For me, Ahrefs is the ultimate link building tool. I use it every day to come up with new link building strategies. Of course you can check out the backlinks of competitors and copy them, you can check your own backlinks and see which pages have gotten links naturally. But you can do so much more! This guide will help you dig deep into the tool and get the most out of it.
14 ways to build links with Ahrefs
- Copying other countries
- Broken inbound links
- Broken links to competitors
- Organic incoming links
- Copying competitors
- Broken links on potential link targets
- Using the top linked content on the domain
- New links of competitors
- Reverse grey hat (Advanced)
- Lost links and get them back
- Building trusted links like a champ
- Find anomalies in your grossing pages
- Copy backlinks for referrals
- Outbound links to get listed on the linktarget of your dreams
1. Copying other countries
It’s awesome to be dutch, we have the second best beer in the world, beautiful women and Google algorithm updates first happen in the US long before we get hit. Also, SEOs in the US and UK are often further ahead than most dutch SEOs, they often have more competition to keep up with. Therefore we can often learn some new link building tactics by just analyzing the link profile of US based businesses in our niche and see what they’re doing.
But, US based companies can also check out dutch/german/UK sites in the same niche and look for inspiration. Maybe an infographic did really well here in the Netherlands, chances are, the same concept of infographic will work in the US. Maybe you can figure out which blogposts get the most links on a dutch site and see if you’ve covered those topics on your own/clients site already.
You can find these gems by manually looking through the entire link profile of an overseas competitor, or take a loot at the most linked pages.
Example: Airbnb has some blogposts that attract a lot of links and social shares. I can create similar content for my travel clients and reach out to the dutch sites that are similar to the ones linking to Airbnb.
2. Broken inbound links
These links are often the easiest, a quick win. Especially for new clients I work with. The first thing I do is check Ahrefs to see which links are already pointing to 404’s. So basically inbound links to pages that don’t exist anymore. Then I just send them a list of 301 redirects to implement.
Bonus: How to attract new clients using this method.
At the moment I get enough clients via word of mouth, but in the beginning I used this technique to get a foot in the door with some new clients I wanted to work for. Basically I did the following:
- Create a list of 10 to 20 sites you want to work for
- Check their broken inbound links and export them to Excel
- Cut out all irrelevant info from the sheet
- Add some suggestions on where you would redirect the old page to
- Send the list to the company and explain how it will benefit them
Subject: Problem with the site (page not found)
Dear Sir / Madam,
Please forward this email to the person responsible for SEO or the marketing manager.
I was doing link building research for a client of mine and I noticed you have some really good backlinks that currently don’t pass any value because they link to non-existent pages.
You’re missing out on Google traffic because of some deleted pages on your site. There are XXX links pointing to pages that return the 404 header status. These sites include Highauthoritylink.com and OtherGreatLink.com. These are very authoritative links and at the moment they don’t pass any link value to your site because of the 404s. I suggest you redirect those old 404 pages to relevant existing pages so you can benefit from those links. You’ll probably will rank higher in Google with almost no effort.
I added a list of all the links in the attachment.
Hope this helps your ranking.
If you have any questions, feel free to call: ##########.
Wouter van der Meij
Expect 80% to respond and about 40% will be interested in working with you. Pick sites that have a lot of these broken inbound links so the impact of fixing the issue is big. They’ll love you for it. I’ve landed my first couple of consulting clients this way. After that every new client came in through word of mouth.
Anyway, a good technique to get a foot in the door of some dream clients, but also really a good link building technique. It’s a nice first boost if you start off with a new client. Almost every site has broken inbound links. It’s a quick win with almost no impact on company resources.
3. Broken links to competitor site
Of course, using the same tool in Ahrefs, you can also find a lot of links pointing to non-existent pages on competing sites and tell the linking site the page they’re linking to doesn’t exist anymore. Be sure to have an alternative ready on your website so they can change the link to you.
If you don’t have an alternative, but you do think you have a page on your site that’s beneficial to the site you’re targeting, suggest that page to be included. In my experience 20% will add your link as well because you helped them out and they see the benefit for their users.
Sometimes you find a piece of content that has been taken down but has a lot of backlinks. Simply email all those linking sites and point them to your own (better/similar) content.
4. Organic incoming links, finding high potentials
Always check your entire link profile for links that you didn’t build yourself. Organic, natural links.
When working for one of my clients I suddenly found a couple of articles on how to save on expenses on your holiday. These articles were linking to the client’s products. I then proceeded to suggest the link to other similar sites about this subject as well. It resulted in some really good in-content backlinks, including a bank.
And the best of all, these links pointed directly to product pages!
At first I never thought these sites would directly link to the product pages of this highly commercial site, but once I saw some natural links coming in I tried anyway and it resulted in quite a success.
5. Copying competitors
Of course one of the easiest ways of using Ahrefs is copying the strategies competitors use to build backlinks.
Maybe you can find some resource pages where your link is appropriate or a blog roundup in your industry.
You’ll probably also find a lot of worthless links from link farms, forum profiles, analysis websites, yellowpages clones, etc.
The best strategy here is to filter by domain authority descending and check out the ones that also have a high page authority as well.
Next to that you can take a look which ones are in content links by checking out the last column to see if they’re valuable or not.
The true value in this technique is in learning what content attracts links and do it better. It’s not about the single links you find, but the overall strategy where you can target larger pools of linkprospects.
Tip, check out this post by Matthew Woodward on Backlink Analysis.
6. Broken links on potential link targets
You can use the outbound broken link section of Ahrefs to find out what pages a site is linking to that are not live anymore. This technique requires a little more work. But basically you can use this broken link as an excuse to contact the webmaster and ask for a new link.
Basically pick a site where you want to get a link from (you better pick a big authority site). Check out their broken outbound links. See if the pages where those broken links are listed on are relevant to your site. If so, tell them about the broken link and ask if you can be listed. If your site is not a good fit, you can try plan B.
Plan B: tell them about the broken link on that page and use that as an opening to just ask for a link on some other page that is more relevant. Most people doing broken link building only focus on broken links on that same page. But any broken link on the site will raise your chances. Often you can get a great link because you’ve helped them with their site. Especially if adding the link makes sense.
This technique is the good old broken link building technique. With the introduction of “Broken outbound links” tool in Ahrefs I thought this technique would soon be overused, but it’s still highly effective. On average, 8-10% of the outreach adds your link.
7. Using the top linked content on the domain
In the toplinked content section on Ahrefs you can check out what content of a site is linked to the most. Enter your own website and check out which pages have the most backlinks and see what kind of websites are linking to it. Then reach out to similar websites as they might link to them as well.
On the other hand you can check out which content of competitors is doing very well and create better content. After that you suggest your page as a great addition to their site. Or you can use it as inspiration to target other similar sites.
This is known as the Skyscraper technique by Brian Dean. He explains it more detailed on his blog.
8. New links of competitors
This technique is one that I like a lot. Every week I keep an eye out on the new backlinks of competitors. You can find these in Inbound links -> new links. Click a period and 1 link per domain to see what they are up to. Sometimes you find new ideas for your own link building campaigns. Also, don’t just do this with your direct competitors, check out other niches as well. Especially sites that you know do link building very well. Keep an eye on those link building agencies ;).
Personally I do this with the top results of the keywords I want to rank for. You can see at what rate those sites are building links and if you are up to par on that rate. But I also keep an eye on some link builders I know are really good.
9. Reverse grey hat
Don’t you just hate it when your awesome white hat website gets outranked by some random spammer? I do too. And often you can find out how those spammers rank so high via Ahrefs. Maybe they own a couple of dropped domains that they use to get some high authority backlinks to their money site (PBN). Well, what if there is a way to get back at them? What if you could steal those authority links pointing to their PBN and take that high ranking yourself.
I personally ranked a travel affiliate site from #23 to #2 for its main keyword in one month using a technique I call “Reverse grey hat”. It’s way too complicated for this article and it’s actually an entirely new technique by itself. So I won’t post it here. You can download it though, leave your email below to receive the technique in your inbox for free.
10. Lost links and get them back
Next to spying on new links of competitors you can also use Ahrefs to see which links are dropped from websites. This is especially important for your own backlinks. Check those out every once in a while and find a way to get those links back. Maybe they were linking to a 404 and therefore deleted it, maybe the link is out of date and you can suggest a new one. Or the information they used to link to is no longer relevant.
Either way, take a look at those lost links and find ways to get them back.
11. Building trusted links
We all know what sites are the biggest authorities of the web. Which ones are trusted the most. We all want a link from nasa.gov, Harvard.edu, Rijksoverheid.nl (dutch government) and a thousand others. But, sometimes we can’t, there is no way they’ll link to our site. And that’s a problem. Trusted links are very good for your ranking. It helps your site get more “trust” by Google and its ranking will be less volatile in the search results. Your site will also be less vulnerable to spam.
But wait a minute, trust flows through links! One way to get trust flowing to your site is going one level deeper. Instead of getting links from those top tier trusted sites, aim for second tier. The sites the top tier is linking to.
In Ahrefs you can see the sites the authorities are linking to and see if you can get a link on those sites. That means that you will still benefit from the trust of that big authority you originally wanted a link from. Of course, the deeper you go, less trust will flow through, but the easier it gets to get the links (generally speaking).
Of course, to do this with Ahrefs, type in the authority site in the URL bar, check out their outgoing links and scan the list of sites. Look for sites that are relevant to yours and find opportunities to get your link posted. To find opportunities you can check out their outbound links and see in what ways they link outbound.
It’s a lot of work going through Ahrefs finding these gems but they’re really worth it. I often do this once a month with a nice glass of wine, just quickly going through a lot of authority sites until I find some gems. Often I find new link building opportunities for other niches as well which are always interesting.
12. Find anomalies in your grossing pages
One day, you’re casually browsing Ahrefs, feeling proud and satisfied, but suddenly, in the “Grossing pages” section, you see that some old page on your site is getting a lot of new likes and social shares! What!? Maybe that page is relevant again or found by a new pool of people who find it interesting. Go research where that social visibility is suddenly coming from and see if you can find link some opportunities there. Because if people share, people link. Find out on what sites those social groups hang out and look for new link building opportunities for your old content.
13. Copy backlinks for referral traffic
Backlinks aren’t always about a higher ranking in Google, in the end we want visitors. Why not go for visitors in the first place? Ahrefs shows “Top referring content”, Ahrefs can’t possibly know if those pages provide your site with a lot of referrers, but the pages they show there are being shared on social media a lot, so the likelihood of getting a lot of referrals via those pages is high. Check them out and see if you can get your link published elsewhere on that site. Or maybe ask for a better visibility of the link you already have.
Maybe, if that page is a guest article that became popular, email other sites and offer to write a similar one for them as well, these social sharing stats can be used as a USP to convince them on accepting your guest article.
Of course, also check out the top referring content of your competitors as you’ll find some really good traffic sources you might not have thought of before.
14. Get listed on the link target of your dreams
Sometimes you can only dream of being listed on some site. Well, now you can easily find pages on those sites that are already linking out to other sites via “Outbound links”. Maybe you find a nice relevant resource page, or a page with a bunch of broken links, maybe an awesome way to list your business, or create a profile, sponsor an event or even send in a testimonial or guest post. The possibilities are endless, but these outlinking pages will popup when you research the outgoing links of the site you want that link from.
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