Pursuing valuable backlink opportunities has the potential to improve your website's authority, ranking, and visibility in search engine results pages. 

But how do you determine which sites will provide the most relevant and impactful backlinks?

By conducting a link gap analysis!

Link gap analysis is particularly challenging for enterprise companies due to the sheer scale of their websites and the volume of data involved. As a result, manually analyzing their link profiles and identifying link gaps can be a daunting task.

To simplify and scale the process, we recommend utilizing an SEO platform. Below, we’ll walk you through the process of conducting link gap analysis with or without a platform. 

Table of Contents:



What Are Link Gaps?

Link gaps refer to the backlinks that your competitors have acquired, but your website has not. In other words, link gaps highlight the differences in the link profiles between your website and your top competitors. 


The Methodology Behind Link Gaps

The methodology behind link gaps is based on the concept of wisdom of the crowds, which has proven to be effective for over 12 years.

Understanding the wisdom of the crowds is simple - if two or more of your competitors rank for a particular keyword or have a backlink from a specific site, it’s worth pursuing for your own website. 

The methodology prioritizes links that are common among competitors rather than unique to a particular brand. This approach declutters the process of finding backlink opportunities, making it easier to focus on only the most relevant links for your business.


How to Conduct Link Gap Analysis

There are three main steps to conducting a competitor backlink gap analysis. Let's dive into each one. 


Step 1: Identify Your True Competitors

Conducting a link gap analysis starts with identifying your true competitors. True competitors refer to the domains that compete with your website for the same set of target keywords or search terms. 

They are the ones that are most likely to appear in search results for the same queries as your website or domain, and they are the ones that you need to outperform in order to rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).


Identifying true competitors manually:

To determine your true competitors manually, conduct a search for your target keywords and create a list of the top-ranking websites.

Then, check each site on your list to ensure that they specialize in the same products or services and operate on the same scale.


Simplify and scale this process with seoClarity:

To save time and get a more accurate assessment of your company’s true competitors, consider utilizing Link Gaps from seoClarity’s Research Grid.

Leveraging an advanced algorithm, Link Gaps allows you to auto-detect your true competitors and find backlink opportunities. 

By simply entering your website’s URL, the algorithm identifies your top competitors based on percentage overlap of keywords. 



Step 2: Determine Which Sites Link to Your Competitors, But Not to You

Once you’ve determined your true competitors, the next step in conducting a link gap analysis is analyzing the backlinks of those competitors. 

To do this, you’ll need to identify the backlink profile of each competitor site. Once you have this list of links, start determining which sites link to your competitors, but not to you.


seoClarity Link Gaps by domain backlinks list


Analyzing competitor backlinks manually:

After acquiring a list of your competitor’s backlinks, analyze them manually by exporting them into a spreadsheet. Then, sort through the information to determine which referring domains have links pointing to multiple competitor sites and not your own.

To conduct this tedious and time-consuming process at scale, we suggest using an SEO platform that includes link gaps analysis, like seoClarity.


Simplify and scale the process with seoClarity:

Once Link Gaps identifies your top three competitors, it auto-retrieves the top fifty-thousand backlinks for the domains and compares them against your site and each other. 

Then, it presents the backlink opportunities in an easy-to-understand format, with links sorted by relevance. The links with relevance marked as “high” indicate that they are found for all three of your competitors but not you. 


Those are the ones you want to go after.

Medium indicates the backlink is found for two of your competitors and not for you, and low means that only one of your competitors has that backlink.

Clients can then download the full backlink report to further investigate opportunities.

That being said, we recommend targeting domains rather than individual backlinks. Getting relevant domains to link to you is more important than focusing on acquiring specific backlinks.


Step 3: Prioritize Which Domains to Target for Backlink Opportunities

Now that you’ve narrowed down your link building opportunities based on which domains link to your competitors but not to you, it’s time to determine which sites will provide the most valuable backlinks. 

To do so, many companies focus on metrics like Citation Flow which measures the value of a site in relation to how many sites link to it. 

But, simply looking at the number of backlinks a site has may not provide an accurate representation of its value as a backlink opportunity.

When prioritizing which domains to target for backlinks, it's important to consider the site's relevance and strength in relation to your own site. 

For example, if your site is about shoes, and the site of the potential backlink opportunity is about free web hosting, then there is likely no topical overlap. As a result, pursuing a backlink from that site may not be worth your time. 

But if the site is about baseball and includes articles about baseball shoes with links to where to buy them, then that site may be a good fit for a backlink opportunity.


Prioritizing which domains to target manually:

To determine the relevance of the site of each backlink opportunity manually, reference the list of domains that link to your true competitors but not to you.

Then, click on each individual domain and go through their pages to determine if there is any overlap in the topics they cover and the topics covered on your site. If there isn’t, strike that domain from your list and continue checking.


Simplify and scale the process with seoClarity:

To speed up the process of determining which sites are valuable backlink opportunities, seoClarity’s Link Gaps utilizes an innovative algorithm.

Rather than relying solely on outdated metrics like Citation Flow or Trust Flow, the algorithm takes a more comprehensive approach to analyzing a site's relevance for the specific topic you want to rank for.

By comparing the keywords that both your site and the potential backlink site rank for, it determines if there is any overlap in topics. If there is no overlap, then the site is not a good fit for backlinking purposes.


This approach to prioritizing backlink opportunities provides a more accurate way for clients to check the value of a site and prioritize their efforts accordingly. 


Begin The Outreach Process

Now that you know which domains will provide the most valuable link building opportunities for your site, the only thing left to do is to reach out to those sites and try to get them to link to your domain. 

When requesting backlinks from a site, you’ll want to make the linking process as easy on the website as possible. Three common approaches include:

  • Sending the website a piece of content on your site that may be valuable to them.
  • Requesting a guest post opportunity to write a piece of relevant content for their site that includes a link back to your domain.
  • Identifying a piece of content on their website where your company should be included but wasn’t, and request to be added (e.g. if the site created a piece on the top online shoe companies and yours wasn’t included even though you’re a leader in your industry.)

Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to automate this part of the link building process. But using technology like seoClarity’s Link Gaps and following the steps above will ensure that you don’t waste time reaching out to sites that won’t provide relevant and impactful backlinks.

<<Editor's Note: This post was originally published in June 2023 and has since been updated.>>