Last updated: Jan 17, 2024

Google is constantly updating its ranking algorithm to deliver relevant results. But one signal continues to have a strong impact on rankings — link building.

External backlinks from other sites act as a vote of confidence. All other factors equal, a site that has more backlinks will outrank a site with no backlinks.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can spam your site with backlinks and rise to the top. You need links from relevant and trustworthy sites to build your authority.

The good news is there are plenty of tools you can use to develop a link-building strategy, from analyzing your competitors’ link profile to conducting outreach, monitoring existing backlinks, and more.

Are you looking to get a successful link-building campaign off the ground?

Then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll give an in-depth look at the top free link building tools.

Top 14 Free Link Building Tools

There’s no shortage of link building tools on the market, but choosing the right one for your business isn’t easy. 

Here’s a list of free tools you can use to aid your white hat link building strategy.

1. Majestic SEO For Monitoring Backlinks

majestic free link building tool

Majestic SEO is a popular link building tool. It offers an extensive “Link Intelligence” database by crawling and mapping the web. 

How it Works

Majestic SEO offers two indexes: Fresh Index and Historic Index.

The Fresh Index contains a list of pages and links that it has found in the past 120 days. It also includes any links that you might have lost in that period. This is useful for understanding how link building campaigns affect your immediate rankings.

The Historic Index is a massive database that spans the last five years and contains trillions of unique URLs. This lets you measure your site’s SEO performance over time.

Registering for a free plan does give you limited access to some of its features. But you can still view important metrics like external backlinks, referring domains, and more.

Trust Flow is a metric that displays the quality of links that point to a URL, while Citation Flow represents the quantity of links that point to a site. (Both are available in the free plan.)

majestic free link building tool

One way to use Majestic SEO is to view the Trust Flow and Citation Flow of sites that are ranking on the first page for a target keyword. This can give you a better idea of how easy or difficult it is to rank. 

Majestic SEO Pricing

If you’re looking for features and metrics beyond what’s available in the free plan, you can upgrade to a paid plan, too.

The Lite plan starts at $49.99 a month and goes up to $399.99 for the API plan (ideal for developers and agencies).

Here’s an overview of the plans that Majestic SEO offers:

majestic free link building tool

Note that you can also save when you choose an annual plan.

2. Respona

Respona is an all-in-one blogger outreach platform outfitted with all of the necessary tools to set up and launch an email campaign of any kind, be it for link building, digital PR, marketing, or even sales.

How it Works

It’s integrated with Google, and popular SEO tools such as Ahrefs and Semrush for streamlined prospecting, and pulls metrics such as domain rating and organic traffic.

A powerful email finder is also included, making it extremely easy to find the right person’s contact information on auto-pilot.

Respona’s intuitive interface guides you through every step of creating and launching your outreach campaigns, keeps track of your performance, and also the status of your conversations with each prospect.

The tool will be especially useful to link builders, as it was initially used to help Visme scale their link building outreach efforts, helping the website gain over 3 million organic visitors a month.

  • Automated email finder/verifier
  • Drip email sequences
  • Great for prospecting link opportunities
  • Deep personalization
  • Built-in analytics and reporting
  • Email health reports
  • Integration with popular SEO tools

Respona pricing

Respona offers a 7-day free trial and two base plans: Starter ($99/month) and Unlimited ($499/month):

With the Starter plan, you will be getting one sender email to connect, as well as 5000 monthly email lookup credits.

As the name suggests, the Unlimited plan gets you unlimited sender emails and credits. Both plans get you access to all of the features.

Custom plans to suit your specific needs are also available.

3. Hunter.io For Finding Emails

hunter free link building tool

Hunter.io is a tool that makes it easy for you to find email addresses.

How it Works 

Conducting outreach is one of the most important aspects of link building and PR. The process involves reaching out to webmasters and requesting an inbound link back to your site.

But a common challenge with an outreach email campaign is finding the right contact information. 

If you don’t reach the right person, your email will likely go unread. Complicating matters even further is the fact that companies don’t always list email addresses of their employees.

Hunter.io lets you quickly find email addresses associated with any website. Simply type in the company’s URL to start your search.

hunter free link building tool

You’ll need to create an account to view the full results and access other features like search filters and CSV downloads. 

Another handy feature that Hunter.io offers is email verification (as seen by the green checkmarks above). This tells you that an email is active and in use.

A free account gives you access to 50 free searches a month, but you can always upgrade to a premium plan as you ramp up your outreach emails.

Hunter.io Pricing

Hunter.io offers different plans depending on your needs. If you’re still getting started with outreach for link building, then the free plan is perfect for your needs. 

Here’s an overview of the different plans that Hunter.io offers with its email finder tool:

hunter free link building tool

Note that you can save 30% with a yearly plan.

4. Ahrefs For Finding Broken Links

ahrefs free link building tool

Ahrefs offers a suite of powerful SEO tools for keyword research, rank tracking, backlink building, and more. But in this post we’re only going to cover their broken link checker. It’s available for free and you can use it to build quality links to your site.

How it Works 

With Ahrefs’ broken backlink checker, you can quickly check for broken inbound and outbound links on your site. Fix any broken links, so you don’t send visitors to a 404 page.

Ahrefs’ broken backlink checker isn’t just limited to your own site. You can also use the tool to check for broken outbound links on sites in your industry.

Simply enter in a URL and the tool will show you a list of broken links.

ahrefs free link building tool

If a site is pointing to a resource that no longer exists, you can create something similar and ask that they point to your page instead.

Ahrefs’ broken link checker also lets you run daily, weekly, or monthly crawls to help with your broken link building efforts. You can then export that data to a CSV file and get to work on an outreach campaign.

Ahrefs Pricing

Ahrefs’ link building tool only shows a portion of broken backlinks. You’ll need to subscribe to one of their premium plans to see all the link data. The good news is that you get access to their other tools too.

Here’s a snapshot of Ahrefs’ pricing:

You can get two months free with a yearly plan.

5. Sitechecker For Monitoring Backlinks and Backlinks Generator

Backlinks Generator and Backlink Analysis are handy SEO tools from Sitechecker platform that greatly simplify external website promotion. They make it possible to monitor the number and quality of backlinks on your project and competitors’ sites, as well as generate links to landing pages for free can be created easily with the help of landing page creators. It doesn’t require much of your time and can help you get started in no time.

How it works

Backlinks Generator is a tool for getting free links to a page. It automatically builds indexed backlinks from analyzer sites. These projects have a high-quality link profile and a lot of traffic. This allows you to more effectively promote the new site and prevent overspam on projects working in competitive niches.

Backlinks Generator is especially recommended for newly created projects: it generates the first URLs for landing pages in a few seconds. It is recommended to use the tool with other similar services from Sitechecker: Backlinks Checker to identify links built naturally and Backlinks Tracker to understand which links have the best impact on ranking growth.

Backlink Analysis is a tool for comprehensive analysis of backlinks in different time periods. It also features an analysis of competitors’ link strategies to find methods to improve your positions. This tool collects data from different services, providing the most objective information about the link profiles.

In the process of studying traffic dynamics and link growth, you can find the most important URLs for a website. Analysis for different periods of time is allowed: from 1 to 12 months. Using historical data from the last year, you can develop your own link building plan.

To use the tool, you just need to collect backlink data from Ahrefs, Semrush, Majestic, Serpstat and download them in one click. Next, select a period and get the analysis data. 

Based on this data, you can form your own strategy.

Sitechecker Pricing

Backlink Analysis and Backlinks Generator are included in Sitechecker’s product range and are available on three pricing plans. Pricing starts at $49 per month, with maximum features available starting at $249 per month. You can save a lot by purchasing an annual plan.

Here’s an overview of the plans that Sitechecker offers:

A free 7-day trial is available, and you can save 20% by switching to an annual plan.

6. MozBar For Analyzing Keywords

mozbar free link building tool

MozBar is a free Chrome extension that lets you conduct backlink research and view metrics right from the search results.

How it Works 

MozBar is an SEO tool that’s incredibly easy to use. After installing the extension to your browser, enter in a keyword and you’ll be able to quickly analyze how competitive that keyword is.

The free version has limited features, but you can still view other metrics like Domain Authority and Page Authority. 

Domain Authority is a metric that was developed by Moz as a way to measure the strength of an entire site and its ability to rank in the search results. (Websites with a higher Moz Domain Rating correlate with higher rankings on the first page of Google.)

Page Authority is a metric that measures a specific page’s ability to rank in the search results for a keyword. Both metrics range from 0 to 100 with higher scores correlating to better rankings.

mozbar free link building tool

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If the search results contain sites with a low Domain Authority, you’ll be able to rank for that keyword with relatively little effort.

Even if the results contain high authority competitors, you can increase your domain authority to compete.

You can also use the Link Explorer feature in the MozBar tool to conduct link research and view other SEO metrics to see how sites on the first page of Google are achieving those rankings.

By conducting a backlink analysis, you’ll have a better idea of what it’ll take to outrank your competitors.

MozBar Pricing

MozBar is a free tool, but most of its features are limited. If you’re looking for additional features like rank tracking and more backlink data, you can also sign up for Moz Pro with the following plans:

There’s a free 30-day free trial available and you can save 20% by switching to a yearly plan. They just increased pricing in 2023.

7. Whitespark For Finding Local Citations

whitespark free link building tool

Whitespark offers a local citation finder that you can use to track your citations on the web and identify new places you can submit your site.

How it Works 

Building citations are a must to rank for local search queries. A local citation is a mention of your name, address, and number on the web. An example would be a profile on a business directory like Yelp or Foursquare.

local citations free link building

With Whitespark’s local citation finder, you can find new local directories on the web where you can submit your site to. You’ll need to create an account to use the tool. 

Create a new campaign and add relevant details about your business. The tool will then compile a list of citation sources based on what you entered. Be sure to keep your NAP (name, address, and phone number) consistent with each source you submit to. 

Whitespark Pricing

The downside with the free version is that you can only create 1 campaign and you’re limited to 3 daily searches. A lot of the citation sources it compiles is also inaccessible. 

Whitespark offers a number of premium plans depending on your needs. These give you extra features like the ability to track citations and get unlimited search results.

Here’s how much Whitespark’s plans cost:

You can also save on your plan by switching to a yearly subscription. They just increased pricing in 2023.

8. Ubersuggest For Analyzing Backlinks

ubgersuggest free link tool

Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool that provides tons of keyword suggestions and SEO metrics like search volume, CPC (cost per click), and ranking difficulty. 

The tool also includes a free backlink checker that shows who links to you and your competitors. 

How it Works 

Before you start building links, it’s important to conduct a link analysis of sites that are ranking on the first page. This will give you a better idea of what it’ll take to outrank those pages.

Ubersuggests’ backlink checker allows you to conduct a backlink analysis of competing sites and see where they’re getting their links.

Simply search for a keyword you want to rank for. Take note of the sites that are ranking on the first page and enter those URLs into the backroom tool.

Here’s a quick link analysis of a site that ranks for the term “build a home gym”:

ubgersuggest free link tool

It’ll take some effort, but outranking this site is possible with some quality backlinks.

Another handy feature is being able to view where your competitors are getting their links. 

ubgersuggest free link tool

With this information, you can reach out to those sites and request a link. Improving your link profile will also increase your rankings.

Ubersuggest Pricing

Ubersuggest is competitively priced compared to other link building tools. Upgrading to a paid plan gives you access to SEO training materials and other tools like keyword discovery, daily rank tracking, site audits, and more. 

Here’s a snapshot of Ubersuggest’ pricing:

ubgersuggest free link tool

You can also get started with a 7-day free trial to test out the tool’s paid features.

9. Google Alerts For Brand Mentions

google alerts free link building tool

Google Alerts is a tool that lets you create notifications on any topic. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date on industry news. And, of course, you can also use this tool to build links.

How it Works 

Brand mentions are when another site mentions anything related to your company. If your brand name or products get mentioned online without a link, that’s an easy link building opportunity.

You can configure Google Alerts to send you a notification whenever any web pages mention your brand or products. Then you can click through those notifications to look at the content that cites your brand.

Whenever you find an unlinked brand mention, send an outreach email and request that they link to your site. This makes it easier to identify link building opportunities as they happen.

Google Alerts Pricing

Unlike most of the link building tools on this page, Google Alerts is completely free for all digital marketers to use. You only need an email address to get started.

10. BuzzSumo For Identifying Influencers

buzzsumo free link building tool

BuzzSumo is a content marketing platform that enables you to discover and research high-performing content.

How it Works

With BuzzSumo, you can gather content insights like Facebook and Twitter shares, engagement scores, and the number of links an article has.

This kind of insight allows you to identify content that others are sharing and linking to. You can also use BuzzSumo to dig deeper and find industry influencers.

buzzsumo free link building tool

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With a list of influencers in your industry, you can conduct an outreach campaign and ask them to share or link to your content.

BuzzSumo Pricing

BuzzSumo offers a free 30-day trial. But if you want to keep using their software, you’ll need to upgrade to one of their paid plans which starts at $99 a month. 

You can also save 20% when you pay yearly. BuzzSumo just increased their pricing in 2023.

11. Snov.io For Conducting Outreach

snov.io free link building tool

Snov.io is an outreach platform that enables you to find email addresses and create drip campaigns. 

How it Works

Conducting outreach allows you to build high quality links from authoritative sites in your industry. But one of the biggest challenges is doing so at scale.

Using a spreadsheet to keep track of individual outreach campaigns is incredibly tedious and time-consuming.

With Snov.io, you can scale your outreach efforts and track your emails. The tool also provides an automated follow-up feature, allowing you to stay in touch with potential link prospects. 

Another feature you may find useful is the email verifier:

snov.io free link building tool

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You can upload a list of emails and it’ll verify it against its database of over 90 million verified email addresses.

Snov.io Pricing

Snov.io offers a free plan with 50 monthly credits (payment units to find and verify emails) and 100 drip campaign recipients. 

Even with the free plan, you get access to all the tools and features, and you can upgrade your plan as your needs grow.

Here’s an overview of the plans that Snov.io offers:

You can get two months free by switching to a yearly plan.

12. SE Ranking For Checking Backlinks

SE Ranking’s SEO Backlink Checker provides a bird-eye view of a website’s backlink profile while allowing you to dive deeper with the details. 

How it Works 

With SE Ranking you can analyze domains, domains excluding subdomains as well as certain URLs. Just paste the address in the search bar and hit the Find backlink button. 

You’ll immediately get a list of the domain’s/URL’s key metrics such as Domain Trust and Page Trust, the total number of backlinks and referring domains the site boasts, the number of the referring domains that come from .edu and .gov TLDs. 

With this, you can also see how many of the site’s backlinks are dofollow and how many have the nofollow attribute assigned to them.

These metrics allow you to get an idea of how strong the domain’s backlink profile is. For example, you can find guest posting opportunities through Google by sourcing for sites with “Write for us” pages. 

Before contacting these websites, you’ll need to take a pick under the hood to assess the value of the potential link and decide if it’s worth your while. You can use the SE Ranking tool to qualify your prospects.

SE Ranking Pricing

The Backlink Checker is a part of an all-in-one SEO platform available at a monthly fee. But, you can opt for the limited version on their landing page.

The data you acquire from the Backlink Checker’s landing page is very limited. To get access to a comprehensive list of any site’s backlinks, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial. 

Once the trial is over, you’ll have to purchase one of the subscriptions. 

Their Essential package comes with an annual subscription for $18.6/month. With this pricing plan, you’ll be able to check up to 20 domains daily. 

You’ll also get access to a complete SEO toolkit that includes tools for ranking tracking, keywords and competitive research, website audit, backlink monitoring, and more.

13. Disavow Link Tool For Disavowing Links

disavow link building tool

Disavow Links is a tool that lets you tell Google to ignore certain backlinks that are pointing to your site.

How it Works

The Penguin algorithm update penalizes and decreases rankings for sites that spam their pages with backlinks.

This may sound good in theory, but it also has unintended consequences. A sketchy competitor could spam your site with questionable links in an effort to decrease your rankings.

That’s why it’s a good idea to audit your link profile and remove spammy links.

If you’re unable to manually remove low-quality links pointing to your site, you can use the Disavow Links tool to get Google to ignore them when assessing your site.

Create a list of backlinks in a text file and then submit it. 

Here’s an example of how to create a text file with the links you want to disavow:

disavow link building tool

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Google recommends that you use this tool with caution and only when you’re unable to get spammy links manually removed. 

Disavow Links Pricing

Just like with Google Alerts, the Disavow Links tool is completely free to use. However, once you submit a file, it’ll take a few weeks for Google to process and disavow the links.

Currently, we are also seeing a lot of cases of SEO spam in websites where hackers change SERP results to Japanese or Pharma characters by injecting malicious scripts.

14. SEO SpyGlass from SEO PowerSuite

SEO SpyGlass from SEO PowerSuite is SEO backlink software that will be incredibly helpful for link-builders.

How it works

First, you need to launch the, create a project for your website, and the tool will collect all its backlinks.

SEO SpyGlass looks into all possible backlink attributes, sorting them by types, such as nofollow/dofollow, image/text links. The software analyzes anchor texts and creates an anchor cloud for the domain. The tool lets you detect spam websites and spam networks and forecasts a Penalty Risk metric. It also provides referral traffic estimations (according to Google Analytics).

Besides, it shows a breakdown of all backlinks by TLDs, locations of linking websites, the number of unique IPs, etc. 

SEO SpyGlass has its own metric for measuring domain strength and page strength called InLink Rank / Page InLink Rank, which roughly correlates with PageRank. 

For link-builders, SEO SpyGlass has a bulk analysis option to check the domain strength of up to 200 URLs at once.

All the discovered linking domains can be filtered and exported in a CSV or Excel table. Then, you can enter the discovered domain into Link-Assistant and find the contact emails (if they are publicly available on the websites).

Link-Assistant is a link management tool where you can reach out to link prospects and request a link from them. Once your backlink is in place, you store it in Link-Assistant’s project, so that later the links are verified that they are all in place.


So, together SEO SpyGlass and Link-Assistant are great tools for link-builders to discover link prospects and keep track of their work progress. The free versions of the tools have some limitations. For example, the Free version of SEO SpyGlass has a limit of checking 1,100 links per website. The Professional version allows checking up to 250,000 links per website and running automated tasks. The Enterprise version additionally provides possibilities to generate and send white-label reports and store 100 projects in-cloud. 

The Professional version of SEO SpyGlass costs $99/year and Enterprise costs $199/year, and the price is cheaper if ordering the whole SEO PowerSuite bundle.


Backlinks are perhaps the most important signal in Google’s ranking algorithm. 

If you want to outrank your competitors and drive more traffic to your site, then link building needs to be a priority.

While you can manually build links on your own, you’ll eventually want to consider investing in premium link building tools to streamline the process and keep track of your efforts.

Link building statistics help us learn from the latest studies on how impactful link building really is.

So, what do the link building statistics tell us?

And according to a senior strategist at Google, the top ranking factors are: 

“Content, and links pointing to your site.” 

This has been confirmed even more recently by John Mueller of Google:

(Related: See PR statistics)

Building links is similar to acquiring social proof. When Google looks at your website, having strong, authoritative links pointing back to your content signals that you are trustworthy and informative. 

Without links, ranking for competitive keywords in your niche is impossible. Whether you are looking for good link building services and want to understand how impactful they are, or are writing content about link building impact on SEO, these statistics will come in handy.

Here are the top link building statistics and trends you need to know for 2021-2022 to earn better links. 

Link Building Statistics You Need to Know

Here are key link building facts you need to know to (1) earn better backlinks and (2) scale your domain rating. 

1. Content pieces and backlinks are the top two most important factors for ranking on Google for target keywords. Next is RankBrain. (Google)

2. Websites with a higher Ahrefs/Moz/SEMrush Domain Rating correlate with higher rankings on the first page of Google. (Backlinko)

2.5: In a study of 310 SEO and marketing experts, 51.3% preferred Semrush as their favorite SEO tool over Ahrefs. (uSERP, 2022 data).

3. The first ranking page on Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions 2-10:

4. Websites with more unique root domains on average outrank websites with less unique root domains. (Backlinko)

5. 95% of all pages online have zero backlinks pointing to their website (uSERP):

6. 65% of digital marketers state that link building is the hardest part of SEO (SEO Tribunal)

7. Links from higher domain rating websites are more impactful than links from lower domain rating websites (uSERP) 

8. Blog posts containing 3,000+ words receive more backlinks on average than blog posts under 3,000 words, making long-form content a crucial tool to employ as soon as you start a blog. (Moz)

9. Listicle content generates the highest amount of unique backlinks in comparison to all other blog post content types (Moz)

10. Exact match anchor text backlinks are no more effective at increasing content rankings than non-exact match anchor text (Ahrefs)

11. The highest Alexa rating websites have a natural anchor text profile containing a mix of exact match, branded anchors, and general / random anchor text. (uSERP State of Link Building)

12. 67.5% of SEOs believe that backlinks have a big impact on search engine rankings (uSERP State of Link Building).

13. Over half of respondents (59%) indicated that backlinks would have more of an impact in the next few years, while 35.5% said they would have the same impact. (uSERP State of Link Building)

14. Only 2.2% of content published online produces more than one unique backlink. (Backlinko)

15. 65% of marketers believe domain rating / domain authority is the most important metric for overall backlink quality. (uSERP State of Link Building)

16. The most important factors to determine the quality of backlinks are; unique root domain, domain rating / domain authority, content quality, website traffic, relevance to your niche.  (uSERP State of Link Building)

17. 90% of marketers utilize content pieces as their main way to generate more backlinks. (Moz)

18. 91% of all pages on the internet get zero organic traffic, mostly because they have zero backlinks pointing to their content. (Impact)

19. 54% of all SEOs believe that nofollow links are valuable for their backlink profile (uSERP State of Link Building)

20. Google is evolving the “nofollow” attribute for backlinks, potentially providing more value to your backlink profile than previously. (Google)

21. More than 60% of businesses outsource link building efforts to agencies or contractors. (uSERP State of Link Building)

22. 67.5% of SEOs believe that backlinks have a major impact on search engine rankings (uSERP State of Link Building)

23. 56.2% believe that link quality and quantity impact rankings (uSERP State of Link Building)

24. 85% of SEOs and marketers believe that link building has a big impact on brand authority and brand building (uSERP State of Link Building):

25. The majority of SEOs believe content, backlinks and QR codes work best together as a main priority to increase organic traffic (uSERP State of Link Building)

26. The most popular tools for link building and tracking are Google Search Console, Buzzstream, Ahrefs, Majestic, Pitchbox, Screaming Frog, MailShake, Semrush, and Moz.

27. The most important KPI marketers and SEOs care about when acquiring links is organic traffic increases that result from improved organic rankings:

28. The most effective link building tactics that produce the best results are: digital PR, content marketing, guest posting, link exchanges.

29. Most companies spend between $1,000 and $15,000+ on link building each month. (uSERP State of Link Building)

Link Building Pricing and Cost Stats

How much does link building cost? This question is hard to answer, as there are so many different factors that go into link costs: 

  • Domain rating of the backlink
  • Amount of other links on the page
  • Quality of content you are linked from 
  • Relevance
  • Site traffic 
  • Spam score
  • And countless more

In addition, cost also depends on whether you are outsourcing link building or doing it in-house.

Using a link building agency is a direct, straightforward cost, whereas in-house link building often depends on salary or hourly wages, tool costs, and more. 

With that being said, here are the latest statistics on link building costs. 

1. Low-authority, lower quality links average around $300 per link (ThriveMyWay)

2. High-authority, contextual backlinks average from $700-$2,000 or more per link (uSERP State of Link Building)

3. Most companies who outsource link building spend at least 25% of their SEO marketing budget on link building (SEO Tribunal)

4. Nearly half of all SEOs spend $10,000 or more annually on link building. (Aira)

5. 41% of SEOs believe that the cost to acquire new backlinks will increase further in the future as competition becomes tougher. 

Link Building Trends To Know in 2024

Link building strategies and trends change from year to year.

First, strategies are novel and produce fantastic organic business growth. As they become more mainstream, the market saturates, reducing success rates until the cycle repeats itself. 

Here are the latest backlink trends to know to improve your acquisition rates and increase your domain authority score. 

Prefer to watch a video? Jenna, Director of Video at uSERP, walks you through the four trends you need to know (+ actionable tips!) in this video:

Trend #1. Cold outreach for link building is highly saturated, and nets very poor results

Cold outreach is in every link builders strategy plan, but does it actually net results that are worthwhile? 

For most, the answer is no. In fact, only 8.5% of cold outreach emails generate backlinks.

Why is this? Think about it this way: 

Editors of major publications that can help you build links are receiving hundreds of emails per week from people just like you, pitching the same topics as you. 

The odds are slim to none that they will even open the email, let alone read your content and let you link out to your own website. 

If cold outreach is a large component of your link building strategy, it’s time to consider other alternatives with higher success rates. 

If cold outreach is your favorite tactic, here are a few data-backed ways to improve success: 

  • Send follow up emails, which increase email responses by 2x. 
  • Send cold outreach emails for backlinks on Wednesday, the highest response rates are recorded mid-week. 
  • Personalize your body content. Personalized emails for link building generate 33% higher response rates! 

Beyond cold outreach, there are other great ways to invest your time and budget. 

Trend #2.  Original research generates tons of backlinks

There are countless types of content you can create from infographics to custom images to listicles and more. The only problem is, many of these content types are overplayed, overdone, and result in almost zero backlinks. 

So, what content type earns the most links? 

Original research! It’s my favorite SaaS link building strategy. It’s one of the ideal ways to increase conversions for every SaaS product: from coworking apps to edTech solutions.

Original research is classified as study, or unique piece of data that you can publish content about. 

For instance, you can survey customers in your niche to see what drives purchasing decisions, or ask 1,000 bloggers how blogging has changed in the last few years.

And clearly, it works like a charm to generate strong backlinks:

Develop original research studies in your niche that haven’t been done before. Take a unique angle on a popular subject matter and target difficult keywords. 

Once you’ve published, conduct manual outreach, spread the word on social, and hire a digital PR agency (cough uSERP cough) to help you land huge brand mentions. 

Trend #3. Link building is more competitive than ever

The vast majority of content online has zero backlinks. More digital marketers, SEOs, and companies are investing money into link building every single day. 

What does this mean? 

Acquiring links that move the needle for your business is getting more difficult with each passing day. 

Cold outreach is failing. Broken link building is tedious and rarely worthwhile. Huge websites with large domain ratings are crowding the SERPs. 

Link building is, simply put, more saturated than ever, and requires unique strategies, unique content, and more relationship building than before. 

Many businesses are even starting to use different link tracking software to measure and improve link-building effectiveness

Trend #4. Traditional press releases are less valuable

For years marketers and SEOs alike have utilized press releases online as a way to build links quickly at scale. 

Press releases often look like this: 

And they often cover key topics in your business space, providing a direct backlink (almost always nofollow). 

This sounds like a win-win situation, but press release links are often lower quality, and are almost always nofollow. 

While nofollow tagged links are becoming more valuable (more on this later!), hundreds of nofollow links from low quality domains that link out to hundreds of thousands of sites isn’t very valuable. 

Instead of paying thousands of dollars for curated press releases, invest that money into high-authority link mentions that will skyrocket your domain rating. 

Trend #5. Nofollow links are more valuable than we thought

Nofollow links have often been regarded as worthless. Oh, you acquired a nofollow link? Who cares! 

Thankfully, this isn’t the case anymore. 

Just recently, Google announced major changes to the evolution of link attributes, and primarily to nofollow links. 

Google previously defined rel=”nofollow” as:

Use this attribute for cases where you want to link to a page but don’t want to imply any type of endorsement, including passing along ranking credit to another page.

But, with these new changes in effect, Google is assigning new value and meaning to nofollow links: 

When nofollow was introduced, Google would not count any link marked this way as a signal to use within our search algorithms. This has now changed. All the link attributes — sponsored, UGC and nofollow — are treated as hints about which links to consider or exclude within Search. We’ll use these hints — along with other signals — as a way to better understand how to appropriately analyze and use links within our systems.

So, in plain English, what does this mean? 

Essentially, Google now will make the choice whether or not to pass along ranking credit to nofollow links, rather than instantly discrediting them when the nofollow attribute is added. 

Taking into account factors like the information provided, relevance, and even direct anchor text of that link, nofollows now provide far more potential value than ever before. 

Ready to Scale Your Link Building and Domain Rating?

Hopefully these link building statistics helped shed light on the most effective tactics out there.

Acquiring top-tier backlinks is close to impossible on your own without years of connections and experience. 

Crafting manual outreach campaigns requires targeted list building, days or weeks of research and spreadsheet analysis, and even more time scouring the web for the right contact info. 

Sounds like a lot of work, huh? We haven’t even got to the personalization, templates, tools needed, scheduling campaigns, and more. And that’s just one potential method (out of hundreds) of acquiring backlinks. 

To acquire top-tier links at scale, outsourcing is your best bet. 

Want an instant quote? Smash that button below! 👇

Driving organic traffic to your website is an art. It takes planning, skills, and inspiration. A new approach to short-tail keywords may be valuable if your efforts don’t yield the desired results.  

Short-tail keywords are search terms that are brief and to the point. They consist of one or two words but are never longer than that. 

They may seem simple. But have the potential to boost search engine optimization and increase traffic. 

Today, we’ll embark on a journey to explore: 

  • The benefits of using short-tail keywords
  • How to identify the right ones for your business
  • The best practices to incorporate them into your website content. 

By the end of our guide, you’ll have a solid understanding of using short-tail keywords to boost traffic and increase conversions. Read on and discover our best tips. 

Why short-tail keywords are fundamental for SEO

Short-tail keywords are the most commonly used search terms. And they make up a significant part of all search queries. They’re essential to your SEO strategy because they help search engines understand website content and match it to the user’s search intent

Incorporating keywords into your content is vital. It increases the opportunities for your website to rank on search engine results pages (SERPs). Whenever someone searches for the right keywords, you’ll get targeted traffic.

However, it’s worth noting that short-tail keywords are highly competitive because they’re so popular with users. So, ranking for them is incredibly challenging. 

graph explaining short-tail and long-tail keywords

Image Source

A study revealed that less than 20% of our search traffic can come from short-tail keywords. Nevertheless, 70% originates from long-tail keywords, proving their effectiveness in driving our online presence.

For that reason, you must identify the right short-tail keywords for your local search. It’s a great starting point. 

How to conduct short-tail keyword research

The first step in using short-tail keywords effectively is to conduct keyword research. 

The process involves using keyword research tools to discover pertinent, high-value keywords. They help you gain a competitive edge. Next, you’ll determine which ones are worth targeting. You can follow our step-by-step method:

Brainstorm potential short-tail keywords

screenshot of AnswerThePublic

Image source

To start, brainstorm a list of short-tail keywords related to your business or topic. Consider what your target audience searches for. 

Tools like AnswerThePublic (ATP) offer valuable insights into the real queries users enter into search engines. Use it to find questions to answer in your content, other keywords to include, and topics to cover later. 

Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner or Semrush will also help you generate keyword ideas and fine-tune the terms you get from ATP. 

Damian Grabarczyk, the co-founder and growth marketer of PetLab Co., says, “To brainstorm short-tail keywords, our strategy revolves around identifying keyword clusters and understanding the high-intent search behaviors within these groups. We focus on keywords that encapsulate our product range, ensuring they resonate with a wide audience yet have the potential to drive targeted traffic. This method has been transformative. For instance, after implementing this strategy, we observed a 20% increase in organic traffic and a 25% uplift in conversion rates within just a few months. It’s about striking the right balance between reach and relevance. By aligning our keywords with market trends and customer insights, we’ve increased our site visits and attracted customers further along the buying cycle, ready to purchase.”

Determine keyword difficulty and search volume

After you develop a list of potential keywords, it’s time to analyze your keyword metrics

Look at their difficulty and search volume. Keyword difficulty equals how challenging it is to rank for a particular keyword. Search volume indicates how often people search for that keyword each month.

screenshot of Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool showing a short-tail keyword with low difficulty and high volume

Screenshot provided by author

Aim for keywords with these main traits: High search volume and low difficulty. These are “low-hanging fruit” and are the easiest to rank for.

Narrow down your list of keywords

After your analysis, narrow down your list of potential keywords. Ensure to include only a few of the most relevant and valuable for your business.

You’ll want to target these keywords in your website copy and content. 

Incorporating short-tail keywords into your website content

Incorporating keywords into web copy and content isn’t always as easy as you’d think. It takes creativity and flexibility. It’s essential to work within best practices so your user experience (UX) remains exceptional and Google’s bots can easily crawl your website. 

Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you work those keywords into your content.

Keep short-tail keywords natural

When incorporating short-tail keywords into your content, it’s essential to do so naturally. Don’t keyword stuff (overuse keywords just to hit a target number of uses) or use them in an unnatural way. Instead, include them in a way that makes sense and adds value to your content.

Harness short-tail keywords in page titles and meta descriptions

Include short-tail keywords in your page titles and meta descriptions.

screenshot of Google search results showing meta titles and meta descriptions

Screenshot provided by author

They are the first elements users see in search engine results when they find your website. Incorporating the right keywords, especially short-tail keywords, into your metadata increases the chances of your content appearing in search results. 

Optimize your website content for short-tail keywords

Optimizing your website content for your target short-tail keywords is fundamental. What do you optimize? The short answer is everything. 

Depending on your niche, your website could include blog posts, product pages, landing pages, and other relevant content.

Include your keywords in headings and subheadings, and sprinkle them naturally throughout your content. On product pages, include keywords in product descriptions and alt text for images. Blog posts should contain target keywords in the introduction and conclusion, the title, and at least one subheader. 

Beyond natural placement, let’s look at other best practices for incorporating short-tail keywords.

Best practices for using short-tail keywords

Adhering to best practices will keep your SEO strategy on track and your user experience optimal. Here are the most essential best practices to remember when targeting short-tail keywords. 

Focus on relevance

It should be obvious, but always and only target relevant keywords. It makes no sense to target an irrelevant keyword, even if it’s a tempting low-hanging fruit.

Staying relevant will help your website appear in the right search engine results pages. Offering a straightforward user experience and improving the average session duration on your site.

Use short-tail keywords as “seed” keywords

The tool will also offer additional keyword ideas when searching for relevant short-tail keywords using Ahrefs or Semrush. These often include terms users also search for and related keywords. 

screenshot of Ahrefs' keyword ideas

Screenshot provided by author

Some suggestions are short-tail keywords, while others are long-tail keywords. Utilizing both (as long as they’re relevant) is the best strategy to optimize your content marketing and website copy. Try taking these suggestions and entering them into AnswerThePublic for additional content ideas. 

Check competitors

Competitor analysis is key to a successful SEO strategy. This is where tools like Ahrefs and Semrush really shine. 

First, find your competitors by checking the list of your “organic competitors.”

screenshot of Ahrefs results of organic competitors

Screenshot provided by author

Then, enter the top three results into the Content Gap tool. 

screenshot of Ahrefs Content Gap tool

Screenshot provided by author

Click on “Show keywords,” and the tool will provide a list of keywords your competitors rank for that you currently don’t. From that list, you can choose relevant keywords you want to pursue. 

screenshot showing the keywords resulting from Ahrefs' Content Gap analysis

Screenshot provided by author

Measuring the success of your short-tail keyword strategy

Unfortunately, SEO isn’t a strategy you can set and forget. It constantly evolves and changes.

As a result, you must track specific metrics and use analytics to measure your success. That way, when strategies and tactics fall short, you’ll know what went wrong and how to adjust and improve. 

Here are the top SEO metrics to track.

Search engine rankings

Check your search engine rankings regularly.

screenshot of Ahrefs organic keywords list showing SERP rankings

Screenshot provided by author

They’ll show you where you rank in search engine results for your target keywords. Use tools like Ahrefs for information related to your search engine rankings, including any changes in ranking, when the tool updates your rankings, and which page on your site ranks for which keyword.

Website Traffic

Tracking your website traffic is vital. It helps you see if there’s been an increase in visitors since you started using certain keywords.

Google Analytics is an outstanding tool for tracking website traffic. It lets you see your overall site traffic as well as individual page traffic‌ — ‌that way, you can see which pages are most popular with users and which pages might need improvement. 

Conversion rates

Finally, you must verify if the strategy attracts qualified traffic to your website. So, you must track your conversion rates.

Google Analytics and HubSpot help track your conversion rates. Their features help you identify opportunities for improvement.

Must-have tools

We’ve already discussed a few of the best tools to streamline your process. Let’s take a closer look at these tools and a couple of other must-have tools that can make all the difference in your SEO strategy. 

Google Keyword Planner

Screenshot of Google's Keyword Planner, displaying the top navigation menu, and sign-up form.

Image source

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool to help you 

Customized keyword suggestions and competition-level insights provide fundamental elements to enhance website visibility.

Starting price: The Google Keyword Planner tool is free to use. All you need to have is a Google Ads account to access it.

Free trial: You can use it for free with your Google Ads account.

Money-back warranty: N/A


Screenshot of SEMrush's features page  displaying the top navigation menu, login, and sign-up form.

Image source

It is an all-in-one SEO and digital marketing tool. It helps website owners and marketers to optimize their online presence.

Semrush has robust features, including:

  • Keyword research
  • Competitive analysis
  • Site auditing
  • Backlink tracking
  • Social media analysis
  • And more.

The platform continuously updates its features to stay up-to-date with industry changes. Providing users with the most accurate and helpful data possible.

Starting price:

  • $119.95 (monthly) for the Pro Plan.
  • $229.95 (monthly) for the Guru Plan.
  • $449.95 (monthly) for the Business Plan.

Free trial: Yes. Semrush offers a free trial for seven (7) days. During this time, users can access all the features of the Pro plan.

Money-back warranty: Semrush offers a 7-day money-back guarantee for all its paid plans. If unsatisfied with the service, you can cancel during the first seven (7) days and receive a full refund.


A screenshot of Ahrefs' home page displaying the top navigation menu, login, and sign-up buttons.

Image source

Ahrefs is a paid tool for keyword research and also analyses features of SEO performance. The tool’s features include:

  • keyword research
  • Backlink analysis
  • Content analysis
  • Site audit
  • Keyword difficulty
  • Search volume data
  • And more.

Starting price: The starting price for Ahrefs is $99 (per month). The Lite plan includes access to all tools and features for one user with limited data and reports.

Free trial: Unfortunately, they currently don’t offer a free trial. But they do have a 7-day trial for $7. It gives full access to all tools and features.

Webmaster Tools Account: You can sign up for a free account and gain access to metrics like keywords you rank for and your website’s backlinks. 

Money-back warranty: Ahrefs offers a 7-day refund guarantee. It doesn’t include the trial plan.


screenshot of Frase home page

Image Source

Frase is an SEO optimization tool that searches the top SERP results for any keyword (short-tail or long-tail) you enter. It then provides recommended secondary and semantic keywords to include in content to optimize it and compete with those SERP results. 

Its features include:

  • SEO research
  • Competitive analysis
  • Content scoring
  • Content briefs
  • Outline builder
  • Custom templates
  • And more

Frase easily competes with other AI optimization tools like SurferSEO and MarketMuse at a much lower price point, making it an attractive alternative for smaller businesses. With the help of its AI, content creators can optimize their blog posts, see how they stack up to competitor’s content, and avoid keyword stuffing – all in one user-friendly dashboard. 

Starting price:

  • $14.99/mo (4 articles/monthly) for the Solo Plan.
  • $44.99/mo (30 articles/monthly) for the Basic Plan.
  • $114.99/mo (Unlimited articles monthly) for the Team Plan.

Free trial: No… BUT if you want to try Frase before subscribing, they offer a 5-day trial for $1. 

Money-back warranty: Frase offers a 5-day money-back guarantee for its subscriptions. If unsatisfied with the service, you can cancel during the first five (5) days and receive a full refund. This does NOT apply to the 5-day trial for $1. 

The takeaway

Short-tail keywords are a valuable resource to increase website traffic and boost your SEO efforts.

Conducting thorough keyword research, incorporating short-tail keywords into your website content, and measuring your success is fundamental for crafting strategies to improve visibility and skyrocket your website’s traffic.

Focus on relevance, target high-value keywords, and stay up-to-date with the latest trends to ensure your short-tail keyword strategy remains effective over time.

Remember to balance short- and long-tail keywords in your overall strategy and optimize for success using our recommended tools. 

To your success!

Frequently asked questions

What are some common mistakes when using short-tail keywords?

It’s always best to stick to ‌best practices and avoid unnecessary penalties. 

Avoid the following to harvest the fruits of your marketing efforts:

Keyword stuffing

Once upon a time, in the early days of the internet, keyword stuffing would improve search engine rankings. That’s no longer the case. 

Users and search engines now recognize overusing keywords to manipulate search rankings as the bad form it is. It can result in a poor user experience and reduced credibility for the website.

It’s a confirmed negative ranking factor for Google, so don’t risk it. 

Ignoring long-tail keywords

We’ll say it again: while short-tail keywords are essential for SEO, you shouldn’t neglect long-tail. These more specific search terms are often easier to rank for – leading to more qualified traffic to your website.

Ignoring them can lead to missed opportunities for qualified leads and increased sales for your business.

Neglecting user intent

When choosing short-tail keywords, it’s crucial to consider user intent. Your target keywords should match what users are searching for. Make sure to provide the content they expect to find. 

What are the benefits and drawbacks of short-tail keywords?

Familiarize yourself with the strengths and weaknesses of short-tail keywords. Its widespread use in SEO and digital marketing doesn’t mean it’s the right approach for everyone. Familiarizing yourself with the pros and cons of this strategy can help you decide whether to use it. 


  • Higher search volume
  • Increased brand exposure
  • High traffic potential


  • High competition
  • Lower conversion rates
  • Lack of specificity

It is up to you to ponder the perks and benefits of incorporating them into your strategies. Each case is unique; what works for other digital marketers may not work for you. Weigh the risk and reward, experiment by following best practices, and track your results.

[convertkit form=3060453]

Finding competitor backlinks and stealing them is a great way to get your audience to see your content. Why? You have to reach the coveted number one search result on Google. 

90% of all traffic goes to that top spot. The rest of the search results are left to fight over that remaining measly 10% of traffic.

While marketers generally understand the importance of harnessing SEO (search engine optimization) content marketing to reach this goal, many forget about the importance of backlinking — a fatal error.

Backlinking is as important as content marketing

Backlinking and content marketing are the two most important search rankings factors — but both carry equal weight.

Despite this, 95% of websites have zero backlinks. 

Build your backlink strategy by working out which referring sites your competitors are using to scale the search rankings, and stealing them.

Want to know how to find competitor backlinks to build a robust backlink strategy? 

Read on for a step-by-step guide to finding competitor backlinks and evaluating their usefulness for your SEO strategy.

Video Summary


What is Competitor Backlinking? 

Backlinking is one of the most effective SEO tactics to help you reach that number one search result on Google.

But how do you make sure you’re outperforming your competitors? 

You research their linking building strategy and overthrow it. This is known as competitor backlinking.

Competitor backlinking is an SEO technique where you analyze the backlinks of competing websites to understand the benchmarks for the types, quality, and number of backlinks you need.

This helps you build a more robust and effective link building strategy for your own website.

Take backlink outreach, for example. Reaching out to potential referral websites is the number one link building method. 

By analyzing your competitor’s backlinks, you’ll get a better idea of the more effective referral websites, so you can reach out to them for your own link building strategy, you can also use a backlink checker tool to analyze your competitor’s backlinks.

When analyzing your competitors to scope out their backlinking strategy, you need a two-pronged attack. 

There are two types of competitors you need to research:

  • Domain-level competitors
  • Page-level competitors

Domain-Level Competitors

Domain-level competitors compete with your website on the whole. 

These sites fall within the same industry sector as you or offer similar information. Essentially, they target the same audience that you’re trying to reach.

These competitors are trying to rank highly for many of the same keywords as you so they compete across their whole domain.

For example, uSERP offers backlinking services so our domain-level competitors will include SEO companies, backlink services, and digital marketing firms. These sites are also using backlink-related topics to increase their search engine visibility. 

Page-Level Competitors

Page-level competitors refer to individual pages that rank competitively for the same target keyword as one of your pages. 

These websites may not offer similar services and may not be trying to target the same audience as you overall. Instead, these individual pages compete rather than the whole site.

For example, look at this article from the uSERP blog….

It’s called How to Drive Organic Business Growth and the main target keyword is ‘organic business growth’.

find competitor backlinks page level

This article ferociously competes with an article called “Sustainable, organic business growth: it’s about your processes” by MYOB.

As a company, MYOB doesn’t compete with uSERP. Instead it provides business management solutions (such as payroll and accounting technology).

Also, MYOB’s blog doesn’t have any other articles that compete with uSERP content.

Despite this, as the article uses the same keyword as one of uSERP’s top-performing blogs, it’s a prime competitor that needs backlink analysis.

How to Find Competitor Backlinks: A Step-by-Step Guide 

Unearthing your competitors’ backlinks is a powerful way to bolster a successful link building strategy. After all, if it works for them, it will likely work for you.

Perform a thorough link analysis to lift the hood on your competitors’ backlinks by following these simple steps.

1. Identify Your Main Keywords 

If you want to know who your competitors are, you need to know how they’re competing. 

When it comes to climbing the ranks on a search engine, target keywords are crucial to a strong SEO strategy. Your main competitors will be the ones with a backlink profile that looks just like yours.

To uncover these direct competitors, you need to know every target keyword that contributes to your search engine visibility. 

While you may know the keywords you’ve actively written into your SEO strategy, it’s also wise to use a keyword tool to understand which other keywords are most prevalent on your site.

Use a tool like Ubersuggest, Spyfu or Morningscore to perform a keyword analysis on your website. You can also search domain names for competitors that rank higher than you on Google to discover new keywords you may not have considered.

Let’s use (one of) Neil Patel’s tools, Ubersuggest, for this example:

find competitor backlinks with tools

You simply enter your website and the keyword tool gives you a list of top keywords, along with their positions and search volume.

Make a note of the top-performing keywords, as this is where you’ll want to start. You’ll get more visibility pushing an article from ninth place to second place, rather than going from 30th to 20th. 

Use these keywords as a jumping off point. Tools like Keywordtool.io, Ask The Public, and Google Keyword Planner can help you find related keywords that will also help you identify competitors.

2. Identify Your Main Competitors 

Now you need to identify your main competitors. These are the top-performers who rival you on Google for your target keywords.

Start by doing a ‘related’ search on Google. 

This will show you all websites that have topics related to yours.

Type this into the search bar:

related:[your URL website]

The websites returned from a related search are some of your domain-level competitors.

Another way to find domain-level competitors is to use Spyfu:

find competitor backlinks with spyfu

If you type your website into Spyfy and click the ‘Competitors’ tab, you’ll get a list of related websites. 

The SEO tool will also show you how much these websites overlap with yours and how many keywords you have in common.

Next, perform a keyword search for each target keyword.

Make a note of the top competing pages on each search engine results page (SERP). 

You’ll notice that certain websites crop up over and over. Add these to your list of domain-level competitors.

Page-level competitors will only rank for one or two focus keywords but are just as important.

Beware. Avoid personalized searches.

Personalized searches will skew the results you see on each SERP as they’ll provide results based on your searches. Your searches are likely related to your own website’s content so you’ll get different results from the average searcher.

To prevent a personalized search, you need to alter the URL of your SERP.

Check out this SERP URL for ‘example query’:


The ‘pws’ is the code denoting personalization. Change the number after ‘pws=’ to a zero, so it reads ‘pws=0’.

3. Analyze Domain-Level Competitors with a Backlink Checker Tool

A backlink checker allows you to delve into the linking domains that lead to your domain-level competitors. 

Since these are your closest rivals, you’ll want to learn which of their referring websites are most effective — then steal them.

While many tools like Ahrefs and SEMRush are useful, you’ll need to pay to access their backlink analysis tool. SEMrush is particularly expensive, especially if you want to buy additional user seats for your team.

While Moz Link Explorer does have a premium option, you can analyze your competitors’ top backlinks for free. Since you’re only really concerned with the backlinks that perform the best, this backlink tool is a great place to start.

Here’s how you perform a domain-level competitor analysis with Moz Link Explorer:

Head to the link analysis tool and make sure you select ‘root domain’ so you’re searching the whole website. Enter each competitor website one at a time.

find competitor backlinks with moz

Click on the number marked ‘Linking Domains’. This shows you all the unique domains that link to your competitors’ website.

find competitor backlinks with moz

On the list of linking domains, you can see the domain authority for each site. Sites with a high domain authority make for good referring inbound links as Google considers these sources to be useful, relevant, and trustworthy.

Make sure that the linking domain has a low spam score. Sites with high spam scores have features that are banned by Google. This lowers the effectiveness of the backlink.

For example, Entrepreneur.com is a better backlink that feedburner.com. While feedburner has a domain authority that’s three points higher than feedburner, feedburner has a 50% spam score.

You want to identify which sites are backlinking to several of your competitors. The easiest way to do this is to export the data to a CVS file, add them all to a spreadsheet, and pinpoint duplicate entries.

find competitor backlinks with moz

You can also click the download arrow to see which articles are linked to your competitors. This gives you an idea of the kind of content each referrer links from.

You’ll need to repeat this process for each one of your domain-level competitors.

You can also try Neil Patel’s tool:

find competitor backlinks with neil patel

This tool will also show you the referring anchor text. This gives you an idea of the focus keywords that your competitors are using for external backlinks.

4. Investigate Page-Level Competitors with a Backlink Analysis Tool

While page-level competitors don’t compete with your site on a whole, these individual articles can knock you clean off the top spot, nabbing 90% of the organic traffic.

Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest is one of the best free quality backlink tools for analyzing the link profile of your page-level competitors.

Here’s how you perform a page-level competitor backlink analysis on Ubersuggest:

Head to the Ubersuggest keyword tool and search your own website. This will bring up a list of top keywords for your site.

find competitor backlinks with neil patel

When you click on each target keyword, the table on the right-hand side shows you the top competing pages for each key term.

You can identify the page-level competitors as these are the sites that don’t generally compete for the same target audience or offer the same services.

In the table of backlink competitors, click the orange numbers under the links column to analyze the backlinks for each article one at a time.

Let’s look at the McKinsey article, for example:

find competitor backlinks with neil patel

When you click through, you’re taken to a list of backlinks. 

You can filter the backlinks by the domain authority to see the most influential pages. Alternatively, sort the results by the ‘last seen’ column to see which pages have been referring visitors most recently.

Look for the sweet spot. These sites have high domain authority scores and have been referring visitors recently. 

Export the CVS for each article and put the results in a spreadsheet. 

Repeat the whole process for each competing page and compare results to see which referral pages appear over and over. 

5. Analyze Semantically Similar Keywords

Once you’ve gone through all your top keywords, you’ll want to delve into semantically-related keywords. After all, some competitors will have a slightly different SEO strategy to you, so they might not appear when you’re searching your specific top key terms.

Use the same SEO tool as above and perform a search for each of your top keywords. This will show you the top pages that use semantically similar keywords.

find competitor backlinks with neil patel

Click through to the backlinks of these pages and export the backlink data from these articles for a more in-depth backlink analysis.

6. Pinpoint the Top-Referring Sites

Now you’ve collected all your data, it’s time to perform a deep-dive backlink analysis to scout out the most valuable referring domains.

As noted above, you want to look for sites with high domain authority scores and pages with high page authority scores.

A site’s domain authority score or page authority score denotes how likely it is to rank highly on Google. More visitors see sites and pages that rank highly on Google, meaning more clicks for you. Apart from ranking, you also need to make sure that the website is secure via a reputed hosting provider and designed well.

Remember, steer clear of pages with high spam scores. These sites and pages don’t sit well with Google, so they won’t rank as highly.

Look for sites that have referred visitors most recently. Just because a site used to be a prominent backlink resource, doesn’t mean it is today. 

Blogs, products, and thought leaders go out of fashion and their audience diminishes. Or a brand new MasterClass course goes live and leapfrogs them in the SERPs. When this happens, their referral links no longer carry the same weight. Look for backlink opportunities that are current.

Explore backlink opportunities on sites that get high organic traffic. The more people heading to a website, the more likely that people will click your backlink.

Lastly, look for popular referrers within your industry. Competitors who are aiming at the same target audience as you will have backlinks on the same sites as others in your sector.

It’s easier to spot duplicates when you put all your backlink data into a spreadsheet and filter it by A-Z.

If you create different spreadsheets for each target keyword, you will start to see the most popular referrers for each different topic you cover.

How to Evaluate Competitor Backlinks

Not all backlinks are created equal.

To add true value to your link building strategy, you want high quality backlinks from reputable sources. 

Likewise, to reap the most benefits from your own link building tactics, you need to make sure you’re using backlink opportunities in the right way.

Here’s a few quick tips on how to analyze your competitors’ backlinks.

Backlink Quality 

While quantity is important, high quality backlinks will work better for you.

Not only do high quality backlinks often have higher organic traffic, they tend to have a higher domain authority. This means these sites will appear higher in Google, pushing up your search engine rankings.

When looking through your competitors’ backlinks, steer clear of forums or spammy blogs.

Look for reputable media sources, influential thought leaders, and popular industry-related blogs.

Identify referrers with high domain authority and page authority scores, lots of organic traffic, and recent content.

It’s also smart to choose referring pages that have lots of their own backlinks. More referrals to your referring page will mean more clicks for you.

Backlink Placement 

Take note of where backlinks are placed in each article. 

Think about it logically. When you read an article, which links are you more likely to click?

Some links are super prominent, appearing above the fold or alongside captivating content. Others are dragging their heels in the footer or at the bottom of the article.

If you’re looking at potential link opportunities but the site wants your anchor text buried in the content or surrounded by other links, chase a different opportunity — that one’s a duff.

Backlink Relevance

Lots of sites try to boost backlink quantity by paying for links on referring sites, no matter what the site’s about.

Your best backlinks will be on sites that have relevant content as your audience are far more likely to click a helpful link.

Find backlink opportunities where your content or product can provide extra supplementary support to the article the visitor is reading. If a reader feels they could learn more by clicking a link, they’ll click.

If it just looks like a spammy product advert disguised as an anchor link, you won’t get any clicks.


Now you’ve got a better idea of how to find competitor backlinks, you’ll need to begin devising a plan to build these backlinks into your own SEO strategy.

Remember though, not all backlinks are good opportunities. 

Analyze each backlink carefully to make sure you’re picking referral sites that are relevant to your product or service, while demonstrating expertise and authority to your audience. You don’t want to spend a whole bunch of time on weak links.

If you’d like help with creating a robust link strategy using powerful competitor backlinks, talk to the uSERP team. After all, we’re experts at building backlink strategies — just ask top brands like Freshworks.

Link building value is hard to quantify. I recently sat in a meeting with a business owner who was spending $2,000 a month on half a dozen backlinks from a questionable service. 

His traffic was declining, and he couldn’t figure out why. 

My team pitched better link building to him, and guess what?

Organic traffic rebounded. Sales increased. His loyalty went through the roof. All because of better backlinks. 

We know backlinks are valuable to SEO, but quantifying that value can be a tricky process. What makes one better than the other, and how can you know that a link is hurting you?

That’s what we’re about to cover. 

This is an in-depth, step-by-step guide you can use to assess the value of a backlink. You’ll have all the knowledge you need to improve your link building strategy in a way that directly benefits your site’s traffic. 

Let’s dive in. 

How Do You Determine The Value of Link Building?

Before we show you how to determine the value of link building, you need to understand what we mean by “value.”

Most of the time, talk of value comes down to money. ROI (return on investment) specifically. 

And while you absolutely can see stellar ROI from link building (especially when done well), that’s not the value you should be focusing on. Not upfront, at least. 

The main value of link building is in how it benefits your SEO strategy.

Inbound links have a massive footprint when it comes to ranking factors, from what the data shows… No one but Google knows exactly what makes up their secret recipe, but we can make some educated guesses. 

Everything from the quality of links to the anchor text used can have an impact on your site’s ranking. 

(Based on data via SparkToro)

So when we speak of value, we’re primarily focused on the SEO impact of your links. 

And rest assured that we know how to build links that improve your SEO

This guide will help you find, assess, and remove the bad backlinks by giving you insight into what a good link looks like. 

So let’s get started. 

Step #1: Assess the Referring Domain

When assessing the SEO value of link building, the first step is to check out the value of the domains that link to your site. 

The reason why is fairly simple. 

Every search engine wants to know that your site is authoritative. 

Part of building that authority is getting sites with a strong domain authority to link to yours. 

And the data backs this. 

One case study showed — with a single piece of quality content — that building links can make a huge impact. 

They attracted 150 links from new domains, including a number with 80+ domain authority. 

The result?

Their domain authority jumped seven points in just four months:

(Image Source)

A different study looked at the best-performing legal firms in the US. 

The ones topping SERPs had more reputable referring sites than their competitors. 

(Image Source)

The math here is simple. 

The stronger the domain rating, the more trust passed onto your site. 

You need to make sure you’re link building from domains with stronger authority/domain ratings. It is essential to use a reliable domain authority checker tool to gauge the strength of the domains you’re considering for link building.

Even though it’s not a rating from a search engine (most 3rd party SEO platforms have a proprietary way to rate domains), these metrics can point you in the right direction. 

But there’s more to assessing domains than authority. 

You also need to make sure you have a wide variety of domains pointing to your site.

Studies show a strong correlation between an increase in referring domains and traffic

(Image Source)

So one high-authority referring domain just won’t cut it. 

Four links from the same site won’t have the same impact as one link from four different sites. 

To sum up, the reason why you start with a domain assessment:

  • New links have less value if not from a site that’s reputable and has high trust. 
  • New links have less value if not from a new site. 

Now — how do you check all of this?

There are plenty of tools that can answer these questions, but I’m going to show you how to quickly assess domains using SEMrush

It’s very easy. 

Select their Backlinks Analytics section. Insert your domain, and then click on “Referring Domains.” 

From there, you can simply scroll down and see all of your site’s backlinks. 

In the example above, you’ll notice a few things:

  • We prefer to sort by “new” — the checkbox on the left. This tells me whether I’ve gained new links from new sites, which are likely to be more valuable. 
  • In this example, we have 31 new links from a 13 Authority Score website. That’s potential link spam.
  • Compared to other sites on the list, we’ll need to look closer at the “freelancevirtualspot.com” links and see if we need to disavow any. They could be spammy.

It’s a simple check but incredibly valuable. We now have actionable next-steps to improve my backlink profile, all from one quick assessment. 

But there’s still more to consider. 

Step #2: Vet The Page Holding Your Backlink

The next step when assessing a link’s value is to look at the page referring to your site. 

That means navigating to the page and evaluating whether or not it’s a good fit. 


Because context is key with quality link building. 

Getting crappy mentions or low-page links can be harmful to your SEO. 

At the very least, it may not be as helpful as you want. 

Search engines assess your site based on the content that surrounds a link to your page. 

It’s called the Reasonable Surfer Model. Google’s algorithm has been using context to rank your site for years — possibly as far back as 2012. 

The takeaway?

Check your links. Make sure the content around the link is helpful and relevant to your site.

But there’s more to the equation here. 

Where your link sits on the page can also affect how powerful that link is. 

One study showed that — all other things being equal — building links higher up on a referring page will lead to better rankings. 

(Image Source)

That means if your link is sitting below a competitor’s, you’re not getting much value from that link. 

The solution?

Do what you can to get your links higher up on referring pages. 

And learn how to build high-quality links to begin with. 

Your link’s may not always be something you can control, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. Reach out to the website owners and see if they can help you. 

But more importantly, how do you find the pages you should assess?

SEMrush helps us again. 

In their Backlinks Analytics tool, simply navigate to the “Backlinks” view:

Below each link, you’ll find the page that’s referring to your site. 

Click the hyperlinked arrow on the right side of the link to navigate to the page. 

Now, search for your link. 

Here’s an example of a link we recently received. You’ll notice it’s about halfway down the page:

Not bad, but not the best either. 

It’s a keeper, though. 

And we do this with all of the links to our site. 

Each one can tell Google what the site’s about, so we make sure each one works for us. 

Time intensive? Yes. 

Worth it? Absolutely. 

And it leads naturally to the third value check — anchor texts. 

Step #3: Consider Anchor Texts as Part of a Whole

The anchor text of a backlink is a hotly debated subject. 

Some people swear by it. Others claim it’s irrelevant. 

Which is it?

We lean toward it being important, but not something you should focus too much on in the grand scheme of your SEO. 

Here’s why:

A recent study looked at the anchor text distribution of the average top-ranked page. 

Their results pointed toward an “optimal distribution model.”  

  • 9% of anchors used exact match keywords
  • 60% used natural keywords and brand mentions in the context of the referring page
  • 30% were “blended” — or had part of a keyword phrase, but not the whole

(Image Source)

This makes perfect sense, right?

Well, a similar study from Ahrefs found little to no correlation after a barrage of tests. 

So who’s right?


For a long time, Google relied too much on anchor texts to assess links. 

They’ve changed their assessment model over time, but they still see anchor text as a valuable part of your link’s context. 

And remember, context is everything. 

The Reasonable Surfer Patent points to the idea that relevant link anchor texts are the key concern for Google — and that naturally begs for a diverse, natural link profile of anchor texts from various sites. 

(Image Source)

So how do you check in on your anchor texts?

Use a tool like SEMrush from time to time. 

Your anchor text information lives in the “Anchors” page of the Backlink Analytics tool in SEMrush.

Each time you check your anchor texts, ask yourself whether the overall distribution looks like manipulation. 

Then you can start trying to re-balance your link profile. 

Otherwise, leave anchor texts be. As long as they’re relevant to your site, don’t worry too much. 

Which means on to the next step. 

Step #4: Ensure the Page Referred to Is the One You Want

You want to make sure that links to your website have maximum impact on your SEO. 

And most of the time, that means making sure the context of a link is correct. 

But sometimes, the page your link points to is the issue. What do we mean?

We know that pages with more quality backlinks rank better

(Image Source)

So when someone searches for your site, you want Google to deliver a high-value page on the SERPs. 

If you had to choose, would you rather someone see:

  • A low-level blog post, or
  • The landing page you spent $10,000+ on to help generate leads?

The choice is obvious. You want the landing page because it ties back to ROI.

So when it comes to the page you want to build links for, the answer is the same. 

Get links to high-value pages. 

You might think you can manipulate this, but you can’t. 

Some may tell you to get links to a blog post that points to your valuable page, but that may not be beneficial (per John Mueller).  

(Image Source)

It’s better to focus on building links directly to the money pages. 

So how do you check where websites are sending links?

Again, SEMrush has the answers in its Backlinks Analytics tool. 

Select the Referring Domains tab, and scroll down to see which websites are sending links your way. 

It’s another simple step, but it will tell you if your links provide SEO value to the correct pages. 

If you’re finding that the wrong pages receive links, find out the culprits and reach out to the websites referring to you. See if you can get them to change it for you. 

If all else fails, you may have to consider disavowing low value links using Google’s toolset. It may sound extreme, but bad traffic is no better than no traffic. 

Besides, our final value check step can help you make up the difference in short order. 

Step #5: Round Out Your Links With a Backlink Gap Audit

It’s always good to check in on your competition when it comes to SEO. 

Acquiring backlinks that your competition doesn’t have only helps you. 

The opposite is also true — you need backlinks that mirror your competition.

Then, you can take your link building one step further. 

It’s all part of building trust signals and both organic and referral traffic to your site. 

You likely already do competitive analyses for content. So why improve content but leave out authority?

For this check, we’ll jump over to Ahrefs as our tool of choice. 

Their Link Intersect checker is second to none. It lives in the “More” menu on their toolbar. 

Input your URL next to a competitor’s (or two). 

The results show you the difference between yours and your competitor’s backlink distribution. 

This tells you sites you need to target for link outreach. Super easy, and always worth adding on to your link analysis efforts.


Backlinks can boost your SEO and drive traffic to your site. But only if you’re building enough valuable links from authoritative domains. 

Use these five simple steps to check your backlink value and pinpoint areas for improvement.  

Assessing the quality of the site linking to you. Check out the relevance of the page and anchor text. Make sure the links are pointing people to the pages you want them to see. And complete a gap audit to see how you stack up against your competition. 

Of course, this isn’t a one-and-done approach. You’ll need to routinely follow these steps to catch changes and issues that crop up over time.