How to Do a Basic Backlink Analysis on Your Competitors

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In this video.
In this video, I’m going to show you how to do a basic backlink analysis on your competitors’ websites. Stay tuned. [Music] What’s up guys. Sam Oh here with Ahrefs. So today’s video is about analyzing your competitors’ websites and webpages to uncover actionable link building opportunities for your own site. If you’re an experienced SEO, what I’m about to share with you in the next few minutes may seem somewhat basic, but there will be two follow-up videos with advanced techniques that you’re going to love and I promise you this. By the end of this series, there are two things you’ll be able to do. The first is to be able to analyze any website and uncover potentially thousands of link prospects. And the second thing is that we're going to speed up your link building efficiency using some really, really cool hacks that you may not be using yet. So, let’s jump right in. First, we’ll go to Site Explorer and enter in a domain or URL that you want to analyze. So, I’ll use the domain, for our example. Here, you’ll see a top level view of the website you’re analyzing. And since we’re just focusing on backlink analysis and link building throughout this series, we’re just going to talk about these two metrics here. Backlinks and referring domains. You can see that Content Marketing Institute has almost 2 million backlinks with almost 23,000 referring domains. But you might have noticed that right below, there’s mention of “recent” and “historical.” These 3 numbers represent our 3 backlink indexes. The Live Index contains all links that were live on our last recrawl, which tells you that they're almost certainly live right now. Our recent index contains all live links plus lost backlinks that were removed within the past 90 days or so. So this could mean anything from the website having temporary downtime when we last crawled it or the website no longer existing at all. Finally, is the historical index. And these contain the history of all links, dead or alive. This is the reason why each link index is bigger than the next. If we scroll down a bit, then you’ll see a few interactive graphs that shows you the
Dynamics of link acquisition over time, both for the number of referring domains and referring pages.
dynamics of link acquisition over time, both for the number of referring domains and referring pages. And there are a few filters you can use here too. By default, you’ll see the growth over the last year, but you can narrow this down to the last 30 days, or look at an all time view to see how each website has done over time. These graphs are the most useful when you compare another website to it side by side. This will reveal the site or URL that’s more effective at acquiring backlinks. So if I go back to Site Explorer, we can do an apples to apples comparison of another website in the content marketing industry. I’ll use as our comparison site. If we look at these side-by-side, you’ll notice that CMI has had consistent year-to-year link growth, while Copyblogger’s link acquisition has been a little bit stagnant, especially in the past couple of years. When you find websites that seem to acquire links at a fast pace, these are totally worth deeper analysis, which is exactly what we’ll be doing in the next couple of videos. In this graph, we’re looking at an overall domain comparison, but if you compare URLs of two pieces of content on a similar topic, you’ll instantly see which page is more popular with link acquisition. This is a quick 5 - 10 second analysis you can do before you actually jump into the individual backlinks reports. So I highly recommend doing this. Alright, the last graphs on this page that we’ll be covering today, are the new and lost referring domains and backlinks graphs. These graphs show you a non-cumulative view of a website or a URL’s backlink growth. The cool thing with this graph is that you can quickly scan for spikes that will help you identify new link worthy pages that your competitors are creating, and it's going to help you reverse engineer link building strategies or campaigns that were implemented over a specific period of time. I’ll have a really cool example for you of two titans fighting for the keyword “SEO” in the next video. The last thing that I want to show you in this basic backlinks analysis is the referring domains report. If you look to the sidebar, and click on “Referring Domains”, you’ll see a table that shows
You all of the unique linking websites to this target domain that we’re analyzing.
you all of the unique linking websites to this target domain that we’re analyzing, right now. Now, if the site has a ton of referring domains, manually reviewing it will be near impossible. So in this case, you’d need to use some of the filters in this report to narrow down the results. So, the first thing I would do when I hit this table is to set the link type filter to 'dofollow' to find only the domains that are passing link equity. All of these columns are sortable, so if we sort by the number of dofollow links in descending order, you’ll notice some websites link to CMI hundreds of thousands of times. Normally, when you see a ton of backlinks from a single referring domain, it means that they’re sitewide links. If we click the number of backlinks from, you can see all of the pages, some key metrics, and the anchor/backlink that was created. And right away, we can tell that this is a sitewide link without even clicking through to a page since the anchor text and the backlink URL are all the same. Finally is this cool search filter. You can just type in a domain and see if it’s linking to the target website or URL. So I’ll type in and you’ll see that we have linked to CMI 11 times. And if we click on the number of backlinks we've created for them, you can get more details on where the backlinks are coming from and where they are pointing. With a website as popular as Content Marketing Institute, that has a good number of backlinks and referring domains, it’s tough to get a ton of value here. But I’ll finish off by showing you how easy it is to filter through small websites using the Referring Domains report. So I’m going to enter in a very unpopular domain in Site Explorer,, ya, it’s mine. Now, I’ll click on the referring domains report in the left sidebar. Then I’ll filter it down to just the dofollow links. And you can see that there are a few decent links in here from some high DR websites which tells us that I’m not blatantly using any shady link building tactics. And we can click on this number here beside, which again, will show me
Some more details on the backlinks and linking pages. So.
some more details on the backlinks and linking pages. So, I could even reach out to these people to start building a relationship with them, right? Now, I’ll open this one up in a new tab. Oh… it’s just me… But you get the point. With smaller websites, you can quickly use the referring domains report to see whether a website’s link building strategies are legit and worth replicating, or if you should just move on to your next backlink analysis. That’s it for part one of our backlink analysis and link building series. Make sure to hit the thumbs up button and subscribe to our channel for more actionable videos on SEO and marketing. If you have any questions, make sure to leave a comment, otherwise, it’s time to move on to part two, where we’ll be taking this backlink analysis a step deeper and getting into some actionable insights. I’ll see you in the next video. [Music]

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