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8 Tips On How to Reverse Engineer Your Competitor’s Backlinks

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    Are you scratching your head and wondering how the top ranking websites maintain their top position? Do you want to surpass the rank of your competitors?

    Learning how to reverse engineer the backlinks of a competitor is a crucial skill in the SEO world. Watch this simple video that shows you 8 Tips on How to Reverse Engineer Your Competitor’s Backlinks.

    At roughly 10 minutes long, it gives you all the information you need to know to start spying on the competition the right way.


    I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the video. Did you find it helpful and if so, why? Have a great day everybody and remember – we are here to help you. If you would like your website profile analyzed and/or if you need help increasing your rank , be sure to give me a shout!

    Video Transcription

    Hey there this Adrian Barrett with Powered By Search, and this quick video is going to give you all of the information you need on how to reverse engineer your competitors’ back-links. We’re going to do it in eight simple steps, and keep this video short and to the point, because I know your time is valuable, and so is mine, so without further adieu, let’s get this started. I think we should start at the beginning really quick of course, what is the point of reverse engineering and why is it so powerful?

    Well, if we take a look at any website that’s ranking on the internet for example, let’s just say, I don’t know, basket weaving. Yes, because everybody loves basket weaving. For example if we just, we click a bunch of these here, and Pinterest obviously wouldn’t be a particular competitor, basketweaving.com, Craft Passion, Kin Folk, whatever.

    We take a look at a few of these, and these are basically the top ranking websites for that particular term. So let’s say for example, you wanted to find out particularly why this site, Kin Folk, is ranking well, and how can you basically copy their strategy. So if you go back here, excluding Wikipedia, maybe we could even include this one, you know what? Nevermind, let’s just do Kin Folk.

    What is the very first step that you want to do? The very first thing that you want to do is you want to get the entire picture. You want to take a look, like a bird’s eye view down, and you want to say ‘I need to find out particularly who my you know, my competition is,’ but before that, like I said, step one get the picture, know the market, know who you’re targeting, know who you’re going after.

    Step two is you want to think laterally, not just vertically. You don’t want to just reverse engineer the back-links for the competitors who are ranking for the biggest search phrases in the market. I haven’t looked into this particular market of basket weaving, if I do say so myself, so I assume this would be one of the more broader phrases.

    Perhaps people search for specific things, like basket weaving in Charlotte Town, North Carolina, or Basket Weaving courses in Miami, Florida, maybe that’s the big market there. But, you get the idea, you don’t want to go just for the biggest search term, you want to think broad, and horizontally. You want to have the proper tools to do this too.

    There’s a few different ones, I’m going to show you Ahrefs, Ahrefs, Majestic SEO is another one, Open Site Explorer, SEO Profiler, OpenLinkProfiler, there’s a whole bunch of different sites, but just for this particular example, I’m going to use Ahrefs. Let’s copy the link of this here, Kin Folk, and let’s enter it into Ahrefs, and we want to search by the domain for back-links.

    Let’s hit search links, and you would do this for the top 10 or 20 of your competitors, and you would enter each competitor into Ahrefs, and you would follow the same process for all of them. What are we looking at here? Well of course you’re probably familiar with Ahrefs, and if you’re not, what we’re going to do is we’re going to list all of the links that Ahrefs has found on the internet which point to this particular website.

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    What we want to do is we want to come down to in-bound links, and referring domains, click that there, and we’re basically interested in, of course, the most valuable links to the least valuable links. What we’re going to do is we’re going to sort by domain rank, Ahrefs sorting system from top to bottom. You can see it lists all of the links which are pointing, I’m sorry, all of the domains which are pointing back to the website in question.

    Now if you want to see which particular back-links are coming from so said domains, simply just click this little button here, it will give you a couple of links in a second, as soon as that thing loads, and you can see for example this page with this tag is linking to Kin Folk. Let’s just open up a couple of these for more examples here.

    Okay, so if we come down to Cargo Collective, we can see that on this page Cargo Collective Tia Mina Ding Dingra it is linking to the home page with an anchor text of Kin Folk Magazine, and if you want to you can visit that page. Sure, why not? And there we have it, Kin Folk Magazine linking to Kin Folk.

    So that is the process you would use. You would simply export this file into a CSV, Microsoft Excel, or Open Office, another UTF actually for Open Office or other types of programs. You would do the same process for all of your major competitors that you have determined. Then you would combine all of these Excel sheets, combine them all, and then you have yourself one file with all of the back-links in it, and that will save you a lot of time.

    Once you do that, you want to determine a few things. Number one, you want to determine the strength of each page. I would really focus on, specifically if you’re going after back-links that other competitors have, in terms of not just the easy to get links, so if you’re going after links where there’s relationships built, you want your content to appear on other sites, et cetera, spend your time and focus on the ones that have the greatest return on investment in terms of domain rank.

    Now there’s lots of links, of course, you can get when you search through these back-links that are different kinds of links. We have our typical article directories that people use to do that aren’t really worth your time, the press releases, the info-graphics, company directory submissions, RSS feeds, info-graphic directories, I said that already maybe, video submission sites, user reviews, webcam directories, foreign languages, 1-800 numbers, paid directories even are fine in terms of maybe JoeAnt, or Yahoo, or Dmoz. Widget directories, if you’re site is graphically related maybe there’s a CSS type submission where you can do that kind of thing.

    So there’s lot of different things you can do. Badges, and widgets, and all sorts of stuff like that. You want to go through all the back-links, and you want to make sure that they’re legitimate, and they’re not against Google’s policies. So one thing that you don’t want to do is you want to avoid bad links, and if you’re curious on which links are bad, and which links are good, I highly recommend Link Research Tools.

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    It’s one of the options that you can use, and you can enter in your URL on Link Research Tools, and what it will do is it will come back and it will basically show you, take a look right here, it’s going to show you all of the back-links, and which ones of them are toxic, which ones are warning, and which ones are okay.

    So if you have a list of links that you want to pursue, I would suggest that you upload those into this particular tool. You can get an idea of here of which ones are really bad, and which ones you should keep. Go through them manually, because sometimes they’re false positive, and then you have yourself a very nice list of links that you can pursue for your own business and website.

    So for example, if we have these toxic ones here we can see which links they are, the priority of them, the reasons that they give you for them, and of course, this is typically used for when you’re disavowing links et cetera, but it’s very handy to look just in general at a back-link profile. So let’s recap this real quick here.

    We have step one of course, let me show you. Let’s go to the home page of Google. So step one, of course, you want to get the entire picture, very important. Step two, you want to think laterally. Lateral thinking is very important. Step three, use the proper tools, Ahref. Step four, you want to make a list of your top competitors, I would say 10 to 20 are fine. Step five, is of course you enter each competitor into the tool. In my case I used Ahref, you export all of the links sorted by domain rank, or authority, et cetera. Step seven combine all links into an Excel sheet, then you have yourself a giant sheet of links which you can use.

    I’m even going to throw in an extra, so step seven point five, use Link Research Tools, or other various tools that you can basically judge the quality or the toxicness, is that even a word? Toxicness of all of the links, and then you can determine which ones are really worth pursuing. Step eight is you have to visit each link manually, and go over it with a fine tooth comb.

    You want to stay away from things like link exchanges, hiding links, site-wide footer links, low quality article directories, basically anything that you can get for free, and that anybody else can get easily, and accessible tends to be not really worth your time, except for the odd submission.

    So with that said, I hope that this very quick and short tutorial on doing basically reverse engineering, the competitors back-links helps you. It definitely shows you which links are working since those competitors are always ranking. With this strategy set you can always use this for anything, and you do it once or twice, and it just becomes you know, second nature to it.

    So if you are in need of getting your site audited of course, we’re always here to help. You can shoot me a message in the comments below this video, or just anything at all, and we’re always happy to help you.

    A lot of this may be too technical or too time consuming for some people, but I did want to put this video up to help them. So I hope that you enjoyed this video, and of course if you are interested, do always check out some more of our videos on our Powered By Search YouTube channel. This is Adrian Barrett with Powered By Search, and eight helpful tips on how to reverse engineer your competitors’ back-links.

    Transcription by Speechpad.com.