8 Ways To Do a Strategic Link Search

By on Feb 26, 2011 in Search | 63 comments

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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:

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.

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.

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:

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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  1. Hey Kaiser,

    These are great tips for anyone who is interested in diving in to the world of SEO. I would also like to add to your suggestions if you do not mind! The competitor analysis tool that SEOmoz offers is a great way to check out the backlink profiles of your competitors to identify sites, blogs, and directories that you may be able to get links from.



    • Kaiserthesage

      March 6, 2011

      Post a Reply

      Thanks for the comment Andrew.

      I haven’t tried that tool yet, though Open Site Explorer is a web-based tool from SEOmoz :)


      • Jason,

        Excellent article on strategic link search strings.

        BTW, you can also download the SEOmoz toolbar for firefox which shows everything Open Site Explorer does, the moment any page you visit opens, without having to go to the OSE site. It’s a great tool!

        Art H

  2. Dear Jason, thank your for the useful tips for Google Search, I’ ve been using Google Alerts so far, so my options are extended now.
    I could also recommend a service called Collabim, they provide a very useful tool to find sites related to your wished topic.

    • Kaiserthesage

      March 20, 2011

      Post a Reply

      Thanks for that additional tip Linki. Haven’t tried that service yet, will do check it out :)

  3. Heres another useful couple of queries you can use.

    {keyword} “become a contributor” OR “contribute to this site”

    This one will help you find blogs that will accept a guest post, you can also try using “write for me” or “write for us”.

    Another good one is:

    keyword + “powered by blogengine.net”

    Blogengine tends to be autoapprove and dofollow by default, although I think they have changed it recently there are still tons of blogs out there that give dofollow links. Only problem is they are often heavily commented on so you need to search through a little bit to find a good page. When you get a good site try using the site: search operator to find better pages.

  4. Matthew Payne

    April 7, 2011

    Post a Reply

    This is really good information on how to find quality links for SEO purposes. This is some of the best information I have seen so far about finding quality backlinks and quality blogs to contribute you.

    • Kaiserthesage

      April 19, 2011

      Post a Reply

      Use quality link finder tools such as Ontolo or Traffic Travis.

      • Jason Gardose

        June 9, 2011

        Post a Reply

        Hi there again, I’m sorry for bumping into this topic a little bit late, I found your blog 2 days ago and started to read every post here. I use Ontolo Links tool and it’s a great tool on getting web stats that is useful such as page relevance, but it’s kinda frustrating in the end to find out you can’t get a link on those sites listed.. sigh… I suggest use Google it self in finding web pages where you can leave a link. I hope this helps a little… Thank you!

  5. Alex

    April 27, 2011

    Post a Reply

    It’s totally good info. I think these huge link building statements increase SEO rankings. 😉

  6. rutt

    June 1, 2011

    Post a Reply

    when it comes to checking backlinks, I prefer tools other than google suggests. For the most part I make use of Open Site Explorer and Ahrefs.com. If these tools are used alone data inaccuracy may be greater. But when they are used together supplementing each other, I get all the data I need for my backlinks research.

  7. Hi Kaiser,

    Thanks for this wonderful technique you’ve shared. All the syntax for searching blogs with the same niche was already save to the desktop. Do you have syntax in finding a dofollow blogs or any strategy?

  8. Nice article guys, but as i have come to your blog through Google, in search of some Firefox plug-in which automatically search for high PR comment Luv blog pages. But as I started reading your article, it becomes more interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Harry

    July 6, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I really enjoy reading your post. I got lots of new information and understanding more SEO to a deeper it can be. It was very helpful and informative.

  10. That’s a nice list of search strings, just bookmarked this page :)

    Also, one more tip to add -> when you’re searching through the SERPs for pages to comment on you can organize them in order of PR with SEO Quake. This makes things a little bit faster and easier.

  11. Lance

    July 27, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Most of the part of SEO Services is related to off page in which we create more n more links on different good websites those have good pr and suitable for our business or website. Link search is very important to creation of link building. I think link searching is not easy work. Thanks to share some important tips about searching on the internet.

  12. Thanks for those search strings, I have been using some of those but not all. As you mentioned I use yahoo site explorer regularly to know where my competitor getting links, it is really useful technique. The second two I don’t know about it, and just checked now.. looks nice one but it is not showing much data.

  13. Thanks for helpful information. I didn’t now about the search engines “PageRush” and “Commentluv”, great ways to find dofollow blogs as you mention! The Google Alert idea is really great to, going to set up som alerts right away.

  14. I really haven’t thought about the google alerts step, I guess I’m still learning the ropes of all the SEO business. Do you set it for a particular keyword you are trying to rank or for your competitors website?

    Also I didn’t know there were search engines specifically for commentluv enabled blogs, I think that could be very helpful.

    Thanks for the advice and showing me the ropes.

  15. how to

    August 12, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Well i just bookmarked this blog!

    I would like to say thanks for giving out great information about seo and finding strong backlinks from google :)

  16. Thank you so much for this. I’ve tried/read so many methods on how to get more links to your site, but none of them really worked. I really needed that sample list of google search phrases.

  17. excellent tips on an absolutely critical aspect of SEO! and I didn’t know there was a search engine specifically for do-follow blogs. I normally just use a couple different footprints that i know lead me to do-follow blogs in google search. Might have to try it out now. Thanks!

  18. Justin Robins

    August 28, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I didn’t realize you could search google that way. Can I say thank you! My heck I have been on a treasure hunt for the last several months on real estate sites that are high pr and able to link build with. So I think you may have just saved me a ton of time! Bookmarked this so I can come back to it. Thank you again!

  19. Anthony

    September 5, 2011

    Post a Reply

    The commentluv search engine sounded great, but it just seems to be a link to the basic commentluv site. Was the search feature done away with or just relocated?

  20. Kevin

    September 16, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Another good move would be to use the inurl: prefix and .gov .edu or .org

    This will allow you to occasionally turn up a juicyEDU or GOV linking opportunity.

  21. Rufus Kagan

    September 17, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I really appreciate this information, especially with all the different means to work keyword searches and the like. I’ve used Yahoo’s site explore to find out about back links, but it never occurred to me to use DMoz’ directory as well.

    Great and really informative article: A must read for any SEO enthusiast — at any experience level! Bookmarked!!!

  22. Michael@list Building

    September 19, 2011

    Post a Reply

    “A must read for any SEO enthusiast…”

    You got that right. Things are always changing but one can rest assured… search engines will remain in play and eventually more bloggers will get back to “blogging”… sharing information and using the correct tools for such like you are. (Keyword luv)

  23. Jerryl

    September 19, 2011

    Post a Reply

    This information is of great help. At first I’m studying basic seo, then reading several forum before arriving this post. This is a must read for seo beginners like me.

  24. Also checking out the people in a blogger’s network would give you a good list of blogs where you can get links from. I’m not sure if that’s what you are referring to in the “From Your Link Partners and From High PR Sites on Your List” section though.

  25. Hey Jason, Nice tips and nice list of keywords for link search. It is always a challenge to find relevant blogs. Was looking for a similar list of keyword and landed at your post. Found it exactly what i was looking for…

  26. George

    September 28, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Wow, this is a great article and the search footprints are very valuable! I’ve always wondered how to find blog on different topics, now I have an answer and I will definitely try it. Thanks!

  27. Jennifer

    September 28, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I love the list of terms you suggested to use on Google. I always use those with different combinations, and ideas. Thanks

  28. Jim

    October 2, 2011

    Post a Reply

    The footprint for finding forums is especially useful. While you won’t always find one for your specific keywords, its possible! And the fact that while you get a backlink you may actually help someone is beneficial!

  29. Rowan

    October 4, 2011

    Post a Reply

    These tips are very useful for finding good places to link from. I have bookmarked this page, and may be linking to it myself for my subscribers.

  30. AnishG

    October 16, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Excellent!! Allintitle:{keywords} is pretty helpful in niche research and deciding whether the chosen keyword has a lot of competition or not, too. Thanks for the list of queries – I had forgotten some of them. Cheers.

  31. Rika Susan

    October 27, 2011

    Post a Reply

    This is excellent link search stuff, Jason. I particularly like the search strings you are giving. I can be busy here for quite a while, judging by all the post topics I have seen just now!

  32. Chris

    November 2, 2011

    Post a Reply

    I have to say that was a well written post – which is unusual when the subject is about SEO.

    I am a big advocate of footprints and agreed with the ones you have highlighted there. However I have to say I question the relevance of DMOZ these days. On all the sectors my company works in the pages are years out of date, contain defunct companies and do not seem to moderated anymore. I have tried to contact DMOZ about this and never heard anything. Talking to some web professionals they told me they no longer even apply as its not being kept up to date.

    Whilst I understand they are swamped, they should automate it and I would recommend to your readers to have caution about the results its returns these days.

    Its a shame because in principle DMOZ should be a great idea.

  33. Dan@cupola

    November 16, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Thanks Kaiserthesage, these are really good tips. I am using your google search formats for finding new blogs and it’s perfect. As you said it’s vital for SEO strategies to have good PR websites to backlinking and the most problematic part I think is finding these website.
    Thanks again

  34. Hiren

    December 20, 2011

    Post a Reply

    Great Read Jason, This is small thing but very vital. Research is a part of any business but how to research is important part. We need to search useful and actionable data for SEO and you provide it in very simple manner which is really great. Thanks for this wonderful post…!


  35. Jill@benefil

    January 31, 2012

    Post a Reply

    The last six weeks I have been thinking about this identical topic and finally found and hour to get on my computer and Google the matter.

    This is a great list and one thing that I do to find out where the competitors are linking is http://www.backlinkwatch.com. You can get up to 1,000 backlinks that could be relevant to your niche.

    – Jill

  36. James

    March 5, 2012

    Post a Reply

    Wow Jason, those are great huge list of search string formats.
    This particular search format, “allintitle:keywords”? How will this thing works? What will it provide you, cos I have never tried this yet.

  37. Thanks, these are really good detailed tips. Your Google search formats for finding new blogs are working perfectly for me, thanks for sharing this method.For a SEO strategy finding good websites to get backlinks from is crucial, but I think the point is to combine all kinds of websites in order to appear authentic in the eyes of Google when they are ranking our page. This article makes me want to read more from you, so I’ll go on to some other articles on your blog and I hope I’ll leave armed with loads of new knowledge.

  38. Adam

    July 11, 2012

    Post a Reply

    This infomation is priceless. It does not matter whether a company or individual has a website or blog, creating backlinks is a given. SEO is the only way to spread the tenticals our far and wide to reach more people searching for what you are selling or promoting.

    As for Google. this could not be anymore truer regarding SEO. Google and their algarithims can make or break a business or personal website in an instant.

  39. Corinne@Corinne

    February 10, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Hey there are using WordPress for your blog platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and create my own.
    Do you need any html coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  40. Paul Cox

    March 22, 2013

    Post a Reply

    Its great to see a blog that is actually trying to help people rather than just selling them something. Providing information like this to a potential buyer can really help them to decide. A great deal of thought has gone into your article and I commend you.
    I have heard a lot of comments about on page SEO no longer being effective.
    Is this correct?


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