The objective of this tutorial is to use backlink tools to find related websites that you can
influence for online public relations. Learn what sites you want and which ones you don’t and
uncover how to use this tool in advanced ways.
WHAT IS A BACKLINK TOOL?
An example of a backlink analysis tool is Open Site Explorer (OSE). Simply enter a website into
OSE, do a search, and you will see all of the backlinks (or websites talking about that company).
Generate a list of your top competitors, plug the domain name into OSE, and go through the
websites to see who’s linking to your competitors and try to copy what it is that’s making your
It’s also important to know what you are and are not looking for in your results–what is
relevant to your business or industry.
STEP 1. LOOK FOR HIGH QUALITY SITES YOU WANT TO
HAVE LINKS ON
Look For Legitimate News Sites
You always want to find large media outlets/sites that have posted an editorial about a similar
company or competitor. You want to find information on a legitimate, trusted news site like the
New York Times that is written by a real person.
Look For PR Opportunities
A Chiropractor would search out PR sites with the word “Chiropractor” in them.
Put these related websites into your PR Template so you can reach out to these people later on.
STEP 2. WHAT YOU ARE NOT LOOKING FOR
Avoid Paid Link Directories
This is a media no-no. The categories are very large, too general and don’t even relate to each
other. Most of these sites are built just to obtain links.
One way to tell if a directory is good is to copy the page title or category information and plug it
into the Google search bar. If the site doesn’t show up in the first three to five pages of results,
then Google doesn’t find it valuable and it’s probably a link directory. You should pass on that
one and look for more valuable sites.
However… Directories Aren’t All Bad
It’s easier to know what not to look for when you know what you really are looking for; in other
words, by comparing directories. For example, the site NYC.gov has broken links and general
information, but it’s ranked high in Google.
TIP: Navigating Link Directories
You have to spend a little time looking at the site before you decide and also copy parts of the
page into Google to see where the site ranks. If it ranks high, add it to your PR Template.
Avoid Blogs That Are Made To Generate Content
These are blogs or sites with a number of disjointed topics and links. These types of sites will
not have “Contact Us” buttons or “About Us” buttons because they don’t want to be contacted.
They were just built by an SEO company to drive links.
Avoid Article Directories
You don’t want sites that are just general places to upload articles. You can check this by
copying any part of the site text into Google, but most often these sites will not be valuable.
TIP: Test Pages With OSE
The graphic below shows how to test pages for value using a special option in Open Site
STEP 3. HOW TO TURN ONE RELATED SITE INTO HUNDREDS
Say you come across an article that is exactly what you want, but you want to find many more
articles with similar information. For example, you might want to find as many sites as you can
with the category “men’s fashion,” which is a category on all the sites you’ve found so far.
The graphic that follows shows how to perform a Google search on this category. Tip: Putting
quotes around your keyword is the same as typing the search operator “intitle” before the
keyword. You can do one or the other.
You can find hundreds of sites just by copying information from the initial website and doing a
STEP 4. FINDING OTHER WEBSITES TO PUT INTO OPEN
Sometimes you can find other sites by searching on specific subjects. Along with putting
competitors’ domain names into OSE, you can also type in other popular websites to find links
such as industry hubs, portals or directories.
For example, if you’re in the remodeling industry, DIY.com is an industry-leading website. When
you plug that into OSE, you find that 2,900 sites have talked about this site. So you’ll find many
other sites in the search results of this one industry leader.
STEP 5. LOOK FOR WHO LINKS TO ORGANIZATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS
If you’re a chiropractor, ACA Today is a leader in your industry so typing ACA Today into a
Google search would be a great way to find other related websites. You can also use other
search operating terms as shown below to find different sites that might not show up when
searching just on ACA Today.
Once you find the sites, plug them into OSE to test their value and find how many other sites
are linking to them. It’s really a never-ending process.
STEP 6. FIND WHO LINKS TO SOLID DIRECTORY
RESOURCES AND QUERIES
If you search for resources in your industry, you’ll likely find a site that lists suppliers and other
relevant information. This is the kind of site you’re looking for. Plug this into OSE to see who
links to this resource site and see if you can influence those sites.
STEP 7. FIND PROFILE SITES
Using our company as an example, here is the search phrase: webbizideas intitle: profile –
site.www.webbizideas.com. This will find sites with the word “profile” in the title, but our
company website will not show up in the results.
STEP 8. FIND FORUMS
Check out the graphic below to see the search operator phrase to find Forum sites. It’s very
similar to finding Profile sites. Copy the URL results into your PR Template and into OSE to find
still more sites that you can influence.
TIP #1: SEARCH FOR SPECIFIC TLDS IN OSE
The Advanced Report Tab in OSE allows you to narrow your search to high-quality sites by only
selecting sites with specific extensions such as .org, .gov or .edu. You can then export the report
with this information.
TIP #2: SEARCH FOR ANCHOR TEXT TERMS
Anchor Text often uses specific keywords such as DIY. If you find your competitors are using
certain keywords in their anchor text, you can search for sites in OSE using those specific
TIP #3: EXPORT YOUR REPORTS & SEARCH
You can download any OSE report into a CSV file, and you can then search for relevant sites
using various keywords. This is very helpful if you have a large list of site results.
For example, if you sell garden furniture you’ll want to find sites that relate to this. Run these
sites through a Google search and check out not just the regular search results but also the blog
results that were published in the last month. Adding a search operator such as “write for us”
will narrow down your results to blog sites that are looking for content about garden furniture–
a site you can influence!
TIP #5: VISIT OUR SITE FOR MORE INFO
We have many, many resources on our site that can help you with this process!
To successfully use Open Site Explorer to find high-value, related websites that you can reach
out to, follow these steps:
- Make a list of competitors’ websites.
- Plug your competition into Open Site Explorer to see what sites are linking back to them.
- See what’s working for your competition.
- Put successful sites and contact information into your PR Template so you have all the necessary information to reach out and start influencing these sites.
The tools in this tutorial will help you to increase your online public relations presence in all the
right places. You’ll learn how to best your competition, gain quality links to your site, and
consistently rank near or at the top of Google search results.