How to find linkable assets on large enterprise sites

Research is one of the most important elements of a strong link campaign.

Research will help you determine opportunity, craft a proposal, set proper client expectations, and guide your overall link strategy. 

Without doing proper research, link acquisition is inefficient and often unsuccessful. 

Today I’m going to cover an important portion of the research phase: how to efficiently find linkable assets on any site, even large sites at the enterprise level. 

This process should work on any site, so it’s good for early research when looking for new clients, or even doing a bit of competitive analysis. 

Why linkable assets?

I recently covered how link acquisition aids sit at the top of the marketing funnel, using Williams-Sonoma as the example.

They have a fantastic blog called Taste where they create compelling content designed to grow their audience, foster brand affinity, and add genuine value to the web. 

Unfortunately Williams-Sonoma is missing the mark in both technical SEO and securing the links they deserve, reducing the lifetime value and visibility of some of their content, notably their recipes.

BuzzSumo and Moz recently released a study showing no correlation between social shares and links. 

Worse, the majority of the thousands of pieces of content they examined in their first sample had little to no social shares. Companies are failing to secure the attention their content needs to be successful.

If you’re involved in online marketing, SEO, or content creation I’d encourage you to watch the recent Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin of Moz… 

The long and short of it is, if you’re not strategically pursuing links, I have little doubt you’re missing opportunities if not failing to secure links altogether.

Creating content is only one half of content marketing and strategy, the other half should be marketing. And if companies don’t consider the SEO implications of their content marketing, they’re missing out on substantial traffic, branding, and audience opportunities.

So let’s dig into a large website and pull out some linkable assets, to demonstrate what type of content/pages you should be using as link magnets in your SEO strategy. 

In this post I’ll use a competitor of Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table

Manual discovery and site exploration

I was sorely tempted to move straight into using tools to quickly and efficiently find linkable assets, but I don’t want to encourage bad habits. 

Regardless of website size any site research should start by manually exploring the site in question. In fact, this is even more important with larger websites because you will see which pages are prioritized and get an idea of UX and the conversion process. 

Tools are great and can make an SEO’s life much, much easier. But you should never skip over the manual phase of research, wherein you comb through the site in question and use your expertise and experience to glean insight. 

Here’s what I see when going to Sur la Table’s homepage. 

sur-la-table-homepage

Scanning for linkable assets/link opportunities, here’s what pages catch my eye:

Fall sale: appears to be a large event and is likely part of their current marketing campaigns. Might be able to piggyback on other marketing to secure links.

Classes: could be a great source of locale specific links, unlinked mentions, event links, and community building.

Gift ideas: might house guides, reviews, and genuinely useful content that would serve as wonderful linkable assets.

Blog: if they have linkable assets, it’s as likely to be here as anywhere. Should see what sort of content, audience, and community they’ve created.

Recipes: scroll down a bit and they’re advertising fall recipes. One of my favorite linkable assets, everyone loves a good recipe. 

Halloween: topical content is often easier to earn links with, and there could be some great linkable assets worth promoting.

That’s what I identified in 45 seconds of scanning the homepage. Further research would be needed to actually learn if linkable assets exist, how effective the assets might be with a particular audience, and if there are any issues with the assets that should be fixed before promotion. 

For an example, clicking into the gift ideas page shows that really these are just product pages sorted by interest: the cooker; the entertainer; the baker; etc. Not the guide I was hoping for, and potentially not a linkable asset at all.

Furthermore, looking at the URL on the homepage shows the link to gift ideas leading to http://www.surlatable.com/category/cat1030418/Gift+Ideas?cleanSession=true&pCat=cat1030418. 

However, there’s a redirect on http://www.surlatable.com/category/cat1030418/. 

sur-la-table-gift-ideas-page

And if we hover over the logo to go back to the homepage, we see it redirects through www.qksrv.net:

sur-la-table-logo-redirect

All of these unusual URL issues are definitely not ideal from an SEO perspective, and potentially shady based upon why they’ve set traffic to flow through qksrv.net. 

Qksrv.net’s robots.txt file has the cute comment “go away”:

qksrv-robots

Let’s not go too deep down this rabbit hole. Instead let’s move to the next step of this process, using BuzzSumo to quickly find content that’s already resonated with an audience. 

Using BuzzSumo to find shared content & potential linkable assets

Here’s what we see when we search Sur la Table’s domain on BuzzSumo:

buzzsumo-overview

There are a few things to note:

Filter by date: I’d recommend pulling data back to a year.

Content type: keep it broad spectrum to start.

Export: good if the domain has heaps of highly shared content.

Shares on different platforms: it’s tempting to scan through “total shares” but keep an eye on which platform is netting the most shares and inconsistencies in share counts. 

View sharers: great to dig into who’s sharing a specific piece, and locate who might amplify, share, or link to future work. 

So let’s dig in and look for linkable assets. I’m specifically looking for:

  • A decent amount of shares.
  • Evergreen or recently published content.
  • Informational, guides, how-to’s, or recipe style content.
  • Controversial or hot topic terms, particularly for the industry.
  • Notable names of authors – guest chefs or industry names could be linkworthy. 
  • Uniqueness.

Let me highlight a few examples:

buzzsumo-linkable-content-example

Within this example are three different pieces with link potential.  

  • History of Pumpkin Spice: decent shares, topical, recently published.
  • Meet Kristen Miglore: decent shares and a notable name. 
  • Cheese board: informational how-to with good shares.  

All three of these posts could be worth promoting with the specific goal of links, particularly if they’re pulling in the right kind of audience and deserve further amplification and visibility.

Let’s look for another angle. 

buzzsumo-linkable-content-example-2

A cooking class has 200 shares. Let’s take a peek at that. 

sur-la-table-class-page

Great information, valuable resource for the community, and easy-to-understand page. There’s definite opportunity to build local community links in the Arlington locale. 

What about the class page in general? 

sur-la-table-classes

There might be linking potential from cooking websites, particularly those that are designed to help people learn cooking skills. A class locator could be a helpful resource they’d willingly link to. 

BuzzSumo is great for quickly unearthing popular content on a site, which often leads to linkable assets. 

Let’s look now at using a backlink explorer to find linkable assets.

Using Majestic to find linkable assets

I’ll be using Majestic to demonstrate the process of finding linkable assets with a backlink explorer, but if you have another backlink explorer you prefer that should work as well.

Head into your tool of choice and input your URL. Flip over to the Pages tab and make sure you have the root selected as opposed to URL. You should see this:

majestic-sur-la-table-top-pages-root

The goal is to find pages that have naturally earned some links, but deserve more. I want to find the pages that are linkable, but haven’t been promoted properly. A little elbow grease—manual promotion persuasively to the right audience—will drive links to these pages and improve their visibility. 

I’m specifically looking for: 

  • Pages NOT within the /product subfolder.
  • Pages NOT returning a 404 error (although I might want to note these for later use in 404 link reclamation). 
  • Pages NOT redirecting (301 or 302)
  • Pages with some links, but not hundreds. 
  • Pages with high primary topical trust flow. 

Using those parameters while quickly scanning through, I find this:

majestic-cooking-classes

Both the store locator and the cooking class pages have over a hundred linking domains, likely due to their value to local communities. Both could be linkable assets for fresh mentions, event coverage, cooking based resource, and locale specific resource lists. 

Let’s look for other types of content.

majestic-pumpkin-spice-history

At result 23 for the top linked pages, we have the asset we found with BuzzSumo: the blog post about the history of pumpkin spice, with 38 linking domains. 

I have to say I’m a little sceptical that a site like Sur la Table has so few linked pages that by page 23 we’re down to 38 referring domains. 

Typically I’d make a note for myself and dig deeper and research more after scanning through and finding linkable assets.

Regardless, this confirms the History of Pumpkin Spice is a linkable asset for Sur la Table, and might have further opportunity to secure links. 

Two more pieces of content stick out in our search:

majestic-how-to-content

Two how-to posts: how to make a vinaigrette, and a recipe for cold brew Irish coffee. 

Not all linkable assets will naturally earn links, but for a brand as recognizable as Sur la Table any link worthy page should have some sign of audience attention and appreciation. 

Majestic or another backlink explorer will help you find content that’s naturally earning a few links which could be used in further link building campaigns. 

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