8 Ways To Do a Strategic Link Search

by Jason Acidre on February 26, 2011 · 73 comments · Search


Link search or finding link opportunities for a site’s link building campaign is very vital to all SEO strategies. Basically, it’s a phase in which your link building efforts will depend. To build links strategically, it’s important that you first know the pages that you’ll be trying to get links from; if they’ll be useful/good for your site or not, and if it is possible for you to get links from them.Link Search

Having a list of link opportunities for your site will make it much easier in building solid and relevant links. It also avoids inactiveness in your off-page optimization process, particularly if you’re doing link search constantly (best if it’s included in your daily task), since you are constantly escalating your to-do list.

This process is very critical and does affect the success rate of any campaign and I’d be more than happy to share some of my own techniques on how I search for scalable link opportunities.

Refined Google Search

This is where you usually start your search for links, but the real obstacle with this is that Google’s search result pages seem to be endless for highly competitive keywords, which makes it more like of a treasure hunt. Refining your search terms is the best way to search for the best and most relevant pages to get high quality links from (have high PR, allow dofollow links and keywords as anchor texts if possible). Here are some sample formats on how to do Google search the SEO way:

  • “keywords + add comment”
  • “keywords + post a comment”
  • “keywords + add url”
  • “keywords + submit url”
  • “keywords + yourname@yourkeywords” – for KeywordLuv enabled blogs
  • “site:.edu inurl:blog + keywords”
  • “site:.gov inurl:blog + keywords”
  • “site:.edu inurl:forum + keywords”
  • “site:.gov inurl:forum + keywords”
  • “allintitle:keywords”
  • “keywords + resources”

You can also use other advanced search commands to refine your search for thematically relevant link opportunities through other search verticals (ex: image, groups, news and/or product search), and you can view more of these commands on SEO-Hacker’s link search post.

Related Niche Search

When you feel that your site is oversaturated with 100% relevant link opportunities, then it’s time to move on with this next one. It’s actually easy to search for related sites. You just have to think of industries that can benefit from topics, services or products that your site is offering. For instance, this is an SEO blog, but most of my links are coming from sites that are focused on other aspects of Internet marketing. Here are some of the phrases and terms I’ve used or perhaps you can use to search for them.

  • “affiliate marketing ” + blog, strategies, guide, resources, tips, tricks, techniques, site or forum
  • “email marketing” + blog, strategies, guide, resources, tips, tricks, techniques, site or forum
  • “blogging” + blog, strategies, guide, resources, tips, tricks, techniques, site or forum
  • “online marketing” + blog, strategies, guide, resources, tips, tricks, techniques, site or forum
  • “internet marketing” + blog, strategies, guide, resources, tips, tricks, techniques, site or forum
  • “make money online” + blog, strategies, guide, resources, tips, tricks, techniques, site or forum
  • “online business” + blog, strategies, guide, resources, tips, tricks, techniques, site or forum
  • “ecommerce” + blog, strategies, guide, resources, tips, tricks, techniques, site or forum
  • “internet business” + blog, strategies, guide, resources, tips, tricks, techniques, site or forum

Given that almost all of the terms I’ve used are really in need of “SEO”, then the possibilities of having a link from them is much easier to weigh, since it is quite thematic. It’s best to focus on niches that obviously need your content.

Reverse Engineer Your Competitors’ Links

Very self explanatory, but there’s more to just plainly knowing where they are getting their links from. Having a link directly from your competitors is definitely a strong one, so why not try getting links from them first before engaging with their link partners.

Secondly, most marketers tend to skip on studying their competitors’ relationship with their link partners, and this is where you can actually learn how they are getting the links. Study their relationships as well, and use it not to go against them, but rather to have a link from both sites. Checking out your competitors’ blogroll is the simplest way to study their relationships, since this is the most common place used by partner sites in building their Pagerank.

Here are some free tools that you can use in snooping on your opponent’s territory, I mean getting to know their links.

  • Yahoo Site Explorer – Let’s you see the exact pages where their backlinks are at. It’s best that you install SEOQuake on your browser to see the Pagerank of the linking page instantly.
  • Open Site Explorer – Allows you to see the Authority score of the linking page, anchor text used in the page and other competitor analysis metrics (such as the percentage of dofollow and nofollow external links, external and internal link structure comparison and many more).

By visiting the linking page, you’ll get an idea on how they find and build their links as well as knowing the other keywords that they are targeting.

From Your Link Partners and From High PR Sites on Your List

Similar with the above mentioned strategy, it’s just that most of us ignore this field once we have successfully obtained links from them. Study your link partners’ link profile! They usually have the gems that you wouldn’t find from your competitors.

Exclusive Search Engines

There are several search engines that you can use to find link building opportunities aside from Google and here are some of them:

  • Tools Pagerush – a dofollow blog search engine
  • CommentLuv Search Engine – a search engine for CommentLuv enabled blogs
  • Google Blog Search – gives the most relevant and up-to-date blog entries to your given search terms
  • Technorati – the largest blog search engine out there, and you’ll definitely find a lot of link opportunities there
  • Blogengage – a community of active bloggers with a wide selection of categories

Web Directories

You can certainly find highly relevant link opportunities through directories. You can mostly locate authoritative sites related to your niche through these directories:

Google Alerts

Setting up a Google Alerts account before launching your SEO campaign is very helpful in tracking not only your competitors link building campaign, but also in getting notified with link opportunities that are sometimes not reachable by those who are doing link search manually. It’s easy to setup one, you just have to go to this link and enter the keyword(s) you wish to track. Google Alerts will notify you automatically through email with new pages and links that are being published over the web related to your chosen keywords.

Monitoring your brand name through Google Alerts is also a plus, since it’s much easier to request for the link when it’s your name that has been mentioned. You can try to suggest the webmaster to include a link for the brand name (if it’s not hyperlinked) or you can choose to request to replace the mentioned link with your desired keywords instead as anchor text. But of course, it’s important that you first engage with the webmaster before sending your requests.

Twitter Search

Finding influential people and leaders around your niche through Twitter is sometimes missed as a link building opportunity. Twitter is so powerful in the world of modern marketing, so take advantage of it. There are a lot of tools that you can use that measures the authority and how influential a twitter user is such as Topsy, TwitterCounter and Wefollow. You can also choose to use the search feature of Twitter, since determining how influential a user is only requires common sense (you can weigh it through the number of their tweets, and have more followers than the ones that they are following)

Once you found your targets, you can then check their websites/blogs to see if it passes your link building campaign’s standards.

Getting links from them is not an easy task, since you have to grab their attention. So take the leap and follow their blogs, interact with them personally and professionally may it be through Twitter, blog or email.

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Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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