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

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Everything you should know about evaluating your competitors 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 This is always a sign of poor and outdated link building that may get (or may have gotten) your competitors into trouble.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.

Conclusion

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

1652960206 350 Everything you should know about evaluating your competitors backlink profile1652960206 350 Everything you should know about evaluating your competitors backlink profile
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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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples [2024 Update]

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YouTube Ad Specs, Sizes, and Examples

Introduction

With billions of users each month, YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and top website for video content. This makes it a great place for advertising. To succeed, advertisers need to follow the correct YouTube ad specifications. These rules help your ad reach more viewers, increasing the chance of gaining new customers and boosting brand awareness.

Types of YouTube Ads

Video Ads

  • Description: These play before, during, or after a YouTube video on computers or mobile devices.
  • Types:
    • In-stream ads: Can be skippable or non-skippable.
    • Bumper ads: Non-skippable, short ads that play before, during, or after a video.

Display Ads

  • Description: These appear in different spots on YouTube and usually use text or static images.
  • Note: YouTube does not support display image ads directly on its app, but these can be targeted to YouTube.com through Google Display Network (GDN).

Companion Banners

  • Description: Appears to the right of the YouTube player on desktop.
  • Requirement: Must be purchased alongside In-stream ads, Bumper ads, or In-feed ads.

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Resemble videos with images, headlines, and text. They link to a public or unlisted YouTube video.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that play outside of YouTube, on websites and apps within the Google video partner network.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: Premium, high-visibility banner ads displayed at the top of the YouTube homepage for both desktop and mobile users.

YouTube Ad Specs by Type

Skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Placement: Before, during, or after a YouTube video.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
    • Action: 15-20 seconds

Non-skippable In-stream Video Ads

  • Description: Must be watched completely before the main video.
  • Length: 15 seconds (or 20 seconds in certain markets).
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Vertical: 9:16
    • Square: 1:1

Bumper Ads

  • Length: Maximum 6 seconds.
  • File Format: MP4, Quicktime, AVI, ASF, Windows Media, or MPEG.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 640 x 360px
    • Vertical: 480 x 360px

In-feed Ads

  • Description: Show alongside YouTube content, like search results or the Home feed.
  • Resolution:
    • Horizontal: 1920 x 1080px
    • Vertical: 1080 x 1920px
    • Square: 1080 x 1080px
  • Aspect Ratio:
    • Horizontal: 16:9
    • Square: 1:1
  • Length:
    • Awareness: 15-20 seconds
    • Consideration: 2-3 minutes
  • Headline/Description:
    • Headline: Up to 2 lines, 40 characters per line
    • Description: Up to 2 lines, 35 characters per line

Display Ads

  • Description: Static images or animated media that appear on YouTube next to video suggestions, in search results, or on the homepage.
  • Image Size: 300×60 pixels.
  • File Type: GIF, JPG, PNG.
  • File Size: Max 150KB.
  • Max Animation Length: 30 seconds.

Outstream Ads

  • Description: Mobile-only video ads that appear on websites and apps within the Google video partner network, not on YouTube itself.
  • Logo Specs:
    • Square: 1:1 (200 x 200px).
    • File Type: JPG, GIF, PNG.
    • Max Size: 200KB.

Masthead Ads

  • Description: High-visibility ads at the top of the YouTube homepage.
  • Resolution: 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • File Type: JPG or PNG (without transparency).

Conclusion

YouTube offers a variety of ad formats to reach audiences effectively in 2024. Whether you want to build brand awareness, drive conversions, or target specific demographics, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for your advertising needs. Always follow Google’s advertising policies and the technical ad specs to ensure your ads perform their best. Ready to start using YouTube ads? Contact us today to get started!

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Why We Are Always ‘Clicking to Buy’, According to Psychologists

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Why We Are Always 'Clicking to Buy', According to Psychologists

Amazon pillows.

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

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A deeper dive into data, personalization and Copilots

Salesforce launched a collection of new, generative AI-related products at Connections in Chicago this week. They included new Einstein Copilots for marketers and merchants and Einstein Personalization.

To better understand, not only the potential impact of the new products, but the evolving Salesforce architecture, we sat down with Bobby Jania, CMO, Marketing Cloud.

Dig deeper: Salesforce piles on the Einstein Copilots

Salesforce’s evolving architecture

It’s hard to deny that Salesforce likes coming up with new names for platforms and products (what happened to Customer 360?) and this can sometimes make the observer wonder if something is brand new, or old but with a brand new name. In particular, what exactly is Einstein 1 and how is it related to Salesforce Data Cloud?

“Data Cloud is built on the Einstein 1 platform,” Jania explained. “The Einstein 1 platform is our entire Salesforce platform and that includes products like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud — that it includes the original idea of Salesforce not just being in the cloud, but being multi-tenancy.”

Data Cloud — not an acquisition, of course — was built natively on that platform. It was the first product built on Hyperforce, Salesforce’s new cloud infrastructure architecture. “Since Data Cloud was on what we now call the Einstein 1 platform from Day One, it has always natively connected to, and been able to read anything in Sales Cloud, Service Cloud [and so on]. On top of that, we can now bring in, not only structured but unstructured data.”

That’s a significant progression from the position, several years ago, when Salesforce had stitched together a platform around various acquisitions (ExactTarget, for example) that didn’t necessarily talk to each other.

“At times, what we would do is have a kind of behind-the-scenes flow where data from one product could be moved into another product,” said Jania, “but in many of those cases the data would then be in both, whereas now the data is in Data Cloud. Tableau will run natively off Data Cloud; Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud — they’re all going to the same operational customer profile.” They’re not copying the data from Data Cloud, Jania confirmed.

Another thing to know is tit’s possible for Salesforce customers to import their own datasets into Data Cloud. “We wanted to create a federated data model,” said Jania. “If you’re using Snowflake, for example, we more or less virtually sit on your data lake. The value we add is that we will look at all your data and help you form these operational customer profiles.”

Let’s learn more about Einstein Copilot

“Copilot means that I have an assistant with me in the tool where I need to be working that contextually knows what I am trying to do and helps me at every step of the process,” Jania said.

For marketers, this might begin with a campaign brief developed with Copilot’s assistance, the identification of an audience based on the brief, and then the development of email or other content. “What’s really cool is the idea of Einstein Studio where our customers will create actions [for Copilot] that we hadn’t even thought about.”

Here’s a key insight (back to nomenclature). We reported on Copilot for markets, Copilot for merchants, Copilot for shoppers. It turns out, however, that there is just one Copilot, Einstein Copilot, and these are use cases. “There’s just one Copilot, we just add these for a little clarity; we’re going to talk about marketing use cases, about shoppers’ use cases. These are actions for the marketing use cases we built out of the box; you can build your own.”

It’s surely going to take a little time for marketers to learn to work easily with Copilot. “There’s always time for adoption,” Jania agreed. “What is directly connected with this is, this is my ninth Connections and this one has the most hands-on training that I’ve seen since 2014 — and a lot of that is getting people using Data Cloud, using these tools rather than just being given a demo.”

What’s new about Einstein Personalization

Salesforce Einstein has been around since 2016 and many of the use cases seem to have involved personalization in various forms. What’s new?

“Einstein Personalization is a real-time decision engine and it’s going to choose next-best-action, next-best-offer. What is new is that it’s a service now that runs natively on top of Data Cloud.” A lot of real-time decision engines need their own set of data that might actually be a subset of data. “Einstein Personalization is going to look holistically at a customer and recommend a next-best-action that could be natively surfaced in Service Cloud, Sales Cloud or Marketing Cloud.”

Finally, trust

One feature of the presentations at Connections was the reassurance that, although public LLMs like ChatGPT could be selected for application to customer data, none of that data would be retained by the LLMs. Is this just a matter of written agreements? No, not just that, said Jania.

“In the Einstein Trust Layer, all of the data, when it connects to an LLM, runs through our gateway. If there was a prompt that had personally identifiable information — a credit card number, an email address — at a mimum, all that is stripped out. The LLMs do not store the output; we store the output for auditing back in Salesforce. Any output that comes back through our gateway is logged in our system; it runs through a toxicity model; and only at the end do we put PII data back into the answer. There are real pieces beyond a handshake that this data is safe.”

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