Link prospecting is definitely one of the most critical parts of targeted link building, as this is the process that initiates your campaign’s goals, specifically in acquiring valuable links from high quality and relevant websites.
Setting a plan in finding opportunities for link acquisition is important, since this helps your link development campaign grow its own strategy, in ways such as:
- The methods that your campaign will most likely involve to acquire links (based on your link prospects).
- The approximate amount of links that you can acquire in a certain period of time (based from your industry’s online competitiveness, demand and activity).
- In segmenting high priority and low priority prospects (that can help elevate your campaign’s productivity and results).
These past few months, our team has used several link building tools, like Raventools and Citationlabs (and they were really awesome), to semi-automate our link prospecting efforts. However, there’s this one method that actually helped us gather hundreds/thousands of highly targeted link prospects in just a few minutes – that I did enjoy abusing as well – through SEOQuake’s SERP overlay feature.
Here are some of the things that I really liked about this link prospecting method:
- Returns highly relevant link prospects
The things you need to execute this method:
- Google Search
- SEOQuake for Chrome (you can download it here)
- Microsoft Excel
Step 1: Google Search Settings
First off, you’ll need to let Google show at least 100 search results instantly. You can easily configure this through Google’s Search settings, on the upper right corner of Google’s webpage.
On Google Search’s preferences, disable Google Instant and modify the number of search results by allowing Google to display 100 results per page.
Step 2: Start Searching for Prospects
Once you have configured Google to display 100 results per page, you can now then start looking for link prospects by using keywords that specify your link targets (“keyword + determiner”; ex: “gardening blog”)
Pro tip: Be as specific as you can with your search queries for Google to return highly relevant pages. You can also use advanced search operators to ensure that you’ll get what you’re really looking for (such as allintitle:, inurl:, site:, etc…)
Step 3: Scraping/Exporting Search Results and Site Data Using SEOQuake
On the top part of the search results, SEOQuake has a feature that will allow you to view the results in CSV format.
Copy the entire thing and paste it all in an excel spreadsheet.
You can actually save the data directly through the plugin’s SERP feature, though it will ask you to send the request via SEOQuake’s server (so you might as well want to do it this way).
Once you have pasted the data to an excel spreadsheet, it will look something similar to this:
Ok, so the list looks like crap, and you will have to fix it by separating the contents of each cell into several columns – and here’s how:
On your excel spreadsheet, go to “Data” and choose “Text to columns”.
Click on “Text to columns”, then choose “Delimited” for your data’s file type and click Next.
Check on the “Semicolon” option, as it is the delimiter used in the data, and then click Next.
As you can see above, it will let you see a preview of the outcome of your data when choosing for the delimiter to be set.
After clicking the next button, click on “Finish”, and you will have a better looking list of link prospects that will look something similar to this:
The list of the URLs of your possible link targets will include site metrics such as the number of pages indexed by Google, Pagerank, Alexa Rank and many more, just like how SEOQuake’s SERP feature shows these metrics through Google’s SERP display.
You can also configure SEOQuake to only display parameters that you’ll want to use when prospecting for link opportunities through its browser settings (on the upper right corner of your browser).
You can choose the parameters you only want to show up on Google search results:
Step 4: Expanding your List
Creating your initial list of link prospects will only take you a few seconds (based on what I’ve done), and of course you’ll also have to segment/sort that list out (which I will be explaining on the latter part of this post). Moreover, expanding your list is not really hard, as there are many options to choose from to make the most out of this method, such as from:
- Other semantically related search terms that your campaign is targeting to rank for.
- 2nd to 5th page of your initial keyword search (which means 100 – 400 more possible prospects, though these sites may be of low relevance or quality).
- Through Google’s suggested “related searches”, which you can see below the search result pages (this could give you hundreds or more prospects to your list).
Step 5: Segmenting your list
The easiest way to sort your list is through segmenting your data through the Alexa Rank’s column, as it provides unique set of numbers that will allow you to classify highly authoritative sites (single to 4 digit numbers) from average websites in your industry.
This area of your list will also allow you to determine high priority prospects, low priority prospects, duplicate domains and irrelevant authority sites (Facebook, Youtube, authority news sites, etc…).
In filtering your excel list, you can first start by highlighting the Alexa Rank’s column.
Click on the Alexa Rank’s entire column (on “column G”), go to “Data” and click on “Filter”.
You will now have your list sorted based on each domain’s Alexa Rank. In this ordered list, you can separate high profile sites as well as sites that wouldn’t be that relevant for your campaign, wherein you can just start working on the sites that you can realistically build relationships with or acquire links from (probably sites that have 4-6 digit Alexa rankings).
Bonus Tip: Reverse Engineering Competitors’ Links
You can also use this method through Google’s Blog Search to find blogs linking to your competitors (by simply using the search command “link:www.yourcompetitor.com”) and include these results to your list of link prospects.
Again, you can use the process I’ve mentioned above and continuously improve your list of link prospects by scraping sites linking to your competitors.