16.06.2022, Vladislava

Building an effective link strategy

External links have been and remain an important ranking factor in Google. Accordingly, when setting a goal to bring the site to the top for certain queries, the optimizer needs to understand:

  • what kind of links to the documents (pages of the site) need to put
  • how many links will be needed
  • what will be the dynamics of placing these links
  • how much will link promotion of the site (to be discussed with the client)

It's no secret that most of the mistakes in building a link profile competitors have made before us, so you can analyze their strategies and repeat (with an upgrade) the best of them. Let's figure out exactly what to pay attention to from your competitors and what to implement on your site to get the best results.

Before analyzing your competitors' links, you need to be clear about who your competitors are. Let's imagine we're promoting a company that cleans carpets in London. It is carpet cleaning, not everything in the world. Let's take for example the output of the query "carpet cleaning chelsea":

  1. https://www.carpetbright.uk.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/ 
  2. https://carpetcleaninglondon.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/ 
  3. https://www.regencycleaningservices.co.uk/chelsea-carpet-cleaning 
  4. https://cleanercleaner.co.uk/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/ 
  5. https://www.proluxcleaning.co.uk/chelsea/carpet-cleaning/ 
  6. http://cleancarpets.co/SW3-chelsea/ 
  7. http://cleancarpets.co/SW3-chelsea/ 
  8. https://www.anyclean.co.uk/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/ 
  9. https://magic-carpetcleaning.co.uk/chelsea-sw3.html 
  10. https://www.pilgrimpayne.co.uk/soft-furnishing-care-services-in-chelsea/ 

So we have identified several competitor sites in order to analyze their link profile. 

Where do we start?

Selecting sites that are suitable for analysis

The top issue in this case is mixed and quite revealing. There are both narrow-niche sites for carpet cleaning, and fairly large cleaning aggregators:

The top-performance data for the query from Ahrefs

It makes sense to consider niche carpet cleaning sites (underlined in green in the screenshot) rather than aggregators as direct competitors in terms of links.

In this article we will consider only documents from the top, not hosts in general.

Analyze in Ahrefs the types of sites where the links are placed

Let's take a look at the first competitor – www.carpetbright.uk.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/ – or more precisely, its dofollow links.

We see that the main donors are various subdomains – from "coupon sites" (sites providing discounts-coupons for services and goods) to local directories:






If we're talking about the nofollow links of this competitor, there are also mostly submits.

Submits are a type of links (a type of link building) that you can add to other sites yourself: registration in the directory, links from profiles, etc.

TOP 2 – https://carpetcleaninglondon.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea. Of the dofollow-links, this one is interesting: https://nimapinfotech.com/blog/author/nimap/ – link from a hacked site, quite trustworthy (DR 54). Strange choice of linking for a white niche, I don't recommend it to be repeated. Nofollow – also "scrap", direct anchor https://www.tech-wonders.com/2020/04/5-essential-software-solutions-you-need-to-run-a-remote-business.html  and https://techpatio.com/2020/articles. Even more strange choice of "dilution" for a white (legally allowed in most countries) niche. The chosen strategy to promote the page – short-lived and can even entail manual sanctions of search engines. 

A site can be considered hacked because it has an off-topic link (about cleaning carpets) inside an article about JavaScript.

Do not use links from hacked sites to promote white topics!

See the next competitor http://cleancarpets.co/SW3-chelsea/

Dofollow: submit https://run-down.com/forum/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=9354 and guestpost https://test.theroadtodomestication.com/category/cleaning-2/page/28/  rom a strange subdomain. Nofollow – also nothing interesting: a link from prlog.ru and a comment – https://www.maidtoshinecleaners.com/tips-for-move-out-cleaning-when-selling-your-home/ 

Moving on to the next competitor - https://magic-carpetcleaning.co.uk/chelsea-sw3.html. Nothing interesting here at all, one dofollow-submit – http://www.products-and-services.com/cgi-bin/ads.cgi/best/2p2n3e3c2r3g/2p2y2r2n3a2v3a2t/3f2r3e3i2v2p2r/2o3l/2z2n2t2v2p/2p2n3e3c2r3g/2p2y2r2n3a2v3a2t/1426762378.html

It is noteworthy that aggregators are at the top almost without links. To summarize: there are no "hard" links in the top. To get to the top, regular submits will be enough. Given that competitors do not have strong dofollow-links, putting on your page, in addition to submits, 1-2 outreach-links, the result can be obtained quickly and easily enough.

Types of sites looked at, and then?

Making a calendar of linking dynamics

If you look at the competitors who have a sufficient number of links to be able to track the dynamics, we see the following picture:

1. www.carpetbright.uk.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/ 

Link profile of page www.carpetbright.uk.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/, Ahrefs

Aggressive pumping is clearly without any dynamics. If you look at the correlation of such "explosive" dynamics on getting tops, you can see that it is practically absent: 

Traffic and page keywords dynamics www.carpetbright.uk.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/, Ahrefs

Consequently, we do not take this site into account.

  1. https://carpetcleaninglondon.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/

Link profile of page https://carpetcleaninglondon.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/, Ahrefs

You can see that all the links are put in the same month. What about the result?

Traffic and page keywords dynamics https://carpetcleaninglondon.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/, Ahrefs

And here we can clearly see the dependence of the result on the inserted reference.

3. http://cleancarpets.co/SW3-chelsea/

You can see quite smooth dynamics here:

Link profile of page http://cleancarpets.co/SW3-chelsea/, Ahrefs

But here, too, we can not say with certainty that the link somehow directly affected the result.

Traffic and page keywords dynamics http://cleancarpets.co/SW3-chelsea/, Ahrefs

As a result, given the low quality of links in the top and not related to its dynamics of position growth, you can not pay attention to the dynamics of competitors, but only the number of links.

I would recommend starting here with 3-5 quality submits per month. At the end of the third month, if sabmits are not helpful, connect more "heavy" links, such as outreach (1-2 pieces).

Where and when to put – already know, the next step –

Selecting anchors 

Consider the anchor lists of the same three competitors:

  1. www.carpetbright.uk.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/

Considering the spam strategy used by this site in terms of dynamics, it is not surprising to find the following picture in the anchor list as well:

Anchor list of page www.carpetbright.uk.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/, Ahrefs

!!! 76% of the links are direct anchors. Yes, they are sambits, and most are nofollow, but it's still clear spam. You should not use the anchor list of this competitor in any case.

  1. https://carpetcleaninglondon.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/

Anchor list of page https://carpetcleaninglondon.com/carpet-cleaning/chelsea/, Ahrefs

Also see the direct anchors. Without the anchor there is no anchor at all.

  1. http://cleancarpets.co/SW3-chelsea/

Anchor list of page http://cleancarpets.co/SW3-chelsea/, Ahrefs

In this case the anchor list is quite adequate – pure unanchored.

Considering that 2 out of 3 competitors use a heavily spammy anchor list, and the third uses only unanchored, I recommend the following:

  • For the first two months, do not put any anchors at all, only brand and unanchored links.
  • If there is no or too little movement in the top, in the third month add 1 direct anchor and 1 diluted from outreach, dofollow.

At the end of the link profile of competitors, it is important to understand when and what anchors to put. Since the analyzed competitor's top is not enough data on the dynamics and anchor list, consider another, more interesting from this point of view top.

Determining the dynamics of anchor placement on documents

Let's take an example from the top for a fairly competitive query "best trail cameras" and the site www.besttrailcamerareviews.org/

Let's see how they put anchor and unsanctioned links – open the report "Anchors" in Ahrefs under "Inbound links" and see the following picture (your sorting of anchors may be different from mine):

Anchors report for the website www.besttrailcamerareviews.org/, Ahrefs 

Next, unload the anchors and sort them by date of appearance, starting with the earliest date:

Uploading anchors for the site www.besttrailcamerareviews.org/

In the screenshot you can see that the optimizer does not immediately put direct anchors, but uses unanchored and diluted anchors.

Also note that column "C" shows the number of domains with such anchors (1) and not links (2).

If you want to study the time of appearance of each individual link from each domain, you can do it in the "Anchors" report as follows:

Detailed anchors of site www.besttrailcamerareviews.org/, Ahrefs

As a rule, you need to understand the basic dynamics, and so deep research is not required. In this case, given that the top sites are promoted fairly competently and the dynamics of "anchored-unanchored" in most cases is adequate and respected by all players, then I would recommend using the dynamics of the analyzed site with an eye on your opportunities for linking.

Now you know how to properly analyze your competitors and build effective linking strategies. 

In links we trust!