Looking for co-citations? Here’s a way to do it on a large scale.

One of these days all of my pimping of Ontolo & SEOmoz tools is going to get me an affiliate fee, I swear (I’m not associated with these organizations other than being a customer, fyi). I recently posted a cool way you could use the new Ontolo Link Building Toolset in concert with Google Custom Search (that post is here), and today I’m going to show you a way to expand upon a couple additional tools offered for subscribers of SEOMoz and Ontolo’s tools.

seomoz and ontolo logos

Finding co-citations (sites that link to multiple competitors) can be a great way to easily build yourself some links. There are some hub-finding tools available out there like SEOmoz’s Competitive Link Finder Tool, which allows you to input up to five competitors to find co-citations within SEOmoz’s Linkscape index. This can be very useful, but in most industries you’ll have far more than 5 competitors to deal with or you’ll want to use another backlink identification tool such as Majestic SEO or Yahoo’s Site Explorer.

There are many ways to identify your competition, but rather than just tossing them out off the top of your head, it’s nice to use a systematic method of identifying the sites that rank out well for your targeted terms. Garrett French of Ontolo had a great post on how to go about doing this on Search Engine Land a while back . While this is extremely helpful, Ontolo is now offering a SERP Dominator tool that will identify your top competitors automatically.

Armed with a list of your true keyword competitors, you can now use your backlink tools (I like SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer – as it will export up to 10,000 links). So if you combine the results of all of your spreadsheets into one monstrous spreadsheet, you can now use the power of Excel to have one massive co-citation finding machine.

Here’s the process:

  • Take your list of SERP Dominators and run them each through Open Site Explorer
  • Be sure to filter your results for Followed & 301/External Pages Only/All Pages On The Root Domain
  • Export each domain’s results to a CSV
  • Run a quick remove duplicates filter on your URLs to clean up anything your backlink tool may have missed
  • Combine all of your spreadsheets into one, disposing of header rows as you add them to your aggregated spreadsheet
  • In an unused column add this formula in the same row as the first linking URL (in the example here, we place the equation in column K, and our first URL is A2): =COUNTIF(A:A,A2)>1
co-citations in microsoft excel
  • This will give you a true/false statement as to whether that particular URL has a duplicate within your listings

So what you end up with is a massive list of URLs that link to multiple competitors. Even better, you can sort by Domain MozRank or Page MozRank so you can prioritize your efforts when you get started. If you want to take this another step – you can actually use the linking domains function in Open Site Explorer to build a list of domains and then use the same formula to find domains that link out multiple times to competitors.

With the disappearance of Yahoo’s linkdomain search operator, this can be a powerful and relatively easy way to find some high quality linking opportunities.

Other posts of interest:

Adam Henige

Adam Henige is Managing Partner of Netvantage Marketing, an online marketing company specializing in SEO, PPC and social media. Adam heads the SEO and link building efforts for Netvantage and has been a contributing blogger for industry publications like Search Engine Journal and SEOmoz.

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