I find link prospecting to be one of the most time-consuming and challenging parts of link building. In order to build and maintain a natural link profile for your website, your prospecting activity needs to cover a wide range of opportunities and generate the right targets and leads for your project/campaign. So prospecting is usually pretty easy to start off with - run a few Google searches and you've got yourself a set of content-rich websites within your target industry. However, once you’ve gone through this initial list, you realise the challenge that you're faced with.
Here are some of the things we do at GPMD to generate a broader set of quality prospects. Using these practices, we're able to identify a huge selection of relevant, high quality blogs and industry websites within different sectors.
Tip 1: Advanced search queries
Advanced search queries are our starting point. They’re quick, easy to use and they are great for finding opportunities for guest blogging, collaboration projects, sponsorship etc.
Examples of advanced search queries:
Inurl Search (Dental inurl:blog / Dental blog inurl:.co.uk)
These search queries will filter websites with your preferred domain extension or search term within its URL. The above examples will return dental blogs and dental blogs based in the UK.
These queries (using speech marks to find the exact text) are ideal for finding websites that are either looking for guest bloggers or accept guest blog posts. The above examples will return dental websites that accept guest posts and dental websites that are looking for writers.
Intitle Search (Dental Intitle:Guest Post – Dental Intitle: Advertise)
Searching for specific content within the title helps to filter the pages that are most relevant and also find opportunities by searching for advertising or guest posting opportunities. The above examples will return dental websites that accept guest posts and dental websites with advertising opportunities.
Wildcard Search (Dental “Guest *” blog)
Using the wildcard (*) filters results that contain the exact words within your query and an additional word in the position of the wildcard. The above query will return dental blogs that feature “guest post”, “guest writer”, “guest blog” etc within their content or title (with the second word in place of the wildcard).
Using more than one of these strings within the same search will help to further refine the results and provide very specific prospects for you to use to build links.
Example of a query that could be used for finding guest blogging opportunities for a dental website.
Tip 2: Use Twitter tools to find niche bloggers
Building relationships on Twitter is a great way of generating opportunities. By regularly talking to bloggers within your industry, you’re developing an outreach that could be utilised for product launches, obtaining reviews, guest blogging and much more.
Follower Wonk is a great tool that allows you to search through Twitter bios, helping you to identify targets for building relationships or just approaching for link-building.
Example: If you're looking to obtain links from dental blogs, you could search for dental blog, dentist blog, dentistry blog and so on. You can then filter the results and order by the available metrics to help find the most suitable people.
Topsy is a very useful tool that lets you search the social web (including blogs). You could search for your brand, niche keyword or web address, find the people who're talking about you or your industry and then get in touch (and hopefully get a link from their blog). You could also search for guest blogging opportunities using things like 'guest blog dentistry' and then approach the website owner/blogger.
These are just a couple of examples, there are literally thousands more tools that can help you find link building opportunities.
Tip 3: Look at blogroll and directory links
When you find a really good blog that you would like a link from, don't just contact them and wait for a reply! You should be looking for a links page or a blogroll to find other similar bloggers that could also provide a good link to your website. It is important to remember that not all good blogs are optimised for search, making a lot of them really hard to find – unless you use these kinds of techniques.
Also, when you're looking down at your competitors' links from directories like spammylinkdirectory.com (not a real website), you could be finding a few new opportunities. Chances are that you've already looked through your competitors' links, but you might find different websites that you haven't analysed within these directories, some of which may have some good ideas/links that you could emulate for your website.
Tip 4: Reverse image search
I often hear people moaning about how some blog or website has used one of their images in a post or article – without realising that this is a great opportunity to obtain a really good link! If you come across another website using your image, send them a polite email, compliment their content and website, and just ask if they can add a link to your website as the source of the image. This link-building technique is natural and free – which is why optimising your images and making them freely available is a great way of generating these opportunities. You can search for your web address in Google's new-look image search feature ortineye.com, both will help you to find where your images are being used.
Tip 5: Use PPC advertising to find advertising opportunities
Running a short-term, low cost PPC campaign is a great way to find link building opportunities. Once your PPC ad is live on lots of related blogs, you can contact the blogger, mention your advert and suggest that you look at other options.
I would recommend complimenting the blog content and asking to submit a few guest posts about your experience within your industry. Then, once you have obtained a number of links, simply turn off the adwords campaign.
Tip 6: Use BuzzStream
I started using BuzzStream (a link-building CRM tool) around three months ago, with the intention of streamlining my link building process, and it has saved me a huge amount of time! BuzzStream does actually have a feature designed to identify link prospects, but I haven't really used it, I am more interested in the BuzzMarker and the BuzzBox.
The BuzzMarker is placed on your bookmark toolbar and it pulls in a huge amount of data with one simple click. This data includes whois information, social media accounts, contact details and even data from key SEO metrics (including SEOmoz data). All of this is then available within the CRM system itself and can be added too or edited at any point.
You can also BCC the BuzzBox email address into emails that you're sending to prospects, which will then automatically add the emails into the CRM.
Tip 7: Ask questions
Once you have built a relationship (or link) with a blogger or industry professional, why don't you ask them which blogs and news websites they follow? This is a great way of identifying websites that you may not have reached or found otherwise and it will take very little time. If the blogger is a friend of connection of the person who recommended it, you then also have an angle to start contact with.
Tip 8: Use what's already out there
Looking at the links that your competitors have will provide opportunities and inspiration, but there is a limit to the number of links that you can get. Once you have found new opportunities from your competitors, why don't you look at their links, and then links going to their links and so on? If you're looking at relevant websites, chances are they will have some good links that you can look to emulate.
If you're looking to implement an idea or even just get some quick links, looking at what has been done before is a really good place to start.
For example, if you're looking to write a list of the top 50 most influential bloggers in your industry, have a look at those who are featured on the list and check if they link back to the website. If they do link back, they could be an easy win. Also, as your version will be the latest one, it's probably worth contacting the people linking to the previous version and asking them to link to your new release.
Tip 9: Utilise existing relationships
If you're involved within your industry, chances are that you know people that have contacts that have blogs. Well, now is the time to pull in that favour and get the introduction.
If you know people, or know people that know people, make sure you take advantage of the situation, as I can guarantee that your competitors will be doing it.
These links are simple, natural and are difficult for competitors to copy.
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