To win at marketing, you need a long-term, goal-oriented strategy and the ability to execute it here and now.
But even with your marketing strategy and SEO goals set up, there’s still a missing link:
Building a large list of backlinks to inform your marketing ideas.
Without that data, you’re going to be groping around in the dark like Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings.”
Unlike Gollum, you don’t have to spend years, days or even hours searching for precious backlinks.
You can find all the backlinks you need in just 90 minutes.
Why You Need a Deadline
In online business, it’s all too easy to spin your wheels. You keep finding out about new tools and opportunities. It has happened to the best of us.
If I find a really good blogger or YouTube channel, hours can go by. That’s fine if you’re in “exploration mode,” but not when you need to get serious work done.
The plan here is simple: Do 60 minutes of research to find backlinks. Then spend 30 minutes making decisions on how you’ll execute against what you’ve found.
In just 90 minutes, you can find plenty of backlinks and make some plans to level up your marketing based on what you discover.
How to Find Backlinks in 90 Minutes and Level Up Your Marketing
1. Find Backlinks for Your Website (20 Minutes)
In the old days, finding backlinks and making sense of them could take hours. You had to do search after search, make notes and use multiple tools. It’s agony to do marketing work like that.
Fortunately, Monitor Backlinks makes the process much easier.
In just 20 minutes, you can find all your website’s backlinks in Monitor Backlinks and draw some initial conclusions. I’ll guide you through the process.
(If you don’t have a Monitor Backlinks account, you’ll need one to follow along. You can get a free trial of the tool for 30 days here.)
Add your domain to Monitor Backlinks, if you haven’t already. Grant access to Google Analytics for increased data.
Then, just sit back and wait for the backlink data to come in. In my experience, you’ll see data start to appear in 5 to 10 minutes (but be aware that it can take up to 24 hours to pull all your backlink data for the first time).
Visit the “Backlinks” tab to find all your backlinks. You can filter the results to make the information easier to work with.
In the screenshot below, I’ve filtered by Moz Rank to show the websites with the highest Moz Rank at the top of the page.
In this case, you can see that the website is successfully attracting high-quality backlinks.
If you find backlinks in the hundreds or thousands, you may feel overwhelmed with all the data.
First—congratulations! Take a moment to savor your website’s SEO success.
Second, you’ll need to learn how to use filters to organize the data. With Monitor Backlinks, I recommend the following filters to quickly get a sense of your backlink situation.
- Domain Authority
This is my favorite way to segment backlinks by quality. For simplicity, set a filter for backlinks with DA 50 or higher and then repeat the process for DA 50 or less.
Here’s a screenshot showing this filter in action:
- Trust Flow
On a scale of 0-100, Trust Flow is another SEO quality metric you can use to sort through backlinks. Higher quality websites tend to have a Trust Flow of 50 or greater.
In the screenshot below, I’ve sorted the backlink report from highest Trust Flow to lowest:
Use the “Server County” filter to see where your backlinks are coming from. If you know that your best customers come from the United States, you might want to know if you’re successfully attracting US backlinks.
In the screenshot below, we can see over 100 backlinks from US servers:
Just click on “Export” from the drop-down menu in the top-left corner of the report, and the CSV file will automatically download to your PC.
Having now found all your backlinks, the next order of business is to mine your competitors’ backlinks for SEO insights.
2. Find Backlinks for Your Competitors (20 Minutes)
If you’re new to finding backlinks, you might wonder why you should bother researching your competitor’s backlinks.
I think about it this way: My competitors have a different approach to the market and different resources. They’ve probably discovered SEO strategies and backlinks that never would’ve occurred to me. When you find backlinks from your competitors, that helps to level the playing field.
Find three competitor websites to analyze. You may already know your top three competitors—if not, use the following process.
Do a Google search for the industry or category you work in. For example, if you’re building or marketing a luxury cruise ship company, the category would be “luxury cruise lines.”
Choose three competitors from the first page of search results. In this example, three competitors could be CruiseCritic.com, CrystalCruises.com and SilverSea.com.
Enter the first competitor’s domain into the Free Backlink Checker to find their backlinks.
We can see that Crystal Cruises is doing incredibly well regarding backlinks. Not only do they have nearly over 9,000 unique domains, but they’re getting links from relevant industry websites like CruiseIceland.com and RiverCruiseAdvisor.com.
At this point, if you can see from their backlinks that the company is a major player and is doing well in SEO (like in this example), I’d recommend adding the competitor to Monitor Backlinks for ongoing tracking. You’ll want to keep an eye on them and what backlinks they’re getting in the future.
(In contrast, if a quick check of a competitor in the Free Backlink Checker finds minimal backlink activity, it might not make sense to track that competitor in Monitor Backlinks.)
You can add the competitor’s domain for tracking in the “Competitors” section of the tool. Just click on the “Add a new domain” option on the right-hand side.
Now Monitor Backlinks will track their backlinks and link building strategy for you, and automatically notify you whenever they get or lose a link.
Repeat this process for each of the competitor’s websites.
Then, put on your analytical hat and look for patterns among your competitors’ backlink reports.
For example, you might find that multiple cruise lines all receive backlinks from websites like Cruise Critic. Alternatively, you may find that a small handful of travel bloggers post reviews of the cruises they go on year after year.
By detecting these common patterns, you’ll quickly find out what it takes to become a player in the industry. You’ll start to learn whom you need to network with and what websites give the best backlinks.
We’ll explore your tactical next steps to execute on this information at the end of this article.
3. Find Backlinks for Your Industry’s Thought Leaders (20 Minutes)
Understanding your competitors is helpful, but it’s only the beginning of the research process. The next step is to find experts and thought leaders in your industry.
Why? As Russell Brunson explains in his book “Expert Secrets,” experts enjoy strong brands and have excellent opportunities to stand out.
Finding thought leaders in your field is more challenging than finding direct competitors. However, I’ll walk you through a proven process to find thought leaders and their backlinks so you can model them.
Identify a few keywords that describe your industry, category or niche. Then, search Google and Amazon for those keywords to locate experts in that area.
As an example, let’s say you’re seeking to find thought leaders in online marketing.
I discovered some promising experts that are a triple threat: They have a book, a popular website and a large following on social media.
Dorie Clark has also written several books, is a contributor to major publications such as the Harvard Business Review, and has appeared on dozens of podcasts as a guest.
Bonus: Here are two more ways to quickly generate a list of thought leaders in your niche.
- Amazon best seller list. Amazon has multiple best sellers for different topics. For example, I found the following experts in the productivity/time management niche by visiting the niche best seller list:
- Industry conferences. For decades, thought leaders have built their reputations and companies by speaking at conferences. How do you find those conferences? A simple Google search will turn up plenty of results. Then, visit the Speakers page for at least three conferences to find out who’s speaking at each one. Anybody who speaks at more than two industry conferences in a year is a good candidate to analyze further.
Enter the thought leader’s domain into the Free Backlink Checker to find their backlinks. Here’s what I found when I checked Dorie Clark’s backlink profile:
Wow! She has more than 1,000 backlinks from unique domains. You can also see that some of her best best backlinks are coming from publications (e.g. the Harvard Business Review) and authoritative business websites (e.g. Lynda.com, the business training website).
This analysis confirms my view that Clark’s SEO success partly comes from her extensive writing online and appearing as a guest.
Repeat the process with additional thought leaders to identify new backlink opportunities.
Why should you go through this process multiple times?
You may find that one thought leader relies on podcast appearances to get backlinks and you hate speaking. In that case, aiming to copy their approach doesn’t make sense. Continue the research process until you find a thought leader who uses an approach that suits your strengths.
4. Put Your Backlink Insights to Work (30 Minutes)
By this point, you’ve done about an hour of work. You have hundreds—or even thousands—of backlinks sitting on your computer. How do you put all of this data to work for your business?
First, you need to face facts: Finding backlinks won’t grow your business. In fact, analyzing backlinks won’t move the needle on your traffic, either.
You have to analyze the information and then use it to make smart decisions about your marketing.
In the next 30 minutes, use this checklist of questions to make sense of your newly found backlinks:
- Can you get more backlinks from your current backlinks? Look at what backlinks you’re already getting. Can you ask your current contacts to keep linking to new content and products as you create them?
- What can you gain from your competitors’ backlink patterns? Segment your competitors’ backlinks into two categories: links you want to get and links you want to avoid. Receiving a backlink from a popular blogger is well worth it. On the other end, backlinks from low-quality, spam-filled websites are a certain waste of time when there are better backlink opportunities available.
- What content resonates with your market? Market research never ends. URLs that attract a large number of backlinks suggest a hit with your market. How do you use this information? I recommend using the Skyscraper Technique as a next step.
- Which SEO efforts are working and which aren’t? In SEO, you never know if a particular effort will land. Google changes the rules regularly and your target market’s tastes changes. How do you know if you’re making progress? Evaluate your SEO wins and losses by identifying what pages on your site are attracting backlinks. You’ll also find out which outreach efforts have succeeded by seeing which backlinks come in.
From Finding Backlinks to Getting More Backlinks
You know how to find backlinks. Now you’ll use that information to get more backlinks.
After all, your competitors are going to be working hard to get more backlinks, so you can’t afford to stay still.
- Promote your high-performing content to get more backlinks
Did you find that a handful of web pages on your website have already attracted a large number of backlinks? If so, double down on promoting those URLs and get even more backlinks.
In fact, you’ll even have a higher likelihood of success. In your outreach messages, you can mention that other people in your niche have already linked to your resource.
In essence, you’re using past backlinks as social proof to get more backlinks.
- Refresh existing content to get more backlinks
In addition to regularly publishing new content, you can also revise your existing content. You can add new examples from this year. Alternatively, you can “continue the story” where you provide additional details, statistics or simply an update on how an aspect of your business has developed.
Once you have the content refresh completed, you can start the outreach process again with an emphasis on what you’ve improved.
Finding backlinks is a critical marketing research step.
You’ve learned several ways to find more backlinks from your website, from competitors and from experts in your field. Even better, you can obtain deep backlink insights on your market—and all in an hour and a half.
For the best results, work just a bit longer to put those insights into action.
Bruce Harpham provides content marketing for enterprise software companies. As the author of “Project Managers At Work,” he has interviewed top professionals from NASA, Google and IBM. He is also a contributor to industry publications like CIO.com and Infoworld.