This post is about link-building, so if you’re one of the folks who is terrified of link-building and thinks that Google doesn’t care about links and only cares about user experience now feel free to stop reading.
For the rest of you, I am going to take you on a journey Alice in Wonderland style and show you how being just a bit more curious can unlock a lot of great opportunities when looking for outreach opportunities.
Building a List of Link Prospects
To start this exercise you are going to first need a handful of topical, or industry relevant prospects. The best place to start for something like this is with blogs or websites that are authoritative in your niche or are already writing about your industry. The relevance in this case is important, not only for SEO value, but also because the relevance is what is going to provide you with a road map for finding other opportunities that might not be within your initial research bucket, but are just as relevant.
Note: This can be done using past link prospects, or already earned links as well. You are using these sites not for links, but for finding additional personae, keyword opportunities, and websites to target.
I’m not going to dive into the prospecting element of link-building in this post, so if you’re unfamiliar with link-prospecting or link-building in general here are some folks in the industry I would recommend getting acquainted with both on twitter and through their content:
Heading Down the Rabbit Hole
Once you’ve identified some relevant prospects it’s time to start digging for new opportunities. To do this you need to analyze the website itself. Who is this blogger linking to? Do they have a blog roll? Better yet, analyze their backlinks and see who is linking to them.
In this exercise we are doing two things. First, we are looking for new possible link prospects, but more importantly we are looking for related keywords that can lead us to less obvious link opportunities. Are there new keywords being used among the sites linked to and linking from that can be explored for additional link opportunities from relevant sites?
I’ve used this exercise a number of times, but more recently this came in handy when I was working with a client whose search space I was completely unfamiliar with and whose business type I was not very experienced with.
In this particular case I was working with a client who develops and sells a particular type of software. After identifying a number of bloggers and forums that regularly write about and cover this particular type of software I began to analyze the elements mentioned above.
As I dug deeper into where these sites linked to and got links from I started to notice that a number of the people I was finding linking to or being linked to were consultants who offered consulting services for businesses looking to setup and better utilize this type of software.
By identifying this subset of related personae and websites I not only found some relevant link opportunities, but I also found a completely new set of keywords I could explore for further link opportunities. (e.g. “keyword software consultants,” “keyword software consulting,” etc.)
This link-building method is time consuming, but the prospects are highly relevant and you can follow the process further and further down the chain until you run out of possible link opportunities. If that doesn’t work, there’s always your user experience. 😉