In previous posts we’ve talked about ways to speed up link building processes and techniques for selecting keywords to target. But, what about actually finding link building opportunities? How do you determine whether which sites may be worthy of contacting and which are not? I like to call this process of selection ‘list building’, and almost any link building project will involve creating a list of contacts/targets at some point. Experience is the best teacher for recognizing who is most likely (think personas) to want to link with you, but there are some basic processes you can follow to help improve your positive response rates. This guide is intended as a walk-through for beginner list builders, but offers advice that can be useful for link builders at any level of experience.
Sometimes you will have a link building campaign that focuses around a great piece of content or media that almost sells itself. More often you will need to market out a site that has sub-par content or, in the rare case, almost no content at all (gasp!). Understanding what you are marketing out should always be the first step in a link building campaign. Google increasingly places a focus on quality and relevancy; simple numbers won’t do the job. Therefore, the strongest links are ones that are between two related sites (bonus points if the anchor relates to both as well).
To save yourself the hassle of sifting through mounds of rejection emails, it is best to first take a little time to brainstorm on who would want to link with you. The second thing to consider is who is writing about things that are topically related to your site content. You can have a great topic that is related to your site, but if no one is writing about it (or no one who you can link with) then it will be a dead end. Creative thinking goes a long way here, so feel free to think way outside the box (especially if you have the budget for it!).
The types of links you can get will depend on the method of link building you are undertaking (more on this later), but generally you will want to target sites that show a willingness to refer to other people’s content or websites.
Let’s take the real estate industry as an example. The obvious targets would be other sites about real estate. However, most real estate sites are created as sales tools for real estate professionals and make very poor targets for link building. So who else may be writing about real estate related topics? Well let’s break down what makes up the real estate industry, we have:
- sales tactics
- market trends
- interior design
- building regulations
- moving and relocation services
Content related to some of those topics attracts a ton of visits online, while the rest… not so much. We want to target content on the topics that people are writing about. With a little brainstorming and investigative work we can find good link building targets for virtually any type of client.
Here are some types of sites that more often than not make GOOD targets for link building:
- Blogs of individuals (usually easier negotiations)
- Blogs of organizations or communities (industry or niche focused)
- Companies who have a dedicated, INFORMATIONAL blog
- News, trends and reviews (good choice if client’s business is based on a product)
- Sites with industry or niche resources (helps if your site is worthy of being a resource)
- Sites with industry or niche directories or listings (avoid generalized directories)
- Sites that accept quality submissions (only a few good ones, avoid spam sites!)
Here are some types of sites that are usually POOR or dangerous targets for link building:
- ECommerce sites
- Sites that are purely promotional or sales focused
- Sites with scraped content ( poor quality, evidenced through writing that makes no sense)
- Sites with excessive advertisements, paid text links (little original content)
- Sites with excessive spam guest posting (look for targeted anchors in posts and unrelated topics)
- Blog networks
- Sites that appear dead (no new content or comments for several months)
- Forums (poor link value, but potential for click through traffic with regular posting)
- Sites w/ low SEO stats (ex: Page Rank, MozRank, Alexa, etc.)
High End Link Building Targets for More Advanced Campaigns*
- Newspapers (ex approach: be a source of reference for a story)
- .Edu and .Gov (ex approach: get listed as an industry resource, these sites love resource lists)
- Industry leading publication (ex approach: investigative/research content)
- Leading social sites, ex: Lifehacker, Reddit (viral content or good connections)
These tips should help you get started targeting sites and individuals for link building. However, as we’ve said before, the real key to link building is building relationships.