Using a simple three-step process can deliver phenomenal results for link prospectors during the link building opportunity discovery process. Here's how it works.
The link prospector:
- Searches and qualifies for the opportunity type (guest post, links page, comment, etc.).
- Identifies and records a unique footprint from each qualified page.
- Searches for all of the footprints and records the opportunities.
Step 1: Opportunity Type Prospecting
Take keywords that define the market or audience you're looking for, along with words or phrases that will help you pinpoint a particular type of opportunity in your search engine of choice.
For example, if you're placing guest posts relating to women's health, try searching Google for ["womens health" "guest post"]. Note: It can be useful to brainstorm - and record - queries in terms of roots and stems, in which the roots direct you toward a topic area, audience, or area of concern and the stems focus on a specific type of opportunity.
Oftentimes, simply querying for opportunities is enough to find all the prospects you require for a given campaign. Indeed, in this first step I recommend recording all the pages or sites (from the top 20 results or so...) that represent definite opportunities. It's from these definite opportunities that you can begin to source your footprints.
Step 2: Unique Footprint Discovery
"A great footprint, is one that returns the largest amount of results that are EXACTLY what you?re looking for in the shortest period of time, without having to filter results afterwards." The author of this description uses highly-precise footprints to uncover commenting opportunities for, erm, "large-scale, automated community engagement."
Michael Springman, in searching for guest posting opportunities, describes the moment of unique footprint discovery here:
"...the other thing that I noticed was that the author byline at the end of each guest post was exactly the same." He further notes that "the longer I work on link-building, the more I realize the importance of recognizing patterns and trends in my research [footprints... -G] in order to find opportunities that scale."
Identifying and discovering these unique footprints requires careful observation and a bit of reasoned guessing around what specific chunks of language might exist on similar opportunities. The footprint worked out by our friendly and anonymous comment bombing expert is: [(your root KW) "name" AND "*mail" AND "Leave a *" AND "Comment" AND "* Comment"].
Further, if you're looking for comment opportunities on pages with low-no barrier to posting you could search for something like [(your root KW) "I really enjoyed this post. You explain this topic very well."] Mr. Springman found that searching for ["Jane Doe is a content contributor for CompetitorsName.com."] helped uncover more than 600 guest placement opportunities with (probably) lax editorial standards.
For example, the term "preparedness" is used frequently on disaster recovery resource pages. Adding a key term to the intitle and inurl of your queries can help to laser target your searches. Specific company, brand name, or even article/PDF titles can be used in much the same way to pinpoint potential resource pages.
Step 3: Footprint Prospecting
Once you've identified, classified and recorded your footprints for a given campaign, it's time to search and scrape the queries (by-hand and for free with SEO for Firefox or through automation with the brand new paid advanced prospecting feature on BuzzStream), qualify them based on metrics or even the domain occurrences in the SERPs, and then put them into your acquisition phase!
Further Link Prospecting Query Resources
In addition to the fine resources mentioned in the body of the article, I recommend these for the link builder looking for a bit more thinking on link prospecting.
- Link Building Query Theory: 7 Crucial Keyword Types for Link Prospect Querying
- The New School of Link Prospecting Keyword Research (+4 Tools & 2 Tips).
- B2B Link Building Queries for Industry Engagers and Content Marketers
- 25 Social Media Link Building Queries for Content Promotion
- 14 Link Prospecting Queries for Discovering Your Company's Related Verticals
- Smart Link Building Queries for Any Industry
- Link Prospecting with Garrett French on #seochat
- Search Geeks Speak: Link Prospecting and Content Strategy
Image credit: Cote