Link Loopy, Part 2: 3 Competitive Link Research Tools
Ian Lurie Apr 7 2009
Yesterday I talked about my passionate hatred of link-building. I also pointed out that I still do it, because it’s important.
In this, part 2 of my little 5-part series on link building, I’m going to outline the tools I use.
It’s important to keep yesterday’s post in mind. I do not like link building. I do it to survive. So my tools list is not the most complete. Instead, I focus on the tools that make the task as painless as possible. If you want to read the writings of people who obsess about links the way I obsess about grammar, try Search Engine Land.
This has become my primary link research tool, which I know makes me a second-rate link builder. But the truth is SEOMOZ’s Linkscape is a lazy link builder’s best friend. Type in a web address, and you get a high-level view of of a site’s link health. That’s neat, but not terribly helpful if you’re researching why Joe’s Plumbing now has 99999 links.
Then click ‘Advanced Reports’, though, and you can get a list of all links to the competitor site. Even better, you can filter out stuff you don’t want. I usually set it up like this, so I’m getting the narrowest possible sampling:
Then download the whole list, find the ones you still need and get to work. I’ll be talking about that part of the process in Part 3.
Caveat: Linkscape isn’t free. To get the advanced reports, you have to be an SEOMOZ Pro member. It’s worth every penny.
Google’s Link: Operator
I know, I know, Google’s Link: operator isn’t accurate blah blah blah. It’s what I’ve got, OK?
Go to Google and do this search:
(for some reason, Google’s being mean to me and -site isn’t working at the moment. Updates as I figure it out).
That’ll get you all links Google’s willing to show you to that domain.
, minus links from within the domain itself. You can try it for my site right here.
Problem, of course: You can’t just download these links. You’ll have to review ‘em by hand. But I’m sure some clever link builder like Hamlet Batista can get you all set up to grab what you need.
Yahoo! Site Explorer
Yahoo!’s Site Explorer will get you another peek at a competitor’s links:
Go to siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com, enter a web address, then click ‘inlinks’. I usually set the drop downs to ‘only this URL’ and ‘except from this subdomain’, too, so I can filter out any internal site links.
You can export the 1st 1000 or so links to a spreadsheet.
Later, once you’ve worked through those 1000 links, you can use some creative sorting and API tricks (not for the faint of heart) to get more of them.
I use TextMate, the most wonderful text editor for Mac OS X, to compare all these lists of links and remove duplicates. Then I use it again to remove any links my site already has. I’ll provide the details on this tomorrow, in part 3.
There are a lot of link research tools out there, including Aaron Wall’s, and a few bazillion others.
If you know of one I’ve missed, feel free to post it in a comment. Note that I will check on the tool before I publish, so if you’re about to suggest some ridiculous comment spamming tool, save yourself the time.
Tomorrow, on to Part 3: Finding the opportunity gaps.
The Link Building Series
Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint. He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More