What Can You Learn From Your Competitors’ Backlinks?

competitors' backlinks
A competitor backlink analysis, also known as link gap analysis, allows you to reverse-engineer your direct competitors’ backlinks.

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If you’re building your SEO strategy, you probably know by now that you also have to boost your backlink profile.

Backlinks (also called inbound links) refer to links from external sites pointing back to your website. Backlinks are an important search engine ranking factor, serving as a vote of confidence for your page.

If you’ve already created a significant amount of quality content and optimized your on-page SEO, it’s time to work on your link-building strategy.

The more backlinks your page has, the more organic traffic you can generate and the higher your opportunities are to rank on top of Google search result pages (SERPs).

Now, there are different strategies to get backlinks. In this post, we’re going to dive deep into competitor backlinking.

What is competitor backlinks analysis?

In business, it’s important to do competitor analysis to know how other companies are performing in your industry and what you can do to have an edge.

The same concept applies to link-building strategies. A competitor backlink analysis, also known as link gap analysis, allows you to reverse-engineer your direct competitors’ backlinks. That helps you build similar links and boost your ranking on search engines and increase traffic.

This analysis of other sites helps you identify sites linking to your direct competitors but not to your page.

High-quality backlinks are a bit difficult to earn, so looking at the linking sites to your competitors gives you an idea of where to find such links. It gives you a better chance of earning quality links than blindly figuring things out on your own. At the very least, you know that those sites are already interested in your niche.

How do you find your competitors’ backlinks?

Researching your competitors’ backlinks can uncover a treasure trove of link opportunities for your website. So, how do you conduct a competitor backlink analysis?

Here are the actionable steps to do competitor backlinking:

Assess Your Own Backlink Profile

Before you look into your competitors, you must have a clear understanding of where your own site stands.

It’s essential to check your website’s backlink health so that you can identify the gaps.

You need to check your website or domain authority (DA), also called domain rating (DR).

You can use Ahref’s free Backlink Checker tool, which gives you the following information:

  • Domain Rating
  • Number of backlinks you have
  • Number of linking websites
  • The top 100 backlinks or referring pages, their DR, anchor texts, and URLs

You can also use Moz’s Free Domain Authority Checker, which provides the following details:

  • Domain Authority
  • Number of linking root domains
  • Number of ranking keywords you have
  • Your site’s spam score
  • Top pages by links
  • Top linking domains
  • A graph of discovered and lost linking domains over the past 30 days
  • Keywords by estimated clicks
  • Top ranking keywords
  • Top featured snippets
  • Branded keywords
  • Keyword ranking distribution
  • Top search competitors
  • Top questions mined from People Also Ask boxes

You can also use other SEO tools, like Ubersuggest’s traffic analyzer, to identify the keywords that your site is ranking for. 

These are helpful pieces of information that you can use as a jumping-off point when you design your link-building strategies.

Identify Your Competitors

When you’re done with your self-evaluation, you can move on to identifying competitors. Your direct competitors are those that have around the same backlink profile as you have.

There are two types of competitors: domain-level and page-level competitors.

Domain-level competitors are sites that compete with yours as a whole. It means that you have comparable search terms or keywords across many pages.

Meanwhile, page-level competitors are sites that may not be similar to yours, but you compete for a specific search term or page. They may not be in the same niche, but they rank for the same keywords.

Domain and page-level competitors may have some overlaps. So when you identify page-level competitors, focus on the ones with the keywords you have in common. 

Perform the Competitor Backlink Analysis

Now that you’ve gathered a list of your direct competitors based on domain and keywords, it’s time to do the competitor backlink analysis.

Domain-level competitor backlink analysis

Starting with the domain-level competitors, you can use Moz’s domain authority checker for the analysis.

Let’s say you’re a finance site, and you’ve identified Houseofdebt.org as one of your direct competitors.

competitors' backlinks analysis jolly seo

You’ll find a list of top linking sites and their respective DA. Those with high DA are excellent sites to earn a backlink from because Google views them as useful and trustworthy.

You’ll need to repeat the process for each competitor you’ve identified and create a list of domains you’ll target for backlink opportunities.

You might earn a backlink from them through a guest post, journalist outreach, broken link-building, and so on.

Page-level competitor backlink analysis

Moving on to page-level competitors, you can still use Moz’s DA checker tool. It will give you a list of your top search competitors ranked by visibility, along with their respective DA.

Again, these are sites that rank for the same target keywords that you have. You can explore further why they’ve been mentioned, and you’re not.

competitors' backlinks analysis jolly SEO

You should also analyze your primary keyword and get information on the sites that rank for it.

Aside from your top keywords, you should also look into semantically-related search terms.

Add the results to the list of sites you’ll prospect for link-building opportunities.

Organize your data

After gathering your data, organize them and narrow down the list to top-referring sites. These are the most valuable domains that you must prioritize.

Sort them based on DA, as well as spam scores. The lower the spam score, the better.

Then, dig deeper into each site before reaching out for a backlink. You need to ensure that they’re updated, reputable, have recent backlink opportunities, and generate high organic traffic.

Don’t forget about relevancy. You’ll have a better chance of landing high-quality backlinks if you focus on opportunities where your page or content can provide useful support to the articles.

Not all backlinks will benefit your site. Their audience is more likely to click your link if they could learn more from it. If it’s not relevant or anchored in spammy texts, you won’t get any clicks.

Wrapping Up Competitors’ Backlink Strategy

If you want to boost your search engine rankings, include competitors’ backlinks analysis as part of your strategy. It gives you useful insights as to where your site stands and what backlink opportunities are out there based on what’s working with your competitors.

It helps you jumpstart your link-building efforts as you can narrow down the most valuable domains that are highly likely to link back to you. You can reverse-engineer your competitor’s backlinks to rank higher on search engines and drive more traffic to your site.

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