Search engines rely on links to determine whether your web pages are trustworthy and authoritative. And to earn and uphold that status, it’s important to always be on the lookout for new link building opportunities that you can take advantage of. One simple way to find new opportunities is to analyse the backlinks of other websites ranking for a target keyword phrase. The logic here is pretty straightforward, if a web page is ranking well for the keyword you are targeting then they must have some good backlinks. By examining their links we might find some that we would like to go after as well to help out our own rankings.

Let’s take an example and say we want to find new link building opportunities for the phrase ‘backpacking tours’. The first thing to do is head over to Google and performs a search for that term. The top results that are ranking high is part because of their on a page optimisation but another strong reason their site ranks so well is because they have a lot of good links pointing to those pages. What we want to do is analyse who is linking to those pages, determine how they got those links and create a link outreach strategy to emulate those efforts. One tool we can use for backlinks research is open site explorer, a tool that is part of the SEOMoz tools suite.

You can play with all the various filters to narrow down this list according to different criteria but for now we are going to show links from only external sources. This means we are not going to list links coming from somewhere else on the same site. You can examine each of these links and your goal here is to gain an understanding of whether or not the link would be a good fit for you and if so what will be your link outreach strategy. One thing to remember is that you want to build strong quality links to your own site so try to focus on back links with a high page authority or domain authority. You want to be on the lookout for a few different kinds of opportunities as you go through these lists and one thing you may discover are additional directories that you can submit your site too.

You should have already submitted your site too many high quality directories but there is a good chance that you have missed some. And this type of analysis will let you see what other directories your competitors have discovered that may be able to help you as well.

Another common strategy that may uncover opportunities you can take advantage of is Guest Blogging. This is when you reach out to another website and offer to produce content for their blog. This can be a win-win arrangement where the blog gets content that helps their site and their users and in return you include backlinks to your site within the content that you have produced. Not only does this help with back link development but it can also strength your industry relationships, provide an outlet for thought leadership and improve your status in your industry.

You also want to be on the lookout for links from non-profit sites. Many companies will support non-profit organisations through donations, expertise or in kind work and many times these organisations will link back to your site wherever they may highlight their sponsors in organisations they work with. Links from these domains are generally considered very trustworthy by the search engines. So you might want to think about what causes are important to your organisation and consider supporting them or reach out to the non-profits you are already working with and see if there’s an opportunity for a link or a story that can be published on their site.

Another great method is to produce high quality educational content to post on your website for the specific purpose of garnering a link back to it. There are many sites in just about every industry vertical whose primary purpose is to promote industry specific education and guide their users to informative content. By creating high quality informative content that fills gaps or by creating relationships with these sites to understand what content there are in need of; you’ll gain a network of people and pages that are happy to link to you. Once again this is a win-win situation with a third party site gets the benefit of directing their readers to trustworthy content and you get the benefit of gaining links from trustworthy and relevant sites.

There are many more strategies that can be uncovered from competitor back link analysis and the key is to spend the time analysing what opportunities are out there and how you can take advantage of them. And remember to repeat this process with a handful of top-ranking pages for each of the keywords that you want to rank for.

Sadhiv Mahandru has been involved in online marketing for over a decade covering PPC, Affiliate Marketing, SEO , Content Creation and also creating effective websites. Specialising in Search Engine Optimisation Manchester and providing services throughout the UK. You can learn more about Internet Marketing and SEO by reading my own blog which is updated frequently.

SEO Fundamentals: Finding link building opportunities