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What are the things I need to do, and with what tools to know what a competitor has working for him/her off-page (free and paid tools -- please suggest both)?

First of all, I'm supposing I want to see all of the sites linking in and see what anchor text is used. Is there something that would report on the anchor text linking in, such as counting the keyword phrases used as anchor text?

Also, it would be helpful to see where the PR is coming from by PR, such as, listing inbound links by PR of the page linking in.

Lastly, if I'm missing something, here in the way of off-page attributes, please say so.

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7 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted
  1. Start by using Ontolo's free SERP dominator tool (free registration required) this will let you know which sites specifically are ranking across your top keywords (IE the most powerful) even if you think you know it's worth the 5 minutes it takes to run the report because you'll usually find a surprise or two.

  2. then buy your comepetitor's backlink profiles from Majestic SEO, this will give you all the link info you can handle, they have also developed their own ranking system (similar to PR or Mozrank) I believe for the basic subscription its ~$10 and you get something like reports on 5 sites/month. (open site explorer has similar data and can be used as an alternative it's just a matter of preference).

  3. I also like to look at Majestic SEO's "compare domain history" report (its free) it allows you to see how quickly and steadily your comptitors have been building links over time.

  4. From there I look at top linked pages, unique linking domains, and sort by link type (IE forums, blog comments, media mentions, etc.) to know how they are getting their links, what content draws the most links, and who they are getting them from.

Bonus tip* You can also use SemRush to get an idea of what other keywords your competitors are ranking for, this will help you know who is competing head to head with you and who is mainly focused on other industries that overlap with yours, it will help find additional keywords you may want to target, and related niches for link building.

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You should try Open Site Explorer and the SeoBook Toolbar. The latter has buttons which would lead you to Yahoo! Search (which is much better than searching with the link: operator on Google) and some other neat tools.

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Majestic SEO is a great paid resource. To determine everything for free (If you are simply looking at linking sites and anchor text) Use, opensiteexplorer.org from SEOmoz. (Also a great site to learn about SEO and link building). This tool will show you a lot of valuable information that you you may find helpful. Also, you can use, yahoo site explorer. They show more of the links than opensite most of the time.

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I wonder why no-one recommended yahoo site explorer.

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SEO is part of business plan. You should define your competiton before, and then research, not the inverse (unless it is an strict online business). As well you need to determine YOUR keywords/expressions and check who shows up.

With that at hand, then you can start researching on your competitors performance.

I don't really know any advanced automation tool for that purpose. But with a plan, googling (with site:, link: and info:) and with a google toolbar should provide you some key measures to make a report in no time.

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Ι want also to suggest opensiteexplorer.org. This is a powerful backlink watch tool. First you must register for an account. Then you will gain free access to backlink reports Up to 1,000 links. It's a useful site with lot of interesting metrics.

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