Anyone that ventures into search marketing today needs to begin with their existing link portfolio

TWO THINGS HAVE become clear to me from my last few speaking engagements at iGaming events:

1) Affiliates are seeing the effects of algorithmic updates like Panda.
2) They are not certain where to start looking for what is affecting them.

Anyone that ventures into search marketing today needs to begin with their existing link portfolio and a similar breakdown of the competition’s portfolio. This can give you amazing insight into where you stand competitively or, more importantly, standout in places that may be less than ‘white hat’.

The following is the approach that Hua Marketing uses to create a data-rich composite profile of the competitive landscape:

• Take notes on your website to get a sense of where you should focus your research: who are you, what do you do, what need do you serve, and how do you accomplish that need?
• Go to and download the CSV file of your competition in Google organic search.
• Pick your top three (ten for in-depth) competitors.
• Go to and download your full historical backlink data.
• Also on, download the full historical backlink data for each competitor’s site.

i. For each data file, if links belong to the same domain choose the link with the highest AC rank and delete the rest.
ii. For each competitor’s sheet, compare domains against your domain backlink data and remove duplicate domains from each competitor’s sheet.
iii. Pick the top 25 percent links in terms of AC rank for each competitor and combine into one file.
iv. Add a PR column to that file and get PageRank of a competitor’s backlink domains. If a domain has PR of 1 or o, remove the domain.
v. Add three columns: article/blog post, sidebar/footer, and resource link; then find where the backlink to the competitor’s site is located.
• Go to SemRush and pick three non-authority (non-Wikipedia, etc) competitors in Google organic.
i. Create a new excel file, build seven columns and label as such: domain, indexed pages, Facebook shares, twitter shares,

Linkedln shares, referring domains, and external backlinks.
• Obtain the stats for each competitor and also for your site.
• To get the number of pages indexed, go to and search
• For Facebook, go to http://graph.[your domain]
• For twitter, go to http://urls.api.twitter. com / i/urls/count. json?url=http://[your domain].
• For Linkedln, go to http://www.linkedin. com/cws/share-count?url=[your domain],
• For referring domains and external backlinks, go to with the filter historic index.

From this basic audit, you will be able to highlight some key indicators that cause issues with the changes in the algorithm over the last two years.

(1) Is your link profile much heavier in terms of site-wide links, i.e. is your ratio of overall link counts to referring domains very high? This is not natural and something that should be addressed.
(2) Where do you stand in your vertical in terms of referring domains to your site? While it’s easy to say that if you are far behind the competition some catch-up is needed, it is also important to note if you are well ahead of the competition but lagging behind in rankings. This is a good sign of over-optimisation and that some pruning is needed.
(3) Do you have an anchor text ratio for your website that is much higher than the rest of your vertical? This is a dangerous place to be and can trip filters.
(4) Note the competitive link placements compared to yours, where you should be looking for future links, and what links you should be taking down.
(5) Note how far ahead or behind you are in terms of not only amount of content but value. For example, if you have 25,000 pieces of indexed content with 24 Facebook shares, and your competition has 100 pieces of content with 5,000 Facebook shares, it is pretty evident that your content has less value to users and may also appear that way to search engines that love to prune away poor content post-Panda.

This type of data-driven dive is not something you should simply explore once and then forget about. Any type of serious search campaign will continually explore and monitor its link campaign to assure that it does not fall behind its competition and, furthermore, so that competition doesn’t begin to do anything unnatural to their link profile.

If you manage your campaign via this type of analytical approach you will have a superior level of insight into all of your online marketing efforts.
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