Exploring Competitor Backlinks

If you’re an SEO expert or simply into optimization, then you’ve probably encountered a few backlink tools. Aside from big names like Majestic (previously MajesticSEO) and Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs Site Explorer is a huge rival that you might want to consider.

Ahrefs Site Explorer was founded by Dmitry Gerasimenko and came out in 2011. It has since grown into one of ‘the largest index of live backlinks’; enlarging their services to include keywords, website comparison, new and lost links, plus downloadable SEO reports. The brand name was aptly taken from the HTML link tag ‘a hrefs’ – which is pretty cool because it brings focus on what they do best: backlinks.

You might argue that Ahrefs pales in comparison to more popular link research tools like Majestic. But did you know that you can use it to catch up, and eventually, ‘outrank’ your competition?

Ahrefs Made Easy

If you haven’t signed up with this service, it’s pretty easy. Just choose a monthly package that suits your needs, log in, and you’re ready to research! There are two ways to spy on your competition via their backlinks.

Ahrefs Referring Pages

One, is to compare data with one or more of your rival websites. Ahrefs has a no-nonsense interface that’s very easy to understand. At their domain comparison page, you can immediately see the difference between YOUR site and that of your competitor. Check social signals, referring domains and pages with ease. With a single glance, you can create a smart hypothesis as to why your (or their) website ranks higher.

The second method is to ‘dig up’ their live backlinks. So instead of entering your site’s URL into the explorer field, you would type in that of your contender. From there, you have the choice of either looking at their inbound or outbound links. Under those choices, you may also select from new/lost links, anchors, new/lost referring domains, as well as broken backlinks.

Ahrefs Backlink Types

Helpful graph that showcases proportion of new and lost backlinks.

Once you scroll down, you’ll be provided with other data; which includes CTLDs distribution, a list of most used anchor phrases, and graphs that has been sorted by referring domains and pages. Hover over an item to see its value.

Let’s assume that you chose the second method to check on your competition. Now what?

Backlink Research To Get Ahead

Inbound links are backlinks that point back to YOUR website. This is a key factor in driving your online authority. So go ahead and see what type of backlinks your competition uses. Select ALL to check all available links; or pick only the dofollow or nofollow links. There are also choices for redirects, governmental, educational, and non-sitewide. Ahrefs also included small details like the number of social shares for the particular backlink (for major platforms only: such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+).

From here, you can analyze relevant backlinks that applies to your own SEO standards. For example: you noticed that your rival site has backlinks from high-authority blogs. If deemed appropriate for your campaign, you have the option to include it in your techniques OR simply dismiss it. What matters is that you’ve seen what TYPE of backlinks they have and gained insight as to HOW it contributed to their rankings.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself during your backlink research:

  • What kind of backlink is this?
  • Is this backlink relevant? If so, how?
  • Did this backlink contribute to the competitor’s current ranking?
  • How many of these same backlinks are there?
  • If implemented, how will this backlink fare during algorithm updates?

These are just a few. Feel free to add your own.

Ahrefs All The Way: A Good Idea?

Remember that just like huge names in the SEO business, Ahrefs is just a tool. At the end of the day, your analysis is what matters most. Ahrefs and similar backlink research tools can only provide you with data – you and your SEO team would need to study it carefully for what you can and cannot use. Some SEO experts advise pairing Ahrefs with other services (like Majestic and Open Site Explorer).

Don’t just take our word for it. Try Ahrefs for yourself and see how it can help you get ahead of your competition. Sign up with other services and mix them up for a unique SEO experiment.

Are there other backlink research tools that you can suggest? Did you try Ahrefs yet? Tell us your backlink stories today!

8 thoughts on “Exploring Competitor Backlinks with Ahrefs Site Explorer
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