In the course of designing a link campaign, we frequently look to our client’s related or adjacent verticals to find enough link opportunities to support our content and preciprocity-based link building approach. This article outlines some methods we use and provides 14 queries for discovering related industry sites to build more links in your next campaign.
Techniques for Brainstorming Your Related Verticals and Topics
The outcome you’re looking for in this section is a list of phrases that you can plug into the queries in the next section. Take each one of the items in this section as a jumping-off point — you’re likely to think of other brainstorming ideas as you work through them. Be sure to keep a notepad or spreadsheet open for capturing the related vertical terms you think of.
Your Suppliers’ and Contractors’ Industry Types
Your business — whether it’s a services or products company — has suppliers. Whether it’s raw materials or tools you use, you probably bought, downloaded, or logged-in to something in order to do your job on a day-to-day basis.
The link builder’s first task here is to get to know their organization’s suppliers. The second task is to find out the jargon the supplier’s industry uses to name itself, as this is often different from what you might expect. This should leave you with a nice distilled list of phrases for use further on.
Example: Sex toy manufacturer conducts group interviews with plastics and synthetics suppliers that have blogs or “in the news” sections and requests mention from their site. Topics could include new innovations, health and hygiene issues they’ve solved, etc… Further, the interview can be promoted to any plastics-related news sites.
Related Industry Participants
Your business is different from all the others in your market. You use different vendors and you do your work differently. Just because you don’t use a particular type of service or supplier doesn’t mean that your competitors don’t.
Brainstorm other supporting services and suppliers in your industry. If there are industries outside of those you’ve already listed, add them to your list!
Example: Realtor conducts group interview with lawyers (who also have blogs or “in the news” sections) specializing in closing processes. They could ask questions about the top 10 reasons why deals fail at the last minute, for example.
Your Customers’ Industry + Related-Interest Types
If you’re in B2B this will mean identifying the core industries your customers work in. If you’re B2C this will mean identifying the sites dedicated to those who pursue interests and passions that you cater to. While it’s likely that you’re already engaged at sites that cater to these communities, we added this section in case it hadn’t occurred to you to look for opportunities in this way.
One way to brainstorm this kind of opportunity is to ask yourself, “what publications would I advertise in?” Visit these sites and check out their title tags. Who are they targeting? How do they describe themselves? Put these kinds of terms on your list.
Example: Power tool company conducts a group interview with professional woodworkers and cabinet makers about starting a woodworking company, then promotes the piece to “prosumer” woodworking blogs.
Take Logical Concept Leaps
It can also help to take logical conceptual leaps from your core industry into the broader concerns or subject areas related to your industry. You can also think about it in terms of the core human needs your business addresses, or even the sciences that seek to understand the rules that govern your business.
Wait, what? Examples work best here…
Examples: A gambling site focuses on a group interview with statistician and mathematics bloggers, looking at gambling through a mathematics lens. A sex toy vendor focuses on the emotional health side of sex and engages with therapist bloggers to create content.
Add any “logical leap” terms to your list.
The “Interested Party” Breakout
This approach comes from Jeremy Bencken of Websimple. When marketing new widgets and developments for ApartmentRatings.com, Bencken and his PR team analyzed the new release and broke out the distinct parties who’d be interested in writing about it.
For example, when they created an application that evaluated the average cost of rentals for a ZIP code, they determined that the interested publishers could include: API development blogs, real estate blogs, start-up blogs, tech blogs, development blogs, etc. Each one of these areas of coverage aligned with an aspect of their new application.
Think about your business in this manner by making a list of the kinds of sites that could be interested in writing about you.
14 Queries for Related Verticals
By now you’ve built a solid little list of phrases that represent related verticals or concepts. Now it’s time to determine which of these are going to provide you with link prospects and engagement targets for your campaign.
For the queries in this section we use (RVKW) to mean your “related vertical keywords,” which you generated by reading the sections above and thinking.
- (RVKW) blogroll
- (RVKW) blog list
- (RVKW) news
- (RVKW) forum
- (RVKW) “guest post”
- (RVKW) “round up”
- “(RVKW) resources”
- (RVKW) twitter list
- (RVKW) interview
- (RVKW) infographic
- (RVKW) “top * reasons”
- (RVKW) “top * ways”
- (RVKW) widgets
- (RVKW) contest
With these queries, you’ll get a sense of the space you’re considering as a target. You’ll see if there are bloggers, if there’s excessive linkbait, and you’ll get somewhat of a sense of how “social-media aware” the market is. All of these are indicators of that space’s depth of publishers and online participants.
Further, these queries can help you to establish what kinds of content will be linkable.
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!