Firstly, nobody is stealing anything.
We’re not discussing anything illegal, and no, you definitely won’t go to jail for this.
When we speak of stealing backlinks, we’re talking about putting in legitimate hard work to find out what your competitors are ranking for and where they’re getting links from. Then crafting a link-building strategy that will help us feature higher in the search engine rankings.
Stealing backlinks saves you a lot of time and research as you’re basing your SEO strategy on the success of your competitors, as opposed to starting from the ground up.
You’re basically looking at their success and reverse engineering it for your own site.
Doing this effectively means that your link-building efforts reap results. For every campaign that you invest in, you want to see high-quality backlinks secured to your website pages.
Study your Competitors’ Backlinks
There’s a lot of competition out there. For example, a quick online search for “Travel companies based in New York City” delivers 781,000,000 results.
The result will likely be a mix of travel companies, blog articles and eCommerce pages – each taking their place in search results. And all of them are your competition when it comes to ranking first.
We’ll need some help to gain an edge over our competitors, and this article will provide just that.
We’ll use a travel company based in New York, Cire Travel, as an example in each of our methods. (1)
Here’s an overview of three free Link Building tools that will help you inspect your competitor’s backlink profiles and how to use them.
1. Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Anyone that has ever had anything to do with search engine optimization knows about Ahrefs.
It’s a software suite that contains different tools for link building, keyword research, competitor analysis, rank tracking, and site audits.
The Ahrefs Backlink Checker is a free tool that shouldn’t be underestimated.
According to their website, they have over 30,97 Trillion links indexed, stemming from 170 million unique domains.
“Ahrefs has the second most active web crawler after Google, which means we have the best backlink database in the industry.”
It goes without saying then that they have all the data you could ever need to effectively build links.
Here’s how to do it:
Navigate to the Ahrefs Backlink checker page.
Enter your competitor’s URL into the search bar and hit the ‘Check Backlinks’ button.
The results page will display:
- the total number of backlinks pointing to the given website
- the total number of unique domains linking to your target.
This gives you a good idea of how many unique domains you could possibly be reaching out to gain a relevant backlink.
A search of Cire Travel produces 2,379 backlinks originating from 559 unique domains. That’s more than 2000 link-building opportunities for any travel niche website operating in the greater NYC area.
But the tool does more than that.
It gives you the ability to see important metrics of each one of the top 100 backlinks of the site. These metrics include:
- The domain rating of the linking site
- The URL Rating of the linking site
- The number of Referring Domains
- The traffic of each individual link
- The anchor text used
- The URL the link points to
With this information in hand, you’re able to narrow your link prospecting down to the sites that you believe will add real value.
A second link-building strategy that’s completely free of charge is simply searching for relevant links to a competitor’s site using the Google search engine.
Google search has been around for over 25 years and has indexed trillions of websites. Who wouldn’t want to make use of this free tool?
Here’s how to do it
Search for websites where an author or writer of your competitor’s site is featured.
The results will show you a list of all other sites linking to your target. These are link-building opportunities that you can try to build for yourself.
Once again, let’s use Cire Travel as an example of a competitor’s site.
1 – In the search bar, type the competitor URL + “written by” or “guest post by” + the author name.
Ciretravel.com “written by” Eric Hrubant
I found this name by checking their website for authors or writers and his name popped up.
2 – I then hit the Tools icon on the right-hand side which allowed me to add some filters.
3 – I chose the Time filter as I wanted to see only current links. If you don’t add this filter your search results will include old links or sites that aren’t necessarily accepting guest posts or link insertions at the moment.
4 – I opted for the Past Month filter, to see only results that would have been posted recently.
From the search results page, I can then manually choose which links to pursue, knowing that they have relevant content to my niche as my direct competitor was mentioned on these sites.
Play around with the search formula by exchanging “written by” with other phrases that might be pointing to the person you’re searching for.
Try changing “written by” with “founder”, “president of”, “CFO of”, “guest post by” or any other way you think the person might have been referred to on other sites.
Results will vary, depending on the anchor text your link prospects used to link back to your competitors’ URL
3. Moz link explorer
The Moz link explorer is another great free SEO tool you can use to find link-building opportunities.
Admittedly, the free version only gives you a limited number of links, but you have the option of signing up for their free trial of Moz Pro to unlock more rows of data.
Here’s how to do it
Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll see and be able to do when using the free version, as shown below.
1 – The search bar allows you to enter the exact domain of your target. In our case, that’s Ciretravel.com.
2 – The results show you that there are 220 unique linking domains. When there is more than one link from the same domain, it is counted as one. So that’s not the total number of links.
3 – The root domain (example.com) is the overarching structure that contains the subdomains (blog.example.com) that belongs to a website. You’ll notice some really well-known domains pop up in this search, Forbes.com, and CNN.com to name just two.
4 – The Top links dropdown allows you to see which pages contain the most valuable links. You should study these pages to get an idea of the type of content that earn your competitor’s backlinks.
5 – A very handy widget is the Export CSV ability. With this, you’re able to export the list of results straight to an Excel spreadsheet. This, in turn, enables you to sort the links into different categories and start your outreach campaign immediately.
Take the Bull by the Horns.
“to deal with a difficult situation in a very direct or confident way” (2)
It’s not enough to just know where your competitor’s links are from.
You need to act on what you’ve learned and take action if you want these people to link to your site instead.
So here are a few ways you can act decisively.
– Create Quality Content
Asking someone to link to you is basically just a proposal, isn’t it? You need something that actually motivates them to accept your proposal.
And well written, relevant content is what site owners are looking for.
Google is constantly browsing the indexed content and adjusting its SERP rankings according to what will be most advantageous to users.
As discussed earlier, use tools like Ahrefs or Moz and find your competitors’ top-viewed pages.
I used Moz to search for the top pages of our sample competitor.
1 – In the left-hand toolbar, I navigated to Link Research > Top pages.
The results gave me a list of the best-performing pages on the target website. It also showed me other important factors, such as
2 – The number of unique linking domains.
3 – The number of external links
4 – The number of outbound domains.
5 – It gives me the ability to view each of my competitor’s backlinks that point to his best-performing pages.
If the content on those pages is relevant to your website and niche, structure your content around the same topic.
Of course, it’s no use simply rewriting the same content. You need to give them a reason to link to you. It could be that your article contains more up-to-date facts or eye-catching infographics or graphs.
Then simply reach out to the linking website and offer them the opportunity to change their link to a higher-quality page.
– Capitalize on Competitors’ Broken links
Broken link building is an awesome strategy that will help you soar in the search engine results pages.
Again, using the Moz free tool, navigate to Link Research > Top Pages and this time add a filter from the Status Code drop-down menu.
Here’s what you should see when following these steps:
Selecting Broken will give a list of all the web pages on your competitor’s site that contain broken links.
With this information, you can easily earn backlinks from these referring domains as their current links are broken, and they probably don’t even know it.
Export the CSV file and reach out to each one of these websites with a broken link.
– Guest Posts
At first, writing content for another website doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do. But there’s reason behind the madness, I assure you.
Writing a guest post for the same websites that your competitors have been featured on is an awesome way to build relative links. That’s because your potential customers are more than likely browsing these content pages.
Simply doing a search of online search of NY travel agency “guest post” delivered approximately 1,910,000 results.
As before, using the Tools button allows me to apply a filter to ensure I only see results from the past month. This allowed for just a handful of relevant pages that would definitely be accepting posts at this stage.
Guest blogging allows you to insert a link to your website from the content that you’ve created, making it an extremely effective way to gain backlinks from similar web pages.
You can also use one of the SEO tools we’ve discussed, view your target website’s backlink profile and simply spot any guest bogs that they have written and reach out to them.
High Quality Sites = High Quality Backlinks
There are so many possible websites to link to and from, but not all will impact your search engine rankings.
Get backlinks from sites that search engines have already indexed high. To do this, check the following key indicators that will tell if a site is worth the effort:
- Domain Authority
The higher the Domain Authority of a website, the more value a backlink from it adds to your site. Target sites with higher DA scores to see a real difference in search results.
- Traffic value
Traffic will tell you if the keywords that the site is ranking for are competitive and are actually harder to rank for.
Traffic value is much harder to get than organic traffic and sites with high traffic value carry a lot more weight in terms of helping your site rank.
- Organic traffic by Country
Make sure that the site is getting significant traffic from the country (usually the US) where you want to rank in. If the target website ranks really high in Belgium but not in the US, the links you gain won’t help you rank higher in the right geographical places.
- DoFollow and NoFollow links
NoFollow links are good for building brand awareness, but they don’t help with your site’s ranking.
Dofollow links are more valuable in that sense as they pass PageRank signals to the google bots that crawl the interweb.
For your website to be effective and attract quality traffic, they need to outrank your online competition. And building more backlinks than your nearest competitor is just one of those important ranking factors that will get you there.
Spying on your competitor’s backlink profile, seeing what works for them and employing the same strategy in your own link-building campaign isn’t underhanded. On the contrary, it’s considered working smarter.
So get to work following the steps listed in this article and watch your website soar to new heights.
On the other hand, if you prefer to enlist the help of professionals, the Batlinks team is here to help. We offer this service at an hourly rate and would be happy to do the hard work for you.
Why not get in touch with us today via our Contact page.
1- Cire Travel