Link prospecting queries remain one of the most versatile and powerful "tools" for link builders. A link prospecting query (also called a "link building query") is a combination of keywords and advanced search operators that help you to discover sites that are likely to link to a page on your site.
Link prospecting queries are a way to find link prospects, in addition to competitor backlink analysis.
Why Talk Theory? Just Give Me the Queries!
In the past we've written lists of link building queries you can use for prospecting. The problem: there are always more queries you could possibly use.
Further, you're probably only able to use a small fraction of the queries we recommend due to your linkable assets or the type of link opportunities that you're targeting with your campaign.
Lastly, we don't know your market the way you do. Knowing how to construct queries will help you hunt far more effectively in your target market than a list of queries.
7 Types of Keywords for Link Prospecting Queries
Mark Twain said "The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter -- it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." The same certainly holds true for link prospecting queries, which is why we've found it really helps to think about the types of words you can use. Finding just the right words will help you to prequalify your prospects, which vastly speeds up your qualification phase.
For this exercise we'll pretend we build and sell high-performance kayaks online and from a brick-and-mortar location. Our linkable assets are an extensive guide to the best kayaking spots in the world, our blog with kayaking tips and events, and our in-house kayaking "subject matter experts," both as builders and kayakers.
1. Market Defining Keywords [MDKW”
What are the words your market uses to describe itself? What words does your target audience use to describe your industry? These are the words that comprise your market defining keywords.
For our kayaking site these terms could include:
To find prospects for our guide to the best kayaking spots in the world we could do queries like:
- Kayak blog
- kayaking resources
- places to kayak intitle:list
2. Customer Defining Keywords [CDKW”
Customer defining keywords help you to discover prospects that are geared more towards your target audience. Knowing what your customers call themselves and how they refer to fellow group members will help you discover some great prospects.
Customer defining keywords for our kayak store could include:
- "Paddle Bum"
These keywords will help you to discover still more prospects who might be interested in linking to that guide to the world's best kayaking spots:
- Playboater blog
- kayaker resources
- paddler vacation intitle:list
3. Product/Category Keywords [PCKW”
Product or category keywords are the high- and mid-level terms that describe what you sell. They're useful because they can help you to uncover prospects that could otherwise go undiscovered. For example, on our kayak site we sell a few different types of kayaks. Each type of kayak has its own dedicated enthusiasts.
- sea kayak
- sit on top kayak
- inflatable kayak
- fishing kayak
If you had kayaks to lend or donate for review, you could combine the above keywords with "blog," "news," "review," or even "magazine" to find people to write reviews. Add "forum" to each of the above words and you'll find people who are avid users of these types of products.
4. Industry Thought Leaders [ITL”
Industry thought leaders -- or, in our kayak case, subject matter experts -- help you to uncover public relations and interview opportunities in your space. Here are some names from the kayaking world (who have given interviews, anyhow):
- John Kimantas
- Tyler Bradt
- Harvey Golden
If you're looking for a market's experts, also search in Amazon, or search "[MDKW” book" as often they write books. You should also check YouTube to see if there are any relevant videos.
Once you know some of your industry's thought leaders you can look for people who will respond to interviews (so you can interview them and add the content to your site) as well as people who conduct interviews so you can pitch your in-house experts!
Further, you can poke around in forums and see if any thought leaders have participated there. If so, you should consider sending yours there as well.
- [ITL” interview
- [ITL” forum
5. Competing Company Names [CCN”
Competing company names are wonderful little footprints to track -- they can show you a great deal about how your industry's reporters and bloggers treat companies similar to yours. For our kayak company, the list would include other direct competitors.
Competing company names are useful in similar ways to the names of industry thought leaders. Our kayak company can see who has covered their competitors in the news, as well as which industry forums happen to discuss their competitors extensively. Further, checking for reviews can show you what you're up against plus reveal some potential link opportunities.
- [CCN” review
- [CCN” forum
- [CCN” interview
- [CCN” "guest article or post"
6. Geo Keywords [GKW”
Geo keywords help you discover link prospects that may impact your local search rankings. Our kayak shop obviously wants to rank well locally, and in addition, by discovering and participating with local media they will drive highly relevant referral traffic that could result in sales.
Geo keywords can include things like:
- ZIP Code
Here are some ways to use geo keywords in link prospecting queries. Our kayaking shop has monthly workshops for builders, as well as weekly one hour training classes. They also host a once a year bluegrass and beer festival for kayakers.
- [GKW” events
- [GKW” blog
- [GKW” kayak blog
- [GKW” directory
- [GKW” reviews
7. Related Vertical Keywords [RVKW”
Related verticals, which we wrote about here, are adjacent industries that could potentially aid your efforts. For example, here are some adjacent industries for our kayaking company:
- Boat Building
Our kayaking company will want to make sure that they invite the local canoeing and rafting community to their weekly kayak training events. Bikers and hikers will probably enjoy bluegrass and beer. Further, connecting with boat building forums, magazines and blogs will help build links, especially if the company publishes a couple free kayak plans (and sells others).
Some sample queries could look like:
- [RVKW” blog list
- [RVKW” news
- [RVKW” forum
- [RVKW” "guest post"
- [RVKW” "round up"
- "[RVKW” resources"
- [RVKW” Twitter list
There you have it, link builders. Go forth, find great prospects and earn those links!