Link building is one of the most crucial factors to rank on top of search results. And for your link building campaign to be successful, you must place links on the best websites.
Finding out what these sites are, however, is a time-consuming process. Not to mention, you have to ensure that they will agree to place a link to your site, which isn’t always the case.
In this post, I will show you my process of finding link prospects for my outreach campaigns. My goal is to hasten the process so I can deliver results to clients fast.
How to find link prospects?
There are different ways on how you can perform link prospecting for your campaign. Let’s discuss each and see how you can use them.
Google search operators
Google search operators are commands that you enter along with your search query.
For example, using “[your keyword]” + “write for us” lets you find sites related to your keyword with the phrase “write for us” on the page. The quotation marks inform Google that you want the result to match the exact phrase you entered in your search.
Putting this search operator into action, you will see pages from sites where you can submit a guest post about your topic.
Using search operators is the most cost-effective way to find potential link partners.
However, the sites and pages seen in the results for this query may limit the number of guest posts they publish in a month.
You could see your guest post published in two month’s time. And if you’re getting a quota on guest posting, this simply won’t do.
Using tools like Pitchbox
Pitchbox is a blogger outreach tool that lets you run your entire campaign from a single dashboard.
One of the things it can do is connect you with bloggers, authors, and contributors who actively publish content.
From here, you can choose which people to reach out to and send them the emails straight from the tool.
Using a tool like Pitchbox hastens the prospecting process. It presents you with potential link partners automatically so you can proceed with your campaign.
On the downside, not every prospect the tool returns publishes stories that are suitable based on your qualifications. So, you’ll end up manually sifting through the list, which defeats the purpose of using it in the first place.
Competitor analysis is actually my preferred way of link prospecting for campaigns. It gives me full control over how to find websites in an organized manner without completely relying on automation tools.
For starters, the best way to identify competitors is by typing your keywords on Google search.
For example, if you are building links for a site about furniture, you can look for sites that sell lights, home decor, and other items you also sell.
If you’re using MozBar, you will also see the site’s Domain Authority, which is Moz’s way of scoring domains using different ranking factors. Your goal is to find sites with high DA so you don’t waste your time on other domains.
The higher the scores on these metrics, the better its link profile is.
This way, you don’t have to look at the link profiles of all the domains on Google SERPs. Finding authoritative sites based on DA helps you determine the best sites to target in your campaign in minutes.
What to look out for when analyzing link profiles?
At this point, you should have a list of competitors using the methods above. What you want to do next is check the link profiles of each competitor. For this, I use Linkody, a complete solution for backlink tracking and analysis.
Below are the factors you must consider when glancing at your competitor’s backlinks:
Number of dofollow links
It’s best to stay away from sites with not enough dofollow backlinks. If the site has less than 100 backlinks, it’s probably a new site that’s still trying to build its link profile.
Keep in mind that you can’t use all the dofollow links in a site’s backlink profile. Therefore, analyzing a site with over a hundred dofollow links means more opportunities for you to acquire links from high-authority websites.
Links on spammy sites, doorway, and home pages
Using Linkody, you can organize the backlinks beginning with the spammiest. If there are too many low-quality backlinks in its profile, you can skip this site for now.
What makes the link spammy is because the links are not within the content or article. They are links from doorway pages or homepages.
Also, the anchor texts are branded and/or keywords with commercial intent. As a result, the competitor’s link profile appears unnatural and manipulated.
Sites in the online video game selling niche seek out questionable backlinks because they rank higher and quicker on organic search, albeit for only a short period.
Therefore, these links aren’t the kind that you want to acquire for your site.
Using Linkody again, check if the site where your competitor has a backlink from has a low spam score and external follow link (EFL) count. The latter is also known as an outbound link. Lots of EFLs on a page dilutes its link juice.
As much as possible, you want to get a link from a site that knows how to keep its link juice circulating from within.
From the screenshot above, the majority of the site’s backlinks has a low spam score EFLs, both of which are signs of a site with a quality link profile.
The amount of backlinks the site has (1511) is the perfect number for analyzing and finding opportunities for your guest post outreach campaigns. You can filter out the spammy backlinks to find links from websites with a high DA and low spam score and EFLs.
Now, you’d think that a site with over 5,000+ backlinks is an ideal candidate to analyze for your campaign due to its volume. However, in my experience, it’s best to stay away from these sites.
The reason is that the site is most likely old. Thus, the majority of its links came from years back using link building techniques that delivered results back in the old day but are now considered black hat.
Google algorithm nowadays demands much better links, which requires more sophisticated tactics. This is why you need to pick your spots by wisely choosing the sites you should analyze to avoid pitfalls.
Types of backlinks
There are different ways to get backlinks to your website. And you want to find link partners that will agree to your request with the least friction possible.
One of my go-to backlink types is guest posts. Therefore, I filter the backlinks based on DA and work my way down to each. I check if the article where my competitor’s link is in is a guest post, which is found on the author byline. If so, I include it in my final list of prospects.
Guest posts are ideal sources of backlinks because it’s relatively easy to land them.
Don’t get me wrong – getting blog posts published on authoritative sites takes lots of work. But once you land them, they help increase and sustain your site rankings.
A well-written guest post is evergreen and will remain valuable not only to its readers but also to your site.
Another type that works well for me is expert quotations.
This process requires me to email authors who published roundup articles regarding my expertise before. Below is an example of a roundup post:
I ask them if they’re going to create another post about the same topic. This way, I can chip in my two cent’s worth of opinion that they can include in the article along with a backlink to my site.
This link building process works both ways. The author gets a useful tip or advice that s/he can include in the roundup post. In return, I get a backlink to my site for my effort.
Build the list of competitors
At this point, you should have a shortlist of sites that you will analyze deeper. Add all of them into Linkody and download the links of each competitor.
The goal is to send your outreach emails to as many prospects. Therefore, what I do is prioritize getting links from sites with a DA in the middle range (between 31-50).
These sites are authoritative to an extent, but not quite. In my experience, it’s faster to get backlinks from these sites (between 1-2 weeks) compared to sites with a high DA (2-3 months).
The rationale here is that people are targeting sites with too high DA. This means that there is a higher barrier to entry when getting a link from them potentially due to the volume of requests.
Reach out to prospect sites
After you download the list in a spreadsheet, the next step is to search for the email addresses of the site’s owners whom you will send your outreach request.
There are many ways you can find the correct email address of these people. In my case, I simply outsource the task to someone from Upwork who will find the email at $0.1 per site.
With that out of the way, there are three ways that you can send the outreach emails:
Start sending letters to the verified email addresses using your Gmail or business account. To increase reply rates, send follow-up emails after a couple of days until they respond.
Then manually update the status in your Linkody account. I usually send up to 50 emails a week so I can scale the results of each.
Keep in mind that the reply rate for an email campaign is between 5-25% and is dependent on the quality of the qualified sites. Also, even if they agree with your email, it doesn’t always guarantee the placement.
Use an outreach tool
The better way to send and manage your outreach email campaign is by using a tool like Lemlist to automate the process.
Just upload your drip emails and set the date when the tool will submit the emails. You can also set the number of prospects who will receive the email per day to maintain a high deliverability rate.
From the tool, you can manage the replies and update the status of each prospect.
CRM system for outreach campaign
I have an outreach team, and we manage link building campaigns for several projects.
If you’re also in the same boat, the process becomes much easier if you set up an outreach CRM system. This is where you can manage a list of sites as well as email templates and sequences. Better yet, you can import information from Linkody.
For instance, you can easily add new links to your Buzzstream account to commence your campaign.
When you add sites to Buzzstream, you can start looking for emails from the platform to send your outreach.
Another advantage of using a CRM system is the ability to add custom fields where you can store additional information. This includes the type of links (dofollow and nofollow), the fee for sponsored content, SEO metrics, Category, Country traffic, publication details, and others.
Finally, you can review open, and reply rates for your emails. This gives you a better idea of how your campaign performed this far and how you can improve it further.
Receive alerts if the article is published with your link
Sometimes, the website owner will publish the content with your link placement without warning. Instead of emailing the editorial team about the article’s status, you can set up an alert in Linkody that notifies you if the article is live.
This way, you avoid the constant back and forth and the waiting in between emails with the editor.
If you’re serious with link building, then you need to find the best people to ask for a backlink. By prospecting for link partners effectively, you can increase your campaign’s success rate and move your position up on search rankings.
Hopefully, you can copy my exact process of link prospecting to help you find leads faster. At the very least, it should give you ideas on how to approach your process. Also, tools like Buzzstream and Linkody speed up the process and allow you to delegate the tasks better.
This article was written by Alex Buzan, co-founder White Hat Link Building Service Contega.media He possesses vast experience in automation of outreach processes and helps individuals and SEO agencies with link building activities. Alex shares his experience in this ultimate guide to speed up the link prospecting process to obtain quality links.