A few weeks ago I wrote about Bankaholic, a one-man WordPress blog that last year was bought by Bankrate for nearly $15 million. In the article I analyzed why the blog might actually be worth the eye-popping sum that Bankrate paid. I won’t rehash all that here, but do want to focus on one very important aspect that led to Bankaholic’s success–backlinks.
To get started, let’s run a search on Google for the term, “credit cards.” While rankings change, even daily, Bankaholic typically ranks anywhere from the bottom of the first page to the top of the second. Not bad for a search that generated 174,000,000 results. On top of that, the Google Adwords keyword tool shows more than 450,000 monthly searches on the exact phrase each month (more than 2.2 million on broad search). Now Bankaholic’s credit card page, while perfectly fine, is nothing special. I have a very similar credit card page on The Dough Roller, it just doesn’t rank as well (yet!).
You might not be focused on credit cards. But if you are trying to make money online, you are focused on some keywords. And you also know who your competitors are. So let’s see how we can leverage our competitors to (1) determine their backlink strategy, and (2) identify possible backlink opportunities. And we will use Bankaholic’s credit card page as an example.
Step one is to run the following search in Yahoo!: link:www.bankaholic.com/credit-cards/. Of course, you can substitute whatever page you want, depending on who your competitors are. The search will return a list of links to the given page. A drop down box at the top of the search results allows you to exclude links that come from the given domain, in this case Bankaholic. Excluding links from other parts of the Bankaholic site leaves 12,992 banklinks.
At this point it’s important to keep a couple things in mind. First, we used Yahoo! because Google doesn’t return all of the backlinks. Don’t ask why because I don’t know; maybe the Big G is throwing Yahoo! a bone. Second, the backlink count includes links to the credit card page, as well as links to pages in any credit card subpages. Third, when links are in the sidebar, header, or other section that appears on every page of a site, every page counts as a backlink. That means that a sidebar link on a large site can result in hundreds or even thousands of backlinks. So while nearly 13,000 backlinks is a good start, it’s not nearly as impressive as it may at first appear.
Step two is to skim the sites linking to your competitor to get an idea of the types of links they are getting. A quick visual inspection of Bankaholic’s backlinks shows several things. First, Bankaholic is taking full advantage of directory submissions. Without getting into the issue of the value of directories, most believe that the Yahoo! Directory still has value, and Bankaholic has submitted its site to several of Yahoo’s directories. Its worth noting that the links are to the credit card page, not the home page, and typically use the anchor text, “Bankaholic.com: credit cards.” Second, many links come from the sidebar, footer or the end of articles on blogs.
And this leads to step three–digging through the backlinks to find potential sources for your own backlinks. What’s interesting to me about many of the backlinks to Bankaholic’s credit card pages is that they come from blogs, many of which are not updated regular or highly trafficked. In other words, they are links any of us could get. I suspect not all of the links are purely editorial, but nobody can be sure. Still, Bankaholic did what you and I should be doing, so stop reading this article and go get some backlinks.
Photo Credit: Andres Rueda