It’s been a while since I posted anything really actionable on here, so today I thought I’d share a couple of quick tips that I use to scale my link prospecting. At first I thought about putting a video up, but I’m not pretty enough for that (OK, that’s a lie, I’m ridiculously good looking, I just can’t be bothered to find my camera), so I’ve decided to jot them down. I hope you find them useful.
Using SEMRush to Find Targets
SEMRush (affiliate link) is a great tool for identifying fresh keywords, finding out what your competitors are up to and finding what you’re currently ranking for. There are other ways to get this information, but I find this to be one of the quickest.
In this case, we’ll assume you’ve scored a link from a blog or website in your niche, or you’ve at least got a hot prospect. Pop in the URL of the site that you just approached and go to the Competitors tab. Now you’ve got a few other sites in the same area to go after. This isn’t foolproof, but it is quick and simple. It works for sites that declined your link too.
Scrape Your Prospects’ Keywords
It’s not just your keywords that you should be using for your prospecting hunts – some sites might be relevant to your niche but could be using different language or have a varied theme. This can sometimes identify gaps in your keyword research, but it can also highlight site owners that haven’t done any, or at least haven’t done it well enough.
Either through their meta keywords tag (this is why I still love that tag), through SEMRush or AHREFS, have a look at what your target is ranking for or going after. In a lot of cases, these will be blog-type sites and it’s unlikely that they’ll be ranking well for the more generic terms. Search for these terms and scrape the results into a spreadsheet. I like Scraper for Chrome with search settings on Show 100, but you might have a preference.
Again, you’ve now got quite a few more sites to hit that might be receptive.
Find Your Competitors Links
What’s best in life? To dominate the SERPs, to crush your competition, to see them driven before you and to steal their tasty link juice. There’s a lot that you can do with this, and some of it can step into grey or even black hat territories. Obviously, you don’t want to try those ones (because you’re a good, white hat SEO, right?) so I won’t be covering them here in any detail (get in touch and buy me a beer, we’ll talk), but there is a lot of potential here.
Hunting competitors’ links is a pretty standard process. Anyone that’s been doing this more than fifteen minutes will have had a go at it, so I won’t bother with the in-depth how-to. I like to look for their lost links the way I do on my client sites (I’ll cover that in my next post), then contact the site owners, asking them to switch over to the site I’m working on.
There’s another way though – run Screaming Frog or a similar crawler on your competitors sites and see if they’ve got any broken external links. Depending on the side of the tracks you want to walk/ the status of their broken links, there are loads of things you can do with that data. I might cover that in a bit more depth in the future.
A big part of developing your brand is based upon reputation and sentiment. There are a lot of ways you can see what people think about your clients, your target keywords or your industry in general, but since we’re trying to be quick, I recommend Socialmention.
This gives us a very quick analysis of the sentiments behind mentions of your brand, product or industry on social media and blogs. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, there are loads of ways this data can be used.
Perhaps someone has written a nice thing about your company but forgot to link. That’s an easy approach.
On the other side of the coin, perhaps someone’s written a scathing commentary on your clients’ industry, tarring all providers with the same brush. This is a prime opportunity to get your clients involved in creating content, or at least helping you create content – ask them to help you write (or to write themselves if they’re so inclined) a polite, professional rebuttal, preferably talking about how they’re different. They need to actually be different, but you get the idea. Approach the site owner with your response. Do it right, you can usually get it published with a link. You’ll need to write it very carefully and watch those comments though.
Google Alerts or IFTTT can help you find and monitor these potential targets, but I prefer Socialmention because it’s on demand, rather than having my inbox flooded all the time.
Finding Spam Victims
A while back, I wrote a piece about how you could use Fiverr for link prospecting if you wanted to help out people whose blogs were being spammed. You can take this a step further though – instead of spending that enormous $5, go through the comments that you’ve got in your blog’s spam folder, or the spam folder of your clients if you’ve got access. Turns out a lot of people that use Scrapebox aren’t very bright, thus ruining its reputation for those that are.
Copy and paste the content of a couple of these comments into Google, Bing, Blekko, Duckduckgo and any other search engine you can be bothered with, set the search display as high as it’ll go and scrape those results into a spreadsheet. There you go – potentially thousands of relevant sites with auto-approve comment sections that are getting spammed to death.
I personally wouldn’t use these for a link-drop, I’d try to help the site owner out and get a link after we’ve slain the spam-beast together, but your mileage may vary. This one works very well, but it’s not always the quickest way to get results. It does, however, get you a ton of prospects inside about two minutes, which is the point of this post.
That’s All For Now
As always, I’ve rattled on longer than I meant to and there are still thousands of other ways that you can quickly expand your prospects list. What are some of yours? Let me know in the comments.