Backlinks are a reference from one website to another.
In other words, those are just links.
If you are wondering, then why are they so important?
Well, these backlinks are what bring reputation to your website and to your competitors’. It’s almost as if more backlinks led to more reputation.
You see, backlinks can be good, bad, and useless depending on their characteristics.
A bunch of these characteristics determines the quality of a backlink.
And as it always is, quality > quantity.
If you have spotted a competitor with many links pointing to its website – it’s almost certain that their page has a huge web cred.
So in this post, you will learn more about how to determine backlinks’ quality and once you have spotted the best backlinks – you will master how to steal them.
Why Get Backlinks from Competitors at all?
When you create a new website, a blog, software solution, or what have you, it will be difficult to build rapport or to get known. You’re going to have to market your project/idea to your target audience if you want any success at all.
Now you can go out there trying to find which sources and media will lift you to the top and risk your time and money. Or you can see what your competitors are doing and follow them.
In the latter way, you can simply walk your way to the top instead of having to pave it first.
In a nutshell, you find out who’s giving backlinks to your competitor(s) and ask them the same.
Where to Find Your Competitors
Now, all you need to do is find out who is competing against you in platforms and ways that pertain to your business.
Finding competitors is as simple as Googling.
You take your website, blog post, video or such and you try to find similar materials on search engines (usually Google is enough). See how well they rank for different, relevant keywords.
List and analyze them.
Now let’s see in detail how you can convert your competitors’ disciples to your side.
Getting Your Competitors’ Backlinks
I know. Sounds a bit too good to be true right?
Well, then get ready to believe it.
To steal backlinks, we will use the well-known skyscraper technique.
If you are reading this then I wouldn’t be that wrong to assume that you’re fairly new to this business and got a site with relatively low authority, right?
In most cases (of requesting links) you will need the backlinks more than other sites need a backlink from you.
That’s just the way life is.
The good news is – with our step-by-step guide – anyone will be able to get new, high-quality backlinks.
Identifying your competitors
Just like I said before, all you have to do is Google.
For instance, if you have a marketing automation software, then you should search for similar tools.
Make a list as big as you can with all your competitors.
Two things to keep in mind while identifying your competitors:
- Your backlink providers should be from the same industry or have a similar niche. This matters because search engines look at how relevant your link providers are to you. So, make sure to choose only appropriately relevant websites.
- When you get a link from a website that hasn’t linked to you before, it has a significant impact. Links coming from the same domain have much lower weight than the first one. If possible, get as many unique domains as you can to link to you.
When you boil down the list to about 20-40 competitors, that’ll be pretty good.
Then upload that list to your SEO tool(s).
There are a wide variety of tools you can use to analyze your competitors but our go-to tool is Linkody.
You can use it to find your competitor’s backlinks and filter them depending on your needs.
So, I will illustrate all the following steps with the help of Linkody‘s backlink tracker.
Finding your competitors’ backlinks
When you signup, first you will add is the domain you manage and then the competitors you found on Google.
Once you’ve added your competitors, Linkody will fetch 1 link from each unique domain with respect to the SEO practice.
For this example, I chose mangools.com.
Analyzing your competitors’ backlinks
To stay on SERPs you’re gonna have to constantly compare and analyze the backlinks of your competitors’.
In this step, you can see which of your competitors’ links and sites are worth contacting.
While analyzing backlinks, these are the things you must track:
- Domain Authority of the backlink provider – that’s the site’s authority
- Spam score of the domain – this is the likeliness of site getting a penalty
- If the link is do-follow or no-follow – the later carries no SEO value
- EFL – External Follow Links the pages have
Periodically you should also check your competitors for new links they get.
When you see a link that you want to try to get for yourself, you should mark it.
You can do add it as your prospective link.
Also, always keep looking for new competitors. The market is ever expanding, so keep up with the pace.
Once you’ve analyzed your competition, you can move on to filtering the links you want.
Filtering and using competitors’ backlink providers
Filter the list of backlink providers based on backlink metrics:
- The fields you want to see and compare
- The relationship type of the backlink.
- Select what links you want to see, fairly self-explanatory
- Select what fields you want to filter with the search term
- Export the filtered (selected) links as a CSV file
- If you search for:
Blog – you will filter out all the links and domains with the word blog in them. This lets you identify only the blog posts. This is to get guest blogging opportunities.
List – this filters outposts such as “List of the top 25 marketing funnel automation tools”. This is to get be listed on all the top lists.
Review – this filter helps to spot reviews of your competitors and helps you to get your tool reviewed by the industry’s experts.
Basically, that’s the idea. You filter links based on the type and where they appear.
- The filters that I used for this example
- I searched for links from blogs
- And made an export to CSV file
Once you finish exporting, open up the CSV file in a spreadsheet software. I use Excel for my convenience.
The criteria you will use to make these selections are based on the backlink metrics.
The important backlink metrics to consider are:
1. Spam score (0-17) – must be less than 5-6 (preferably 0)
You should find out the spam score of the website before you request backlinks from them in the SEO tools.
Although this is a no-brainer, it is very important. Getting too many links from websites with high spam score will seriously hurt your SEO ranking.
2. Domain authority (0-100) – at least 20
You can see the Domain Authority in your SEO tool as well. Websites with DA lower than 20 are not useful.
Search engines like Google give more credits to websites with higher DA.
3. Anchor text
Studies show that anchor text containing your target keyword result in higher ranking. But, make sure your anchor text blends in with the context and is not odd-looking.
However, it’s fine if you can get backlinks this way every once in a while.
4. Link relationship – do-follow
By default, the link is do-follow unless otherwise marked as “no-follow”. Search engines including major ones like Google, Bing, and Yahoo only consider do-follow links for ranking.
Thankfully most links that would matter to us are do-follow. However, don’t exclude all the no-follow links.
- URLs of sites with “feed” and “archive” because that’s usually auto-generated content
- Exclude European TLD websites. This is to comply with GDPR
- Pages older than two years. Most likely no one is updating these pages anymore
Quick tip: When your list starts to get too long, exclude also the no-follow links.
Following these backlink guidelines, I filtered the selection I made earlier for my example gives these results.
- The list of filtered URLs you will use to send emails to
- Page authority of the competitor’s link provider
- Domain authority of the competitor’s link provider
- Spam score of the website
Next, march on to an email outreach tool.
How to go about it? You’ll have to be polite, patient, and procedural.
Setting up email outreach
A mass-email tool will let you send multiple emails to all your backlink providers at once.
One of my favorite mass-email tools is NinjaOutreach.
With NinjaOutreach you can upload the URLs whose site owners you want to contact and it will find the contact information for you.
1. Create an email list
2. Import site links
- Choose your list
- Choose import type
- Copy-paste the list of site
It will take a few minutes for NinjaOutreach to import all the contact details of the site owners. You can resume progress once you receive a confirmation email after the import is done.
Once you’ve set up an email list, it’s highly recommended to go through the email list and filter them. Usually, you would filter the ones without a name and/or email address.
- * Open the filters
- Filter the list
- Select the filtered list
- Delete the useless entries
- In addition, you can revise the whole list:
- Add the email – using hunter.io
- Add the name – by looking up the people on Linkedin or Google
Create an email outreach – building relationships
Remember those days when you’d get a call from a “friendly” stockbroker, asking you to invest where he points? Remember how he would go on and on about this company and that company?
We usually don’t show interest in those sales calls because, one this is the age of inbound marketing, two because they feel unilateral.
Similarly, if you email a blog owner asking them to let you write a guest post for them talking about how great your product is, you’re gonna end up getting flipped off or ignored.
Yes, you are offering to create a content for him, and yes, you are doing it for free. But, you are clearly the big prize winner.
They won’t just let you advertise on their blog for free. Would you?
That, my friend, is why you must build relationships first.
Strike a conversation, connect with them. Instead of proposing a plain quid-pro-quo, be subtle and ease into it.
The first email
This is your first point of contact. You don’t have to send an email blast about the “value of friends and family, and why you will be a great friend to them”.
Keep it simple and straight, but just don’t be salesy.
Go to Outreach tab and create your template.
The first email could look something like this.
- Name for your email template
- The subject of the email
- NinjaOutreach variables
- Save it
The follow-up email
As it happens, most emails don’t get a reply.
But, some don’t because we all are busy or forgotten to reply. You need those to convert to leads. And you do that by sending a follow-up email.
Once again, just be polite and patient. If you like to throw in your witty lines to add to lighten the mood.
Your follow-up email could look like this.
- Name for your email template
- Notice how the follow-up email has:’ in the subject
- Save it
If you still don’t get a reply, go for a break-up email rather than a follow-up email.
Schedule/launch an email campaign
1. Under the Outreach tab, select the Auto-sending option.
2. Setup your Auto sending parameters
- Select your email list
- Select the email you want to send from
- Select the email template
- Choose the number of emails you want to send per day
- Send now or schedule for later
- Add follow-up templates
- Add a follow-up template and schedule it to send after ‘n’ days
- Add a break-up template and schedule it to send after ‘n’ days
- Launch/schedule your campaign
Examples of bad practices that can hurt your SEO rankings
In the quest for increasing your backlink count, you might lose your focus.
So here’s a list of most common mistakes that beginners make.
- Trying to rank for irrelevant content be it software, blog, video or so. If you’re expanding your business, then fine. But, if you’re making a video about fertilizer while your business is about bicycles, then you’re probably getting on that blacklist.
- Getting too many links from just one website. Let’s say you and your partner website just link each other a lot. Google will disregard both your websites eventually, as these are deemed as black hat SEO practices.
- You have many links but a considerable amount are from websites with relatively (high) Spam score. Having one BusinessInsider link and ten spammy links will do you no good.
Now it’s the time to “get in there” and execute.
- Find your competitors by Googling for similar products, articles, videos and other content
- Upload your competitors to an SEO tool and get a list of their backlinks
- Analyze your competitors’ backlinks
- Filter and select your prospective backlink providers
- Upload your list of backlink providers to an email outreach tool
- Create email lists based on the type of email you expect to send
- Create email templates (first, follow-up, and break-up) for different types of sites you contact (blogs, testimonials etc.)
- Create email campaigns for different email lists and schedule/launch them
- Add new competitors and backlinks, and repeat
Congratulations, you are now officially a backlink-monger!
If you have any questions, the comments section is all yours.
And of course, you are most welcome to share it (here, here, and here).
Go get ‘em!