How to Conduct a Link Opportunity Inventory (Plus 9 Common Link Opportunity Types)

We recently advanced the idea of measuring a market’s link opportunities, whereby a link builder conducts a series of set queries to help plan a link building campaign. The requirements of scale — thoroughness, speed, and simple metrics for quicker decisions — forced us to further hone the concept, and led to our development of the link opportunity inventory process and worksheet.

So let’s get going!

A link opportunity inventory of your market enables you to:

  • Create an editorial calendar that targets distinct link opportunity types.
  • Better estimate resources required for building links.
  • Design campaigns around most abundant link opportunity types.
  • See the opportunities that competitor backlink analysis can’t show you.

Here’s what you’ll need:

9 Common Link Opportunity Types and Queries for Measuring Them

Here are nine common link opportunity types and queries that can help you measure the quantity and quality of opportunities in your market. Remember, even though these queries will reveal some prospects, they won’t show you all the prospects for a given opportunity type. You can use the link prospecting query generator for expanding your queries once you’ve decided on an opportunity to really dig for.

1. Blogs, News Sites and Trade Pubs

  • “MDKW blog”
  • “MDKW news”
  • MDKW “trade publications”

2. Content Placement

  • MDKW “Guest Post”
  • MDKW “About the Author”
  • MDKW “write for us”

3. Forums, Social Networks and Q/A

  • “MDKW forum”
  • “MDKW social network”
  • “MDKW Q&A”

4. Resource Curators

  • MDKW “round up”
  • MDKW “useful links”
  • “MDKW resources”

5. Company Profile Listings

  • “MDKW event” submit
  • “MDKW job” submit
  • “MDKW PDF” submit

6. Professional/Trade Associations

  • MDKW “association for”
  • MDKW “of America” (or other geo-locale)
  • “associated MDKW”

7. Niche Directories

  • “MDKW directory”
  • “MDKW websites”
  • MDKW “submit *site”

8. Donations

  • MDKW “thank you” donor*
  • MDKW “thank you” sponsor*
  • MDKW “in kind donor*”

9. Content Syndicators

Quantifying Your Market’s Link Opportunities (for Worksheet Input)

Now that you’ve checked out the queries, it’s time to get cracking on your analysis. Get your two or three MDKWs, open up your Link Opportunity Worksheet and start analyzing the search results for your queries. Here’s what to record:

  • The number of relevant results in the top 10. This is a (rough) measure of the quality of a given opportunity type, and it’s entirely subjective to the person conducting the analysis. In this case, the analyzer is purely counting the number of relevant results in the top 10 — this can be discerned either by reading the snippet or, if necessary, actually visiting the pages. There is space in the worksheet for recording “important finds” for further analysis.
  • The total results from your search engine of choice. Record the number of results that your search engine of choice reports in its index. The number of results is obviously a weak metric on its own, but with the subjective quality metric it begins to give you a sense of an opportunity type’s depth in your market.
  • The URLs of all lists in the appropriate column. If you find blog lists, resource lists, magazine lists, association lists, etc., in your top 10 results, record them immediately. These are sure signs of a good quantity of possible link opportunities.

Where do you find the highest concentration of relevant results, total number of results and URLs that you’ve set aside in your worksheet? This is potentially a good link opportunity type for you to explore more deeply with queries, especially if you already have linkable assets that make it an acquirable opportunity type!

Core Problems of this Process

  • The queries we suggest and the language used in your market may not align.
  • There are certainly link opportunity types that are unique to your market and not listed in our “common types” — we can’t know or think of them all (yet).
  • Inventorying your linkable assets could prove a more actionable place to start a campaign (though you won’t know the opportunities you’ve missed unless you do a link opportunity inventory).

Special thanks to Jeremy Bencken and his generous and thoughtful conversation that helped expand the common link opportunity types section.

Join us for SES San Francisco August 16-20, 2010 during ClickZ’s Connected Marketing Week. The festival is packed with sessions covering PPC management, keyword research, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, ad networks and exchanges, e-mail marketing, the real time web, local search, mobile, duplicate content, multiple site issues, video optimization, site optimization and usability, while offering high-level strategy, keynotes, an expo floor with 100+ companies, networking events, parties and more!

Related reading

How to pick the best website audit tool for your digital agency
How to speed up SEO analysis API advantages for SEO experts (with bonus)
Common technical SEO issues and fixes, for aggregators and finance brands
faceted navigation in ecommerce