How To Hide Your Backlinks from Competitors

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Hide backlinks from your private network

Have you ever looked at a website doing your usual competitor analysis and wondered how the hell does this person rank with no backlinks? Now depending on the keyword this would get you asking yourself questions. If it was a very specific keyword then someone can rank well without any backlinks, however if it was a competitive search term then it is not likely that anyone can rank without good quality relevant backlinks.

Millions of people keep writing that backlinks are dead and all this type of nonsense, its not dead and not likely to die. You can’t just get any old link, it has to be relevant and google look at metrics such as trust flow and citation flow of domains to determine how powerful a link they really are.

So no matter what, you will need a good range of relevant backlinks, continually built up over a period of time if you want to keep ahead of your competitors. Now in order to hide backlinks from your competition this will only work on sites you manage or have full access to, you may use sites you build for clients, or you may use PBNs and this is one of the most effective way of link building and you want to ensure that the work you’re putting in building this network up isn’t something other people can see easily.

As part of any SEO campaign any SEO will look at competitors see what backlinks they have got and see if they can get those links for themselves if they are any good. It would be great if I could just run a link building tool on a URL and up pops all these great links. These tools only show you a snippet of links anyway  Ahrefs and Majestic are probably the best around, the rest have much smaller indexes which in turn will only show you around 10% of the links you actually have. There is no tool on the market that shows you the full amount of backlinks any of your competition has.

seo 3Then there are SEO people who hide backlinks from their competitors, great idea and as always it’s worth doing, who wants to give that kind of information away anyway. Now many SEO‘s will use PBNs, which I’ll go into in more detail sometime in the future, if you were to look at the robots text of any of those sites you would see that they block all of the bots from the most popular backlink checking tools.

There is a number of ways in which you can do this, the main 2 ways can be either using the robots.txt file of the .htaccess file. Just bare in mind that the robots.txt is not something that is going to work 100% for every bot.

An example of the robots.txt file can be seen below, and with a simple disallow command on your robots text file, will result in these bots not being able to scrape any data at all from your website and as a result your competitor can’t see what you are up to. I’ve only listed a few of the bots that are known, there are so many others out there and you would need to grab this from your server when they actually crawl your website.

User-agent: * Disallow: User-agent: rogerbot Disallow: /

User-agent: SemrushBot Disallow: /

User-agent: xenu Disallow: /

User-agent: MJ12bot Disallow: /

User-agent: AhrefsBot Disallow: /

Now it’s well known that bots don’t always follow the rules set by a robots.txt file so to ensure these bots 100% cannot scrape your site you can also use the .htaccess file to block these crawlers from accessing your website.

Now you may see some of the names of the bots above and wonder what is what, a simple Google search will give you the names of the most well-known bots.

hide your backlinksRogerbot is MOZ

Semrush is SemrushBot

Ahrefs is AhrefsBot

MJ12bot is Majestic

Xenu is Xenu

But there is likely to be a lot more bots that you will want to block, its up to you which ones you choose to block. It is probably wise to block as many as you can to ensure that your data is kept as close to your chest as you possibly can. I’ve had a number of clients come to be in the past who has said, how come this crappy  little website ranks so well, it has no backlinks or anything.

You can also do the second option which is via the .htaccess file on your website, and this one is probably best being done alongside option 1 to ensure that the bots dont access your site.

An example of this would be :

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /

RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} .*AhrefsBot.* [OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} .*SemrushBot.*
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ [L,R=301]

Order Allow,Deny
Allow from all
Deny from
Deny from ....

The above is an example of the showing the bots to another website, effectively tricking them into going to another site, which you can determine, could be a complete shambles of a website, a website with nothing much on it, so that it doesn’t give out a huge amount of data or whatever.

Just because you can’t see the backlinks doesn’t mean there isn’t any as long as Google can see what it needs to see then your rankings will be just fine.

If you have any other questions, or would like any other tutorials on link building do get in contact with me and I will be more than happy to knock up some more tutorials.



author avatar
Craig Campbell
I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 19 years. In this time I have gained extensive knowledge in the subject of SEO and have build up a wealth of experience in SEO and other digital marketing services.

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 22 years.

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