Competitor backlink analysis for easy link building opportunities

Updated on 25 Aug 2021 by Puja Kotecha

Before you jump the gun with ideation and campaigns relative to digital PR, your first port of call should be competitor research. A competitor backlink analysis will enable you to find more than just their backlinks; it will give you an insight into the online marketing strategies they’re using to increase their online visibility. If it looks good, you can then apply the same strategy to acquire the same/similar links (provided that they’re of high quality).

In this article we are going to look at the important components to a successful competitor backlink analysis.

Benefits of a competitor backlink analysis

First things first, there are amazing benefits of completing a competitor backlink analysis for your brand:

  • You can see how well your competitors are performing to create a strategy and set goals around what you need to do to improve and compete. So let’s say your competitor has over 50 strong backlinks, you would need to create a goal of getting your site over 60 strong(er) backlinks.

  • You will be able to see the acquisition rate of new referring domains they gain. With this you’ll then be able to work out how many links you need to catch them.

  • You will be able to find great high domain rating guest posting opportunities to help you rank better in search engines.

  • You’ll be able to understand the various link building techniques they have used such as finding unlinked brand mentions, digital PR campaigns, citation building or guest posting.

  • This enables you to build relationships with websites that specialise in or link to similar content as yours, because they have linked to your competitors they are more likely to link to you as well.

Defining your competitors

The main component of a successful competitor analysis is defining who your competitor actually are. From an SEO standpoint, your competitors will be any site ranking above you on the first page of Google search results for the keywords you are wanting to target - it may well be different for different keywords, so make note of them all.

How to acquire your competitor’s links

There are a number of competitive analysis tools to choose from, our favourites include Ahrefs and SEMrush. You can even use Google to find your competitors by searching a specific keyword, you’ll get these results on the first page.

The top five ranking sites above have one thing in common: Google LOVES their backlink profile. You can analyse each of these to find the best backlink opportunities based on their strategies, make a list of these sites as you will need them to analyse in Ahrefs.

We are going to be demonstrating how to extract your competitors’ backlink profiles using Ahrefs. This fantastic tool provides the best data, which you can organise by domain authority. Don’t worry, it's very simple!

Add your competitor URL into the search bar at the top, then click on backlinks. You’ll then be able to easily extract all of these backlinks into a spreadsheet which will make it easier for you to analyse the data. Click on the export button on the right hand corner to export all the backlinks pointing to this site (if there are hundreds of thousands, group by one per domain).

We always recommend clicking on full export, but in this case we only need to do a quick export because of the amount of backlinks.

Export the CSV file and upload this onto Google Sheets. Depending on the site you may either have 100 backlinks or 5,000 backlinks to look in. We try to keep things simple by organising our spreadsheet by filtering each link by type, domain rating, traffic and areas of opportunity. Now you will have a huge list of links you can now try to outreach!

This list helps you understand where and how your competitors got these links: press releases, directories, guest posting and even digital PR campaigns. This helps you to then create your own list: which quality directories can you add your site to, what websites look to be open to guest posting, what sort of digital PR and content campaigns can you create, which topics tend to get links etc.

Once you have found, categorised and highlighted all of the relevant links you want to replicate, you will need to gather the contact information so you can start outreaching to these sites.

A competitor analysis can help you understand how and why a website is ranking for a particular keyword. Wherever possible always go after better links than your competitors already have, this will enable you to truly outrank them on Google.