[Tutorial] How To Perform Link Poaching Using Moz Open Site Explorer (And Steal Your Competitors Rankings)

Filed in SEO, Tutorials & Reviews by on October 21, 2014


Link building has become an art form.

Long gone are the times when building links for your website felt like a data entry job - copying and pasting content on article marketing and online directory sites are now a thing of the past.

Thanks to the continuous Google algorithm updates rolled out since 2011, marketers and link builders are forced to acquire legitimate inbound links without gamification.

This greatly benefited users as shallow content has been weeded out from search results in exchange for high-quality pages.

Now comes the problem: to earn backlinks from good sites, you need to think outside the box and be creative.

This is where link poaching comes to play.

This type of link building tactic requires you to mine competitor backlinks and gain backlinks of your own on the very same pages.

Link poaching is done best using Moz’s Open Site Explorer, which has some of the most comprehensive data of links available for all websites.


(P.S. If you'd like to download a free list of 220 profitable buyer keywords click here or the image below)



What you need:

  • Pages of your website that you wish to rank on search engine


  • A dedicated keyword that you want to optimize for the chosen pages of your site. Use Google Keyword Planner to look for competitive keywords, i.e. high average monthly search volume, low competition. Here is a classic guide on how to do keyword research by Moz



  • A spreadsheet tool to record gathered information. Use the spreadsheet app on the Google Drive


Link Poaching: Process

First, you need to determine your online competitors first.

A quick search on Google for the target keyword of the page you plan on optimizing will return you at least three results that you can consider as competitors.

List down the web pages that rank on the first row of your spreadsheet.

Once you have nailed the pages of your competitors ranking for your chosen keyword, go to Open Site Explorer and enter the URL of the ranking page on the search bar.

You will be brought to the results page upon searching.

Click on the Inbound Links tab to view the backlinks of the page.

You will be able to view your competitor’s backlinks on the Title and URL of Linking Page column.

The top of the list normally has the most Page Authority, which is the fourth column.

The more you move down the list, the less Authority the page will have.

Now that you have the data at hand, this is where link poaching begins.

If you see a website from the first column that you want to gain a link from, click on the URL and find how your competitor earned a link from the site.


Examples are:

  • Blog comments
  • Contextual link within the post body
  • Banner link on the sidebar or footer
  • Resource link



To locate the link much easier, you can refer to the Link Anchor Text column to see which keyword or URL was used to link back to your competitor site.

Copy the anchor text, press CTRL + F and enter the text to locate the anchor text from the page.

List down the URLs that you plan on acquiring links from on your spreadsheet for future reference.

From here, you will be able to determine whether or not you can earn the same type of link that your competitor has on the page.

If the link is a blog comment… you can comment on the post and place your link there.

Keep in mind that you need to come up with a meaningful comment that forwards the discussion or raises a good question based off the article.

Therefore, you must first read the post carefully and come up with a great comment that also tastefully includes a link back to your site.

If the site owners feel that your comment is relevant to the discussion, they will approve it along with the backlink.

However, you will have to come back to see if your comments goes live.

While blog commenting as a link building tactic is normally frown upon, it really depends on how you present yourself through your comments.

Here’s what head of Google webspam Matt Cutts has to say with regard to using blog commenting as a way to acquire links.

If the link is a contextual link within the post body… it can be that the article is a guest post or that the author used your competitor site as a resource on his or her post.

If the link is acquired through guest posting, then there’s a chance that the site accepts more contributors to their site. Check out the site’s menu if there’s a “Write For Us” page to learn how to get in as a guest blogger.

If you’re new to guest blogging, read this comprehensive guide from KISSmetrics.

From here, you will be able to pitch for a guest blog and write it correctly to increase your chances of getting published on the site.

Early this year, Matt Cutts puts an end to guest posting for SEO purposes.

However, approach guest posting not for the purpose of getting a link (although guest posts give you the opportunity for a backlink to your site), but to present yourself as a knowledgeable person within your niche, which can nonetheless drive traffic to your site if they like your guest post.

If your link is found on the sidebar or footer of the site or is included as a resource… acquiring your link this way will be much more difficult.

Normally, to gain these types of links, you need to know the webmaster.

More importantly, you will need the site owner to like your site for its informative and helpful content.

You can, however, start by touching base with the site owners by sending them an email through their site’s Contact page.




Here’s a good template to start you off:

Hello, [name of site owner]!

I saw a page on your site [site URL where competitor link is found] and I see that you are interested in websites that offer [describe your niche of your competitor, which should be similar to yours].

That said, I would love for you to visit my site [your site URL], to which I am the site owner. I strongly feel that our site can be used as a resource on your site, which should help your visitors learn more about [your niche].


This can be improved upon once you start drafting your letter, but the idea here should be that you need to offer your site not to simply acquire a link from them, but to tell them what they will get in return from linking to your site.

If done correctly following the steps above, link poaching will allow you to gain valuable links from high-reputed sites that will help you rank higher on search results over time based off your target keyword, all while gaining a foothold with your competitors.


Author bio: Christopher Jan Benitez is a content marketer during the day, heavy sleeper at night, writer for hire, pro wrestling fan by choice (It's still real to me, damnit!), and family man all the time. Add me up on Google+.


Christopher Jan Benitez
Content marketer during the day. Heavy sleeper at night. Dreams of non-existent brass rings. Writer by trade. Pro wrestling fan by choice (It's still real to me, damnit!). Family man all the time.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Sunday says:

    Hi Stuart,
    Its interesting to know of the process of link poaching. The tutorial is easy and handy. I am sure to put it into practice.

    Although, it seems like one needs to understand how to use to use the Moz Open Site Explorer tool effectively. This is another form of competitor analysis!

    I have shared this comment in kingged.com where this post was shared.

    • NicheHacks says:

      Glad you like it Sunday. Moz OSE isn't too difficult to understand when you spend 30 minutes on it. It's a powerful tool with a lot of uses.