mat t hewwoodward.co.uk http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/backlink-competitor-analysis/
How To Steal Your Competitors Rankings
One of my f avourite SEO tricks that has stood the test of time is to simply steal your competitors rankings.
With a bit of elbow grease, backlink checkers & competitor analysis it is easy to out rank your competition.
You can even do it with a combination of f ree tools!
What You Will Learn
How to steal competitors rankings
How to check competitor backlinks
How to perf orm competitor analysis
How to steal their best backlinks
How to build a links database
The Method To The Madness
Do a search f or any keyword on Google.
Each of the sites in the top 10 search results have a backlink prof ile that pleases Google.
It is also likely they have f airly decent content and have taken care of the basics like on page SEO.
But f or the most part each of the top 10 results backlink prof ile is powering the rankings.
Imagine what would happen if your site had the same backlinks as not just the #1 result, but every single page
in the top 10 results!
Building The Perfect Foundation
Why spend time & money trying to f igure things out when you can just steal
your competitors best backlinks!
Perf orming competitor analysis like this allows you create a great f oundation
link prof ile to your site.
Replicating your competitors links takes a lot of the hard work out of link
building & is very easy f or anyone new to SEO to do.
This is a tactic I use all of the time with new sites bef ore I do anything else.
You build a very natural prof ile slowly but surely giving you a great
f oundation to leverage.
Step 1 – Get The Top 10 Results
The f irst thing you need to do is gather the top 10 organic results f or the
keyword you want to rank f or.
Just do a quick Google Search and make a note of each URL.
We are going to run each of these URL’s through the backlink checkers below!
Step 2 – Finding All Of The Backlinks
To f ind all of the backlinks f or each of the top 10 results we are going to use some backlink checkers.
There are a number of them to choose f rom both f ree & paid but each of them suf f er f rom the same problem.
No 1 backlink checker can give you a complete overview of a URL’s backlink prof ile. They all have very dif f erent
databases and of f er a range of results.
So in order to do this properly, we need to combine the data f rom as many backlink checkers as possible!
Which Is The Best Backlink Checker?
I have published a couple of case studies on backlink checkers in the past. Ahref s always of f ers the most
So f or this tutorial I decided to see how many links each backlink checker returned f or this blog.
These are ordered f rom the biggest to the least below-
(Note: I just use Ahrefs, Majestic SEO & SEO Spyglass for my analysis normally.)
Ahrefs (free/paid) – 11,227
Ahref s has won every backlink checker test I have ran – including this one!
The f ree account gives you quite a lot of backlink based data but you can only see the top 10 backlinks of
Go to backlinks > external, then backlinks > new/lost to export as many as you can with the f ree account.
The paid account allows you to export all of them into a CSV f ile in one click. Check out my 1 million domain
Ahref s case study.
Majestic SEO (free/paid) – 8,500
I have a bit of a history with Majestic SEO but they are always one of the top perf ormers in terms of the
number of backlinks they provide.
If you sign up f or a f ree account you can export all of the backlinks f or sites you own & verif y which is sweet!
But to check other people’s backlinks like Ahref s it’s limited to the top 10 backlinks. Get more by going to the
backlinks tab & the new tab!
The paid account gives you 1 click access to export everything into a CSV f ile. Check out my 1 million domain
Majestic SEO case study.
SEO Spyglass (free/paid) – 5,599
In my earlier tests SEO Spyglass perf ormed poorly but a recent update has added a database of
15,000,000,000,000 links. That is more than Ahref s & Majestic SEO.
SEO Spyglass is dif f erent than other backlink checkers as it runs as a piece of desktop sof tware rather than a
web based tool.
It will go out and f ind backlinks, check if they are live, report on things like anchor text, PR, social shares &
more. All of this data is retrieved in real time and is as f resh as you can get!
The f ree version of SEO Spyglass is limited to 1,100 backlinks per URL but you can’t export these links.
Where as the paid version goes all out allowing you to bulk check as many URL’s as you want without limits!
It is available f or a onetime f ee which makes it a great investment compared to the monthly f ees of most paid
Open Site Explorer (free/paid) – 2,129
Open Site Explorer comes as part of the Moz suite of SEO tools and as they don’t specialise in link checking
the database isn’t anywhere near the size of others.
A f ree search will let you get the top 50 backlinks f or each URL. Clicking on the just discovered tab will get you
an extra 5!
The paid version gives you the export to CSV option as well as access to the rest of the Moz suite of tools!
BacklinkWatch (free) – 1,517
Backlink Watch is a great f ree tool and delivers a pretty decent size of results no strings attached!
While you can’t export the results easily you can copy them, then in excel right click > paste special > text > ok.
Backlink Watch actually uses Ahref s to power its database so you can get some decent results.
As you can see in this test though Ahref s actually returned 11,227 results where as Backlink Watch only
returned 1,517 – 13% of those.
Small SEO Tools (free) – 599
The Small SEO Tools backlink checker is also completely f ree to use!
While it does return some good results it is hard to export them, you have to click through 10 result pages one
at a time to copy them out.
But it is f ree to use so you get what you pay f or I guess =D
Traffic Travis (free/paid) – 558
Traf f ic Travis is like SEO Spyglass in that it runs as a desktop application but it also has a bunch of other
handy SEO tools & f eatures.
The f ree version actually lets you do quite a lot of things not just checking backlinks!
It uses Open Site Explorer as its backlink data source but also looks up real time data like page rank.
It is a great f ree tool to have in your arsenal!
Link Diagnosis (free) – 250
Link Diagnosis is also a handy f ree backlink checker although it did deliver limited results.
On the upside though it uses the Open Site Explorer database and if you install the Firef ox extension it is
You can even export all of the backlinks easily in one click!
Step 3 – Creating A Master List
Now you have collected as many backlinks as possible f rom as many sources as possible f or each of the top
10 results we can move f orward!
Open notepad and copy all of the links into one master .txt f ile and save it somewhere.
Next we need to remove all of the duplicates which you can do with the f ree DupeRemove tool.
Once you have done that we can move onto some backlink analysis.
Step 4 – Analysing The Backlinks
At this point your master list of competitor backlinks could be pretty large – so to make sure we are working
ef f iciently we are going to do a bit of analysis to pick out the best backlinks.
In general all I look f or are backlinks that are indexed in Google and have a PR value of some kind. These are
the priority links.
You can make a separate list of links that are indexed in Google but don’t have a PR value as a secondary
Basically if its indexed in Google, it’s good enough to link to my site.
Method 1 – RankCracker
RankCracker is my private SEO tool that I developed f or this exact process.
You can download your f ree copy of the sof tware right here!
Method 2 – Excel / Scrapebox
If you have Scrapebox then you can use that to look up lots of dif f erent data.
Follow my backlink penalty analysis tutorial to check if links are still live, which anchor text they use, what PR
they are and if they are indexed in Google.
Method 3 – SEO Tools For Excel
You can also use SEO Tools f or Excel to build a spreadsheet to lookup a range of data.
The only problem is if you have a lot of links to process, this can be quite limiting.
However it is f ree to use and with a bit of elbow grease you can make a pretty good link prospecting sheet.
Method 4 – Inspyder Backlink Monitor
I use Inspyder Backlink Monitor to monitor all of my tiered link building campaigns. It is also a great tool to look
up bulk data on backlinks.
Just paste the list of links, hit go and it will check if they are still live, if they are indexed, what PR they have
and a bunch of other things.
You can also export data in a range of f ormats making it easy to f ilter out the best links.
Method 5 – SEO Spyglass
SEO Spyglass is not just a backlink checker, it is also a complete backlink analysis tool.
You can paste in a list of URL’s and it will f irst retrieve all of the backlinks f or each URL.
You can then go a step f urther and get it to do a deeper analysis on each backlink to determine the quality of
each of them.
If you have f ound backlinks f rom other tools it is easy to import those as well. SEO Spyglass doubles up as a
great link f inder and analyser in one!
Step 5 – Replicating The Links
Now it is just a case of going through each of the links one at a time and using your head.
Open each link in your browser and see how your competitor got their link on that page.
Sometimes it might be a blog comment, so you just need to post your own comment.
Sometimes it’s a f orum post so you just need to register and get involved in the discussion.
Sometimes it will be a guest post and you will have to send an email to submit your own guest post.
As you work through the list replicating links you’ll get a good f eel f or this process.
While you’re doing this not only will you be uncovering great links you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. You’ll
also build your understanding of link building & SEO in general.
Step 6 – Creating A Golden Links Database
Getting as much value out of your time as possible is important.
So as you go through the list replicating links, make sure you keep track of everything and make a note of
which you have replicated/submitted.
Once you have f inished replicating your competitors backlinks you can then bulk check which ones you now
have a live backlink f rom.
These backlinks are gold!
These backlinks are gold!
Create a separate links database spread sheet which lists all of the backlinks
that have stuck!
As you do this over time you will build a huge list of powerf ul links that are
helping to drive the top 10 results.
In the f uture you can come back to this spread sheet and use it f or other
projects over and over again.
This is a highly valuable business asset to have.
I also add a column called Niche with options like Technology, Business, Finance, General to make it easy to
f ilter them by topic.
Wrapping It Up
So there you have it – one of my f avourite link building tactics that has stood the test of time & algorithm
It is easy f or anyone to do and you can take advantage of f ree tools to get you started.
No need to learn spinning or any complicated sof tware – it’s perf ect f or anyone new to SEO & link building.
The end result will be that you will have all of the backlinks your top 10 competitors do pointing to your 1 site.
This is the link building strategy I usually use on new sites bef ore doing anything else and if that doesn’t get
you f irst page rankings then you have the perf ect natural f oundation to leverage f urther.