A while back I wrote a piece outlining 78 of my favorite SEO resources. It was fairly well received and based on some of the questions I received I thought it wise to do a few articles outlining how I use some of the features of these tools.
This post will look at how to build links around industry hubs using Majestic SEO's Clique Hunter. For those who are more familiar with Ahrefs, Majestic's Clique Hunter is similar to the Domain Comparison tool (in their Labs section).
I use a wide variety of tools ranging from free add-ons like SEO Quake to custom developed tools for more specific needs. However, Majestic has been one of the core paid tools we rely on for some time now because they have a sizable index of links, and in this case at least, size matters a lot! The bigger it is, the better you can use it.
So let's get to it. Here's how you can use Majestic SEO's Clique Hunter to find hubs and secure links.
Link Building Using Majestic SEO's Clique Hunter
Before we get into how to use the tool we should probably cover why. Let's think about what the Clique Hunter produces and what it represents.
By following the steps outlined below you'll be provided with a list of domains that link to multiple top-ranking competitors for a specific term. So let's think about that for a moment. A domain linking to 5 of the top 5 ranking sites, that does not link to you, is likely:
- Happy to link to sites in your industry.
Now, it has to be noted in advance that simply because a site appears in Clique Hunter doesn't mean it's good. In a world where we fight for every link and where relevancy and context are increasingly important, every mechanism to increase the odds of a solid lead on a link is welcome. We'll discuss this more later on, but for now let's cover the steps required to pull some great backlink leads out of the data provided by Majestic SEO.
OK, log yourself into Majestic SEO and the follow these steps.
Step 1: Under Link Map Tools, click on Clique Hunter
Step 2: Search for a phrase you want to rank for on Google
Because I don't want to list off anything that might be competitive for our readers (or let's face facts, myself or one of our clients) I'm going to go with "seo blog". The top five ranking URLs in the results are:
Next, enter these URLs as well as your own (assuming you have links) into Clique Hunter and click "Hunt". For fun I've used the page three ranking http://blog.majesticseo.com/ to represent "our site".
Step 3: Export the results
Data is significantly easier to deal with when you can apply whatever sorting you like. For this reason I never work in the web interface and instead download the results into a spreadsheet. You'll see why when we get to the next step.
Step 4: Delete the columns you don't need.
I won't tell you what to do here as each person has to make their own decisions on what data to trust and what not to. When I'm in a hurry or dealing with a normal-sized list (let's say anything under 1,000) I tend to reduce it down to:
- The backlink column for each of the sites I'm researching. For ease of viewing I tend to color the site I'm working on red.
This will leave you with a spreadsheet that looks like:
There are other metrics you can leave behind if you opt to trust the folks at Majestic SEO to determine the trust flow of a site, etc. but I prefer to remove that metric. I do often replace it with the homepage PageRank (green bar PageRank, not the real thing).
Before you jump on me for using a known inaccurate measurement (I know you want to because at this point I'd do the same) we only use this for filtering the order we view link in from this point forward. While I don't trust PageRank as a metric for determining whether a link is good (I've seen PR6 sites make unnatural links lists), it's better than simply ordering the URLs alphabetically. I do trust it to represent Google's value more than any third party metric, so I'll add it in the simple hope that it will help me get more valuable links earlier on in the process.
Many tools pull PageRank, the best of which use APIs, and some of which are free. Of course, you can also do without or do it manually as well.
I won't target any of the free tools, as they'll get swamped with a mention in Search Engine Watch and likely become useless. I often use My-Addr.com and it's proven pretty reliable. Again, not necessary but I find it handy and so will assume this has been done.
This would leave you with a spreadsheet that looks like:
Step 5: Filter the results
Note: Because "NA" prioritizes higher than a "9" in Excel do a Find and Replace to change all the NA to -1.
The next step is to sort the columns. Of course, how you do this is up to you. My personal preference is to sort by the three criteria at the same time:
- Your site: sort smallest to largest listing the sites that don't link to you already at the top.
- Matches: sort largest to smallest listing the sites that link to the most competitors towards the top.
- PageRank: sort largest to smallest listing the sites with the highest PageRank to the top.
This will give you the following:
Now we have a list of domains that's ordered by the list of sites that link to our competitors but not us, and arranged with the ones with the most matches and highest toolbar PageRank at the top.
Given how link building has changed, it may not be safe to assume that a site which links to a multitude of your competitors will link to you, but it does increase the odds and in link building – that's about all you can do on the research side. I shouldn't have to note that if your site isn't as good or doesn't have the same resources as your competitors that you should look inward before outward.
Step 6: Find the links and duplicate the results
The final step of the process is to find the links to your competitors determine what they have done to get them and (if appropriate) seek to secure your own. Use common sense as you look through the domains. For example, I know what a Feedshow link or a Blogger link are going to look like and wouldn't pursue them specifically.
So let's jump to Business2Community.com. A PageRank 6 site that links to 4 of the top 5 sites. The next step is to find out how those sites got the links. This is a simple enough process in most cases. Let's start by looking into the Graywolf link.
Start by searching Google for [Graywolf site: business2community.com]
By searching quickly through the results we find that the links are from a top SEO guide list (from 2011) and other links to some blog posts. In fact, we can see the same with the full list of competitors. They got their links by providing content that the authors referenced.
So, to get a link on Business2Community.com you need to provide good content. Since this isn't "Field Of Dreams", at this point I would find some of the most active authors and connect with them on social media. Read what they're writing about, communicate with them and comment on their work. If you have something to add to the conversation, write about it and let them know.
One of my favorite tactics is to wait until someone writes a piece that is great, but misses a point which you then write about from your perspective. Comment to them privately that you loved their piece and covered it, but included a point you thought they missed. At worst you've gotten their attention as someone who appreciates their work enough to write about it (giving credit where it's due). If they don't link to that piece, they know who you are and it will open up additional dialogue.
This tactic doesn't work 100 percent of the time (what does?) but it works often enough to be worth doing. At worst you'll likely have read some great content related to your industry.
That's my method for using Majestic SEO's Clique Hunter for link building. It's one of my go-tos due to the focus on sites that are relevant (for the most part) and sites that are willing to link to others in your industry. Thereby, increasing the rate of success dramatically.
In fact, during the writing of this very article I got myself a lead on a great and relevant link. Fortunately it was found from research that didn't make this article or all you pesky SEOs would have the same one.