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Everything you should know about evaluating your competitor’s backlink profile



Competitive backlink research is one of the first steps in either building your own link-building strategy or figuring out what it takes to achieve your competitors’ organic rankings.

Links are certainly not the only ranking signal, but they are still one of the most powerful factors (if not the most powerful one).

When selecting your competitors to analyze you will likely choose those that rank particularly well for your target queries, which makes sense because you want to know what has worked for them.

There’s one important thing to keep in mind here: It’s generally best to select your peers (sites directly in your vertical or niche). In other words, stay away from large websites that play within a variety of verticals but happen to rank above you (big box stores, Wikipedia, etc.).

There’s not much you can learn from Amazon’s backlink profile, for example, apart from the fact that being a web giant is working well for them.

Likewise, there’s less to learn from your oldest competitors apart from starting early (and earning all those age and trust signals over time) is certainly a good idea. 

Instead, look for sites that have seen a recent growth in rankings to zero in on tactics working well for them. These are the types of sites you can best learn from, and this is what will make your competitive research actionable, i.e. help you build and implement your own strategy.

Once you have 2-4 competitors to analyze, make sure you rule out all the red flags you want to avoid first. In other words, start with what you don’t want to do. Filter those lower-quality and often risky links out to be able to find the best links common amongst the peers within your industry.

Step 1: Filter out red flags

When it comes to link building, too much of any questionable tactic can be detrimental but let’s get a bit more specific. Look for the following red flags:

Exact match anchor text

Are you seeing a lot of backlinks that repeat the same (or almost the same) anchor text over and over again? This is always a sign of poor and outdated link building that may get (or may have gotten) your competitors into trouble.

Very often when you see a backlink profile that is full of obviously SEO-driven links, you may also notice that the site lost visibility at some point: look for dips in organic visibility that may have happened over the years using Semrush or your favorite SEO toolset.

You cannot access their disavow file, so chances are they have gradually revived their rankings by urging Google to discount those low-quality links. But if those links haven’t caused them to lose rankings yet, chances are it will eventually happen.

It doesn’t have to be a manual penalty though: Google may be already discounting those links, so they have zero impact on their organic visibility at this point.

In either case, these are not the types of links you’d want to be after.

There are still quite a few outdated link-building patterns found in lots of backlink profiles out there.

These include:

  • Directory links
  • Links from blog networks
  • Article directory links
  • Content syndication (Press releases or other)
  • Low-quality guest posting links

Look out for links from websites that invite one to submit an article or “sponsor content” on them. Keep an eye on thin content that was obviously created for the sake of linking to your competitor. More importantly, try and see obvious patterns behind those backlinks: The same link building tactic appearing over and over throughout a backlink profile.

These links are probably also discounted by Google; none of these link types are worth your effort or investment.

Step 2: Learn from their success

Now that you know what to stay away from focus on what you can learn from your competitor’s backlink profile.

If you choose your competitors wisely based on organic visibility, there will likely be more to learn than to avoid. After all, if those sites rank well, Google obviously likes their backlink profile, or at least they are doing something right.

So, what can you learn from your competitors’ backlink profiles?

1. Your competitors’ content marketing tactics

Which content seems to work for your competitors in terms of link generation? What’s their most linked content? Have they managed to get any of their content assets viral or picked up by notable web publications? Can yours do better?

Obviously, you don’t know what happens behind the scenes of them achieving those links, but it is usually obvious when a particular content asset did extraordinarily well for generating solid backlinks.

It is usually easy to identify content that went viral and generated hundreds of links or a resource page that got cited by highly trusted websites like universities and government organizations.

Can you recreate those types of assets for your website and bring them up to date or make them better?

It is also a good idea to identify your competitor’s high-ranking content. Content that ranks on top of Google tends to bring in links naturally as bloggers and journalists use Google to find sources. Getting your articles to rank is also a link acquisition tactic bringing organic link equity on a continuous basis without you having to actively build those links through traditional outreach.

  1. Find your competitors’ articles that rank high for searchable keywords.
  2. Check backlinks of those articles to identify if that works for them.
  3. Try and claim those rankings by creating much better content.

Keep an eye on higher-level tactics that bring your competitors rankings and links. What type of content is delivering topical links? Oftentimes these would be:

  • Glossaries and knowledge bases;
  • In-depth how-to content;
  • Statistical studies and survey results (these tend to be the most powerful), etc.

2. Your competitors’ outreach tactics

Who are your competitors reaching out to when trying to build links?

It is usually easy to tell by the type of links they are getting:

  • Links from news outlets come as a result of journalistic outreach
  • Trusted links from educators (college professors, teachers, etc.) require targeted trust-bait content and outreach
  • Links from blogs are built through blogger outreach (and often creation of viral assets, like free tools and infographics)

Which of those links seem to dominate your competitors’ backlink profile? Knowing the answer will inspire your own link acquisition strategy and help you make more informed decisions.

3. Your competitors’ influencer marketing tactics

Who are your competitors’ content amplifiers? In other words, who are those people (authors, niche experts, etc.) behind those links your competitors are getting?

Influencer marketing is a great way to generate backlinks on many levels:

  • Lots of niche influencers have sites and blogs they can use to link from
  • Influencers (if you choose them wisely) can drive organic links by simply sharing your content or mentioning it in their newsletters.
  • You may be able to actively engage with influencers within your niche via interviews, podcasts, Q&As, etc.

Sometimes, influencer-based tactics are hard to track in your competitors’ backlink profiles. It is often hard to correlate a sudden surge of backlinks to your competitor’s site without knowing the root cause of the spike.

This is where well-organized social media research and listening can help your competitive backlink analysis. Search Twitter and Instagram for your competitors’ brand names to see who is talking about them and what kind of an audience is involved in listening to those messages. Tools like Keyhole (a social media analytics platform) and Milled (a newsletter archive) can help you distinguish those sources of influence and match them with your competitor’s backlink profile.


Competitive backlink research is often enlightening if you know what to look for.

It is no use in trying to go after each and every one of their good links, though. Instead, take a higher-level approach: What is it they are doing to generate links and how can I do the same but better?

Trying to be as good as your competitor means there’s no reason for Google to rank your site higher. You need to always strive to do better: Better content, better outreach, better promotion tools. There’s often a lot of “heavy lifting” internally to get this right, and many companies choose to hire a better link-building company in order to do it right. Whichever direction you go, staying on top of your competitor’s backlinks (and your own!) will help you earn and maintain top rankings as time goes on.

About The Author

Internet Marketing Ninjas is a leading digital agency specializing in SEO strategy, link building, content marketing, and site speed optimization. Led by industry veteran Jim Boykin since 1999, IMN’s team of 50 is based in Upstate New York and brings nearly 400 years of combined experience helping their clients improve search rankings and increase organic traffic from Google.

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27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]



Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand


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MarTech’s marketing operations experts to follow



MarTech's marketing operations experts to follow

Marketing operations is what makes the magic happen. These are the folks who see that your martech stack doesn’t get stuck. They are the maestros, modelers and makers who make sure the trains run, the data is digestible and that you have the programs you need. Where would we be without them? That’s too scary to think about. Here’s our list of MOps experts who have the ear of the profession.

Darrell Alfonso

Darrell is director of marketing strategy & operations at Indeed and the former global marketing ops leader for AWS. He’s the author of “The Martech Handbook: Build a Technology Stack to Acquire and Retain Customers.” In addition to speaking at many conferences, Darrell was named one of the Top Marketers in the US by Propolis 2022 and among the “Top Martech Marketers to Follow” in 2020 by Martech Alliance. He’s a regular and popular contributor both to MarTech and the MarTech conference; you can find all of his articles at this link.

Eddie Reynolds

Eddie has been in business a long time, starting his first company when he was 14. “A pretty minimal enterprise,” he told one interviewer. “I had a tax ID number, a legal entity, and a company name. I even had the IRS coming after my dad for sales tax that I failed to report properly.” Today he is CEO and revenue operations strategy consultant of Union Square Consulting. He publishes The RevOps Weekly Newsletter and the podcast RevOps Corner. Eddie’s large LinkedIn following attests to the quality of the insights he shares there on  sales, marketing, service, and admin roles. 

Sara McNamara

Sara is an award-winning marketing and sales operations professional whose work has been recognized by awards from the likes of Salesforce (Pardot), Adobe (Marketo), Drift, and LeanData. She is a Senior Manager, Marketing Operations at Slack and a martech stack (+ strategy) solution architect. That and her passion for leveraging technology and processes to improve the experiences of marketers, sales professionals, and prospects, explains why she’s a regular guest on MOps podcasts.

Ali Schwanke

Ali is the CEO and founder of Simple Strat. The firm specializes in helping companies get the most out of HubSpot — from CRM strategy and setup to marketing automation and content creation. She is also host of HubSpot Hacks, “the #1 Unofficial YouTube show for HubSpot Tutorials” and has been a guest speaker at the MarTech conference.

Mike Rizzo

Mike’s career in marketing operations showed him that there is a real and significant MOps community. That’s why he founded MO Pros/, the fast-growing online community for people in marketing operations. He is also co-host of Ops Cast, a weekly podcast. 

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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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Is a Marketing Degree Worth it in 2023?



Is a Marketing Degree Worth it in 2023?

If you’re thinking about getting a degree at any age, it makes sense to think about the value of that degree. Is the qualification needed for the career you want? Are there alternative paths to that career? Can you develop better skills by gaining experience in work? 

All of these are perfectly valid questions. After all, getting a degree requires a pretty large investment of both time and money. You want to know that you’ll get enough return on that investment to make it worthwhile.

Why marketing?

When it comes to marketing, a lot of entry-level jobs list a bachelor’s degree as a requirement. That doesn’t mean there aren’t alternate ways to get into marketing but having a relevant degree certainly makes your resume more competitive. 

Growth industry

Marketing skills are in demand in the current jobs market. According to a recent report from LinkedIn, marketing job posts grew 63% in just six months last year. Half of those jobs were in the digital and media sectors, meaning digital and content marketing skills are highly valued

Personal Development & Career Path

The reason for this increased demand for marketers is tied to the rise in digital marketing. New methods of marketing have continued to develop out of the digital sector. This means that marketers capable of creating engaging content or managing social media accounts are needed.

This leaves a lot of room for personal development. Young graduates who are well-versed in social media and community management can hit the ground running in digital marketing. Getting on this path early can lead to content strategist and marketing management positions.    

What are the Types of Marketing Degrees?

When we say marketing degree, the term is a bit too general. There are a lot of degree paths that focus on marketing in major or minor ways. The level of degree available will depend on your current education history, but the specific course will be down to your personal choice. 

Associate, Bachelor’s, or Master’s?

Recent statistics suggest that 74% of US marketing professionals hold a bachelor’s degree. 9% have an associate degree and 8% have a master’s degree. Here’s a quick overview of the differences. 

Associate degrees – 2-year courses that cover marketing and business in a more basic way than bachelor’s qualifications. They’re designed to give students the basic skills needed to apply for entry-level marketing jobs.   

Bachelor’s degrees – 3/4-year courses that cover business and economics. There is a range of bachelor’s courses with marketing at their core, but you’ll also cover wider business topics like management, communication, and administration. 

Master’s degrees – 2-year courses, usually only available if you’ve already completed a bachelor’s degree. MA or MBA courses are designed to develop a deep understanding of complex business topics. They are highly specific, covering areas like strategic marketing or marketing analytics. 

Free to use image from Pixabay

Marketing Specific or Business General? 

This is down to personal choice. There are general business degrees that will cover marketing as a module as well as marketing-specific degrees. There are also multiple universities and colleges, both offline and online, offering different course platforms

If you’re looking at a specific job role or career path, then research which type of degree is most relevant. Remember that you will need to add to your marketing skills if you intend to progress to management roles in the future. 

Check the Modules & Curriculum

This is important, and not only because it lets you see which courses align with your career goals. Marketing has changed significantly over the last decade, even more so if you go back to before the digital age. Many business courses are still behind on current marketing trends. 

What Jobs Look for a Marketing Degree?

Once you’ve got your marketing qualification, what jobs should you be looking for? Here are some job titles and areas you should watch out for, and what qualifications you’ll need for them.

Entry level

If you’re starting with a degree and no experience, or work experience but no degree, take a look at these roles. 

  • Sales/customer service roles – These are adjacent roles to marketing where most companies do not ask for prior qualifications. If you don’t have a degree, this is a good place to start.
  • Marketing or public relations intern – Another possibility if you don’t have a degree, or you’re still in education. 
  • Digital/content marketing associate – These roles will almost always require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. A good grasp of new digital and social marketing techniques will be required to succeed. 
  • Copywriter/Bid writer – This is a good route into marketing for those with journalism or literature qualifications. These roles combine aspects of marketing, creative writing, and persuasive writing. 
  • SEO specialist – A more focused form of marketing centered on SEO content optimization. If you know how to optimize a blog post for search engine rankings, this role is for you. Bachelor’s or associate qualifications will be a minimum requirement. 
  • Social media/community manager – Since these are relatively new roles, we tend to see a mix of degree-qualified marketers and people who’ve had success fostering communities or online brands but don’t have on-paper credentials.  

Free to use image from Unsplash

Career Progression

If you have an MA or MBA, or significant experience in one of the above roles, then you can look at these more advanced roles for your career progression.

  • Digital Marketing Manager – A role for experienced marketers that involves running campaigns and coordinating marketing associates. 
  • Senior Marketing Coordinator – A department management level role. Responsible for overall marketing strategy and departmental performance.  
  • Content Strategist – A specialist role that focuses on content strategy. Designing content plans based on demographic and keyword research are a core aspect of this role. 
  • Marketing Analyst – This role involves analyzing customer behaviors and market trends. If you want to move into analysis from a more direct marketing role, you’ll likely need specific data analysis qualifications. 
  • Public Relations Specialist – The public voice of a large organization’s PR team. Managing a brand’s public perception and setting brand-level communication policies like tone of voice.   
  • Experiential Marketing Specialist – This area of marketing is focused on optimizing the customer experience. Experiential specialists have a deep understanding of customer psychology and behaviors. 
  • Corporate Communications Manager – Communications managers are responsible for company-wide communications policies. This is an executive-level role that a marketing coordinator or public relations manager might move up to. 

Average marketing salaries

Across all the roles we’ve discussed above, salaries vary widely. For those entry-level roles, you could be looking at anything from $25 – $40K depending on the role and your experience. 

When it comes to median earnings for marketers with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, we can get a bit more specific. Recent statistics from Zippia show us that $69,993 p/a is the average for bachelor’s degree holders and $80,365 p/a for master’s degree marketers. 

Image sourced from

Marketing Degree Pros and Cons

So, the question we asked above was “Is a marketing degree worth it?” Yet, in truth, it’s not a simple yes or no answer. The question you need to ask is “Is a marketing degree right for me?” Here’s a summary of the pros and cons that might give you some answers.  


  • Degree holders have better job prospects and higher earnings potential in marketing
  • You can study highly specific skills with the right courses
  • Gain soft skills like communication and collaboration


  • High time and money investment required 
  • Diminishing salary returns at higher levels
  • Can be a restrictive environment for self-starters and entrepreneurs

What are Marketing Degree Alternatives?

If you want to stick with education but don’t want to invest four years into a degree, then accredited online courses can provide an alternative. This can be your best choice if you wish to upskill in a specific area like running conference calls from Canada

If higher education really isn’t your thing, the other option is gaining experience. Some businesses prefer internships and training programs for entry-level roles. This allows them to train marketers “their way” rather than re-training someone with more experience.  

Free to use image from Unsplash

How to Decide if a Marketing Degree is Right for You

Ultimately, choosing to do a marketing degree depends on your goals, your preferences, and your talents. Consider all three factors before making your choice. 

Career Goals

Do you want a management position that needs marketing knowledge? What areas of marketing interest you? What skills do you already possess? Answering these three questions will help you define your career path. That will narrow down your course choices. 

If you want to get better at selling small business phone systems in Vancouver, you don’t need a four-year course for that. If you want to develop into high-level marketing roles, then you want that degree. 


You don’t need a specific personality type to work in marketing. Your personality and interests might determine what area of marketing would suit you best though. For example, if you’re outgoing and creative then public relations or social media management might be for you.    

Investment & Return

Money isn’t everything. But, if you’re going to put the resources into getting a degree, you want to know that you’ll get some return on your investment. From the figures we quoted above, it seems the “optimal” qualification in terms of salary return vs. time and money investment is a bachelor’s degree. 

Average earnings for marketers with a master’s qualification were only $10k higher. This suggests that you’re not really getting a significant financial return for the additional investment. Of course, if that master’s leads to your dream job, you might see it differently.  

Final Thoughts: Forge Your Own Path

Is a marketing degree worth it in 2023? The short answer is yes. Whether that means a marketing degree is right for you, we can’t tell you. Hopefully, though, this guide has given you the information you need to make that choice. 

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