In this post, we are going to talk about how you can analyze competitive backlinks. To understand competitive analysis of backlinks, you must first have knowledge of what a backlink is.
What are Backlinks?
A backlink is an incoming link from another website to your site. Backlinks can improve the search performance or it may spoil the site.
After the Google Penguin update, quality of the backlink to a site becomes more important than the quantity of backlink. Backlink should be relevant to your website with the anchor text. Google may penalize the website when it finds the unnatural links from the site. Analyzing and benefiting competitor backlinks is an excellent technique used by smart SEO.
How Should You Go About it?
Recently I took on an SEO project for which our agency had committed to generating a minimum of ‘X’ backlinks. The first step was to download the backlinks of the competitors. Before getting into the process of the backlinks analysis. I will explain the links.
At Opteamize we majorly categorize backlinks into three broad categories – ‘positive’, ‘negative’, and ‘neutral’ links. We then further subdivide these links into 24 types. Here is a list of all of the different types of backlinks:
Positive Backlinks 
- Blog link
- Career link
- Natural Comment link
- Coupon link
- Donor link
- Edu link
- Gov link
- Influencer link
- Knowledge share link
- News link
- PR link
- Review link
- Referral link
Neutral Backlinks 
- Curated link
- Related Directory link
- Event link
- Related Forum link
- Related List link
- Old blog link
- RSS feed link
Negative Backlinks 
- Bad link
- Broken link
- Malware link
- Toxic link
The 24 Backlinks
Let’s just jump into it and understand these 24 types of backlinks in detail:
A backlink is said to be bad when it is unrelated to your business and it from an untrusted source. A link which does not follow Google’s rules will create a negative impact on your SEO. Also, a link that doesn’t have editorial control is said to be a bad backlink.
If a blog topic is related to your business or product or services, you can also send the request to the site where your competitor has already created a link. Request them to write few words about your company or create a link to the blog using anchor text.
A broken link is a link which no longer exists on the site and is represented by a 404 status code. It will not be useful for our research, still, you can check their website and see if you can able to get a relevant link from the site.
A link which connects to the job offer or any posting (full time, part time or for internships) is said to be a career link.
Commenting on blogs or forums was an easy and free way to create backlinks. All your competitor had to do was enter comments on the chosen blog or forum and add a call to action connecting to their email or website. Check if the blog/forum owner accorded follow or no-follow status to the comment. Comments should appear natural or Google may treat it as spam.
It is a link which helps to attract the customer by giving some offer for the products they wish to buy. Find out how many coupon sites your competitor linked to and you may be able to do the same. Some popular coupon sites are Couponzguru, Coupondunia, Grabon, and DesiPromoCode.
Curated links are created by selecting the best content related to your business. Check which sites have curated content and linked to your competitor.
A directory link is a link where the list of websites is entered and it may also contain the competitor site. It may rate the listed websites based on the comments given by the users. It was the earliest form of the electronic yellow pages.
A donor link will be received from the organizations or NGOs competitors donated to.
Edu link is linking from education institutions where the competitor might have provided services or donated cash, in kind or scholarships.
If your competitor has participated in an event or workshop, they might have received a link from the event organizer or ticketing platforms.
When your competitor shared articles or answered any questions on forum sites, they would have got the link from their site.
A Gov link is a link from governmental sites. Your competitor might have done projects with them or impanelled as a vendor.
A link from a famous blogger or important personality endorsing the product or services of your competitor is said to be an influencer link.
Knowledge Share Link
Here your competitor has explained the product & services or manufacturing process of product on another site. Videos are a good form of knowledge sharing. You can see them on YouTube or Vimeo.
List links are similar to directory links and you can check which category your competitor is listed for.
Links which are since infected by viruses are called malware links. Do not attempt to check these links upon receiving a warning from Google or your web browser.
News links are links where your competitors are featured on digital news sites or online magazines. This may be a new product launch or any award received by them.
Old Blog Link
Old competitor blogs may not be useful from SEO perspective however they may provide insights into your competitor from days past. Examples are old Blogger sites.
You will get a better idea about your competition from the PR that they are able to generate online. PR links are usually paid for and you may not be able to replicate the same without an advertising budget.
Referral links are links from sites which refer to your competitor products or services in a positive manner.
Review links are links from sites which have reviews of your competitor products or services. The reviews may be positive, neutral or negative.
RSS Feed Link
RSS feeds help to publish the content in structured XML files. It allows the user to receive updates from their favorite and subscribed sites automatically. It will be mostly connected to blog or news.
Toxic links are mostly raised from spam sites which are created only for link building. You can easily identify them by their distinct medical terms or phrases used which have no connection to competitor’s product or service.