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Site Explorer (Legacy Reports)

How to use the Backlinks report

Video for this tutorial is coming soon.

In this report, we show the backlinks pointing to any domain, URL, subdomain (e.g., or subfolder (e.g., Use the drop-down to select your preferred mode.

Below are some actionable ways to use this report.

See all your competitor's backlinks

Enter a competitor's website to see all their backlinks.

For example, if you were doing SEO for MailChimp, then you could look at the backlinks to or

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From here, you can look for potentially replicable links.

Here are a few filtering and sorting options that may help with this:

  • Set the “dofollow” filter to show only the value-passing links
  • Set the language filter to exclude foreign-language links
  • Sort by the Traffic column to prioritize links with the power to send referral traffic
  • Set the Traffic filter to a value greater than zero to exclude low-quality pages with little or no traffic
  • Filter for Content links to see contextual, in-content links

NOTE. You can also sort the report by many of the other metric columns in ascending or descending order. The screenshot above shows the results sorted by estimated traffic from high to low.

Search competitors' link profiles for specific link opportunities

Use the search to include or exclude backlinks with certain words or phrases in the:

  • URLs of referring pages
  • Titles of referring pages
  • URLs of backlinks
  • Anchors
  • Surrounding texts

This is useful for mining specific link opportunities from your competitors' link profiles.

For example, search for words like “resources” or “links” in the URLs and titles of referring pages to find resource pages from which your competitor has links.

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If your competitor is getting links from such pages, chances are it would make sense for your website to be listed as a resource too. Learn more in this video:

You could also search for words and phrases like “guest post” or “written by” in the anchors or surrounding link text to find guest post opportunities.

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Or, alternatively, look for /author/ in the URL of referring pages for a competitors homepage.

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If your competitor is a guest author for a particular website, then you know they're open to accepting guest posts. More importantly, you know they're open to receiving guest posts from businesses like yours.

Some other potential use cases for the search function:

  • Find roundups by searching for words like “expert,” “roundup,” “weekly,” “monthly,” etc. in the titles of referring pages.
  • Find interview and podcast opportunities by searching for words like “podcast,” “episode,” “interview,” etc. in the URLs and/or titles of referring pages.
  • Find backlinks that occurred because an infographic was embedded by searching for “infographic” in any of the targets.

Track down potentially harmful backlinks

Google classes “widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites” as a link scheme* that can “negatively impact a site's ranking in search results.”

These are the kinds of links that you should track down and disavow.

To help find them, make sure the Backlinks report is set to “Group similar” mode, add a “dofollow” filter, and then sort by the Similar column from high to low.

This will show backlinks with the same or similar anchor and surrounding text—which are often sitewide links.

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Hit the caret on any suspicious-looking websites (i.e., the sites from which you wouldn't expect to have this quantity of backlinks).

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Google states that such links are manipulative and are a violation of their guidelines.

If the site you're reviewing is already in your Ahrefs Dashboard, then you can easily add offending web pages or domains to your disavow file. Just select them and hit “Disavow Domains” or “Disavow URLs.”

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This disavow file is accessible via the Dashboard.

IMPORTANT. We only create the disavow file. You will still need to submit it to Google manually. We also don't recommend disavowing links—and certainly not entire domains—unless you're confident that said links are harmful. If you're in any doubt as to the quality of links from a particular website, always consult with an expert before disavowing.

Find podcasts to get interviewed on

Watch this video to learn how:

Keep learning

Check out this video to learn how to do link building:

Or read some of the articles on the Ahrefs blog:

Next lesson

Referring Domains