Backlink Analysis: How We Do It (+Tools & Best Practices)

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Backlinks are links from other websites that point back to your website

Think of them as a virtual pat on the back. It’s a way for other websites to show their appreciation for your hard work. We know what you’re thinking: “some chocolates would have been nice,” but trust us, backlinks are better!

Backlinks play a central role in how search engines determine your website’s authenticity

At Embarque, we specialize in providing online startups with comprehensive backlinking strategies. Our guidance has helped clients like Flick rank on the first page of search through effective linkbuilding, so you can trust us to provide expert analysis for your backlinking needs. 

What is a backlink analysis?

Backlink analysis examines the quality and quantity of websites linking to your site or a specific piece of content. In this sense, backlink analysis is similar to acquiring social proof. So if you’re looking for ways to increase search visibility (and why wouldn’t you be), backlink analysis is here to help.

Utilizing backlink analysis evaluates your search engine performance and any potential issues you may be experiencing. So, if your website isn’t ranking, backlink analysis provides solutions to improve your search visibility.

Backlink analysis goes hand in hand with search engine optimization (SEO). The process directly contributes to effective link-building and digital popularity. Not only that, but you can also analyze your competitors so you can see how you measure up!

With research showing 67.5 percent of SEO professionals believe backlinks impact search engine rankings, you’ll need the insight from backlink analysis to ensure your strategies are putting you on the right track.

Why should you perform a backlink analysis?

There’s no better way for search engines to double-check your site's authority than looking at your website’s link profile. In relation to an SEO checklist, a backlink analysis should be your number one priority.

To clarify, a link profile is a collection of combined links pointing to a website. These links come from other websites, social media, and online directories.

By uncovering all the links that search engines consider, you’ll enjoy a better viewpoint on your site’s ability to rank. Typically when sites link to your content, they appreciate what you have to say (a virtual high-five). But unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Let’s delve into the benefits of conducting a backlink analysis:

Analyzing the backlinks of a top-ranking competitor reveals how difficult it will be to outrank them. By providing a peak behind the curtain of quality backlinks, you’ll have everything you need to replicate them.

Competitor backlinks analysis also helps identify any potential link-building opportunities you may be missing out on and your competitors’ link-building strategies. Here you’ll discover plenty of new game plans to implement.

Sometimes, links from poor authority sites or spam websites result in a penalty from search engines. It's in your best interest to track down these weak links; otherwise your rankings will drop.

Giving these sites the cold shoulder ensures your website looks gives you a higher TrustRank in the eyes of Google. Performing a backlink analysis finds the cracks in your backlinks profile.

Research shows that the first ranking page on Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than pages two to ten. So if you need any other reason to implement backlink analysis in your SEO strategy, the results speak for themselves!

Whereas once quantity was the champion of SEO, search engines today prefer quality. It makes sense to target authentic, relevant, and high-authority pages.

How to perform a backlink analysis

1. Identify your target website.

Before you do anything else, you must first determine which website you want to conduct a backlink analysis on. Normally, this will be either your website or a competitor’s. If your website hasn’t got many backlinks to its name, you’ll need to analyze your competitors first. 

As a SaaS company, your competitors are those that offer a similar service or product to yours. If you’re still unsure about your competition, type your top target keywords into a search engine and research the sites that rank for them. Tools such as SEMrush provide a list of competitors based on common keywords

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2. Select a backlink analysis tool

Now that you’ve selected the site you want to investigate, you’ll need an online tool to analyze its backlinks. And luckily for us, there are a wealth of tools available. Although you can conduct a manual backlink audit, backlink tools are more effective and improve SEO return on investment (ROI).

Some of the best backlink analysis tools on the market include Ahrefs, the previously mentioned SEMrush, and Moz. Let’s take a closer look at all three:


Ahrefs administers impressive backlink monitoring features that view your competitor’s backlinks on one dashboard. It also offers backlink alerts to stay on top of competitors' new backlinks and actions.

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Its backlink analysis tool lets you view the number of lost domains each month for a site. If the lost domain is from your site, you can try to fix it or contact the website that provided the backlink. It can also be helpful for targeting domains your competitors lost, so it works both ways. It also shows extensive metrics about your links including domain rating and traffic.


With its easy-to-use interface, SEMrush offers more than 48 tools and reports. Incorporating a quality backlinks database of trillions, SEMrush boasts a thorough analysis of your backlinks and valuable competitor insight. 

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Its backlink analysis tool groups backlinks together, providing a unique overview that’s easy to interpret. SEMrush also offers comprehensive daily reports and reliable authority scores so you can have supreme confidence in the insights supplied.


Using Moz’s backlink tool Link Explorer, Moz grants valuable insights into any link profile, including yours and your competitors. Link Explorer informs you how many links point to your website, with info including the anchors used and the authority of the domains.

Moz’s link comparison tool compares your website against competitors with a user-friendly chart boasting clear metrics. Select the two domains you want side-by-side, then contrast vital metrics such as domain authority, spam score, and total links. 

3. Enter each domain and get a quick overview

Now that you have access to your domains and research tools, it’s time to start your analysis. Once you run your backlink checks, you’ll receive an incoming wave of data. It’s easy to view your site’s performance by looking at the following:

The essential metric of any backlink analysis is the total number of links pointing to your site. If the number is low, it will explain why your page isn’t ranking very well. Comparing this number to your competitor displays the level of authority you both retain.

Referral domains have at least one backlink to the analyzed website. So website “1” pointing to website “2” is considered as one referring domain. Sorting these referring domains by authority tells us how valuable these websites are to your ranking. 

Lastly, look at the pages on your site that receive the most backlinks. This introspection will give you an idea of the content you should be producing.

Remember to do the same with your competitors using the above step. This will provide you with an actionable SEO checklist. For instance, looking at your competitors' referring domains pinpoints link opportunities for you to capitalize on.

4. Analyze your metrics

Now the real fun starts. Analyzing backlinks helps discover new opportunities while weeding out potentially harmful links. 

For instance, an analysis may reveal websites in your industry linking to competitors, not you. Now you can either reach out to these sites or recreate the links yourself.

Over time your site will inevitably pick up some low-domain authority links. Too many of these can cause Google to penalize the website that they point to. Regularly analyzing your backlinks ensures you spot them before Google does

By surveying your anchor texts and hyperlinks, you can spot spam backlinks easily. It’s also worth remembering spam backlinks manipulate search engine rankings. So if a website has a high number of outbound links, it may be attempting to exploit the rankings.

Final thoughts

Many businesses underestimate the power of backlinks, but once they start running backlink analysis, it’s clear the huge impact they have on SEO strategy. Being able to sift through high-quality links, low-quality links, and the dreaded spam links puts you in good standing with Google.

If you want to continue growing your traffic and rankings, Embarques SEO copywriting services are only a click away.

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