I've written in the past on a method for analyzing how-to content to determine what topics are most commonly in demand for a given market. This article also helps link builders determine what subjects are in demand, but instead of looking at the SERPs for clues it goes directly to the citations made by resource curators. By using this process, link builders can determine the quality and characteristics of the most link-worthy content for their vertical.
The concept is simple.
- Find well-tended and high-authority collections of links to information on a common topic.
- See which links are linked to the most frequently.
- Analyze the most-frequently linked resources and determine common characteristics.
The assumption made here is that the most frequently-linked pages are considered by your target audience (resource page curators) to be the most valuable. Further, by emulating the characteristics of these pages in your content you too can earn similar high-value links.
The process is simple also, but has a few moving parts and requires you to be familiar with link prospect querying so you can source all those curated resource pages to seed your analysis.
For this exercise we're going to assume you sell "disaster kits" for consumers and you're wanting to dip into some of that amazing link equity on .govs and .edus resource pages. Here's what to do.
1. Query + Qualify to Find Authority Resource Pages
Here are the queries I used to discover my "seed lists."
- disaster preparedness inurl:links
- disaster preparedness intitle:links
- disaster preparedness intitle:sites
- disaster preparedness intitle:resources
- disaster preparedness inurl:resources
After querying you still must go through all the pages (I just looked at the top 10 for each) to make sure that they include outbound links, not just links to deeper pages on the domain. I ended up with about 10 or so resource and links pages to use as my seed set.
2. Copy and Save Link-Rich HTML from Each Resource Page
You have to use FireFox for this so you can use their "View Selection Source" function. View Selection Source lets you view the source code of a portion of the page that you select.
Go to your first qualified resource page, highlight the entire links section, right click and select "View Selection Source." Then copy and paste the link-rich code into a text pad.
Repeat this until you've gone through your entire stack of resource pages.
3. Extract and Count the Outbound LinksThere are two separate tools required for this part of the process, at two different sites.
The first is BuzzStream's recently-released (and inspiration for this post!) "Extract Href from HTML" tool. This tool extracts URLs, the domain, and isolates the anchor text for you. Sweet!
By now you should have a text pad full of link-rich HTML from 10+ resource pages. Dump the whole sloppy mess into their tool and it will tell you exactly which URLs exist in a CSV.
Now open up that CSV and copy out the URL column. Then paste it into the Ontolo URL & Hostname Counter. Click the "count URLs" radial button, and then click the big blue button.
There you have it -- you've now counted the number of co-citations of outbound links on resource pages.
4. Analyzing Your Results
By following the above process I found the following most-frequently cited resources on pages that aggregate disaster preparedness resources:
- http://www.pandemicflu.gov 4
- http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/disastercomm.htm 2
- http://www.bridge.ids.ac.uk/dgb4.html 2
- http://www.crin.org/docs/ecpat_emergencies.pdf 2
- http://www.espfocus.org 2
- http://www.fema.gov/institution/dru.shtm 2
- http://www.gdnonline.org/ 2
- http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/content/subsidi/tf_gender/gbv.asp 2
- http://www.jointcommission.org/NR/rdonlyres/FE29E7D3-22AA-4DEB-94B2-5E8D507F92D1/0/planning_guide.pdf 2
- http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/ncdocs/manuals/nc_manual_psyfirstaid.html?opm=1&rr=rr1561&srt=d&echorr=true 2
- http://www.nhc.noaa.gov 2
- http://www.npccny.org/info/disaster_plan.htm 2
- http://www.pep.bc.ca/management/Women_in_Disasters_Workbook.pdf 2
- http://www.ready.gov 2
- http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/lib.nsf/db900SID/LHON-66TGYJ?OpenDocument 2
- http://www.who.int/gender/documents/OMS_Ethics&Safety10Aug07.pdf 2
- http://www.who.int/gender/other_health/en/gwhdisasterassessment.pdf 2
- http://www.who.int/hac/techguidance/pht/en/workinprogressWHPrelatedthematicissue0804.pdf 2
I like looking at URLs first to determine commonly linkable characteristics. Apparently, PDFs get quite a bit of love. This makes sense though -- they're very printable and it's probable that some of these resources are meant to be printed and put in a safe, central location for reference during disaster situations.
Another observation: though root domains were cited on a number of occasions, these are actually less useful, especially in our disaster kit scenario because we're not about to alter the commercial-focus of the home page. The presence of root domains here could indicate that our resource pages analyzed were a bit too broad. It could make sense to pull backlinks to some of the PDFs to find more concentrated resource groupings.
5. Extra Credit for Link Builders
While analyzing content in this way you may come across a links page with a broken link. Be sure to set this page aside as you know have a perfect "in" for contacting the webmaster, as well as a template for a missing piece of content.
6. Even More Extra Credit
You can also analyze blogrolls, best of lists, news roundups, etc. It doesn't just have to be resource pages.
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