Backlink analysis 101: How to do it properly

Brian Bojan Dordevic
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Brian Decoded

President at Alpha Efficiency

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Backlinks are one of Google’s top three ranking factors which its website crawlers take to show the authority level of your website. In their basic form, they’re simply instances in which website A links to website B.

Backlinking is one of the most effective long-term SEO strategies that has the potential to rank your website high in the SERPs. Having plenty of genuine websites linking to yours is a pretty surefire way to get crawlers to recognize the value of your content for the community you cater to. When that happens, you’ll be on your way to the top of the results in no time.

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backlink analysis

If you want to make sure you get to that point quickly, you should definitely focus on backlink analysis, as it’s essential for devising an SEO strategy and ultimately executing it effectively. Once that’s ready, you’ll have a much higher chance to gain ground on your competitors.

In the following article, we will present you with some of the most effective strategies for performing your backlink analysis and improving your rank on the SERPs.

Link Portfolios (Profiles)

Link portfolios are basically lists which show what sites are currently linking to your site. Aside from backlink analysis, they’re also pivotal for Google’s algorithms, as they can make it much easier for them to log your backlink count.

You shouldn’t just run a backlink analysis for your site though – run one for your competition too. It’s insightful and gives you a clear picture of what you’re battling against. Mapping the backlinks that your competitor attains from other websites may be a significant sign for you to put more work into getting your own.

Natural Link Profile

Search engines usually value “natural” links most. That means they should:

  • Be editorially earned
  • Come from authoritative wielding websites.
  • Not paid for or sponsored (including as a result of gifted products)

How to Conduct Backlink Analysis: Elements you should not Miss to Audit

No matter which SEO tool you decide to use, make sure to audit all the essential elements listed below:

  1. Total number of links
  2. Number of unique domains
  3. Linking domains vs. total links
  4. Anchor text usage and variance – branded, keyword-rich, etc.
  5. Fresh/incoming links
  6. Page performance
  7. Link quality

The SEO Tools for Performing a Backlink Analysis

Backlinking is an integral part of SEO strategy. This is the reason why backlink audits are valuable when deciding on a link-building strategy to run.

So, before you start the link-building campaign, you need to audit and understand your current link portfolio. Here are a couple of tools you could use in order to run your backlink analysis:

In this article, we will especially focus on the first three listed above, explaining to you in detail how to use each of them.

How to Run Competitor Backlink Analysis on SEMrush?

Running a backlink analysis on your competitors’ websites can indicate some very important aspects of their backlinking strategies, as well as gaps that your content can fill. Here is a list of essential steps you should consider when running the competitors’ backlink analysis.

Identify your competitors

The competitors’ analysis should include all the top dogs in your industry as well as other businesses in your market that are of a similar size to yours. For example, if you run a small beauty blog, then find other small beauty blogs and analyze them for traffic and keyword figures. After you finishm it’s time for your next move.

Identify your Competitors Strengths

Checking the competitors’ domains and the competition level is possible through the SEMrush Backlink Competitors report. This report shows the competitor’s total number of backlinks and referring domains. The higher percentage of common backlinks is, the higher the competition level will be.

A high competition level is the first result you should consider before furthering your analysis. Still, there is another that’s equally important.

Backlink/domain ratio results will reveal the backlink strategies of your competitors, showing whether the backlinks are high-quality ones or if they are attained using some black hat SEO technique.

The Backlink Analytics tool provides you in-detail competitor’s domain analysis, showing the most linked to content on their website and which links carry the most quality.

Within a Backlink Analytics tool you can run another several reports that will give you further valuable insights.

  • A complete list of all your competitors’ backlinks can be found in the Backlinks tab.
  • The domain authority of all websites that backlinked to your competitors’ websites can be found in the Referring Domains tab. This data is especially important because it gives you a chance to examine the referral.
  • The list the top pages on their site that are backlinked to from other domains can be found in Indexed Pages.

The list the top pages on their site that are backlinked to from other domains can be found in Indexed Pages. In this report, you will also find which URLs are most used for a backlinks, ultimately helping you understand what type of content is most popular for gaining ground in the backlink race.

Comparing Backlink Portfolios & Identifying Backlinks Opportunities

SEMrush allows its users to compare backlink portfolios either using the Backlink Gap tool or Backlink Analytics Overview. This advanced analytical instrument enables the comparison of up to five competing domains.

In the Backlink Analytics Overview report, you will be able to see the total number of each of your competitor’s backlinks, referring domains and also their Authority Score, giving you a clear idea of how close or far you are from catching up to them and what you can do to get ahead.

Identify Backlink Gaps & Opportunities

SEMrush provides its users with multiple filters for discovering backlink gaps. Best, Unique, and Weak reports are used for mapping various backlink opportunities.

The “Best” type is a starting point for discovering your backlink opportunities, since it will specifically list the websites that are backlinking to your competition. Like anything, you can use this data to improve your own strategy.

You’re now a step away from messaging potential backlink partners. Before asking for a backlink from a particular website, you should check its domain authority through Authority Score (AS) and estimate the potential impact it can have on your SEO results. Of course, the higher authority scores, the greater impact they have on your SEO. That’s a sure sign you should list it in your link-building strategy.

Another way of finding backlink opportunities is by checking the Backlink Report and listing the competitors’ new and most recently lost backlinks. Lost backlinks are a perfect opportunity to offer the link from your site and drive more traffic to your webpage.

How to Run Competitor Backlink Analysis on Majestic SEO?

Majestic SEO is an SEO software specialized strictly in backlink analysis. Unlike some other SEO tools that provide you with complete SEO analytics like keyword research or SEO audits, Majestic SEO is focused on backlink analysis only.

Majestic SEO provides you with an in-detail backlink analysis, which is fundamental for running a successful link-building strategy based on quality links. Besides, Majestic SEO supports you with specific tools and reports such as Backlink History, Comparator, and Clique Hunter, that are not available with other SEO tools.

Scanning a Site Link Profile

A complete report on a site link profile is available in Site Explorer Summary, which is where a website’s link profile is created.

Site Explorer Summary provides multiple points of data such as citation flow, topic report, external backlinks, referring domains, referring IP addresses, crawled and indexed URLs and so forth.

Comparing Domains

The Competitor Tool enables you to track the backlink results for five domains simultaneously, Scanning your competition more easily.

The Competitor Tool shows you twelve different results regarding backlinks. It too can be a valuable indicator of where you could find backlinks for your website.

Backlink History

Backlink History report allow you to compare the number of links among your competitors and see some very useful data like, which of them have attained the greatest number of new referred links on a daily, monthly, or cumulative basis, and how their backlink history changes across time.

Topic Analysis

The topic report reveals what a specific website is all about, but it’s not based on a detected topic, but on the backlinks themselves.

Competitor comparison on topics is so important since it gives you the opportunity to dive into each website or URL’s topic and find out which backlinks are bringing Trust Flow to that specific topic. The point of the topic analysis is not an evaluation of content but of internal and external links. This way, you will see how far or close your website is to your competitors’

A feature you can’t find on other SEO tools is that it provides data on a topic’s authority based on acquired backlinks. It basically runs your stuff through a nearly identical algorithm to that of Google’s when it checks the authority of a site in a specific niche.

Clique Hunter

Clique Hunter shows the list of all domains that send links to sites you have previously compared.

Why is this a handy feature?

Once you discover which domains are most likely to send the links to your competitors’ websites, you can try to hijack the same links slots and strengthen your link-building strategy.

Referring Domains

This report shows an ultimate list of all domains that send links to your site. The results are sortable through categories, like Trust Flow (TF), Citation Flow (CF), External Backlinks, Top-level domain, Language, etc.

Anchor Text

An anchor text report gives more detail on the number of referring domains and external backlinks containing the specific anchor text. This way, you can easily find out the exact terms or keywords that gain backlinks and list them as core keywords in your backlinking strategy.

Pages Report

This report shows the list of pages with the most number of backlinks and link authority. It works pretty much the same as SEMrush’s Indexed Pages.

Related Sites

This Majestics report suggests all the similar websites to the ones you’ve had a chance to analyze and are connected to your niche. It’s almost scary how accurate it is, too!

Now that we’ve listed the main features the Majestic SEO tool provides, highlighting all the standout features, its the right moment to present you another topic and explain how to use Google’s Search Console for running a backlinking analysis.

How to Run Competitor Backlink Analysis on Google Search Console?

Since backlinks are listed among the three top ranking factors in Google, it is clear why backlinking is so important for getting recognized via Google and any other search engine.

Google Search Console is Google’s free and handy tool for link analysis that will help you follow all types of links and give you cost-free insight into what could be improved in your link-building strategy.

Link Reports

There are four types of links within Link Reports you should consider.

A link report gives you insight into the external and internal link base. Here is what data it covers

External Links:

  • Top linked pages show the total number of your site’s pages that are linked to from other sites.
  • Top linking sites show the list of external sites that send links to your website.
  • The top linking text shows anchor text gained from external sites.

Internal Links:

  • Top linked pages show which pages on your site have the most internal links.
Top Linked Pages

The top linked pages report shows the number of links attained from external websites.

The report enables you to access any page and see if there is any backlink which refers to it. This report also lets you filter the pages so you can look at a specific category such as “product pages”.

Top Linking Sites

Google evaluates links on quality rather than quantity. It utilizes unique and unaffiliated links to make a list of top linking sites and provides you with an accurate report of high-quality linking domains.

Google strives to award the sites with the highest quality backlinks by ranking them better in SERPs.

In terms of the impact that many low-quality backlinks have on your website – they will not contribute in any way to your link equity or rank positions. So, instead of trying hard to gain any backlink, try to create high-quality content that will gain popularity and backlinks organically.

Top Linking Text

Top linking text is an analysis of anchor text, or simply, the word you click on that contains the link that leads to a specific webpage. Anchor text contributes in two ways – it provides the contextual relevance of the page that incorporates the link, and also it gives value to the linked page.

This report is less useful than others since there is no way to report which page contains the text or which page is sending a backlink to your site.

If you want to analyze the anchor text that links to your site, scan the list in the “Top linking text” report, marked “1”, like in the example below. Text without the brand or domain will be the most beneficial, typically.

Internal Links

Internal links are tremendously important for your organic ranking results because those send link equity and relevance between your pages. The more active your internal linking is, the better your organic search rankings are. Just don’t overdo it as search engine crawlers do notice if it’s illogical and just aimed at SEO.

Ideally, internal links on your site indicate the most important pages for ranking. Each internal link sends a small amount of link equity and relevance. Stronger internal link networks can produce more substantial organic search rankings.


Link-building is arguably the most challenging part of any SEO strategy. Even more, it is a long-term process that gains its value as time passes. Still, it has the greatest potential to increase organic traffic to your website. Unlike other SEO techniques that are mostly automated and utilize software to grab a report and implement it, link-building is about building relationships – Not only to links and anchor text, but with people. Basically, it is the surest way to find out how the content you create impacts others, while also building the authority of your site and your wider network.

Here at digital marketing agency Chicago, we are dedicated to building high-quality relationships, backlinks, and impactful content that will make a true authority in your industry out of you. Contact us, schedule your consultation, and take your first step toward the first page of Google’s results.


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