Competitor Backlinks Analysis using Ahrefs

• updated on
August 24, 2023
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Gaining insights into what backlinks your top competitors have earned is crucial for informing your own link building strategy. By studying their profiles, you can model what works and improve upon any weak spots.

I'll walk through my proven process for extracting powerful data from competitor backlink profiles, so you can accelerate your SEO with targeted outreach. Get ready to do some link profiling sleuthing!

Why Analyze Competitor Backlinks?

First, let's talk about why competitor link analysis matters in the first place. Knowing what backlinks your rivals have secured allows you to:

  • Identify authoritative sites you also want links from
  • Uncover missed opportunities your competitors capitalized on
  • Build smarter based on patterns in their strategies
  • Reveal any risky low quality links you should avoid

Studying backlink sources, anchor text, and relevancy provides a blueprint of what works to rank highly. Learn from their example!

Find Competitor Domains

Start by making a list of your 3-5 top ranking competitors for your target keywords.

Use SEMrush, Ahrefs, or a simple Google search to find who ranks above you. These are the sites you want to model and learn from.

If you're unfamiliar with SEMrush and Ahrefs check out the review below. For the purpose of this article, and since I use Ahrefs more for this task, we will be covering how to do this using Ahrefs.

Export Their Backlinks in Ahrefs

Inside each competitor domain profile, go to Backlinks > Referring domains to export their full list of backlinks with key metrics.

Note any authoritative sites you aren't linked from yet. These become link prospecting targets!

Leverage Ahref's Link Intersect Tool

Ahrefs makes competitor analysis even easier with their Link Intersect tool. Here's how to use it:

  1. Enter your own domain along with up to 3 competitor domains.
  2. Add a target keyword that all domains are ranking for.
  3. Hit enter revealing common links.

This instantly shows you authoritative backlinks your competitors have earned that you're still missing out on. These become prime outreach targets since multiple rivals attract links from those domains.

The Link Intersect charts spotlight:

  • Links your site shares with each competitor
  • Links you don't have in common with each one
  • The valuable middle section of links ALL competitors have but you don't yet

This helps you instantly spot relevant link prospects you should be vying for. Truly powerful data!

The Link Intersect tool turbocharges the link analysis process. No more manually combing through domains one-by-one. Let Ahrefs visualize the data for easy insights.

Compile Links into a Spreadsheet

Download each competitor's backlinks as a CSV file from Ahrefs then combine them into a single spreadsheet.

This allows you to easily analyze patterns across all their links together in one view.

Analyze Link Sources

What sites did each competitor get links from? Look for any authoritative domains that link to all or most of them but not you.

These shared domains likely represent important prospects in your space that you should reach out to. Missing out on what competitors have secured puts you at risk of ranking lower.

Look at Anchor Text Mix

Review the anchor text for their links. You generally want a healthy mix of branded and keyword-focused anchors.

If competitors over-optimize anchors, you might boost rankings with more branded anchors. Or if they solely use branded, you can focus more on keyword anchors while staying diversified.

Check Link Relevancy

Scan through the domains linking to competitors. Do they seem relevant and authoritative for the niche? Or are lots of spammy directories and irrelevant sites mixed in?

Focus your outreach on replicating links from strong, topically relevant domains while avoiding risky low-quality links. Check for any patterns.

Map Out a Better Link Strategy

Analyze the competitor data as a whole to shape your own link building game plan. Outreach to the same high value domains they rank for. Improve upon any weaknesses you see.

Smart competitor backlink research gives you a proven roadmap to borrow from.

Additional Resources:

The Best Backlink Checkers

From The Author

Terry Williams

With over 10 years optimizing sites, I've boosted search visibility for brands through customized strategies. Currently, I develop effective SEO solutions for a top agency, immersed in the latest trends and innovations. Read my full bio.

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