How to Find and Replicate Competitor Backlinks in 3 Simple Phases

Rebecca Nguyen
SEO
August 14, 2020
13 MINUTES READ

Building backlinks is essential to your website's SEO strategy and success. Backlinks are links created when a website links to yours. In other words, a website adds a link in their content that directs the user back to your site or a specific page on your site. Other names for backlinks are inbound links or incoming links.

So, why are backlinks relevant to your website, and why is it worth investing time and energy to find competitor's backlinks and replicate them?

The answer is simple: backlinks help your website rank higher on search engines. In fact, the two primary ranking factors are links and content, which gives you an excellent idea of just how significant backlinks are to your website. If your website ranks higher, you get more views and traffic, and you can make your site more profitable.

One effective link building strategy is to replicate those of your competitors. In this article, we’ll go over backlink replication using three phases:

  • Phase 1: Prepare Backlinks
  • Phase 2: Find and Replicate Competitor Backlinks
  • Phase 3: Stay Ahead of Your Competition

Ready to replicate your competitors’ backlinks? Let’s dive in!

Phase 1: Prepare Backlinks

Let’s take a look at how you can get ready to replicate backlinks which includes learning the basics, identifying your competitors, and staying organized.

A) Backlink Basics

There are three aspects of backlinks to understand in order to best capitalize on them. If you keep these three qualities in mind, you can improve your site's ranking.

Quantity 

The more backlinks you have, the better your site will rank. However, not all backlinks have equal weight, so it doesn't pay off to buy a bunch of low-quality backlinks. Keep reading to learn more about this crucial distinction and the importance of the domain authority of a website linking back to you.

Variety

Ideally, you want backlinks to your site to appear on many different kinds of websites, from forums and blogs to industry-specific directories and websites. The more backlinks you have and the more diverse they are, the better your site will perform, especially if you pay attention to the domain authority.

Domain Authority

You want backlinks on websites with high domain authority. The higher the domain authority for a website, the more desirable the backlink is for your site, and the more weight it gives your website. To sum up, search engines will see your site as credible if authoritative sites link to it.

Make sure to keep these qualities in mind as you begin your quest for backlinks.

Nightwatch's Backlink Overview provides quick insight into backlink quantity, variety, and domain authority.

B) Identify Your Competitors

Before you start searching for backlink opportunities, you will need to identify your competitors. This is a crucial first step to ensure you’re building a solid backlink profile.

You can begin by separating your competitors into two categories: those who compete with your site as a whole and those who contend with you on a specific page or keyword level.

Entire Site Competitors

Sites that compete with your website as a whole are contending with you across many pages and search terms. They may not be sites that sell the same products as you, as we understand a competitor to be in traditional business, but they are competing for comparable keywords. 

To find these competitors, you can search and organize competing domains by keyword overlap, which means the number of keywords the sites have in common with yours.

Specific Page or Keyword Competitors

Although these sites do not compete with yours overall, they do compete for particular keywords or search topics. These sites may or may not fall under the same niche as your website.

To find these competitors, pick one of your posts and search for the primary keyword. You can check to see whose sites are performing well for that keyword.

Keep in mind that there may be overlap between entire site and specific page competitors. For this step, focus only on the site that competes with you on a particular page-level.

C) Stay Organized

Before you do a competitor analysis, take a moment to stay organized during your backlink tracking. A spreadsheet or Google sheet works well to separate the domain name, the content a website linked to, and the content on your site that could replace it. You can also add the domain and page authority for the sites if you want.

Phase 2: Find and Replicate Competitor Backlinks

In the second phase of replicating backlinks, you will have to research your competitor's backlink profile manually and with an SEO tool so you can then replicate your competitors' backlinks.

Researching Your Competitors' Backlinks

Now that you know your competitors, you can begin looking into their backlink profile. To find competitor backlinks, search their website URL with a backlink checker tool to discover the authority of their site. Then take a look at their inbound links. The best link opportunities to look at are the external backlinks. Then you can check which pages are the most popular on your competitor's site.

Once you know which posts are most popular, you can search them separately to figure out why they are so often linked. You may want to check if the page uses a lot of images or infographics, or if their well-liked posts are a similar length. You want to look for patterns that explain why a site chooses to link to that post instead of the one you have on the same topic.

Once you've given some thought to how you can create content superior to your competitors, you will want to find out which domains share your competitor's backlinks the most and whether those sites match your niche or industry.

Once you have performed competitor backlink analysis and identified these sites, you can begin the work of replicating your competitor's backlinks and building up your own backlink profile.

8 Specific Methods of Replicating Competitor Backlinks

Now that we've taken a look at the necessity and advantage of backlinks and identifying competitors, let's get into the specifics of replicating your competitors’ backlinks to benefit your own site.

Utilize Homepage Links

Logically, it makes sense to start with your competitors' homepages. Your goal here is to find out where your competitors have gotten backlinks to their homepages and why the site has mentioned them and not you.

To check the homepage mentions, check the backlink analysis report for your competitor and use a dofollow filter to allow you to view backlinks connected to your competitor's homepage. A dofollow backlink helps a website rank better in search results by enabling search bots to follow it instead of nofollow backlinks, which search engines ignore.

Now that you can see your competitor's home page backlinks try to figure out why a site chose your competitor over you. For clues, check the anchor text, surrounding link text, and the page title. Once you have an idea of why your competitor got the backlink and not you, you can modify your content or create new content that's better than theirs.

When your content is ready, reach out to the sites that are listing your competitor and let them know what you can offer them and how you can help them. In this method of replicating links, you are essentially figuring out what sites link to your competitor, why your competitor got the link over you, and then copying them to get the link for yourself.

Create Superior Content Than Your Competitors

Remember that the two most essential factors in improving your search rank are backlinks and content. You want to make sure you have the best, most authoritative content out there so that you can compete with your competitors and maybe even steal their backlinks.

Find out your competitors' most popular content then examine how you can make yours better than theirs. Do you need more detail or better organization? Many people love graphics, infographics, images, and charts. Adding these, if appropriate, to your content may help send it to the next level.

Find Sites that Link to Multiple Competitors

If there are domains out there that are linking to many of your competitors, you definitely want to be included on that site. When you match one site to a bunch of your competitors, it's most likely a link hub, which is a great place to build links.

Link hubs can take the form of forums, blogs that cover your niche, or industry-specific directories and communities. These sites see plenty of traffic from potential customers of your website, so it's vital to get a backlink on these domains.

A quick note on forums: don't neglect them! There are plenty of potential customers who are sure to be interested in your site hanging out in forums.

Write Guest Posts for the Same Sites as Your Competitors

Guest posting is one of the easiest ways to get a quality backlink for your site. Often, when you write guest posts for blogs, they will give you byline links in exchange for the content, which means you automatically get a backlink. 

One constructive way of approaching website owners whose sites you would like to post on is to offer an exchange. You can write articles for them, and they can write ones for you so that both sites benefit from the relationship.

Guest posting is an excellent method of acquiring backlinks on a wide range of websites, increasing the variety of your backlink profile.

To find out where your competitors are guest posting, you can use Google to perform an advanced search using an author's name, the phrase "guest post," and the URL of the competitor's website. You can also reverse image search using Google Chrome to find posts with the author's headshot.

Develop Relationships with Fans of Your Competitors

If there are specific websites giving backlinks to your competitor, they would likely be willing to work with you, too, especially if you're creating better content than your competitors.

To find out who is linking to your competitor, you can search for your competitor's domain and use a backlink checker to take a look at their backlink profile. You'll be able to see the most frequent sharers of your competitor's content, and you can research why they're sharing it and how you can replace it with something better.

When you approach these websites' owners, take time to clarify that you can help their site by offering superior content. It may even be helpful just to introduce yourself in the first contact and build trust by providing a link to your work. Building relationships is key to developing a high-quality backlink profile.

You can often contact website owners through their site, a company webpage, LinkedIn, or other kinds of social media, like Twitter, if they use them for work purposes.

Keep an Eye on Your Competitors' New Backlinks

You can set up an alert for new backlinks given to your page competitors. As soon as you get an alert, you can reach out to the website and explain why your content can help their site.

If you're trying to replicate backlinks this way, make sure to react as quickly as possible. Pages are more likely to be updated soon after the initial posting, so timing is crucial.

Also, it's smart to use this method only for a page or keyword-specific competitor. Entire site competitors will receive tons of new backlinks per day, making them impossible to monitor.

Offer to Update Outdated Content

If you encounter any outdated content in your research, contact the webpage and offer to update it in exchange for a link to your site. Updating stale content is perfect for getting backlinks on a variety of websites to increase your search engine ranking.

This method may not be worth it if you don't already have content ready to replace the outdated information. Unless, of course, you find the same outdated content across many pages and can get tons of backlinks from the same updated content. 

If the outdated content appears on a webpage with high domain authority and tons of traffic that will have a positive impact on your site's search rankings, it may also be worth the time.

Find Your Competitors' Broken Links

Broken links are a surefire way to build backlinks, especially if you can find ones that appear on a bunch of pages. When you find a broken link, you can offer your content as a replacement to fix the broken page. If need be, you can even create new content to fix the links.

Phase 3: Staying Ahead of Your Competition

The goal of replicating backlinks is to eventually build a plentiful and diverse profile so that you can overtake your competitors. To do this, you must consider whether a backlink is worth duplicating and then focus on developing a backlink strategy with tactics other than replication. 

How to Figure Out When Replicating Backlinks is Worth It

The number one tip to remember when building your backlink profile is to have patience. Don't rush it along by trying to buy backlinks. Search engines can tell which sites are selling links, and those sites are not rated highly. The backlinks you get from them will be of little value, which means you have to decide whether a competitor's backlink is worth replicating.

Unfortunately, copying competitor links isn't always worth it. You will need to use your own judgment to decide which links are low-quality junk or spam and which ones are worth the time and effort. For that matter, some links are impossible to replicate. You want to focus on backlinks that are possible for you to get, like those from pages relevant to your niche. 

Build a Backlink Strategy

If all you do is try to replicate your competitors' links, you will always be one step behind them. The challenge of replicating links is to try to understand what your competitors are doing to build their links. These insights can help you develop future content to optimize your backlinks.

One simple tactic that's easy to implement is to ensure that other sites know they can link to yours. It might sound obvious: if you own a website, clearly you want other sites to link to it, but some people are uncertain and don't want to steal content that isn't theirs accidentally. 

To avoid a misunderstanding, you can add a quick line at the top of your post, welcoming people to share it as long as they link back to your original. That’s only one basic step you can take as part of a complete plan of action.

If you want to outrank your competitors, you will need a comprehensive backlink strategy. You have the best chance of obtaining more backlinks than your competitors if you use many different types of link building tactics.

Final Thoughts

Replicating your competitors' backlinks can be an excellent way to build your own site's linking profile. There are several methods you can use to snatch backlinks from your competitors, and all of them can be worth time and energy. Maybe you want to write some guest posts, target new backlinks, or develop relationships with your competitors' fans.

No matter the methods that work best for you, make sure the links are worthwhile. When you are link building, you want a lot of them, but you also want them to be from high-authority sites dealing with a variety of topics. When you find competitor backlinks, you can use it as a model to learn how to earn more backlinks from high-quality webpages.

Be sure to maintain realistic expectations when you replicate backlinks, though. You want to get ahead of your competitors, not stay a step behind, so you need to incorporate many link building tactics to outrank them.

As long as you're developing the best content in your niche, you have nothing to worry about. Just focus on having patience and being smart about the links you choose to replicate. If you do that, your site will rise in the rankings, eventually surpassing even the most formidable of your competitors.

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