Your Web Toolbox: LinkDetective

Welcome back to Your Web Toolbox! As you’ll recall, this omgSEO blog series features one free (or nearly free) online organization or project management tool you can use right now to help manage various aspects of your small business or digital marketing campaign. The last installment of Your Web Toolbox took a look at the nifty project coordination tool Trello. In this installment we’re shining our spotlight on an invaluable tool for analyzing your website’s backlink profile and comparing it to those of your competitors: LinkDetective. Enjoy!


LinkDetective is a great new tool for checking out which of your competitors have the best backlink profile. In case you don’t know, backlinks are one of the biggest factors Google looks at when deciding how to rank your website. In the eyes of a search engine, backlinks are a declaration of trust, and if enough sites trust you enough to send traffic your way, well, you must be doing something right! The more links you have pointed at you from high-quality, relevant websites, the more likely you are to rank well for your target search terms.

As you can imagine, knowing the types and sources of your links is a very important part of an effective digital marketing strategy. Likewise, knowing the types and sources of your competitors’ links is also incredibly valuable. If you want to compete with the top-ranking site in your industry your goal should be to match or exceed their backlink profile. That means finding out who is linking to them, from where, and why – all questions that can be answered by LinkDetective.

LinkDetective was first rolled out in March of 2012 by Eppie Vojt, an SEO from Harrisburg, PA. It comes equipped with a lot of great link-snooping features. You can see at a glance how many of the links to a site are live and how many are dead. You can find links based on their type, such as blog comment, author bio, directory, article, and sidebar links. You can find out the anchor text used in the backlinks. You can also filter the links based on type and anchor text. Pretty neat.

Here’s a video from the LinkDetective site that shows the program’s different features and how to use them:

But wait! you may be thinking. How does all this information help me with my digital marketing campaign? Good question. Understanding the information LinkDetective provides and being able to apply it to your own SEO efforts is important – otherwise the tool is useless. With that in mind, the following are the main ways you can use Link Detective data in your day-to-day digital marketing efforts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1. Determine your link goal.
The main takeaway from backlink reports is finding out how many links it will take to get your site to be competitive with others in your industry. For instance, let’s say you own a shoe shop in Portland. Your competitor’s site ranks in the first position on Google for the phrase “shoe shops Portland”. Using LinkDetective and Open Site Explorer, you discover that your competitor’s site has around 500 links pointed at it. Your site, on the other hand, has around 100. That means you will need to earn about 400 additional links to start competing with your competitor’s site. (Read more about link goals, share-of-voice, and link earning in Michael King’s amazing post “The Noob Guide to Link Building”.)

link-types2. Find the best types of links.
Not all links are created equal. With the release of the Penguin update earlier this year, Google essentially told SEOs that they will start devaluing and even penalizing low-quality links coming from spammy sources such as link farms, article marketing sites, and keyword-stuffed footers. With LinkDetective’s data, you can find the types of links your competitors are using most and compare them to your own links and the most up-to-date link-building best practices.

link-sources3. Find great link sources.
In theory, the top ranking sites in your industry will have a backlink profile full of links from high quality, reputable, and relevant sites. This data is a great place to start when determining the kinds of sites you should be targeting in your link earning campaign. You might not end up getting links from all of the sources, but it will give you a good idea of the number and type of industry-related websites out there.

Have you used LinkDetective or another competitive backlink research tool? Did you find them useful? Leave us a comment and let us know!


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