How To Steal Your Link Building Strategy

Earlier we looked at how to steal all of your competitors best keywords and build an intelligent keyword strategy.

If you don’t have a target list of keywords ready in the Final Selections tab, go and do that now (it takes 5 minutes).

If you do have that ready…

…we are going to take this to the next level!

Because by the end of this tutorial you will have an intelligent link building strategy based on world class data.

If all of that sounds like hard work you can also take advantage of the LinksThatRank service to build awesome links on your behalf

An Introduction To Backlink Theft

Stealing competitors backlinks has been my “go to” link building strategy for every site I have built for the last decade.

The concept is pretty simple-

  • Find the top ranking pages for your target keyword
  • Download all of their backlinks
  • Replicate as many as possible

Why does this work?

Because each of the sites we analyse are already ranking in the top spots of Google.

That means each site has a backlink profile that Google loves.

So we are going to try and replicate as many backlinks from the top #5 results to our site as possible!

It’s a simple theory but highly effective and you can watch my video if you want to learn more.

How To Steal Your Competitors Best Backlinks

It might sound complicated to pull off, but don’t worry.

I am going to give you access to my intelligent backlink theft sheet!

This sheet will automatically analyse your competitors link profile and spit out the best links to steal first.

It does things like-

  • Automatically filters out spammy links that could hurt you
  • Removes all of the “weak” links that aren’t worth stealing
  • Allows you to assign link types like “Resource Page” or “Guest Post”
  • Builds a precise “backlink theft strategy” of which links to steal and in which order

How To Setup The Backlink Theft Sheet

Setting this up follows a near identical to process to setting up the keyword theft sheet yesterday.

Take a look at this sample sheet and familiarize yourself with it.
Note: This sheet is view only, you need to make a copy of the blank template below.

There are 3x tabs at the bottom to navigate through-

  1. Start Here – Enter your competitor URLs here
  2. Data – Enter the data you export here
  3. Plan Of Attack – This is your backlink plan (the most important links at the top)

Just take a moment to browse around and see how it works.

When you are ready make a copy of the Google Sheet below-

Steal Your Backlinks Sheet – MAKE A COPY OF ME

Do that by going to File > Make A Copy.

How To Set It Up For Your Target Keyword

Setting up the sheet is easy.

First we import all the data we need, then the sheet will take over and automatically remove all the junk and prioritize the best links.

Remember: You will need the free SEMRush trial to create your link building strategy.


Step #1 – Find Your Competitors Ranking URL’s

The first thing we need to do is get a list of the top #5 ranking URL’s for your target keyword.

So select the keyword you want to target from yesterdays keyword theft strategy.

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-

  1. https://backlinko.com/ecommerce-seo
  2. https://ahrefs.com/blog/ecommerce-seo/
  3. https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/ecommerce-seo/
  4. https://neilpatel.com/blog/seo-for-ecommerce-websites/
  5. https://www.shopify.com/blog/ecommerce-seo-beginners-guide

Step #2 – Open The Sheet

Once you have a list of the top 5x organic search results for your target keyword, open the first tab on the sheet #1 – Start Here

Enter the URL’s of your competitors in column A-

Then click on the “Click Here” to open the SEMRush report you need.

You will have to paste each of your competitors URL in one at a time:

Make sure you are on the backlink analytics report > backlinks tab and export all of the backlinks-

Repeat this for each of the competitor URL’s until you have exported all of the data.

Step #3 – Loading The Data

Head over to tab #2 – Data and import each of the files you exported in step #2.

The quickest way to do that is-

  1. Open one of the files from step #2
  2. Delete the first row of data
  3. Highlight all of the remaining data and copy it
  4. Then paste it into Tab #2 of the google sheet
  5. Repeat the process adding each report you exported in step #2 to tab #2

This is how you should do it-

Once you have loaded in the data from all of your competitors, you are ready for…

Step #4 – Your Plan Of Attack

Now head over to the 3rd tab #3 – Plan Of Attack.

This sheet has already found the best backlinks for you to steal!

And although you don’t see it…

…the sheet has already worked it’s magic and-

  • Filtered out spammy links that could hurt you
  • Removed all of the “weak” links that aren’t worth stealing
  • Built a precise “backlink theft strategy” of which links to steal and in which order

You can also use the “type” column to assign what “type” of backlink it is.

Not only that, but it is also ordered with the most important links at the top!

Step #5 – Steal Those Links!

Now all you need to do is open each link on the 3rd tab #3 – Plan Of Attack and look at how your competitor was able to get the link-

  • Sometimes it’s a blog comment, so you just need to post your own
  • Sometimes it’s a forum post so you just need to get involved
  • Sometimes it’s a guest post and you will have to submit your own
  • Sometimes it’s a web 2.0 site, so you just register & create your own
  • Sometimes it’s an infographic, so just get your own made on Fiverr
  • Sometimes it’s a resource page and you just need to submit yours

As you work through the list replicating links you’ll get a good feel for this process.

And make sure you update the “Type” column as you go.

While you’re doing this not only will you be uncovering great links you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.


You’ll also build your understanding of link building in general!

Wrapping It Up

So there you have it!

If you followed yesterdays keyword theft tutorial and todays backlink theft tutorial – you just saved weeks of hard work and research.

Now you have an intelligent data based plan on which keywords to attack first with which backlinks.

I wish I had that when I first started out!

So now it’s over to you:

Take those sheets, load them up with data and start to increase your search traffic in an intelligent manner.

It doesn’t get much easier than this!

And don’t forget…

…you can also take advantage of the LinksThatRank link building service if you need help with sourcing outreach based links that move the needle.

If you want to take your SEO knowledge to the next level, take a look at my premium SEO course 90DaySEO.com

56 Responses


    Can I have a spreadsheet with Ahrefs via my mail?

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 5th, 2021 at 9:40 am

      The Ahrefs version of the sheets has problems at the moment. We are working on a fix.

  2. Ethan

    Great stuff! How exactly would I go about reaching out to each site owner regarding taking that backlink away from my competitor and making it my own backlink? Also, should I even bother trying to steal nofollowed links?

    • Matthew Woodward
      June 22nd, 2020 at 10:37 am

      Hey Ethan,
      I suggest you send an engaging email explaining who you are, why they should backlink to your website, and how they could benefice from this new backlinK.
      Don’t go after no-followed links, you are going to lose your time for nothing. It doesn’t worth it.
      Let us know how it goes!

  3. Syeed Zeehan

    You are a legend. So simple but so effective !

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 12th, 2020 at 10:30 am

      Haha thanks Syeed

  4. Iqbal Ahmed

    Will it work after trail period has been over?

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 12th, 2019 at 1:17 am

      The spreadsheet will yes but you won’t be able to pull any new data.


    Great mathewwood..Thank you very much for your valuable messages…

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 15th, 2019 at 2:56 am

      No problem Jafer

  6. Osi Smog

    Hello Mathew,

    thanks for the journey so far. I now have a strategy, direction and part to follow. This is so great! I really do love and appreciate what you are doing. Keep it up.

    • Matthew Woodward
      May 13th, 2019 at 2:50 am

      Awesome news! You are welcome :)

  7. Agyarko Eric

    Keep up the work

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 22nd, 2019 at 2:06 am

      I certainly will do :)

  8. Jadiri Gamer

    Keep up the work Thanks

    • Matthew Woodward
      April 5th, 2019 at 8:20 am

      I certainly will do Jadiri!

  9. Steven

    It would be great to have an easy way to filter out sites/pages that already *do* link back to you

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 22nd, 2019 at 1:03 pm

      Great suggestion for a future version thanks

  10. Shivam Kumar

    You’re life saver Matt,

    Enjoying your blog from past 3 years :D

    Keep up the good work!


    • Matthew Woodward
      March 22nd, 2019 at 3:14 am

      Glad I could help Shivam! Thanks very much :)

  11. Vishal Rathour

    Hey, Sir, i am facing the same problem I am not able to make a copy of the google sheet. Can you please help me

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 21st, 2019 at 6:48 am

      You need to make sure you are using the blank spreadsheet to make the copy, not the sample sheets.

  12. Nishant Chandravanshi

    Matthew I am unable to download this sheet. link does not work. Anti clockwise moving…..

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 22nd, 2019 at 1:03 pm

      Try now

  13. Nishant Chandravanshi

    Good stuff. I have happily spent my weekend on your blog and now I am eagerly waiting for my next week. Learned many things

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 18th, 2019 at 8:27 am

      Haha awesome, thanks Nishant!

  14. Jason Green

    Thanks Matthew for making it super easy to create a bullet proof backlink campaign.

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 16th, 2019 at 7:41 am

      Hey Jason, no problem hope it proves helpful!

  15. sohil sumra

    hy Matthew I am very much interested in your tutorial.

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 8th, 2019 at 3:30 am

      Thanks :)

  16. Moss Clement

    Hi Matt,

    Your tutorial is exceptionally incredible. I have actually read it twice already and I’m saying it at pocket for reference. My tool of choice was Ahrefs but later I switched to SEMrush. When I saw the email of the material in my inbox I was reluctant to open it, I wanted it to be the last of my activity for the day. However, thankfully I started with it.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 22nd, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      No worrys glad you enjoy the tool!

  17. Chris

    Thanks Matthew for such valuable content

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 6th, 2019 at 10:17 am

      No probs Chris – hope you find it useful :)

  18. Edgar Leon

    Thxs in advanced Matthew.. Great share Im gonna do it ..!

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 6th, 2019 at 10:24 am

      Awesome news Edgar!

  19. Cecilia

    Question: When an inner page url is ranking, should we be getting the backlinks only of whats pointing to the inner page? Or should we grab the full domains backlink list?
    This has been super helpful. Thanks Matthew.

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 22nd, 2019 at 1:04 pm

      Yes just the innel url

  20. avi

    Hi matthew,

    fyi the backlink exporter doesn’t work for the SEOrush I have to manual put the url in to the backlink field in semrush. is there a way to fix this?

    just letting you know

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 5th, 2019 at 2:23 pm

      Hmmm looks like it doesnt work the same anymore =/

  21. idris shaikh

    Amazing cheet sheet! I hope this works, gonna give it a go!

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 5th, 2019 at 2:24 pm

      No worrys!

  22. Reece Major

    Thanks again Mathew

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 6th, 2019 at 10:28 am

      No problem Reece :)

  23. Peter Nyiri

    I alway knew the importance of link building, but it always seemed difficult to implement because of the begging factor. I am going to try your method with Ahtefs. Thanks a lot!

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 5th, 2019 at 2:25 pm

      Let me know if you need any help!

  24. addis

    Thank you this very helpful information for online communities specialy for new one like me

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 6th, 2019 at 10:29 am

      Welcome to the online world!

  25. Abdul

    Hey Matthew, I am not able to make a copy of the google sheet. Can you please help


    • Matthew Woodward
      March 5th, 2019 at 2:26 pm

      Make sure you are trying to copy the blank template and not the sample sheet that includes the data

      • Abdul
        March 6th, 2019 at 12:38 am

        Oh my bad..Got it! Thanks for you help Matthew.

        • Matthew Woodward
          March 6th, 2019 at 10:23 am

          No problem!

  26. Vipin Verma

    Hi Matthew Woodward,
    Another great post from you.
    Just want to say thank you very much.
    Best Regards!

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 6th, 2019 at 10:31 am

      Happy to help and you’re welcome!

  27. Honey

    again great post Matthew keep it up…..

    • Matthew Woodward
      March 6th, 2019 at 10:32 am

      I certainly intend to :)

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