The merging of questions about Quora limits the nuance

Find out who is linking to your website (and what to do next)

Do you want to know who is linking to your or your competitor's website? Then follow these simple instructions.

If you want a good ranking in search engines, backlinks are crucial.

We examined nearly a billion websites to see how individual website backlinks were related to rankings and organic traffic.


In general, the more backlinks a page has from individual websites, the better the results in search engines.

In this guide, I'll show you how to find out who is linking to your website, which pages are being linked to, and what to do next to improve your search engine ranking.

Find links

I will be here two Show ways you can find out who is linking to you.

1. Google Search Console

The Google Search Console is the best place to start for most people because it is available for free.

You're not logged in? Create a free account.

To see who is linking to your website go to:

Search Console> Choose your Property> Links> External Links> Top Referring Pages

This report shows the top 1,000 websites linking to your website, along with the number of:

  • Referring Pages (how many of their pages link to your website)
  • Landing pages (how many of your websites they link)

NOTEIt will default to Referring Pages sorted, but you can also by Landing pages sort by.

Click on any website in the list to see each website they link to and how often they do it.

Click on one of these pages to see the referring pages the target website is linking from.

There's another report in Search Console that shows your top linked pages.

Search Console> Choose Your Property> Links> External Links> Most Linked Pages - External.

By default, this report is after Incoming links sorted. This will show you which pages have the most backlinks.

Sort by Referring Sitesto see which pages have the most links from other sites.

This is much more revealing ..

Click on any webpage to see the top websites that link to that page and the number of backlinks from each page.

Click on any referring website to view all referring pages.

You can download and save any of these reports. Simply click on the download symbol.

Now let's talk about the downsides of using Google Search Console data:

  • All reports are limited to the top 1,000 pages. That makes these a little useless when you have 1,000+ pages on your website. Or, if you have links from more than 1,000 other domains.
  • No link context. There is no way to see the anchor text of a particular link, the surrounding text, or whether it is a nofollow link, etc.
  • No quality indicators. When google says "top referring sites" they are not referring to the quality of the sites mentioned, but simply the number of links to your site. There is no way of telling how good or bad any of the linked pages is, or whether it is helpful or harmful when it comes to SEO.

In order to close these loopholes, we have to resort to another tool.

2. Ahrefs Site Explorer

Ahrefs has the world's largest index of live backlinks.

It is updated with new data every 15-30 minutes.

Add any website, subfolder or webpage you want to Ahrefs Site Explorer to see how many backlinks and referring domains (links from other websites) he / she has.

Site Explorer> insert website, webpage or subfolder> select mode> overview

You can see that Nerdwallet's Guide to Budgeting has 1,910 backlinks from 558 referring domains. That brings me to a crucial point:

You're not limited to exploring your own web projects using Site Explorer.

I am not connected to and yet I can see all of the link data.

To see every website linked to your chosen destination, go to the report Referring domains.

Site Explorer> Referring Domains

This report is like the Top Referring Sites report in Google Search Console. ... but on steroids.

As with Search Console, it shows the referring websites and the number of backlinks from each page. But the report also shows other SEO metrics such as:

  • Domain Rating (DR)
  • Nofollow vs. “dofollow” links
  • Estimated Organic Traffic to Each Referring Domain
  • First seen (i.e. when we first saw the page associated with the destination)

If you want to see the current backlinks from each referring website, click on the brand (triangle).

To see a full list of backlinks from all referring websites, go to the report Backlinks.

Site Explorer> Backlinks

For each backlink in this report, we show the link page, the surrounding link text, the target URL (i.e. the page the backlink points to), and a number of other useful SEO metrics.

By default, the report groups similar backlinks together so that you only see unique backlinks.

However, you can change this to see all backlinks or just one link per domain.

As with the referring domains report, there are tons of insightful filters here too.

I'll say a little more about that in a moment. For now, let's just say they are useful for learning more about specific backlinks and referring websites.

What to do next

The truth is, just knowing who is linking to your website isn't really very useful or insightful.

It's a bit like looking at someone's Facebook friends. You get a list of hundreds or thousands of people, but that's all. You can't tell their real friends from the "friends" they've never met in real life. There's a lack of context.

I will assume you found and read this article because:

  • You heard that links are important to SEO ..
  • You wanted to know how many links you already have and who they are from.
  • Ultimately, you want more links to improve the performance of your website in the search engines and to get more traffic.

If I'm wrong, close this tab and turn to your daily routine. No offense.

Otherwise, we'll go over a few actionable ways you can use link data to improve your SEO and get more organic traffic.

1. Establishing and maintaining relationships with serial linkers

People who keep linking to your website are called "series linkers".

These are people with whom it is worth cultivating relationships.

To see who these people are using Google Search Console, sort the Top Referring Sites report by landing page from high to low.

Most of the time, you can ignore social networking sites (e.g.,, forums (e.g., and other websites from which the links are likely the result of user-generated content.

Focus on links from websites you know, such as popular industry blogs.

If you don't already have a good relationship with one of these sites, it's worth introducing yourself and thanking them for their support.

People tend to network with people they know and like, so this simple act can have very positive effects.

Looking for an even better strategy?

Find the serial linkers of your Competitor with the Ahrefs Site Explorer.

Add a competitor domain and go to the report Referring domains.

Site Explorer> insert competitor domain> referring domains> add the “dofollow” filter> sort by number of dofollow links to the landing page (high to low)

Look for links from websites you know or that appear to be industry blogs.

Click the triangle to see the backlinks from each website and for more information.

Did you find a website that meets the requirements? Then look for your website's Referring Domains report and see if that website is already referring to you. If there aren't any links from this website, or just one or two, then they might be worth developing a relationship with.

People connect with people they know and like. Build relationships with your serial linkers and your competitors' websites.

2. Learn from your most linked content

Link building works best when you have content that people actually want to link to.

But it's not that infographics always attract more links than blog posts, or studies, or interactive tests, or any other type of content. Different niches tend to favor different types of content.

The best place to understand what works and what doesn't in your niche is to look for similarities between your most linked pages.

Search Console> Select Property> Most Linked Pages> Sort by Referring Sites

When we do this for the Ahrefs blog, it is clear that studies seem to attract a lot of links ..

We should do more studies. 😉

Well, that's enlightening and sure to be useful, but wouldn't it be cool if we could do the same for competitor websites too?

This is not possible in the Google Search Console, but in the Ahrefs Site Explorer.

Site Explorer> insert a competitor domain> Pages | Best left> add the filter “200 ok”

If we run this report for, we'll see that calculators and statistics posts are attracting the most links.

If we do it for a tech blog like, we'll see leaks and exclusive reports on upcoming Apple products attract links.

Learn what types of content will attract links in your niche and create more of them.

3. Add value to links you already own.

Have you ever clicked on a broken link? It looks something like this.

Broken pages aren't just bad for usability. They're bad for SEO too.

Backlinks effectively bring "power" to your website. Some of that then flows through internal links to the other pages on your website. Since defective pages do not technically exist, they have no internal links.

In a nutshell, bad pages can affect your website's search engine performance. Hence, it is best to correct them.

In the Google Search Console, the Cover-Report of bad pages.

Search Console> Coverage> Errors

Look for 4XX errors like the ones above. To see which pages are affected, click the error.

Unfortunately, this report in Search Console doesn't tell you whether any of the affected pages have backlinks. To find out, you have to go to the report Most linked pages go and filter for the defective page.

Search Console> Links> External Links> Most Linked Pages> Filters> Landing Page Contains> Bad URL

However, you will only see results of this "hack" if the following two points are met:

  • The faulty page is in the top 1,000 most linked pages on your site.
  • The faulty page has at least one backlink.

Even then, you'll have to do this manually for each faulty page. #expenditure

Is that too much effort for you? Use the report Best to the left in Ahrefs Site Explorer.

Site Explorer> enter domain or subfolder> best left> add a "404 not found" filter

This report shows the broken pages on your site with the most links.

Click the triangle and go to the report Backlinksto see every broken backlink to a page.

There are three main ways to fix such problems:

  • Recover the faulty page.
  • Redirect the faulty page to another relevant working page.
  • Ask the referring domains to link to a working page instead.

You can also leave the page as a soft 404. Assuming it doesn't have any valuable backlinks.

Recommended reading: How to find and fix broken links (to reclaim valuable link juice)

Find and correct faulty pages on your website with backlinks.

4. Replicate competitors' links

It is rare for two websites or websites to have identical link profiles.

You have some backlinks that your competitors don't. But more importantly, your competitors have some that you don't. In other words, if you want more backlinks, start by replicating your competitors' links.

Links arise for various reasons. And this process has certain nuances.

So for now, let's just keep things simple and two Discuss simple ways to capture competitor links, starting with "repairing" their broken links.

The process here is simple: do the same thing outlined in Tactic # 3, but this time for a competing website.

Site Explorer> add competitor's domain> best links> add a "404 not found" filter

If we do this for a competitor on the Ahrefs blog, Backlinko, pretend, it looks like the first webpage on the list was a Google Penalty Avoidance page, but it no longer exists.

We are fortunate to already have a guide on the subject. #happy

So we could reach out to these twenty-nine websites pointing to Backlinko's broken guide and suggesting that they replace the broken link in favor of our working one.

If we didn't already have similar content to do this with, we could always create one.

Recommended reading: A simple (but complete) guide to link building with broken links

The second method of replicating competitor links is even easier:

Search the Backlinks Report in Site Explorer for guest posts from competitors.

Site Explorer> insert competitor domain> add "dofollow" filter> search for "/ author /" in referring page url

Look for backlinks where the referring URL is something like / author / blogger-name /, as those are usually author profiles.

Write to the site operator and offer him a guest post. It is likely that they will agree, since you already know the following:

  • They accept guest posts
  • They have already accepted at least one post from a company similar to yours.

Recommended reading: 7 Actionable Ways to Loot Your Competitors' Backlinks.

Find your competitors' guest posts and write for the same pages. Find the faulty pages of competitors with backlinks and then collect those links for yourself.

5. Show your content to the "potential linkers"

Look at the backlinks pointing to any webpage and you will often see similarities.

For example, let's take a look at the backlinks to our Keyword Research Guide.

Site Explorer> insert url> backlinks

It only takes about thirty seconds to go through this unfiltered report and see that we're getting a few links from content marketing guides. If we look for backlinks with the term "content marketing" appearing in the URL of the referring (linking) page, there are fourteen results.

Well here is the critical point:

There are plenty of other content marketing guides that we don't have links to yet. How many? Let's take a look at the Content Explorer.

With Content Explorer, you can search a database of over a billion web pages for people who mention a keyword or phrase.

Let's look for English websites with "Content Marketing" in the title.

There are over 52,000 results!

Let's restrict this to pages that also mention the term “keyword research” somewhere in the content. We're also going to add a filter to only see one item per domain.

1,028 results.

If we wrote to the authors of these sites and showed them our content, it would be likely that they would at least be interested in checking it out. Some would probably even link to it.

Just make sure to prepare a good outreach email if you want your efforts to be worth it.

Find similarities in the links you already have.Find similar interested parties (e.g. "potential linkers") and show them your content.

Bonus tip

Backlinks correlate positively with rankings and organic traffic.

However, if you're dealing with a highly competitive topic, you may need hundreds or thousands of backlinks from individual websites to stand a chance of ranking.

Take, for example, the topic of “Best Credit Cards”.

No one is likely to crack the top 5 without links from at least 100-200 unique websites.

Because of this, it may make more sense to use less contested topics and keywords. In other words, the ones that you have a chance to rank on without needing hundreds of backlinks.

There are a few ways to find such topics.

You can search for keywords in the Keywords Explorer and filter there for keywords with a low keyword difficulty level.

Keywords Explorer> insert seed keyword> select a report> by KD filter < 10

This is not an absolutely promising approach. But it's a good starting point.


Keyword Difficulty (KD) is a metric that estimates the “degree of difficulty” of the ranking for a keyword on a 100-point scale and is derived solely from the number of backlinks to the current top ranking pages.

For example, if the current top ranking pages for a keyword look like this

Page # 1: 365 backlinks from individual websites (referring domains)

Page # 2: 213 backlinks from individual websites (referring domains)

Page # 3: 199 backlinks from individual websites (referring domains)

Then the Keyword Difficulty Score for that keyword will be higher than if the top ranking pages looked like this:

Page # 1: 21 backlinks from individual websites (referring domains)

Page # 2: 13 backlinks from individual websites (referring domains)

Page # 3: 2 backlinks from individual websites (referring domains)

So, to make the whole thing clearer, we're looking for keywords with a low KD score here because we'll likely need fewer backlinks to rank for them in search results.

You can also search the Content Explorer for a keyword or phrase related to the topic of your website and then filter for pages with organic traffic but few referring domains.

Content Explorer> Enter search date> Filter for fewer than 5 referring domains> Filter for more than 500 organic visits per month

The results are pages that are receiving a good amount of organic traffic while also having few links.

In other words: not hotly contested topics.

Click the Details brand and navigate to the Organic Keywords tab to see the keywords that each of the pages is ranking for.

Find and target uncontested topics and keywords instead of highly competitive terms.

Final thoughts

Finding out who is linking to your website is a useful approach. But just knowing about it will not improve your rankings. The bottom line is figuring out and understanding where you stand compared to your competitors. And more importantly, learn from those who are successful in SEO.

This is the easiest way to get better rankings for most websites.

Did I forget something in this post? Let me know in the comments or contact me on Twitter.

Translated by Search engine & conversion optimization, online marketing & paid advertising. A perfect fit from a single source.