to go as in-depth as possible with the help of the link intersection feature of our tool.
What we want you to get from this article is that the link intersect technique works really well in finding the best new opportunities to promote your website. You’ll be able to forge a list of domains which your competitors have already claimed and try to get there with them. Those websites have shown an interest for businesses similar to yours and reaching out to them will have a high chance of having your business listed there.
Have you used the link intersect feature in the past? What are the results in your case?
How much is this link intersect tool worth, is there a trial version also?
hi Cathy, this is included in the normal trial. you will find it in the Competitive Link Analysis area as the Commonality Charts. More here. http://support.cognitiveseo.com/knowledgebase/inbound-link-analysis/#common_links_comp
Sweet tool, definitely more complex (especially from a visual point of view) than my Excel version 🙂
Still, I’ve built the Excel template so it can be easily used, no scripting or add-ons required. It does require the CSV exports from backlink provider(s) of your choice, but once you have that, it’s just a matter of downloading the template, a quick copy/paste and you’re up in minutes. For the Excel-focused SEO, I think it’s definitely a good tool to use.
Hi Mihai, Excel is always a technical solution that allows you a lot of flexibility but with the cost of time. this tool though provides much more than simple link intersect as explained above. domain intersect and configurable commonality + the simple chart and interactive actions.
good job on your Excel version though 😉