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Link Building 101: Finding Web Mentions

jon-ball
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Link Building 101 Finding Web Mentions

Launching a fresh link building campaign can be an overwhelming task, especially for those new to or unfamiliar with link building.

But link building isn't an impossible task – there's always a few very obtainable quality wins at the start of every campaign, no matter the client, website, campaign goals, or landing pages.

Here's a checklist of five "quick win" opportunities every campaign should start with:

  1. 404 pages and Link Reclamation
  2. Competitor Analysis
  3. Fresh Web Mentions/Google Alerts
  4. Local Link Building
  5. Past/Current Relationships

Fresh Web Mentions

Monitoring and searching the web for mentions of your website, brand, product, or company is a common link building tactic.

Successfully finding these mentions represents a great link building opportunity, as well as a chance to establish a future relationship. If you aren't in any way monitoring these mentions, you're probably letting valuable opportunities slip through your fingers.

The idea is that if a website has already mentioned you in some way, it's not much of a leap to ask for a link.

All you need to do is send them a short email, thanking them for the mention, and asking if they'd mind including a link.

Here's an example template:

Hey (NAME),

I noticed you mentioned (ME/MY BRAND/MY WEBSITE) on your site: (LINK). Really appreciate the mention! I'm glad you wanted to share (MY CONTENT/COMPANY/BRAND) with your readers. Would you mind linking back to show your (READERS/AUDIENCE/MEMBERS) what you're talking about?

Thanks!
(SIGNATURE)

Simple. Direct. Easy. And, because they've already mentioned you, the link opportunity is high.

Two tools that you can use for finding fresh web mentions are Google Alerts and Fresh Web Explorer from Moz.

Using Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a free service from Google, and really a great first tool for monitoring fresh web mentions.

It works by aggregating links to any websites recently mentioning one of the keywords that you're monitoring. Here's a screenshot of the set-up page:

Google Alerts

As you can see, there are five different fields to fill out:

  • Search query (keyword)
  • Result type
    • Everything
    • News
    • Blogs
    • Videos
    • Discussions
    • Books
  • How Often
    • As-it-happens
    • Once a day
    • Once a week
  • How Many
    • Only the best results
    • All results
  • Your Email

Search Queries

Let's start with your search queries, also commonly your keywords. Some examples of alerts I would and have set up for myself:

  • "Page One Power" –site:pageonepower.com
  • "pageonepower" –site:pageonepower.com
  • "P1P" –site:pageonepower.com
  • "Page1power" –site:pageonepower.com
  • "Jon Ball" Founder OR CEO –site:pageonepower.com
  • "Jon Ball" SEO –site:pageonepower.com
  • "Jon Ball" link building –site:pageonepower.com
  • "Jonathan Ball" SEO –site:pageonepower.com
  • "Jonathan Ball" link building –site:pageonepower.com
  • "Jonathan Ball" Founder OR CEO –site:pageonepower.com

Search modifiers are extremely important in Google Alerts. If you don't use search modifiers, Google will email you a thousand pieces of junk a day.

The concept is you want anything important or likely to be mentioned about your company/website monitored. So, make sure you have brand and key figures associated with your website tracked.

Play around with a few different combinations until you've settled on a few that return mostly good results. You'll want some junk coming in to ensure you've casted a wide enough net, otherwise you're potentially missing great mentions.

Result Type

Result type boils down to what sort of results you want reported – everything, only news, only blogs, only videos, etc.

I usually track everything. If you're looking to use broad industry terms (hard to do effectively), you can refine this down to specific results (i.e., blogs or news).

How Often

How often is also about preference. If it's extremely important for you to be timely, or you're specifically monitoring news, you might wish to track it as-it-happens.

I find that the "once a day" setting for tracking brand and self mentions is perfect, although it's possible to stretch it out to once a week. Do some experimentation, then decide what works best for you and your client/website.

How Many

This option is once again about the level of filtration you want. Since I'm using very specific and narrow keywords I typically use "all results". However, if you're tracking broader terms, you might wish to use "only the best".

Email

Finally, your email is necessary because Google actually emails you the results directly. I set up a folder so that the Google Alerts I do get are self-contained and don't clog my inbox.

And that is how Google Alerts works in a nutshell.

Using Fresh Web Explorer

Moz's Fresh Web Explorer serves much the same function as Google Alerts – tracking recent brand and keyword mentions. However, you need to pay in order to access and use it.

The difference between FWE and Google Alerts is in the way they operate. Whereas Google Alerts emails you, Fresh Web Explorer is a manual search you perform through the tool.

This is great for getting instant results, but means you need to remember to check every so often.

Here's what Fresh Web Explorer looks like:

Fresh Web Explorer

There's a search bar (again search modifiers are important), there's a graph showing the number of recent mentions, and a filter to change the search date back one week, two weeks, or four.

I use the same search terms I used with Google Alerts to track my name, my company, and specifically the company's brand.

Once you search FWE makes a list of pages mentioning your search query, along with those pages' authority, the keyword mentioned, and the date it was found.

All of this, by the way, is exportable to CSV.

FWE is a bit more advanced than Google Alerts.

FWE vs. Google Alerts

FWE tends to be better at returning relevant, real mentions whereas Google Alerts can return a lot of chaff with the wheat. However, because FWE is manual, I tend to get busy and not search as frequently as I perhaps should (although it does go back 4 weeks). So, Google Alerts is a great way to keep a continual reminder, as well as return some occasional decent mentions worth pursuing.

However, if you have the time FWE will give you the best results – especially if you're dealing with a large brand or company.

I enjoy using both in conjunction, as Google Alerts can sometimes really come through and find a great mention. It will also keep mentions on my mind, as they come straight into my inbox occasionally. As often as not this prompts me to head over to FWE to dig deeper.

Bonus: Good Old-Fashioned Search

Because Google Alerts will only show you mentions after you set them up, and Fresh Web Explorer will only go back a month, don't forget to use good old-fashioned search to dig up extra brand/website mentions.

Although fresh web mentions are obviously preferable, as it's easier and timelier ask for the link, sometimes you can find some really great mentions further out than a month that are worth chasing.

Some examples of search modifiers I'd use for my company:

  • -site:pageonepower.com -site:facebook.com -site:twitter.com "Page One Power" OR "pageonepower.com" OR "http://pageonepower.com/" OR "http://www.pageonepower.com/"
  • -site:pageonepower.com –site:facebook.com –site:twitter.com "Jon Ball" OR "Jonathan Ball" OR "CEO of Page One Power" OR "Founder of Page One Power".

There are tools for finding web mentions because using old-fashioned Google search isn't easy. However, with some advanced search strings, it should be possible to suss out potential mentions.

Recap

Monitoring fresh web mentions is a great way to find important link building opportunities, with little effort or time involvement. The best part is it can lead to some of the most natural, editorial links imaginable.

If you're starting a fresh campaign, or you're new to link building, I can't recommend these methods highly enough. They're very simplistic, easy to pursue links that are often high quality to boot.

However, your company/website will need to be mentioned online in order for this strategy to work; it's not always feasible for a new company/website.


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