Important Ways on How to Reverse Engineer Your Competitors’ Backlinks or SEO Strategy

The web has completely been filled with more sites, more content and most worryingly more competitors.

Search engine optimization is simply the optimization of code on a website so that web crawlers and search engines can easily gather information from the website and understand what the site content is about. Sometimes, the best way to beat the competition is to examine what they’re doing to determine how you could incorporate similar methods to benefit your brand. Being able to determine and put your finger on what your competitors are doing, especially when they’re outperforming you, is a huge plus.

Search engines then categorize the content and rank it based on its quality.

Our method of SEO is complicated and involves a series of steps that we implement systematically.

When it comes to reverse engineering search engines:

  • Don’t be afraid to fail with trial and error approach
  • Build off of other research done by professional SEOs
  • Test new tactics by varying the strategy of the SEO process
  • Find ways to “connect the dots” by collecting data and analyzing it to find patterns
  • Recycle old tactics to find potential value undiscovered in previous attempts

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Search engines are closed systems and because of this they can be difficult to predict. Major “upgrades” in search engines can have a drastic effect on website rankings. Trial and error is the cornerstone of solid reverse engineering work. Failure is part of the process, but our extensive efforts to understand how things work in closed systems have allowed us to stay ahead of the game when it comes to major search engine changes. We are not afraid to fail because with failure comes knowledge.

Reverse engineering, in software terms, is the act of decrypting a closed-source system in order to learn more about how it works. Closed source systems are systems that do not reveal the source of the code and are, therefore, more difficult to understand.

  • Identifying Your Competitors


In order for you to stay ahead of the game, you need to know who you’re up against, so identify your competitors. Determine who’s ranking with specific keywords related to your industry. The authority of each site is pretty important and you have to determine them as well, like the age of the domain and root linking domains with the tools used like Moz’s Open Site Explorer which is very common.


  • Searching for Site Maps


You can take a look at HTML, image, xml and video sitemaps which would help you with an idea of all the pages that are on the website.


  • Run Screaming Frog


Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a small desktop application which you can install locally on your PC, Mac or Linux machine. It crawls a website’s links, images, CSS, etc from an SEO perspective. Screaming Frog gives insight into their optimization and provides potential keywords for you to target.


  • Analyzing Competitors Page Templates


Take a look at their website to see how well its designed and check for key elements that may hurt or help their ranking, like lacking a responsive design. A website with good architecture will be technical, aesthetic, and functional to promote design, usability, and information. Analyze site navigation, organization, readability, performance, calls to action, data and content for defining factors that influence how the website is crawled, indexed, and engaged.


  • Analyzing Competitor Category Templates


It’s actually not necessary to begin keyword research with competitors, but it’s easy! Competitor’s categories will help you determine how their website is organized, such as the tags being used, retail categories, and the overall segmentation of their site’s content. If the website’s content heavy on ecommerce, the categories will help you understand their organization and user navigation.


  • Looking at Backlinks with Checker Tools such as follows:


  • Majestic SEO provides a detailed analysis of competitor links and the size of their index that features Index Data, Backlinks, Anchor Texts, Hosted Domains, Keywords and links for specific pages.


  • Ahrefs a toolset for SEO and marketing. It provides tool for backlink research, organic traffic research, keyword research, content marketing and more.


  • SEO Spyglass is one of the most effective website backlink checker tool and a link popularity checker.


  • Raven Tools is like SEOMoz as it provides a suite of tools for managing your online campaigns. However, it isn’t quite as developed as the SEOMoz offering and I find it lacking in a lot of places. The back end design is really poor and a big let down from the impressive front end.


  • Open Site Explorer Open Site Explorer is just a small part of the SEOMoz offering which also includes rank tracking, weekly crawls alerting you to onsite SEO issues, on page recommendations, social media statistics and competitive backlink analysis to see how you stack up against the competition.


  • Reviewing Blog Topics and Blogging Frequency


Identify the competitors most shared content. It is important to research what content competitors are publishing and where they’re finding the most engagement. Checking out competitor blogs to see how they are receiving their traffic from blogging. Monitor their posting frequency to make sure you’re at least matching the amount they are posting.


  • Social Media


Check out competitor’s social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, to see your competitor social media activity. Analyzing the type of content that’s generating the highest return and their posting frequency to help you gain and develop your own social media strategies.


  • Craft your site structure


Site Structure is a key part in performing well in an organic search which enhances SEO and are split into different aspects:

  • Following best practice from a technical standpoint
  • Providing a good user experience to increase the chance of customer retention
  • Internal link structure
  • Page depth

Site structure is a product of careful thinking, intentional design, and accurate organization. The best time to develop a strong site stricture is before you create your site. A good technical structure will promote the flow of link juice and distribute link equity to give your site authority.


10.) Determine a Rollout Strategy


These days, most businesses understand the basic concepts of SEO (search engine optimization) and why it’s important. However, when it comes to developing and executing a sound SEO strategy , most businesses don’t know where to begin. Then, craft content that the persona will find interesting. Make sure to write on a good mix of long tail keywords and things that will get social media shares.


11.) Define your Content and Develop your Link Building Strategy


Your content strategy matters the most in order for you to surpass the competition. With the information that has been gathered, create a persona. Then, craft content that the persona will find interesting. Linking building strategy must be implemented and that it should abide by Google’s algorithm criteria that’s supported by pure quality content.



This step-by-step guide will allow you to gain a thorough understanding of your competitors’ organic strategies; using data to identify opportunity and helping you align your search approach accordingly to beat the competition!