Backlink Analysis – The Easiest Ways To Build Links

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Competitor backlink analysis is my favourite link building strategy of all time.

I have been using it for the last 10 years and it’s the only link building method that has stood the test of time.

With a simple competitor backlink analysis you can:

  • Uncover their link building strategies
  • Find their most important backlinks
  • See how many backlinks you need to build

And then use them in your own strategy to outrank them.

Here is how to do it…

What Is Competitor Backlink Analysis?

Competitor backlinking is an SEO technique where you routinely analyse the backlinks of competing sites to see what types of links they have, how many, and the quality of links.

This is called competitor backlink analysis, and it helps you reverse engineer their link building strategy and use it for your own site. This will help your SEO and get you more traffic from Google.

Through this link profile analysis, you can get access to your competitor’s website performance from their number of external links and link metrics to their overall online authority – including page authority & domain authority.

A competitor backlink analysis helps you build (or improve) your strategy – the right way and allows you to:

    • Uncover competitors link building strategies: During this process, you’ll review your competitor’s websites and performances to find out what they are doing differently and, eventually, you’ll come out with a bunch of new strategies to implement in your website.
    • Find competitors most important backlinks: Identify which backlinks (Edu backlinks? Gov backlinks? Others?) help others to rank well in your niche. I recommend you to look at the number and the quality of sites linking to your competitor.
    • Identify how you can replicate your competitors’ backlinks: By analyzing the backlink profile that makes your competitors rank, you’ll identify which backlinks are worth replicating and how to find backlink opportunities in the same sites.

Pretty cool, right?

Bellow, I’ll explain how to conduct this analysis to get great and fast results!

The Competitor Backlink Analysis Method

If you go to Google right now and search for your target keyword.

You’ll get on the first results page…

top 5 ranked for target keyword

…The top 5x ranking sites that have all one important thing in common:

 Google loves their backlink profile.

The idea of competitor backlink analysis is to-

  1. Look at each of these site’s link profiles
  2. Filter out the “junk”
  3. Replicate the best backlinks for your own site
 It really is that simple.

Why waste time and money figuring out what works?

There’s already a proven link building blueprint out there waiting for you.

But to pull it off, you need a backlink analysis tool and you can get access to some incredible data without spending any money.

Top 3 Best Backlink Checkers You Shoud Be Using

Before we do anything else we need to find all of the backlinks that are pointing to our competitor’s site.

Doing that is easy because we can take advantage of a number of tools that allow us to download all of our competitor’s backlink portfolio easily.

The 3x best backlink analysis tools on the market right now are:

  1. Ahrefs (read my full Ahrefs review)
  2. SEMRush (read my full SEMRush review)
  3. SEO Spyglass (read my full SEO Powersuite review)
 In that order.

They will return high numbers of links for every competitor website that you run through them. This is important because the more quality links you find, the more you can replicate!

Let’s take a closer look…

1. Ahrefs

Ahrefs was the best tool on this list to find insight into competitors’ backlink profiles.

But in my more recent best backlink checker case study, they got absolutely blown away.


You can view all of your competitor’s backlinks (including their anchor text) in one dashboard thanks to Ahrefs Site Explorer.

You can then export them in a CSV file to form the foundation of your strategy.

Ahrefs offers a $7 trial that gives you full access to the tool for 1x week.

Even if you only use Site Explorer for the trial period, using it with the Backlink Analysis Method will be the best $7 you’ve ever spent on your link building strategy.

Bonus: Ahrefs also allows you to monitor backlinks and set up backlink alerts so you can keep track of your competitor’s new backlinks!

2. SEMRush

The free SEMRush trial gives you access to a powerful tool with a very easy to use interface and relevant data sources that you can trust.

It’s certainly the best Ahrefs alternative out there to execute a backlink profile analysis.


But don’t be fooled by the high number of links it shows for my site.

SEMRush counts every link from a domain, but Ahrefs groups them together!

Either way, they give you a ton of data.

SEMRush has a freemium version of their tool that allows you to perform 10 data searches each day and you can also take advantage of a 100% free 14 day trial I set up for my readers.

Bonus: SEMrush offers the most comprehensive backlink audit you can find on the market.

See how Semrush stands against Ahrefs in my Ahrefs vs Semrush ultimate comparison.

3. SEO SpyGlass

SEO SpyGlass is the best desktop based backlink checker tool.

Although the link count is less than the last two tools…

It still gives you a significant number to work with:

SEO SpyGlass

However, their database is ever-growing with currently stands at 1.6x trillion links so it’s always going to find more than a handful for you.

SEO SpyGlass comes in two versions:

  1. Free: you can access data for 1,000x backlinks (but can’t export them)
  2. Paid: you can access data for unlimited backlinks and export them

But it doesn’t have an expensive monthly subscription like other tools.

Don’t worry, I understand these tools can be expensive if you’re starting out so feel free to take a look at my free seo tools list.

The Best Backlink Analysis Tools Compared

Honestly, you can’t make a wrong decision here. Each tool is going to provide you with more than enough backlink data to keep you busy.

And remember, if you are on a budget you can use the free trials to grab as much data as possible for your campaign.

Ahrefs SEMRush SEO Spyglass
Price $99/Month $99.95/Month $31.49/Month
Trial Available? Yes. $7 for 7 days. Yes. 14 Day Trial & Freemium Model. Yes. Freemium Model.
# Links Found 69,600 1,600,000 35,500

But don’t do anything just yet!

First I want to show you precisely how we are going to use this data to grow our own search traffic!

The Best Way To Steal Your Competitors Best Backlinks

Using the tools above I’m going to show you exactly how to steal your competitor’s links.

This is the proven repeatable method I’ve been using for years.

Better still:

 I’m going to give you access to my powerful personal SEO tool for absolutely free.

Here’s what you need to do…

Step #1 – Find Your Competitors Ranking URL’s

Your starting point is to get a list of the top #5 ranking URLs for your target keyword.

Select the keyword you want to target.

Then do a search in Google and make a list of the first 5x organic search results:

Finding competitors ranking URL's

Your final list of URL’s should look something like this:

Step #2 – Download My Free Backlink Analysis Tool

Head to this page to download my free competitor backlink analysis spreadsheet.

This is the intelligent sheet I have developed over the years for this specific task – you are going to love it!

Just paste the 5 links from step #1 above into column A on the first sheet-

MW Free Competitor Backlink Analysis Tool

Step #3 – Find Your Competitor’s Backlink Data

Click on the “Click Here” links to automatically open the right report you need.

Export the data as a .CSV file.

You can export as much data as the tool will allow.

ahrefs export data

The more, the better!

Once exported, let’s put it into the tool…

Step #4 – Load The Data

Head over to tab #2 – Data in the sheet to Import each of the files you just exported.

The quickest way is to:

  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 #3 to tab #2

This is how you should do it:

Once you have loaded all the data you are ready for…

Step #5 – Competitor Backlink Analysis

Head to Tab #3 – Plan Of Attack.

You’ll see a table of links.

table of links

These are the best competitors backlinks for you to target.

The tool has already:

  • Filtered out harmful spammy links
  • Removed weak links you should ignore
  • Prioritised which links you should focus on first

That means in just a small amount of time you can put together a near-perfect link building strategy for your site.

(There’s that “keep it simple” motto in action again.)

That means it’s time to put your balaclava on and…

Step #6 – Steal Those Links!

You have all of the actionable data you need to get started.

What you’re looking for in your Plan Of Attack tab is:

 How did your competitor OBTAIN the link?

For example…

…If the link came from a blog comment, you’ll just need to write your own:

Blog comment link example

…if it was a forum post or a blog post, join the discussion and include links in relevant places:

Forum post link example

…if it was a guest post, you’ll need to pitch your own for publication:

Guest post link example

Take a look at each link and reverse engineer the process to figure out how to do it.

Just work through the Plan Of Attack tab and replicate each link – it really is that easy!

Wrapping It Up

Stealing your competitors backlink strategies is one of the most effective ways to boost rankings and increase your traffic – including organic traffic & referral traffic.

It can save you:

  • Time – so you can focus on other aspects of your SEO strategy such as content marketing and keyword research.
  • Money – you’ll save in link building tools.
  • Effort – you’ll get a bunch of backlink opportunies in just a few minutes.

By giving you an easy-to-follow blueprint that is proven to rank for your keyword.

To quickly recap:

  • Find the 5x top ranking sites for your keyword
  • Run them through your powerful new (free) backlink analysis tool
  • Steal those links
  • Watch how Google reacts
  • Rinse and repeat

This is the only link building strategy that has stood the test of time and it’s the first link building strategy I have applied on all of my sites for the last 10 years.

If you have any questions/thoughts about this strategy or if you need any SEO tips, please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to help!

Just remember… Before starting building links, make sure you have read the full link building checklist that explains all the link building process.

Next I want to introduce you to resource page link building.

Frequently Asked Questions

Competitor backlink analysis is an SEO strategy where you complete a strict review of a competing site’s backlink profile to analyze the site’s performance and identify potential issues that could negatively affect its ranking.
Competitor backlink analysis is a major part of the link-building process. Any successful link-building campaign starts with competitor backlink analysis. Learning how your competitors get their backlinks is key to using their own backlinks against them. Ahrefs will find your competitors’ links.
Finding competitors' backlinks is very straightforward when you have access to a good backlink analysis tool. My favourite tool for finding backlinks is Ahrefs. Simply enter the target URL of your competitor into the tool, and click backlinks to see a list of all the links pointing to their domain. You can then export the data.
To perform effective competitor backlink analysis, enter your keywords into a Google search to identify your competitors. Make sure you take the top 5 organic results and put those URLs into a backlink analysis tool. You will get a list of websites to target that provides links to your competitor’s sites.
A backlink is a link that is placed on one website that points to another website. A link may be placed when a site owner wants to recommend that website. This is a sign that the website is high quality, which makes backlinks a massive part of SEO.
You can tell the quality of a backlink by reviewing the link profile and the website that has placed the link. The higher the authority, the better the quality of the link is. Using metrics such as Ahrefs DR is a good indicator.
Backlinks and content marketing are essential to build page authority or increase your authority score. Make sure to use my backlink strategy to find great backlink opportunities. This method is part of the SEO best practices.
On-page SEO focuses on optimizing parts of your website that are within your control, such as:
  • Page title
  • Anchor text
  • Internal linking
  • Website's speed
... among others. While off-page SEO focuses on increasing the authority of your domain through content creation (a great content strategy will help your website stand out) and earning free backlinks from other websites thanks to blog comments, guest blogging/blog posts, social media, etc...

What Are Your Thoughts?

1,021 Responses

  1. thanks for sharing this article with suggestions of the tools that we can use for backlink analysis, bookmarking your site to read more articles like this. keep sharing..

  2. Great knowledge I owe you a beer buddy! Its what I need for my freelance designer London site!…………….Thank You…….

  3. Thank you for this valuable post it was very helpful. I really appreciate your effort. please keep us update.

  4. HI, Your link is not good, Its the doc for keywords, not for backlinks analysis.Can you share the good link please ?Thanks

    1. You get both sheets – the backlink analysis comes next, just keep an eye on your email.

  5. Hey, Matthew, I’ve just build links like 12,13 on high authority sites and my site is somewhere a year old still the keywords are not ranked any suggestion for that?

  6. Great Article Matthew, I agree. This is the easiest method by far. I tried emailing competitors links to other websites for a guest post, but it seemed over 90% of the owners were charging for guest posts. I love the blog comment strategy. Thanks

    1. Hey Marcus. Yes this is one of the two strategies I use for 80% of my link building! A lot of people now charge for guest posting but there are still people out there who will be happy to publish high quality unique content.

  7. Hi Matt,Thanks for the insight, this is the best tutorial I have ever seen on competitors backlink analysis, keep it up, I love reading your blog post.

  8. Hi, Thanks a lot for sharing the great post with us. I was looking for the backlinking strategy, the tools and other info all over the web. But when I finally landed on to your website, I closed all the other tabs from my screen. Here I got much more than what I was looking for. I am new to SEO and I am preparing myself for the interview and this massive information will be a big help to me.Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us all Cheers!

  9. That’s really great information, I’m suffering how to find influential backlinks, This post seems so helpful, I’m definitely apply top get backlinks. Thank you so much!

  10. A great article Matt, thanks. Backlinking is one of the most neglected areas of SEO because people see it as ‘hard work’ for little return, which is simply not true. Thanks again.

  11. Really, This Is Amazing article And I  have learned a lot of thing from this site. so I will never forget this site and Thank you so much  for publishing very very important information.

  12. Cheers, MattMy link building has been so slack recently. This is such a great idea. I first saw you on the Niche Persuit Podcast and have been diving into your stuff ever since.

    1. Hey Vince – this is honestly my favourite and easiest way to build links. You should definitely try it out 🙂

  13. Hi Sir,That’s a very good article about what are backlinks and how these backlinks help SEO. I’m into SEO recently ..And to check backlinks I follow Ahref. But after reading this I understood there are several other ways to create backlinks and to check it.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing such excellent content with us and I have read your whole article and I am just loving it and also very helpful to me.

  15. I have a question, Matthew. I am running a CPA Offer Website, can I do the same for this and I am very much stuck with the guest post. Suggest some ways!

  16. Bless your heart, Matt! I read this with keen interest and paid attention. I’d be visiting your blog more than ever!!! Thank you!!!!

  17. I am in fact happy to read this webpage posts which consists of lots of valuable data, thanks for providing these statistics.

  18. Great work writing this! In the process of Seo-optimizing the main thing is to be sequential. If you have a good checklist it will be not that hard to analyze your website, still personally i prefer making it with various seo tools. One of my favourites are Plerdy Seo Checker and Screaming Frog Seo Crawler, which tools could you recommend besides them?

  19. Hey Matthew, Your blogs are very insightful. But I get stuck as your excel sheet is connected to Ahref and I use SEM rush. Can you suggest a workaround semrush?

  20. Hi Matthew,This post made my night, i truly value the information and i can’t wait to start implement them.Thank for sharingDavid

  21. I want too know how can we get access too your free tool and if we use your free tool will we need ahrefs or no more need of ahrefs or semrush just use your tool

    1. You will still need access to Ahrefs, SEMrush or SEO Spyglass but they all have trials you can use to get the data you need for my spreadsheet. Just follow the steps in the tutorial.

  22. Hey matthewwoodward, Can I contact you on whatsapp. or any social media. We need to chat please sir.

  23. Hi Matthew,Wow, thanks for a brilliantly fantastic blog post that is as practical as it is valuable. Started implementing them.Can’t wait to see how Google reacts.You’re a legend :)Best regards,Pedro

  24. Hey..Matthew, Thanks a lot for sharing valuable information. This is the best way to build backlinks It helped me more as we are working in this way to achieve positive results.

  25. Thanks Matthew, just added this strategy coupled with your similar kw research/stealing spreadsheets. Appreciate ya

  26. Wow, amazing weblog format! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging glance easy. The entire glance of your web site is great,as neatly as the content material!

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