The overall aim of most businesses’ SEO campaigns will be to reach the number one spot on Google and other search engines for keywords relating to their website, the products they sell or the services they provide. It is a known fact that the businesses ranking number one for their keywords receive the most traffic through search engines, which brings with it a greater prospect for sales.
If your competition is currently beating you in the race for number one, it may be time to check out their strategy and see how you can improve yours. Ok, so they are not going to let you have a little peek of their top tactics, but guess what? You don’t need them to. You see, there will be traces all over the internet of your competitors’ activity, enabling you to get a better understanding of their actions.

Many companies participate in reverse engineering tactics in order to use their competitors’ back linking strategies to their advantage. This is a great way to mimic the success of your competition, providing you go about it the right way. We will now go onto explain how to revers.

What is reverse engineering?

Businesses of all kinds use reverse engineering as a tactic to expose the most valuable backlinks built by their competitors. Using their competitors’ research and efforts will save them time and money, whilst also helping them to identify what works and what doesn’t. Once the valuable backlinks pointing to a competing business have been identified, the business will then look to create similar backlinks to their own website and cash in on the success of their competitors.
How to go about reverse engineering backlinks the right way.

Like with everything there is a right and a wrong way to go about reverse engineering backlinks. Unfortunately many businesses simply copy the content directly from other websites and mirror their competitor’s image in order to succeed. This is actually a copyright infringement and can get you in an awful lot of trouble!

Analysis and evaluation are both of key importance when it comes to reverse engineering backlinks. The process is often referred to as competitive backlink analysis and involves studying who is linking to your competitor’s website and what their pages look like. This will enable you to find out what makes the backlink so valuable. It could be the anchor text, the link list it is part of, the page rank of the domain or the rest of the quality content surrounding the link.

It is also important to look at where the links go and the content that is displayed on your competitor’s page. Again we must stress that you should not be looking to directly copy this content, just use it for your research. Once you have established both of these points you will need to evaluate the quality of the pairing and decide whether a similar link pairing would add value to your own SEO campaign. It is essential that you look to identify the best quality links as these will be the most valuable to your website’s SEO. Keep in mind that poor quality and spam links will simply be picked up by Google’s algorithms and may put your website at risk from being poorly ranked.

Once you have identified domains that could potentially provide you with high quality backlinks, you need to go about asking them for a link the right way. It is no good to blast requests at your potential link partners as this will give you a poor reputation. Instead you need to have a high quality website that they will want to link to. Be friendly and provide good reasoning for your desire to exchange links, a little politeness can go a long way.

Tools that can help you reverse engineer you competitor’s backlinks

There are a number of free online tools which you can use to help you locate your competitor’s backlinks. Some tools will simply identify the number of backlinks a website has pointing to them and where from, whereas others will analyse and evaluate the quality of the backlinks, which will save you a lot of time and effort. Popular tools include Firefox’s SEO toolbar, Google Trends, SEOMoz, SEMrush and Ahrefs Site Explorer.


Reverse engineering your competitor’s backlinks can be an invaluable tactic used to improve your own website’s SEO. It is important to go about it the right way in order to source quality backlinks and prevent yourself from getting in trouble. There is a great need to analyse and evaluate the quality of all potential backlinks as producing low quality or spam links will simply do more harm than good in the long run. As well as sourcing backlinks, reverse engineering can also be used to identify and mimic your competitor’s most valuable keywords.

Written by Andy Kinsey SEO Consultant
For over ten years I have been working with all kinds of clients big and small, start ups to multi-nationals, helping them to make the most of their online assets and ensure they can grow.