This process is done by our SEO toronto and Seo Singapore team by using a free tool called “Way Back Machine” or if you prefer “Internet Archive” or any one of the various sites which mimic its function.
The Wayback Machine is a wonderful tool which let’s you take a step back in time to see how specific websites looked like when they first went live on the Internet.
Dead competitor domains, in case you’re wondering, are websites from your same niche that have been shut down for various reasons such as bankruptcy, sale of business or whatever else.
Once done with their purpose, these domain names are often sold off to the highest bidder.
What this means is that their rankings in Google have been lost in time… But their Page Rank is still there! Page rank is a ranking system by Google which reflects how popular a website is.
Even when you lose your rankings in Google because of an algorithm update or other reason, your page rank will remain intact until the next page rank update eventually cause it to disappear.
Using Wayback Machine you can access the past versions of these websites and quickly see what type of links they have pointing at them (in certain cases).
You can then use these same links for your own website (assuming they quality links).
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Head over to www.WayBackMachine.com and enter the URL of your competitor’s website (the dead one). Since we want to do this quick, I’ll be using our very own SEO Moz homepage as an example:
As you can see, Wayback Machine has done its job and provided me with the various years where my website was archived for public viewing, along with all it’s backlinks! Now here is the really cool part… Not only does it show you the page rank of each version of your competitor’s website, it also shows you the types of links pointing to them at that particular time.
Using this information, one can easily see whether or not the website had any good links pointing towards it and use them for their own websites.
Look at each link (and page rank) carefully and determine whether it is worth pursuing or not. Some links may be completely irrelevant now (such as “dofollow” blog comments), some may still be worth pursuing (but with no Page Rank) while others may seem worthless (like tiny static image links). This step largely depends on your personal judgment.
Search for more dead competitors! Now that you have a list of good links pointing towards your competitor’s website, it’s time to search for dead websites which are very similar to your target. You can easily do this by going back to Wayback Machine and entering their URL again. This is also a great way to find new / fresh expired domains which you might not have thought about before (and it saves you the trouble of searching through millions of domain names yourself).
Here is what my results look like after I did that:
NOTE: When using Wayback Machine, be very careful when copying and pasting in competitor’s website URLs (especially when you’re in a rush and copying lots of them). For some reason, Wayback Machine will sometimes copy / paste the text into their search box instead of the URL itself! This can be very frustrating and annoying. To avoid this, I recommend manually typing in your competitor’s websites (or at least read the result before you click on it to make sure it is what you want).
Use these links wisely… When deciding whether or not to use certain links for your own website, I personally look for these 3 things:
Grow your link portfolio with these new domains.
Start contacting blog owners & website admins! We have now found many high PR links from very authoritative places. This is our ticket to getting the owner of these pages interested in establishing a link with our website as well!.
Finally, as this is a hot off page SEO tactic, don’t give too much information of the hows and whys to your potential competitors about what you are doing, in case they join in the fun and try to replicate the strategy for their own purposes.