31 Link Building Tactics Discovered From Competitive Analysis

On the Moz blog there's always been a large discussion around competitive analysis. From how to conduct competitive analysis using Google docs to in depth articles about competitive link analysis using Excel, or even just the fact that Moz has Open Site Explorer, one of the ultimate analysis tools for competitive backlink analysis. The fact of the matter is competitive analysis can be a very worthwhile exercise to help you determine the best strategy for your online efforts. This is especially true with link building.

Over the years, I've seen hundreds of thousands of backlinks while analyzing for opportunities (as well as looking for bad links to disavow or prune). Most recently, my analyses have inspired me to write this post, because common opportunities continue to reveal themselves, and they're worth sharing. Have you discovered some great link building gems in addition to those listed below? Share them with us in the comments.


It's no secret that giveaways, contests, and sweepstakes are great ways to attract links. Some of the recent contests I've observed driving links for authoritative sites include the "Draw My Favorite Teacher" contest by StorageMart, a competitor of a storage chain client of mine. Natural links from news organizations and authoritative blogs are often a result of a contest that is unique like this.

A hacking contest by Rackspace, a competitor of our global hosting provider client, also drew in quite a few links we observed after they partnered with this NFC Ring kickstarter project. The NFC Ring partner then helped promote the contest too for some added link juice. These are both great examples of contest-driven link earning.

EDU link building strategies

Some of the most authoritative links my team and I have ever built are on university and college websites. When conducting competitive analysis be on the lookout for your competitor's .edu TLD earned links. Expert tip: Do a find & replace for the characters ".edu" in Excel, and format it to fill any cell with a color that has ".edu". See the screenshot below for more information.

Housing and residence life "helpful links"

Recently I conducted some competitive analysis on three separate industries: storage facilities, national cable providers, and automotive insurance. In all three of these industries, I discovered a plethora of link opportunities on housing and residence life FAQ pages for students. Students who move into campus housing often have to find extra storage, thus the storage links. Additionally students moving to a new state or country for school may need to find cable providers/utilities or new insurance providers, thus the cable TV and auto insurance links. Some example opportunities are provided below. Be on the lookout for these types of link building opportunities.

  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago Housing & Residence Life: FAQs
  • Yale School of Medicine "Living in Connecticut" helpful links
  • South Dakota School of Mines & Technology useful links section
  • University of the Incarnate Word helpful links
  • University of Florida College of Dentistry helpful links for students