How to Find Your Competitors’ Backlinks: All You Need to Know

7min.

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How to Find Your Competitors’ Backlinks: All You Need to Know
05 March 2024
This guide shows you how to find your competitors’ backlinks easily + shares ideas on how to make use of these insights to improve your backlink profile. See who’s linking to your competitors and use these insights to improve your off-site strategy.

7min.

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Knowing how to find backlinks of competitors is a big deal because it lets you peek into what they’re doing right and how they’re getting noticed online – that’s one of the proven link building outreach strategies. After all, good backlinks help websites show up higher in search results, and that’s exactly what you’re after, isn’t it?

Good quality links do still have an influence on ranking, and a lot of SEO professionals would say they do still count. At this point, we can confidently say that internal links and inbound links are still considered a ranking factor.

Shelley Walsh, Search Engine Journal

So, let’s see how to find competitors’ backlinks and use that knowledge to improve the rankings of your own website. First step?

Before You Start Finding Your Competitors’ Backlinks

Before you start snooping around to see who’s linking back to your competitors, you need to figure out who your backlink competitors are. It might seem easy to pick out your market rivals, but – trust me – defining the brands that you really compete with online may not always be so straightforward. Wondering how to spot them?

One of the ideas is to first

  • list the keywords that are closely related to your business,
  • next, use any keyword research tools to check which websites rank high for these keywords, and
  • voila, just like that you’ve found your biggest backlink competitors.

The best thing is that by doing so you may find brands that don’t offer the same products or services as yours but are still trying to rank for the same keywords as you.

big brain time gif

source: giphy

You might be now wondering, “What’s the big deal with keywords when I’m trying to find out who’s linking to my competitors?” Well, it’s all about connecting the dots.

Keywords are like signals that show what people are searching for and what websites (including your competitors) are being seen as go-to sources for those topics.

When you do your keyword research to find your competitors’ backlinks, think of it as looking for clues. It’s not just about figuring out which keywords you should aim for; it’s also about seeing where your competitors’ backlinks are coming from.

These clues can help you understand why certain websites link back to your market rivals but not to your website, which can be super useful for your own link building efforts.

Example:
Let’s say you’re in the business of selling eco-friendly water bottles. You start by listing keywords related to your product, like “eco-friendly water bottles,” “sustainable water containers,” and “biodegradable water bottles.” Using a keyword research tool, you discover that a blog dedicated to sustainable living consistently ranks high for these keywords. You notice that this blog has linked to several of your competitors when discussing the best eco-friendly products.

See what you did there? The keywords have led you to a website that’s considered authoritative on topics your target audience cares about.

Now you see that this blog values content related to eco-friendly living and is willing to give backlinks to the products it trusts – your products.

TIP: If you feel like going even further with fishing out all your market rivals, be sure to read SEO Competitor Analysis Research. This guide walks you through all the stages of doing competitive analysis, aka identifying your market rivals.

Tools and Techniques to Help You Find Competitors’ Backlinks

Okay, you’ve just defined your competitors. Now it’s time to use some of the backlink checker tools. Luckily, there are some really easy-to-use tools and some simple tricks to help you find backlinks of competitors.

Tools to Find Competitor Backlinks

Try Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Moz. Even though they aren’t free – actually some people find them pretty costly – these tools are super helpful for seeing who’s linking back to your competitors. Let’s run a quick competitive link analysis using Ahrefs to see how many backlinks they have and which ones come from websites you should contact and ask for a backlink too.

STEP 1: Log in to Ahrefs (you can do this on the official Ahrefs website).

STEP 2: Go to Site Explorer.

screenshot showing how to find Site Explorer in Ahrefs

source: Ahrefs

STEP 3: In the Site Explorer search bar, type in the URL of the competitor whose backlinks you want to check out (you’ve found while checking out keywords).

STEP 4: Press enter or click the search button to get the analysis started. You’ll be taken to a page full of data about your competitor’s website.

STEP 5: Look for the Backlinks section in the menu. Click on it, and you’ll see a list of all the websites linking back to your competitor’s website.

screenshot showing a competitors backlink report in Ahrefs

source: Ahrefs

STEP 5: Take a good look at the backlinks. Ahrefs gives you info about things like:

  • the quality of your competitors’ backlinks,
  • where they come from, and
  • how they link (text, image, etc.).

STEP 6: Now use these insights to spot new backlink opportunities for your own website.

TIP: If you’re not sure what metrics to look at, be sure to check our Backlink Audit Guide.

Not every backlink is a winner! Tools like Ahrefs help you find the ones that really count, the high-quality links that make a difference in search rankings. By examining backlink metrics, you can decide which websites are worth reaching out to for a backlink.

In a second you will learn the ways of separating good backlinks from the bad ones, but before that, let’s see…

Other Smart Ways to Find Competitors’ Backlinks

Besides SEO tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz, you can find your competitors’ backlinks by

  • searching your rival social media mentions. Simply keep an eye on your competitors’ social media pages. Companies often share links to their latest articles or pages. By checking out who’s talking about them or sharing their content, you might find some websites that are linking back to them.
  • having a look through popular blogs or websites in your industry, you will see if your competitors have written any guest posts. These posts usually include a link back to the author’s website, giving you another place to look for backlink opportunities.
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How to Spot Your Competitors’ Best Backlinks

To bridge the link building gap between you and your competitors, you need to figure out not just who’s linking to your rivals, but which of those links actually matter. Think of it like finding the best players for your team; you want only the best players, not just anyone willing to play, right?

Let’s focus now on how to find your competitors’ backlinks. Discover the smart moves your rivals are making, and how you can do the same – or better!

Quality Beats Quantity

First off, when you’re checking your competitors’ backlinks, remember it’s not about how many referring links they managed to acquire. It’s about how good/strong those links are. So, while analyzing backlinks, remember that:

  • The best backlinks come from websites that cover the topics related to your offer, brand or niche. It shows search engines that the link makes sense and isn’t just thrown in there for no particular reason.
  • If a website that’s well-known and trusted by search engines links to your competitors, that’s a big win for them. You can use tools like Ahrefs (as shown above) to see which high-authority* websites are giving them mentions, and later contact the owners and suggest your piece to be published there, or simply be featured in their articles.

In the Backlink Building Guide you will get a couple of workable tips on how to avoid poor-quality websites – be sure to check those ideas out to steer clear of backlink flops.

*When you look at the screen from Ahrefs, you will see a DR column, that’s Domain Rating. This SEO tool estimates how strong a given website’s backlink profile is, using the 0-100 scale. Of course, the higher the number, the stronger the website is supposed to be in the eyes of search engines.

Figuring Out Your Competitors’ Backlink Strategy

Looking through where your competitors get their backlinks from can give you a lot of insights into their off-site strategy. How’s that?

  • If you see a lot of backlinks referring traffic to your competitor’s websites from blog posts, the chances are they are guest blogging. Check out what kinds of blogs they’re writing for – it might be something you can try too.
  • If they’re active on forums related to what you do/sell and dropping links, that’s another strategy you may try to adopt. Just join the conversation and get noticed by your potential customers on the platform they spend their time on and trust.
  • Being listed in directories for your industry is pretty important. If your competitors are there, maybe that’s a sign you should be too.

3 Big Moves to Strengthen Your Backlink Profile Basing on Your Competitors’ Strategies

It’s worth realizing that finding your competitors’ backlinks is one thing. The other is the idea of what to do with that knowledge.

wondering

source: giphy

No worries! There are three big moves you can make with these insights to improve your website’s SEO ranking.

YOUR BIG MOVE #1: Aim for the same targets. If a good-performing websites link back to your competitors, why wouldn’t you try to convince the owners to link back to your website? Simply reach out to them – it will cost you literally nothing, maybe except your time. Make your case for why your website deserves a mention too. And to be more persuasive, don’t forget to mention the benefits the publisher will get after talking about you. Perhaps their readers will love to learn about your take on a given topic.

YOUR BIG MOVE #2: Try new tactics. If your competitors are getting backlinks in ways you haven’t tried yet (like guest posts, sponsored articles, local listings or niche websites), think about giving those strategies a shot.

YOUR BIG MOVE #3: Take hold of your competitors’ broken backlinks. Sometimes, websites link to pages that no longer exist. Using tools like Ahrefs, you can find these broken links on websites linking to your competitors. Reach out to these websites and suggest your page as a replacement. It’s a win-win: they fix a broken link, and you get a new backlink. You will find a whole manual + a ready email template in Broken Link Building Tactic.

Takeaway: How to Find Your Competitors’ Backlinks

Let’s wrap things up with three main ideas on how to find backlinks of competitors and what to do with them to make your backlink profile stronger:

TAKEAWAY #1: It’s better to have a few high-quality links pointing back to your website than a bunch of low-quality ones. Think quality, not just quantity.

TAKEAWAY #2: Use SEO tools to take a good look at how your competitors are getting their backlinks. If they’re doing something smart that you’re not, like guest blogging, consider giving it a go too.

TAKEAWAY #3: Look for any broken links pointing to your competitor’s websites and take this spot over. You can suggest your own website as a replacement, which is a pretty legitimate way to snag a new backlink.

If keeping up with regular backlink gap analysis to spot those backlinks and broken links sounds like a lot, especially when you’ve got a business to run, we get it. That’s where we come in. We’ve got the tools and the know-how to keep an eye on your backlink profile for you. So, if you don’t have the time to find your competitors’ backlinks regularly, just reach out. We’re here to help you grasp those backlink opportunities without the hassle.

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Logo Delante
Author
Delante

Delante is an online marketing agency specialized in generating website traffic from search engines and paid ads (SEO / SEM). Over 80% of our clients are from rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

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Award - Deloitte 2021 Award - European eCommerce Awards 2022 Award - European Search Awards 2022 Award - Global Agency Awards 2022 Award - IPMA Award - US Search Awards 2021

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