The objective of this tutorial is to learn how to search your competitors’ sites to find related
websites which will help improve your online public relations. Finding and influencing these
sites will increase the number of links to your company and improve your Google search
STEP 1. OPEN SITE EXPLORER
This is the first place to start your competitive analysis. Type your competitors’ domain names
into Open Site Explorer to find all the places that link to your competitors’ websites. See our
tutorials Find Related Websites and Backlinks Tools for detailed information about this process.
STEP 2. USE SEARCH OPERATING TERMS
You’ll use search operating terms to find your competitors’ brands online.
Finding where your competitors are listed online can be a very powerful tool for finding related
websites. You might come across places where your competitor is active and you are not, so
you’ll want to reach out to that site and influence it to get links.
The graphic below shows how this is done and points out that you can search in many different
areas of Google for results.
Be sure to add any sites you find to your Online PR Template.
STEP 3. SEARCH INDUSTRY LEADERS ASSOCIATIONS AND BRANDS
The same kinds of searches you do for competitors can be done for industry leaders,
associations and brands. For example, if you’re a chiropractor you might search on the
ACAToday.org site to see what other sites are mentioning that association or are talking about
chiropractic care. You can then reach out to those sites.
Even if you’re in a small city or have small competitors, your industry is still large and this is a
great way to broaden the related websites you find. Remember, you want to choose valuable
sites written by real people that you feel you can influence or where you can find additional
STEP 4. SEARCH COMPETITORS’ TOP ANCHOR TEXT
This process helps you find the various sites that are showing your competitors’ anchor text so
that you can also try to influence those sites and get your anchor text listed there.
Search Competitors’ Top Anchor Text: Ecommerce
Ecommerce sites can be in many places; so one easy way to find this information is by putting
your competitor’s domain name into OSE and clicking on the tab “Anchor Text.”
The results will show many iterations of the anchor text. Choose one and put it into a Google
search along with a search operating term.
For example: inanchor: “CHOSEN ANCHOR TEXT” -site:COMPETITOR’S WEB SITE. (See our
tutorial Learn How To Search for more information on search operating terms.) You’ll find the
sites that have linked to a page using that anchor text, and perhaps you can influence some of
these sites as well.
Search Competitors’ Top Anchor Text: Local Sites
This process also works very well for local businesses in competitive industries, such as
chiropractors in New York City. If you don’t know your competitor’s anchor text, you can copy
the competitor’s URL into OSE and click on the Anchor Text tab to find their anchor text.
Then repeat the process for searching in Google as described above to find pages that use that
anchor text and determine if you can influence those sites. Put valuable results into your PR
This is a great way to develop new ideas for sites that you can influence and step up your game
so you can stay ahead of your competitors and rank first in Google searches.
STEP 5. SEARCH YOUR INDUSTRY LEADERS’ ANCHOR TEXT
Search Your Industry Leaders’ Anchor Text: Examples
Following the process above, we can find anchor text for industry leader sites. The ACA Today
site continues to be a good example. However, in this case you don’t have to use just anchor
text keywords. You can also use actual websites to find who links to them.
Dig in deeper to find where the links came from and you’ll uncover even more sites you can
influence. This is using competitive analysis to really get ahead of your competition.
STEP 6. UNCOVER WHERE THE MAJORITY OF YOUR
COMPETITORS’ LINKS COME FROM
Finding this information will help you develop more “out of the box” ideas for locating related
sites to influence. For example, you might keep seeing that The Tie Bar has connected with
wedding photographer sites. If you sell ties, could you also find wedding photographer sites or
wedding sites to influence? This is the creative thinking that will pay off.
You can then use Google to refine your search results and use Open Site Explorer to export
results to a file that you can easily categorize, manage and spot trends in link locations.
STEP 7. SEARCH PDFS
PDF documents usually have high-quality content, so it’s helpful to search for any PDFs your
competitors have published. The graphic that follows again uses The Tie Bar as an example.
Perhaps you can reach out to the same sites where The Tie Bar is mentioned in a PDF. Use
different search operating terms to narrow down your results.
STEP 8. SEARCH PDFS FOR EDITORIAL CALENDARS
Even though you might not be an industry leader, you still want to find sites that mention large
industry leaders so you can find related websites, blogs or media outlets. See below on how to
search out these sites.
If someone is mentioning sites that relate to your industry, there’s always a chance that you can
connect with these sites to share some great content or get involved in a conversation or
participate in a forum. Once you find the sites, there are endless options.
STEP 9. SEARCH FOR WEBINARS
If an industry leader or competitor is publishing webinars, perhaps you can, too. Search for sites
where you could add one of your webinars. If you don’t currently produce webinars, create one
and then reach out to these same sites!
In addition to webinars, you can search for events or seminars on industry sites that could help
you find links. Be creative and think about what you COULD do rather than what you don’t
Here’s an example of a Google search operating term to help you find this information:
intitle:”COMPANY” intitle:”EVENT” -www.COMPANYSITE.com.
STEP 10. LOOK FOR YOUR COMPETITION’S BUSINESS OWNERS
Look For Your Competition’s Business Owners – Guest Posts
Search for sites where your competitors or influential people in your industry are guest posting.
You could probably guest post on these sites as well.
Another way to search for this information is by using “COMPANYNAME” intitle:guest.
Look For Your Competition’s Business Owners – Profiles
Wherever your competitors or influential industry members have profiles are probably places
where your profile would be welcome.
Look For Your Competition’s Business Owners – Lists
Find places where competitors and industry leaders have lists. You want to be on as many of
these sites as you can either by developing your own lists or finding ways to get on the existing
lists. Check out our other tutorials for help with this.
Look For Your Competition’s Business Owners – Interviews
Locate sites where competitors or influential people in your industry have been interviewed.
You can possibly reach out to those sites to have them interview you or even to let you
interview the same people. It’s about associating with the right people to show that you, too,
are an influential company in your industry, and this is just as good as matching what your
competitors are doing.
TIP #1: LOOK FOR SITES THAT LINK TO REAL PEOPLE
TIP #2: EXPAND YOUR PRESENCE
If you see a competitor doing something great that you’re not doing, such as blogging, putting
on events, attending seminars, etc., ask yourself how you can do it, too. Don’t be complacent –
you can’t hope to be number one if you don’t try to compete!
To successfully use competitors’ sites to find related websites, follow these steps:
- Use Open Site Explorer and search operating terms.
- Start researching your competition and try to see areas where they’re successful. Also check out what your industry leaders are doing and see if you can replicate it.
- Add the information to your Online PR Template throughout the process.
- Don’t say, “We don’t do that.” Instead see how you can change strategies to help improve your rankings.
By knowing what your competitors and your industry leaders are doing to maintain an online
presence, you can find ways to improve your online PR. Rather than just copying their
techniques, think of your own creative solutions. You’ll find hundreds of sites to influence over
and over again and continually rank first in Google search results.
For this tutorial, you will need: