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Spy On Your Competitors’ Backlinks Effectively [How-To Guide]

Search Engine Optimisation

Nowadays, creativity is the key to getting big SEO wins. It starts with creating an overall strategy based on what industry your client is in; to building high-quality backlinks. Getting a link is not that easy nowadays unlike before when you can just build them, now you really have to earn them.

There are times that we run out of ideas for link building. I have to admit, I do a lot of technical stuff as part of a digital marketing and SEO company and being creative on other SEO aspects can be sometimes hard for me. What I do is I spy on my competitor’s websites. Most of us miss this kind of opportunity because we tend to stick more on our own link building plan. Sometimes, it’s okay to spy on your competitors to see if you’re doing it right or you might have missed a strategy that can change your whole approach on winning links.

In this post, I’ll show you how to spy on your competitor’s backlinks effectively. Using Excel, I’ll help you determine what link building strategy your competitors do and choose what you can implement on your website. Let’s start!

Determine the right competitor

Determining the right competitor is vital for this process. This is where you base everything so make sure you choose the right one.

  • Using your main keyword, do a manual search on Google
  • Pull out the top 10 results on SERPs using SEOQuake
  • Determine the authority, social popularity and number of links of your competitors using free tools like Netpeak Checker

On the top 10, you might notice that some are well-known websites and some are not. This happens when you’re on huge a industry. Now, it will be interesting to check on the not-so-well-known websites first. There should be a good reason why they made it on the top 10.

Harvest links

Now that you have your list of competitors, the next step is to choose one then pull out its backlink data. I personally use Ahrefs but you can always use OpenSiteExplorer. If you’re a fan of free tools, OpenLinkProfiler might be the one for you. For this example, I used Ahrefs. The file should look like this:

Excel - Ahrefs

Also, don’t forget to pull out 1 backlink per domain only. To do this, choose the Backlink/Domain option then click Export.

Ahrefs Backlink-Domain

Create a Checklist

1. In the excel file, sort the linking domains according to their Domain Rank

2. Choose the top 50 linking domains based on their rank and start from there

3. Add these columns: Link Type, Doable?, and Notes.

  • Link Type – determine what type is the link. Ex: Guest Post, Sponsorship, Mention/Reference, etc.
  • Doable? – add Yes if it’s doable and No if not
  • Notes – discuss the link, your approach and other important factors you need to consider

4. The pain starts when you begin to check and analyze the links one by one; determine the link type, see if it’s doable and add important notes.

5. Finally, gather all your analysis and brainstorm with the team

I have already used this strategy multiple times and I can say that it’s very effective. Most of the link building ideas I get from my competitors are new to me. In conclusion, knowing what your competitors do is vital in your overall process. I think it’s where every SEO plan should start. Also, this can really change your overall approach in the game, so don’t miss the opportunity.