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Win at SEO: Competitor Backlink Analysis Guide

Julia McCoy
Sunday, 14th Apr 2024
competitor backlink analysis

Staying ahead in the highly competitive SEO landscape requires more than just optimizing your own website. Understanding what your competitors are doing and uncovering their backlink strategies can provide invaluable insights to elevate your own SEO efforts. This is where competitor backlink analysis comes into play.

Analyzing your competitors’ backlinks not only reveals the sources of their authority but also unveils opportunities for your own link-building strategy. By dissecting their link profiles through a backlink checker tool, you can identify high-quality backlink opportunities, discover niche-specific directories, and gain a deeper understanding of the digital ecosystem within your industry.

In this blog post, we dive deep into competitor backlink analysis — exploring why it’s crucial for SEO success and how you can leverage this technique to enhance your website’s visibility and authority.

Let’s uncover the secrets behind effective competitor backlink analysis and learn how to turn insights into actionable strategies that propel your website to the top of search engine rankings.

Table Of Contents:

What Is Competitor Backlink Analysis?

Competitor backlink analysis is a strategic process of examining and evaluating the backlink profile of competing websites within your industry or niche. This analysis involves digging into your competitors’ backlink profiles to see what kind of links they’re getting, where they’re coming from, and how you can use that information to improve your link-building strategy.

The primary objectives of competitor backlink analysis are twofold:

First, to understand which websites are linking to your competitors and potentially boosting their SEO performance.

Second, identify opportunities for your own website to acquire similar or even better backlinks from these sources.

Developing a Content Strategy

One of the biggest advantages of analyzing your competitors’ backlinks is that it can help you develop a more effective content strategy. By looking at the types of content that are earning backlinks for your competitors, you can get a better sense of what topics and formats are resonating with your target audience.

For example, let’s say you notice that a lot of your competitors’ backlinks are coming from in-depth, data-driven blog posts. That’s a pretty clear sign that creating similar content could help you attract more high-quality backlinks.

Identifying Content Gaps

In addition to helping you develop a content strategy, competitor backlink analysis can also help you identify gaps in your own content. If you notice that your competitors are earning backlinks from certain types of content that you haven’t created yet, that’s a golden opportunity to fill in those gaps and start attracting more links.

For example, let’s say you run a fitness blog and you notice that a lot of your competitors’ backlinks are coming from posts about yoga for beginners. If you haven’t covered that topic yet, creating a comprehensive guide to yoga for beginners could help you attract some of those same backlinks.

Benchmarking Your Backlink Profile

Finally, analyzing your competitors’ backlinks can help you benchmark your own backlink profile and see how you stack up against the competition. By comparing metrics like the number of referring domains, the domain authority of linking sites, and the types of backlinks you’ve earned, you can get a better sense of where you stand and what you need to do to improve.

If you notice that your top competitor has twice as many referring domains as you do, that’s a clear sign that you need to step up your link-building efforts if you want to stay competitive in the search results.

How to Conduct a Thorough Competitor Backlink Analysis

Before we start looking into our competitors’ backlink profiles, we need to evaluate our backlink profile first.

Here’s an example of a backlink analysis from Moz:

competitor backlink analysis

After analyzing your website’s backlink profile, the next step is to identify your main competitors.

Finding Your Main Competitors

We’re talking about your SEO competitors. The websites that are ranking for the same main keywords as you in the search results.

To find them, simply search for your target keywords on Google and take note of the top-ranking sites. You can also use tools like Semrush or Ahrefs Keywords Explorer to identify sites that rank for similar keywords as your website.

Here’s a 5-step guide from Semrush on how to do a keyword competitor analysis:

competitor backlink analysis

Collecting and Analyzing Backlink Data

Alright, you’ve got your competitors and keywords lined up. Now it’s time to get your hands dirty with some data.

Use a backlink checker tool to gather intel on your competitors’ backlink profiles. Look at metrics like the number of referring domains, the domain authority of linking sites, the types of backlinks (e.g., dofollow vs. nofollow, text vs. image), and the anchor text used.

Analyze this data to identify patterns and opportunities for your own link-building efforts. Are there any high-authority sites that seem to link to multiple competitors? Those might be good targets for your link-building email outreach.

Are there any specific types of content or pages that tend to attract a lot of backlinks? Consider creating similar content on your own site.

The key here is to look for insights that can improve your link-building strategies. Don’t just blindly try to replicate your competitors’ backlinks – use the data to make smart, targeted decisions about where to focus your efforts.

Identifying Link-Building Opportunities

Alright, so you’ve conducted a thorough analysis of competitor backlinks. Now comes the really fun part: using all that juicy data to identify new link-building opportunities for your own site.

One of the easiest ways to find link opportunities is to look for backlinks that multiple competitors have in common. If several of your competitors have managed to score links from the same high-quality, relevant websites, chances are those sites might be receptive to linking to you as well.

Of course, you don’t want to just reach out and ask for a link. That’s a surefire way to get ignored (or worse, marked as spam). Instead, take a look at the specific pages and content that your competitors got links for, and brainstorm ways you could create something similar but even better.

Then, reach out to those websites with a personalized, value-adding pitch. Offer them something unique and relevant to their audience, and you’ll greatly increase your chances of securing that coveted backlink.

Creating Similar Content

If you notice that certain types of content or specific pages on your competitors’ sites tend to attract a lot of backlinks, that’s a clear sign that there’s demand for that type of content in your niche.

For example, let’s say you notice that a competitor’s in-depth industry report has earned them links from dozens of high-quality websites. You could create a similar report on the same topic but with your own unique data, insights, and perspectives.

Then, when you reach out to websites to promote your content, you’ll have a compelling reason for them to link to you because you’ve created something valuable and relevant to their audience that builds upon the content they’ve previously linked to.

Guest Posting Strategies

Another way to use competitor backlinks for link building is to identify websites where your competitors have contributed guest posts. If a site has accepted guest content from your competitors, chances are they might be open to a pitch from you as well.

Look for patterns in the types of sites and topics your competitors have guest-posted about. Then, brainstorm unique, valuable guest post ideas that would be a good fit for those websites and their audiences.

When you reach out to pitch your guest post, be sure to personalize your email and explain why your content would be a great fit for their site. And of course, make sure to deliver high-quality, well-researched content that meets or exceeds the standards of your competitor’s guest posts.

Broken Link Building

Finally, don’t forget about the power of broken link building. This is a technique where you find broken links on websites that are relevant to your niche, and then reach out to the site owner to suggest replacing the broken link with a link to a relevant piece of content on your own site.

You can use tools like Ahrefs Broken Link Checker or Check My Links to identify broken links on your competitors’ websites, or on sites that are linking to your competitors.

When you find a broken link, check to see if you have any content on your site that would be a good replacement. If not, consider creating a piece of content specifically to fill that gap.

Then, reach out to the site owner with a friendly email letting them know about the broken link and suggesting your content as a replacement. If your content is high-quality and relevant, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to make the switch – and you’ll have earned yourself a valuable new backlink in the process.

Improving Your Link-Building Strategy

Based on the insights you get from your backlink analysis tool, you can now take action and propel your link-building strategy to the next level.

Here’s how:

Target High-Quality Domains

Not all backlinks are created equal. You want to focus on getting high-quality backlinks from authoritative, relevant websites.

How do you identify these top-tier linking opportunities? Look at the referring domains that are linking to your competitors’ sites.

Pay attention to metrics like:

  • Domain Authority (DA)
  • Domain Rating (DR)
  • Trust Flow
  • Relevance to your niche

The higher these scores, the more valuable a backlink from that site will be. Prioritize your outreach efforts to secure links from these high-quality referring domains.

You can use Moz or Ahrefs to evaluate domain-level competitors and page-level competitors.

Remember, a single link from a DA 90+ website can be worth more than dozens of links from low-authority sites. Quality over quantity.

Optimize Your Anchor Texts

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. And it matters for SEO.

When building links, aim to use relevant, descriptive anchor text that includes your target keywords. But don’t overdo it with exact match anchors, or you risk triggering spam filters.

Take a cue from your competitors’ backlink profiles. What types of anchor text are they using?

Aim for a natural mix that includes:

  • Exact match (sparingly)
  • Partial match
  • Branded
  • Generic (“click here,” “read more”)
  • Naked URLs

A diverse anchor text profile not only looks more natural to search engines but can also help you rank for a wider range of keywords.

Diversify Link Types

Variety is the spice of life — and a healthy backlink profile.

While text links are the most common, don’t neglect other types of links, such as:

  • Image links
  • Editorial links
  • Resource page links
  • Directory links (use sparingly and only from high-quality, relevant directories)

Analyze your competitors’ link profiles to see what types of links they’ve acquired. Then aim to build a similarly diverse mix for your own site.

Why? A varied link profile looks more natural and organic to search engines. Plus, it helps protect you against algorithm updates that may devalue certain link types.

Monitor Competitor Strategy Changes

Your competitors’ link-building strategies aren’t set in stone. They’re constantly evolving and adapting.

That’s why it’s crucial to regularly monitor their backlink profiles for changes and new opportunities.

Use tools like Ahrefs or Moz to set up alerts for new links acquired by your competitors. Then analyze these links to identify trends and tactics you can incorporate into your own strategy.

For example, if you notice a competitor is suddenly getting a lot of links from guest posts on a particular site, that could be a promising opportunity for you to pitch a guest post of your own.

Or if you see them earning links from a new type of resource page or directory, consider reaching out to those same sites to secure links for your brand.

By staying on top of your competitors’ evolving link-building strategies, you can stay one step ahead and adapt your own approach to maintain a competitive edge in the SERPs.

FAQs – Competitor Backlink Analysis

Dig into their link profiles using backlink analysis tools like Ahrefs or Semrush. Look for patterns, quality domains, and anchor texts they’re scoring.

What is a competitor backlink gap analysis?

This is the process of finding where your rivals score links but you don’t. It helps pinpoint missed opportunities to boost your SEO game.

How do I find backlink opportunities from competitors?

Analyze their best-performing content and see who’s linking to them. Mimic this success by offering better value or fresh insights.

Absolutely. Understanding their link-building strategies gives critical insights into improving yours and identifying new growth avenues.


Competitor backlink analysis is a powerful strategy that provides valuable insights for optimizing your own SEO efforts. By studying competitor backlinks, you can uncover new opportunities, identify potential link sources, and refine your own link-building strategy.

This analysis allows you to stay informed about industry trends, understand what works in your niche, and ultimately enhance your website’s authority and search engine rankings. Remember, leveraging competitor backlink analysis as part of your SEO toolkit can lead to strategic decisions that propel your website toward greater visibility and success online.

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Written by Julia McCoy

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