Whether you’re running a successful blog, an eCommerce company, or an affiliate marketing gig, your online presence and search engine rankings are critical to your success. After all, if potential buyers can’t find you, they won’t have the opportunity to purchase your product. This means you won’t make as many sales as you need, no matter how great your offering is!
While there are many ways to improve your search engine optimization (SEO), building quality backlinks is one of the most effective. One of the easiest ways to do this is to find competitor backlinks and then seek your own links from the same sources. There’s really no reason to reinvent the wheel, so why not seek out sources that you already know are receptive?
Sound like a good strategy? Read on as we take a look at everything you need to know about backlink basics and the best tools on the market today for doing backlink research.
If you’re already familiar with what backlinks are and how they work, go ahead and skip to the section about how to find competitor backlinks. If not, keep reading to learn the basics. With this knowledge, you can start to build your own backlink strategy from the ground up.
First things first, what is a backlink? If you’ve used the internet *ever* you’re probably familiar with in-content links. The original purpose of these links was to provide readers with additional information about a specific topic by directing them to another site.
For example, if we were talking about becoming an influencer, we could add a link (like this) that would direct you to another article which will provide more information about the linked words (called anchor text). This way, we could continue our train of thought while still giving you the option to follow the link and learn more.
The owner of the site that’s linked would receive the benefit of additional traffic coming from our readers who decided to follow the link. This has led website owners to start seeking out both paid and unpaid opportunities to gain backlinks from popular websites that receive a high volume of traffic.
Not only do backlinks provide additional traffic to your website, but they also have a major impact on your search engine rankings. Google ranks pages based on an algorithm that considers a number of important factors, including:
- The page’s relevance to the search term that was entered
- Website usability, including the site’s speed and whether it’s mobile-friendly
- The quality of the content
- The site’s trustworthiness
When other, well-trusted sites think enough of your content to link back to it, this is a signal to the search engine that your site is trustworthy and contains high-quality content.
It’s important to note that not all backlinks are created equally.
Only links from high-quality sites help your ranking. In fact, if you get too many links from low-quality sites, or it’s obvious that you’ve paid a backlink-building service, Google can actually penalize you.
It’s also important to understand that it takes time to build up SEO and improve your rankings. However, continually getting high-quality backlinks is an effective strategy that’s worth pursuing.
Dofollow vs. No Follow
There are also two different types of backlinks: dofollow and nofollow. A dofollow link is just a regular link. When it’s added to a piece of content, search engines take it into consideration when determining a website’s ranking.
Nofollow links, on the other hand, are created with an HTML tag that tells search engines not to count them. They still give readers the option to click onto your page for more information, but they’re disregarded by the search engines and don’t improve your rankings.
If referral traffic is your primary goal, as may be the case when you’re focused on earning passive income, then nofollow links are still valuable even though they won’t help your page rank.
Now that you understand how backlinks work and why you need them, the next obvious question is “how do you get backlinks?”
There are many different ways to build backlinks, and some are easier than others. Today, we’re going to focus on using research to find out where your competitors’ backlinks are so you can attempt to get your own backlinks from the same sites.
If you had to do this manually, it would take far more time than it’s worth. Luckily, there are many excellent backlink checker tools on the market today. Here are six of our favorites.
1. Ahrefs Site Explorer
One of the best backlink analysis tools by far, Ahrefs will provide you with a wealth of information, including details about your competitor’s referring domains. This site will show you the complete backlink and other important details including:
- Domain rating
- Dofollow vs. nofollow links
- Broken links
- Referring domains
- Anchor text distribution
- New or lost backlinks
Not only can you use this site to evaluate your competitors, but you can also use it to track your own success as you move forward with your link-building efforts. The site will show you how many links you gain each day and will help you notice if anything unexpected is happening on your site so you can take action right away.
You can also use this site to see which keywords your competitors are ranking for. This will allow you to work on incorporating these keywords into your own website and content marketing strategy.
You can see the top 100 backlinks on your domain and any others as part of the free version of this tool. Ahrefs also offers a 7-day trial for just $7, so there’s really no reason not to at least check it out. You can gather enough information during the seven-day period to really help you get a jump start on your backlink strategy.
If you decide this is the right platform for the long term, you can get the “lite” version for $99 a month or the standard version for $179/mo. You can also get two months free with annual billing.
SEMRush is extremely popular among web marketers thanks to its advanced SEO capabilities. You’ll have to sign up to use the backlink feature, but you can get a free 7-day trial. Once you’re registered, you’ll want to go to “domain analytics” and then to “backlinks” and enter your competitor’s URL.
This will show you the complete backlinks and other important information including:
- Referring domains
- Anchor text
- Indexed pages
- Referring IPs
One cool thing about this tool is that it also shows you a list of competitors, making it super easy to check their backlinks as well. This allows you to quickly dig even deeper into your research, gaining a wealth of information in just a few minutes. You can also create reports that compare your own domain’s backlinks with those of your competitors.
Another valuable feature is the ability to see keyword ranking positions without having to search for each one manually. This page shows you keyword positions, recent position changes, search volume, keyword difficulty, and more, all in one place. This is an incredibly valuable tool for developing the keyword strategy for your business.
SEMRush has a massive database that’s updated every day, so it’s one of the most accurate ways to check website information for yourself and your competitors.
The pro version of SEMRush is currently priced at $99 per month ($83.28 per month if billed annually).
Buzzsumo is one of our favorites, in part because it’s a great source for checking out trending content topics. If content marketing is part of your strategy, you’ll find this site useful. This feature is part of the free version, which makes it worth checking out for this reason alone.
To take advantage of the backlink analysis, you’ll have to pay for the pro version. Once you do, you’ll be able to check the backlinks of any domain or of a single web page. You can also see who has shared your competitor’s content through social media.
This site doesn’t have the advanced competitor analysis that’s available on some of the other sites, but it’s still a good idea to give it a try.
Pricing for the Pro Version of Buzzsumo is currently $99 per month or $79 per month if paid annually.
4. Moz Link Explorer
Moz Link Explorer is one of the oldest backlink checkers on the market and continues to be extremely popular among users. This is an excellent tool for anyone who is serious about doing competitor analysis.
This tool has many excellent options for comparing two domains against one another.
There is a free version, which may be enough if you only have a few competitors to look up. Link Explorer provides many of the same data points as some of the sites previously listed, as well as information like domain authority, page authority, and spam score. You can also check for inbound links, discovered and lost links, anchor text distributions, and more.
This tool also gives you the ability to easily export your results to a .csv file so you can take your research offline and do even more with it. In addition, you’ll appreciate the other features like keyword explorer, crawl diagnostics, page optimization scores, and more.
This company offers a 30-day free trial of Moz Pro, which gives you plenty of time to explore the site and decide if it’s what you need. After that, the standard version of this tool is $99 per month ($79 if paid yearly) and the “medium” version is $179 per month ($143 if paid yearly).
Rankwatch isn’t as well-known as the other tools listed here, but it’s still valuable. This site will provide you with information about the number of backlinks, their domain authority, link quality, and more.
This tool is excellent for smaller companies that are just starting out with their SEO campaigns. It’s also more price-friendly than some of the other options. The “medium” version, which includes competitor analysis, is just $29 per month ($26 if you pay yearly).
If you’ve tried some of the other sites listed here without much luck, you could be dealing with websites that have blocked backlink checker tools. Companies sometimes do this to prevent others from digging into their data.
OpenLinkProfiler is able to pull all the backlinks a website has received to date, despite the use of blockers. The best part? You can pull over 1,000 backlinks for free.
Are You Ready to Take Your Online Business to the Next Level?
When you’re 100 percent committed to running your online business, the possibilities are literally endless!
Learning how to find competitor backlinks is a great start, but this is just the beginning. Truly successful individuals commit to a lifetime of learning. Take some time now to read through a few more of our marketing guides, then head over to our YouTube channel to check out our free training videos.
This will give you much of the information you need to take your online business to the next level and continue on the path to true success.