Why Creating Competitor Link Gaps Is Just as Important as Closing Them

The creator’s views are totally his or her personal (excluding the unlikely occasion of hypnosis) and will not at all times replicate the views of Moz.

In search engine marketing and digital PR, there’s loads of dialogue surrounding how and why manufacturers have to shut backlink gaps so as to rank excessive and be aggressive within the SERPs.

However what about tackling aggressive search engine marketing from the other way by creating hyperlink gaps?

On this submit, I’ll share a framework that we use at JBH to assist us create hyper-niche and relevant digital PR campaigns that can earn hyperlinks on websites the place our purchasers’ rivals aren’t discovered, and spotlight the strategic significance of making these gaps for search engine marketing success.

What are hyperlink gaps, and the way do we discover them?

On a really primary degree, a hyperlink hole is the distinction between the websites linking to a number of rivals, however to not you.

It’s very easy to find these websites by performing a link gap analysis (utilizing a software like Moz’s Link Intersect Tool), evaluating the backlinks you must these of your rivals. On the finish of your evaluation, you’re left with a listing of internet sites it’s best to attempt to earn a hyperlink from — that is known as closing the hyperlink hole, and is frequent in most search engine marketing methods.

Closing hyperlink gaps makes loads of sense. For instance, if somebody is linking to a web site in a specific trade or vertical, it’s probably they’d be eager to hyperlink to the same web site. And in case your competitors is rating effectively, you then’d anticipate these hyperlinks to be contributing to that.

But when we flip that concept round and begin to consider creating backlink gaps as against closing them, then we turn out to be extra proactive in our method to hyperlink constructing, as opposed to easily reacting to the competitors.

Create hyperlink gaps in aggressive industries with an audience-first mindset

When you’re attempting to earn or construct hyperlinks for manufacturers in very aggressive industries, it may be tempting to comply with the competitors and easily copy their hyperlink technique to show you’ve performed all the pieces you possibly can. I’d wish to share a distinct method, and it entails considering audience-first moderately than backlink first.

The thought behind this method is to generate hyperlinks from websites which can be:

  1. Topically relevant to the trade your model or shopper operates in

  2. Top quality and non-spammy

  3. Not function a hyperlink to any of your rivals

For this method to work, we nonetheless have to have understanding of the competitor hyperlink panorama. By utilizing Link Intersect, we will see the place our rivals are focusing their hyperlink constructing efforts. We’ll purple flag that info in our technique and do one thing utterly completely different.

For many industries and sectors, there can be “enterprise as common” matters that their PR groups would possibly use to generate protection and hyperlinks.

  • A private finance model would possibly discuss the best way to get the most effective change price on journey cash

  • An alcoholic beverage model would possibly share some recipes for summer season cocktails to take pleasure in within the backyard

  • A automobile insurance coverage model would possibly warn drivers to not put on flip flops when driving in a heatwave

These are all attention-grabbing and related topics, however they aren’t going to attain the distinctive hyperlinks for the needs of making a hyperlink hole between you and your rivals.

Case Examine: How we recognized area of interest hyperlink targets for a well-established model in a aggressive vertical

For a longtime model within the UK vacation trade, the target was to earn hyperlinks from totally new referring domains, as effectively as create a hyperlink hole between them and their rivals.

The preliminary hyperlink hole evaluation highlighted that there wasn’t a lot distinction between the important thing gamers. As they have been all effectively established manufacturers within the vertical, all manufacturers had earned backlinks from the standard and anticipated shops, so we noticed a extremely nice alternative to develop a brand new hyperlink hole.

Determine new audiences by asking a very powerful questions

As talked about above, as a substitute of considering “hyperlink first”, we take a step again and assume “viewers first”. We’ve got to step into the sneakers of our viewers, and to do this, we create a guidelines of questions to assist body our considering.

For the UK holidays model we needed to know:

  • What drives them? What are the passions and pursuits of our meant viewers?

  • What makes them tick and click on? What actions do the viewers take earlier than and after utilizing your services or products?

  • What do they care deeply about? Their shut household and mates? Funds? Pets?

  • Drawback fixing? What do the viewers want and what issues does your services or products resolve?

As soon as we reply all the viewers questions, we now have a stable place to begin to pinpoint these area of interest audiences.

Utilizing a thoughts mapping software like MindNode, we will then get to work on increasing out these main and secondary audiences:

These audiences will look completely different for each trade, however it’s straightforward to see how every of the audiences we recognized is perhaps all in favour of reserving a vacation within the UK.

Let’s take “work from wherever” as the first viewers to discover first. When you’re a freelancer who works primarily on-line, it’s probably that you just’ll be capable to work from wherever with an honest web connection. So, taking a UK vacation while working on the identical time is an choice and subsequently related to the viewers.

However who else can work from wherever? Right here, we will additionally determine 4 secondary audiences who may be focusing on our content material:

Same keyword map with a circle around specific keywords for the term

The outcomes of this audience-led method to digital PR

Following this method, over a 3rd (35%) of the hyperlinks that JBH secured have been from utterly new referring domains, and (on the time of writing) not one of the model’s rivals had hyperlinks from these domains both, proving that an audience-led method to digital PR can put house between you and your rivals.

Tips on how to discover appropriate websites and hyperlink targets

Now that we’re blissful that the “work from wherever” viewers group could be appropriate to focus on, our subsequent steps are to determine the sites we want to target for links.

It is sensible to do that earlier than we begin to create any content material, as we’ll assess:

  • Amount of websites: Are there sufficient websites to focus on?

  • High quality of websites: Are the websites excessive sufficient high quality?

  • Matters of curiosity: What conversations are trending and may we add worth to them?

  • Focused by the competitors? Have our rivals bought hyperlinks on right here but?

  • Will they share our content material? Is it probably they are going to take content material on an editorial foundation? We don’t wish to goal any websites who require fee for protection

Looking manually with Google

This method is previous however gold, and it’s in all probability the simplest technique to discover new websites to pitch your content material to. We seek for phrases related to the viewers we’re trying to goal, and make a listing of the websites that pop up, noting down journalist/creator names, the area authority of the websites, any comparable content material, and the way probably they’re to take content material from us.

Prime tip! Drill down your settings in Google’s instruments. Attempt altering the nation or altering the “final revealed” date to see extra websites within the search engine outcomes.

Discovering comparable websites

Obtain a free software known as SimilarSites from Chrome’s internet retailer. Once you discover a web site that appears good for the area of interest viewers you’re focusing on, click on on the extension to be proven a listing of websites which may additionally work. Merely add them to your outreach checklist to make use of later.

There are many different prospecting techniques you need to use to seek out hyperlink targets, however it’s best to now have a listing of related publications which may be all in favour of your content material – it’s time to start out desirous about the kind of content material you possibly can share!

Content material concepts for area of interest hyperlink targets

How boundaries can assist

It’s value mentioning at this level that having boundaries for brainstorms can really make this a part of the method a lot simpler.

In 2006, a workforce of architects needed to study how having a fence round a playground would impression kids and the way they play. They noticed kids taking part in on a playground surrounded by a fence and in contrast it to kids taking part in on a playground with out the bodily boundary of a fence. They discovered a putting distinction in how the kids interacted with the house.

Illustration of the playground study.

On the playground with out the fence (1), the kids gathered across the trainer and have been reluctant to discover the house. On the playground with the fence (2), the kids explored your entire playground, feeling extra free.

The examine concluded that the boundary (on this case a fence) made the kids really feel extra comfy to discover and play.

We will draw parallels with this. By offering some boundaries and a particular drawback to unravel, we will really enhance the inventive course of.

“The three Rs”: A framework to develop content material concepts for area of interest hyperlink targets

The content material concepts we produce have to resonate with our area of interest viewers, so we have to get immersed within the matters they care about. And there are some distinctive and maybe surprising methods we will do that. Earlier than you begin desirous about inventive content material, make sure you comply with the Three R’s:


  • Reddit – be a part of subreddits associated to the viewers you wish to goal – Reddit is the entrance web page of the web and it’s probably you’ll discover your viewers there

  • Quora – uncover the questions your viewers wish to know the solutions to

  • Fb Teams – becoming a member of very viewers particular teams enables you to see the real conversations that the group are having

  • Buzzsumo – uncover the matters which can be trending and getting tons of engagement and clicks on social media


  • Google Alerts – Arrange alerts for key phrases and phrases surrounding your recognized matters ie: work from wherever

  • Google Tendencies – Verify to see if any matters are experiencing a spike in searches as this will spotlight the recognition of traits

  • #JournoRequest / Response Supply / HAROControl the kind of requests that journalists are making to see in the event that they match the type of content material you’re planning


  • Viewers — would my shopper or model’s viewers have an interest on this content material?

  • Authority — is my shopper or model an authority on the topic? May they be interviewed about it?

  • Key phrases — does it comprise key phrases that we wish to rank for, and do we now have a web page on the location that is sensible to hyperlink to?

  • Newsworthiness — will journalists care about what we’re saying? What are we including to the dialog?

A strategic method can provide the aggressive edge, however it’s all in regards to the arrange

It’s so straightforward to get carried away chasing the tail of your competitors, however with this method, you’ll start to create content material designed particularly for area of interest audiences that creates helpful gaps between you and your rivals. Keep in mind, there’s no higher hyperlink to construct than one which the competitors doesn’t have but.

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