Competitor backlink analysis is my favourite link building strategy of all time.
I have been using it for the last 10 years and it’s the only link building method that has stood the test of time.
With a simple competitor backlink analysis you can:
- Uncover their link building strategies
- Find their most important backlinks
- See how many backlinks you need to build
Here is how to do it…
First, performing a competitor backlink analysis allows you to discover which websites are in your niche and share the same audience as yours.
Through this link profile analysis, you can get access to your competitor’s website performance from their number of external links and link metrics to their overall online authority – including page authority & domain authority.
A competitor backlink analysis helps you build (or improve) your strategy – the right way and allows you to:
- Uncover competitors link building strategies: During this process, you’ll review your competitor’s websites and performances to find out what they are doing differently and, eventually, you’ll come out with a bunch of new strategies to implement in your website.
- Find competitors most important backlinks: Identify which backlinks (Edu backlinks? Gov backlinks? Others?) help others to rank well in your niche. I recommend you to look at the number and the quality of sites linking to your competitor.
- Identify how you can replicate your competitors’ backlinks: By analyzing the backlink profile that makes your competitors rank, you’ll identify which backlinks are worth replicating and how to find backlink opportunities in the same sites.
Pretty cool, right?
Bellow, I’ll explain how to conduct this analysis to get great and fast results!
If you go to Google right now and search for your target keyword.
You’ll get on the first results page…
…The top 5x ranking sites that have all one important thing in common:
The idea of competitor backlink analysis is to-
- Look at each of these site’s link profiles
- Filter out the “junk”
- Replicate the best backlinks for your own site
Why waste time and money figuring out what works?
There’s already a proven link building blueprint out there waiting for you.
But to pull it off, you need a backlink analysis tool and you can get access to some incredible data without spending any money.
Before we do anything else we need to find all of the backlinks that are pointing to our competitor’s site.
Doing that is easy because we can take advantage of a number of tools that allow us to download all of our competitor’s backlink portfolio easily.
The 3x best backlink analysis tools on the market right now are:
- Ahrefs (read my full Ahrefs review)
- SEMRush (read my full SEMRush review)
- SEO Spyglass (read my full SEO Powersuite review)
They will return high numbers of links for every competitor website that you run through them. This is important because the more quality links you find, the more you can replicate!
Let’s take a closer look…
Ahrefs was the best tool on this list to find insight into competitors’ backlink profiles.
But in my more recent best backlink checker case study, they got absolutely blown away.
You can view all of your competitor’s backlinks (including their anchor text) in one dashboard thanks to Ahrefs Site Explorer.
You can then export them in a CSV file to form the foundation of your strategy.
Ahrefs offers a $7 trial that gives you full access to the tool for 1x week.
Even if you only use Site Explorer for the trial period, using it with the Backlink Analysis Method will be the best $7 you’ve ever spent on your link building strategy.
Bonus: Ahrefs also allows you to monitor backlinks and set up backlink alerts so you can keep track of your competitor’s new backlinks!
The free SEMRush trial gives you access to a powerful tool with a very easy to use interface and relevant data sources that you can trust.
It’s certainly the best Ahrefs alternative out there to execute a backlink profile analysis.
But don’t be fooled by the high number of links it shows for my site.
SEMRush counts every link from a domain, but Ahrefs groups them together!
Either way, they give you a ton of data.
SEMRush has a freemium version of their tool that allows you to perform 10 data searches each day and you can also take advantage of a 100% free 14 day trial I set up for my readers.
Bonus: SEMrush offers the most comprehensive backlink audit you can find on the market.
See how Semrush stands against Ahrefs in my Ahrefs vs Semrush ultimate comparison.
3. SEO SpyGlass
SEO SpyGlass is the best desktop based backlink checker tool.
Although the link count is less than the last two tools…
It still gives you a significant number to work with:
However, their database is ever-growing with currently stands at 1.6x trillion links so it’s always going to find more than a handful for you.
SEO SpyGlass comes in two versions:
- Free: you can access data for 1,000x backlinks (but can’t export them)
- Paid: you can access data for unlimited backlinks and export them
But it doesn’t have an expensive monthly subscription like other tools.
Don’t worry, I understand these tools can be expensive if you’re starting out so feel free to take a look at my free seo tools list.
The Best Backlink Analysis Tools Compared
Honestly, you can’t make a wrong decision here. Each tool is going to provide you with more than enough backlink data to keep you busy.
And remember, if you are on a budget you can use the free trials to grab as much data as possible for your campaign.
$99 / Month
$99.95 / Month
$31.49 / Month
Yes. $7 for 7 days.
Yes. 14 Day Trial & Freemium Model.
Yes. Freemium Model.
# Links Found
But don’t do anything just yet!
First I want to show you precisely how we are going to use this data to grow our own search traffic!
Using the tools above I’m going to show you exactly how to steal your competitor’s links.
This is the proven repeatable method I’ve been using for years.
Here’s what you need to do…
Step #1 – Find Your Competitors Ranking URL’s
Your starting point is to get a list of the top #5 ranking URLs for your target keyword.
Select the keyword you want to target.
Then do a search in Google and make a list of the first 5x organic search results:
Your final list of URL’s should look something like this:
Step #2 – Download My Free Backlink Analysis Tool
Head to this page to download my free competitor backlink analysis spreadsheet.
This is the intelligent sheet I have developed over the years for this specific task – you are going to love it!
Just paste the 5 links from step #1 above into column A on the first sheet-
Step #3 – Find Your Competitor’s Backlink Data
Click on the “Click Here” links to automatically open the right report you need.
Export the data as a .CSV file.
You can export as much data as the tool will allow.
The more, the better!
Once exported, let’s put it into the tool…
Step #4 – Load The Data
Head over to tab #2 – Data in the sheet to Import each of the files you just exported.
The quickest way is to:
- Open one of the files from step #2
- Delete the first row of data
- Highlight all of the remaining data and copy it
- Then paste it into Tab #2 of the google sheet
- Repeat the process adding each report you exported in step #3 to tab #2
This is how you should do it:
Once you have loaded all the data you are ready for…
Step #5 – Competitor Backlink Analysis
Head to Tab #3 – Plan Of Attack.
You’ll see a table of links.
These are the best competitors backlinks for you to target.
The tool has already:
- Filtered out harmful spammy links
- Removed weak links you should ignore
- Prioritised which links you should focus on first
(There’s that “keep it simple” motto in action again.)
That means it’s time to put your balaclava on and…
Step #6 – Steal Those Links!
You have all of the actionable data you need to get started.
What you’re looking for in your Plan Of Attack tab is:
…If the link came from a blog comment, you’ll just need to write your own:
…if it was a forum post or a blog post, join the discussion and include links in relevant places:
…if it was a guest post, you’ll need to pitch your own for publication:
Take a look at each link and reverse engineer the process to figure out how to do it.
Just work through the Plan Of Attack tab and replicate each link – it really is that easy!
Wrapping It Up
Stealing your competitors backlink strategies is one of the most effective ways to boost rankings and increase your traffic – including organic traffic & referral traffic.
It can save you:
- Time – so you can focus on other aspects of your SEO strategy such as content marketing and keyword research.
- Money – you’ll save in link building tools.
- Effort – you’ll get a bunch of backlink opportunies in just a few minutes.
To quickly recap:
- Find the 5x top ranking sites for your keyword
- Run them through your powerful new (free) backlink analysis tool
- Steal those links
- Watch how Google reacts
- Rinse and repeat
If you have any questions/thoughts about this strategy or if you need any SEO tips, please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to help!
Next I want to introduce you to resource page link building.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a backlink analysis?
Backlink analysis is a strict review of a site’s backlink profile completed by the site’s owner to analyze the site’s performance and identify potential issues that could affect negatively its ranking.
What is competitor backlink analysis?
Competitor backlink analysis is a major part of the link building process. Any successful link building campaign starts with competitor backlink analysis. Learning how your competitors get their backlinks is key to using their backlinks against them. Ahrefs will find your competitors’ links.
How to find my competitor backlinks?
Finding competitors backlinks is very straightforward when you have access to a good backlink analysis tool. My favourite tool for finding backlinks is Ahrefs. Simply enter the target URL of your competitor into the tool, click backlinks to see a list of all the links pointing to their domain. You can then export the data.
How do you do a competitor backlink analysis?
To perform effective competitor backlink analysis, enter your keywords into a Google search to identify your competitors. Make sure you take the top 5 organic results and put those URLs into a backlink analysis tool. You will get a list of websites to target that provides links to your competitor’s sites.
What are backlinks to a website?
A backlink is a link that is placed on one website that points to another website. A link may be placed when a site owner wants to recommend that website. This is a sign that the website is high quality, which makes backlinks a massive part of SEO.
How can you tell the quality of backlinks?
You can tell the quality of a backlink by reviewing the link profile and the website that has placed the link. The higher the authority, the better the quality of the link is. Using metrics such as Ahrefs DR is a good indicator.
Why do I need backlinks?
Backlinks and content marketing are essential factors to build page authority or increase your authority score. Make sure to use my backlink strategy to find great backlink opportunities. This method is part of the SEO best practices.
What is the difference between on-page SEO and off-page SEO?
On-page SEO focuses on optimizing parts of your website that are within your control such as:
- Page title
- Anchor text
- Internal linking
- Website’s speed
… among others.
While off-page SEO focuses on increasing the authority of your domain through content creation (a great content strategy will help your website stand out) and earning free backlinks from other websites thanks to blog comments, guest blogging/blog posts, social media, etc…