Use Open Site Explorer To Exploit Your Competitors Hard Work

Before you begin any SEO campaign there are a few things you really need to think about, one of them is “who are my competition?”.

If you intend to compete in a certain market you need to firstly be clear about your keywords and secondly clear about your competition, or more importantly what your competition are doing right.

There are many different aspects to look at both on and off page however, I would like to show you a really simple way of collecting your competitor’s links so that you can have a full spreadsheet of all the links that are helping those topping Google rank where they rank.

Now before I go into this I’d like to come clean, the tool you need to use is a paid tool, I am not promoting it but just to let you know at this point you may need to invest a little.


I really do hate sounding like a fan boy but the truth is when it comes to SEO tools SEOmoz have it licked, yes there are plenty of decent analysis tools out there but the sheer amount of the web SEOmoz are able to crawl makes their service unbeatable in my opinion.

Open Site Explorer

One of the tools that makes up part of their package is Open Site Explorer, it is like Yahoo’s site explorer on steroids!

Anyway enough of the promotion, how do we use this tool to really strip down our competitors link profile?

Well here is what I would do…..

Get Those Links!!

First you want to head over to the tool, then simply input the page you want to investigate.

open site explorer

Yes I am using SEOmoz as the tester but they won’t mind 🙂

Once you have input your details this will bring you up a nice list of links, your competitors links, but it is not quite the finished product yet and we need to play around with it.


Just under the main nav you have various drop down menus, this allows you to filter out certain links…

open site analysis

At this point I would suggest filtering out no follow links and filtering out any internal links.

You can use internal links to see how your competition link to their high ranking pages, can be insightful, but that’s for another post.


Now you have your list of links it is time to export them into an excel spreadsheet using the option below the drop downs.

(If you are downloading a particularly large link profile then this may take a few minutes depending on your connection speed.)

OK so we have all the details in a lovely excel spreadsheet, but were not done…..

Let’s neaten it up a little

So you have a spreadsheet looking something like this?

excel of competitor links


Firstly get rid of the nonsense at the top, check.

Now there are plenty of things in this spreadsheet we don’t need.

  • Highlight the ‘URL’ column and filter out all duplicate cells using the ‘Data’ and Advanced filter options in excel.
  • Secondly delete the title, followable, 301, origin and target url columns.

Now sort the columns in order of page authority and you have a list of your competitors links in the order of the most powerful.

Neaten up the spreadsheet a little and go ahead and download more of your competitor’s links!!

links spreadsheet

You are never going to beat those at the top unless you can get the same links, no you don’t have to and shouldn’t mimic the entire profile just pick out the best ones.


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.