Link Building Case Study: Competitor Link Intersect

In this link building case study, we will show you how we found hundreds of prospects for a client by doing a link intersect with their biggest competitors on keyword level. This resulted in more than 46 link opportunities and this resulted in 21 high authority, niche relevant backlinks.

What is a Link Intersect?

A link intersect is comparing your backlink profile with another site and discovering which links you don’t have that the other one has. In our opinion link intersect should be the base of every link-building strategy. After you have done and refined your keyword research, you should start with this.

Why a competitor Link Intersect?

When SEO tools like Ahrefs and Moz entered the SEO sphere, spying on your competitors and reverse engineering ranking webpages became much easier. With these tools, you can discover the backlink profiles of websites that actually rank.

You can see which backlinks actually give those websites their rankings! The only thing you have to do now is visit every website. Check out what link type it is if they fit your quality expectations and try to get the same backlink.

How to find competitors

Type in the search query you want to rank for in Google and write down the top few results. Make sure to copy/paste the full URL and don’t level it up to only the domain. We can do this in a later stage to find more prospects, but for now, keep it to the page level.

How to do a Link Intersect

Moz first published about the link intersect tactic in 2013. Back then we had to do it with an excel sheet. Luckily now with Ahrefs, Moz and Semrush we got platforms to do this for us.

In the following images, il show you how to do a link intersect.

Link Building Case Study - Link Intersect

Go to the Link Intersect tool, fill in your website URL first, and then the competitors. It’s pretty self-explanatory. You can choose between showing domains or pages. I always go for pages, because then you can see the actual page the link is on. This makes it easier to sort and go through the list.

After clicking on “find opportunities” Moz will give you a nice list of prospects. And because we selected showing pages, it is easier to sort them. This client only wanted contextual backlinks, so we could easily sort through the list.

Qualification and Outreach

Now comes the hardest part. Qualification and Outreach. For every link that seems to have the criteria you are looking for, you should visit them, and do some pre-check qualifications.

The average reply rate on outreach emails is now under 10%. So for every 100 emails you send, you get less than 10 responses. That means that if you properly quality check a website before sending an email, you are quality checking 90% of the websites for nothing. Quality checking a website takes longer than sending an email, so we pre-check the site first and then send an email, if the reply is positive we will properly quality check the website. This is a major timesaver.


For this client in the digital marketing niche, we did a link intersect with the 5 top rankers for the desired search term. This gave us far over 500 link prospects we could check. After the pre-check, outreach, and quality checking. We had 46 link opportunities.

With link opportunities I mean we had websites that fit the quality expectations of the client. They were ready to accept the guest posts / link insertions and we had negotiated a satisfying price per website. This resulted in 21 backlinks.

This was just for one search term. You can do this for every search term you want to rank for and get “almost” an endless list with link opportunities.

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