Publish Once, Distribute Everywhere » Join the Waiting List Now

How to Find Inbound Links to Your Website (and Competitors!)

How to Find Inbound Links to Your Website (and Competitors!)

Ever wondered how your competitors consistently appear at the top of search results, seemingly without breaking a sweat?

The secret might be more straightforward than you think!

A lot of the weight in SEO still rests on inbound links (a.k.a. backlinks).

In other words, their secret likely boils down to who's linking to them.

Quality inbound links act as powerful SEO boosters, signaling to search engines the relevance and authority of a website.

And in the interests of delivering value to users, such websites tend to rise to the top of the search rankings

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll uncover exactly how to find inbound links, not just to your site but also to your competitors’.

You’ll learn how to use essential tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs, and SEMrush to unearth a goldmine of backlink opportunities that can propel your website to the top of search rankings.

Let’s get started…

What are Inbound Links?

Inbound links, also known as backlinks, are hyperlinks from one website to another.

If another website links to yours, it counts as an inbound link.

Why are these links so crucial?

They are key to search engine optimization (SEO) because they demonstrate to search engines like Google that others value your content enough to link to it from their sites.

Essentially, an inbound link acts as an endorsement of your site, bolstering its credibility and authority.

Since search engines aim to present credible, authoritative results, inbound links significantly enhance your visibility in search results.

Search engines employ sophisticated algorithms to assess the relevance and authority of websites concerning specific keyword searches.

Inbound links play a pivotal role in this evaluation process.

Here’s why the quality of the links you attract is more important than the quantity:

  • Trust and authority—links from sites that search engines regard as more trustworthy and authoritative than yours contribute more significantly to your site's SEO. That’s why a single link from a well-established site like Forbes or a leading blog in your niche can be far more valuable than numerous links from more obscure, lesser-known websites.
  • Relevance—links from sites related to your business or industry are especially valuable. Beyond SEO benefits, these links drive targeted traffic because their audiences are likely interested in your content.
  • Link context—links that are contextually relevant to the surrounding content carry more weight than links found in footers or sidebars.

An example of a link that’s contextually relevant

  • Dofollow vs. nofollow—while 'dofollow' links transmit SEO benefits from the originating site to the destination site, 'nofollow' links do not. However, 'nofollow' links can still be valuable as they contribute to your site's overall traffic and visibility. Sometimes, a visitor clicking through such a link may decide to provide a ‘dofollow’ link from their own website.

Inbound links can dramatically affect your website’s position in search engine rankings in several ways:

  • Enhancing domain authority—backlinks impact your domain authority, a metric used by SEO experts to predict how well a website will perform in search engines. The more high-quality inbound links you have, the higher your domain authority is likely to be.
  • Improving page authority—in addition to influencing the authority of your domain, inbound links also enhance the authority of individual pages, helping them rank well for relevant queries.
  • Increasing visibility and traffic—effective backlinking boosts your SEO and increases your visibility in search engines, thereby attracting more organic traffic.

Understanding who links to your website is the first step in leveraging inbound links for SEO.

One of the most accessible and powerful tools to find inbound links is Google Search Console, a free tool everyone has access to.

Use Google Search Console

Use Google Search Console find inbound links to your website

Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google’s search results.

To be clear, you don’t need to sign up for your website’s pages to be included in Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages), but Search Console helps you understand and improve how Google sees your site.

If you’re not yet signed up, watch the following video for a quick overview, or click here for the full guide.

Here’s how to use it:

  1. Go to Google Search Console.
  2. Choose your property.

Choose your property from within Google Search Console

  1. Navigate to the Links section via the side menu. This section provides detailed information about how other sites are linking to your pages.

Go to Links within Google Search Console

  1. Locate the External links section on the page—you’ll see Top linked pages and Top linking sites. Top linked pages reveals which of your pages receive the most links, while Top linking sites shows which external sites link to you the most.

See the Top linked pages and Top linking sites inside Google Search Console

Advanced Tools for Deeper Insights

While Google Search Console offers a great starting point for understanding your own site’s inbound links, third-party tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush provide deeper insights into your backlink profile and extend these capabilities to include competitor analysis.

Ahrefs example on NerdWallet finding inbound links guide

Ahrefs

This powerful tool offers a comprehensive view of both your and your competitors' backlink profiles, providing insights such as:

  • The total number of backlinks.
  • The quality of these links.
  • How the link profile changes over time.

Here's how you can use Ahrefs effectively:

  • Go to the Site Explorer tab and enter a domain name, whether yours or a competitor’s.
  • Navigate to the Backlink profile section to see an in-depth analysis of incoming links.

SEMrush

Similar to Ahrefs, SEMrush provides extensive data about backlinks for both your site and competitor sites, with additional features that facilitate a deeper dive into competitive analysis.

To use SEMrush:

  • Access the Backlinks Analytics tool.
  • Enter a domain for a comprehensive report.

That’s a brief overview, but let’s take a deeper dive into how to analyze competitors’ backlink profiles…

Gaining insights into your competitors' backlink strategies can provide valuable clues to boosting your own SEO efforts.

By finding their inbound links too, you can identify new opportunities and potentially tap into similar sources.

Here’s how you can start analyzing your competitors' inbound links with precision…

Using Advanced SEO Tools

While Google Search Console is excellent for finding your own site’s backlinks, it doesn’t give you access to competitors’ data.

For that, you need to turn to SEO tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush, which are indispensable due to their comprehensive capabilities in competitive analysis.

Here’s how to use them for this purpose.

Ahrefs
  1. Enter the competitor’s domain via the Site Explorer tab.
  2. Navigate to the Backlink profile tab to get a detailed look at who is linking to your competitor, the quality of these links, and how they have evolved over time.
  3. Explore link opportunities by identifying patterns in their backlink sources. Are industry blogs linking to them? Are there guest posting sites they frequently use? These insights can guide your own outreach strategies.
SEMrush
  1. Access the Backlink Analytics Tool and type in a competitor’s domain.
  2. The tool will provide comprehensive backlink data including the types of backlinks (text, image, form), the geographic distribution of these links, and the domain authority of linking sites.
  3. Analyze competitor strategies by looking for common trends in their most successful content or frequent backlink sources. This can reveal potential niches or content types you might be underutilizing.

Competitor analysis tracking using Semrush tool

Monitoring Partnerships and Guest Posts

One effective way to spot backlink opportunities is by keeping an eye on your competitors’ partnerships and guest blogging activities

Track Blog Posts and Announcements

Regularly visit their official blog and news section, and subscribe to their email list for updates.

Watch out for announcements about collaborations, guest appearances, and joint ventures—these are prime indicators of where their backlinks might be coming from.

Follow Their Social Media

Social platforms can be a goldmine of information regarding upcoming partnerships or guest posts.

Pay special attention to any shared content from other brands or influencers.

Leveraging the Information

Once you have this data, it’s time to act. Here’s how:

  • Identify gaps in your own strategy—are there reputable sites linking to them but not to you? Can you offer those sites unique content that they might consider linking to?
  • Improve content and outreach—use the insights gathered to fine tune your content strategy or to enhance your outreach efforts, targeting sites that have shown interest in your competitors.

Building a robust inbound link profile to help your SEO is not just about finding out who is linking to you and your competitors, but also about strategically increasing the number of quality backlinks to your site.

Here are some best practices to enhance your link-building efforts and improve your site’s SEO…

1. Create High-Quality, Engaging Content

To attract high-quality backlinks, a primary goal should be to create content that is informative, engaging, and valuable enough to be worthy of such links.

In essence, make it so good that it stands out and other sites will want to link to it.

Focus on these types of content:

  • Original research and data—other sites love linking to content that offers new insights or comprehensive data, because it provides value to their own readership and helps to formulate and validate their assertions.
  • Comprehensive guides and how-tos—detailed guides that comprehensively cover a topic are invaluable for readers and are often linked to as a helpful resource.
  • Infographics and visual data—visual content is shareable and easy to link to, making it a great option for attracting backlinks.
  • Case studies and success stories—these demonstrate real-world applications and are often cited by others looking to illustrate similar points.
  • Video tutorials and webinars—these can establish your authority in a niche and are frequently shared and linked to as educational resources.

2. Leverage Guest Blogging

Guest blogging on reputable sites not only helps you broaden the reach of your content but also earns you valuable backlinks.

Here are a couple of ways to maximize its benefits:

  • Choose the right blogs—target blogs that are influential in your niche and have a high domain authority.
  • Provide unique insights—offer content that adds value to the host site and compels them to feature your work.

Here’s a full guide: Guest Post Submissions: A Guide to Unlocking New Audiences for Your Content

3. Participate Actively in Relevant Online Communities

Engage with online communities related to your industry by participating in discussions, answering questions, and sharing useful content.

This can lead to natural backlinks as community members reference your contributions.

Such communities include:

  • Forums and discussion boards—become an active member, providing helpful answers and insights.
  • Social media groups—share your expertise and engage with posts to establish your authority.

4. Build Relationships with Industry Influencers

By connecting with influencers and thought leaders in your industry, you can attract backlinks through shared projects, mentions, and endorsements:

  • Collaborate on content—co-create content that benefits both parties and encourages sharing.
  • Interviews and expert roundups—these are not only great for engagement but also encourage participants to link back to the content.

Keep track of your backlink profile using tools like those discussed above, namely Google Search Console, Ahrefs, or SEMrush.

This will help you identify and disavow any poor-quality links that could harm your SEO.

To Conclude

Inbound links are a key ingredient in the recipe for online success, serving as vital pathways that not only generate traffic but also enhance your site’s SEO by boosting its credibility and visibility.

Start by finding and examining your own inbound links, then move on to analyze your competitors’ links to identify new opportunities for growth and improvement.

Remember though, the goal is not just to accumulate as many links as possible. Instead, it is to build a quality backlink profile that grows your site’s authority and credibility, and enhances its ranking on search engines.

By tracking and analyzing your inbound links and continuously refining your link-building strategies, you’ll not only stay ahead of the competition but also see a marked improvement in your SEO results.

Did you know that outbound links also matter for SEO? Check out our guide on the truth about outbound links and SEO—click here.

Get the #BeEverywhere Newsletter:

@bySteveShaw

Steve Shaw is the founder of EverywhereMarketer, and has ran online businesses for over 20 years, serving over 13,000 customers in 137 countries. EverywhereMarketer helps you grow online visibility, attract more customers and grow your business across multiple channels.

Please note that the content on this blog is free because it's reader supported—some content contains links to third-party products and services for which we may receive a commission if clicked and a purchase made.