Link Building Prospecting: 2 Fast and Scalable Strategies to Find Hundreds of Backlink Opportunities
Prospecting is the cornerstone for link building at scale.
We all know that.
We know how to use advanced Google search operators to find exactly what we’re looking for.
We know that choosing the right keywords is what makes prospecting successful.
And we know that there are plenty of smart link prospecting tools to make life easier as they do a great deal of our job for us.
Having this basic knowledge and mindset often lures people into the trap of thinking, “Well, I’m all covered!”
But when you do link building on a large scale every day and prospecting is as inevitable as your morning cup of coffee, things get more difficult.
Finding lots of opportunities is more challenging because it seems like we’ve tried everything.
There’s always a lack of time to prepare massive lists of prospects for our campaigns because other tasks are waiting.
And the result?
We struggle with link building prospecting every day, and it feels like a battle we can’t win.
Today, I’m going to share my personal tips to make prospecting for two of the most popular link building strategies—content promotion and guest posting—simpler, yet scalable.
These methods and tools will help you save time, improve the quality of your search, and uncover new backlink opportunities that you can’t find with conventional searches.
So, let’s find the right people and start your outreach. Let’s prospect for links!
Link Building Prospecting: 2 Fast and Scalable Strategies to Find Hundreds of Backlink Opportunities
1. Prospecting for Content Link Building
Finding content for link building via Google is our bread and butter. Everyone does it. Everyone knows how it works.
And if you’ve tried it a million times as I have, you’ve probably noticed that it becomes a bit tedious by the time you’ve reached the thousandth search.
Yet, it is necessary.
There are two basic steps when it comes to prospecting for content link building:
1) Find lots of content opportunities, and
2) Qualify them.
Both take a lot of time. But I have a few solutions for how to speed things up!
a. Find content opportunities
Let’s imagine the typical process of content prospecting via Google.
Assuming that we’ve decided on our keywords and search operators, our first step is to enter the search query to Google and see the list of results. Then, we have to check if the article we think might be a good fit (based on the title) is actually a good fit for our purposes.
So we click on the first Google result, check out the site, add it to our working file (if it’s good), then move on to the next result, check if it’s a good fit, and so on—repeating the whole process until we have a nice long list of at least 200 prospect URLs.
Ugh. In my opinion, it even sounds boring.
Sure, it might be easy enough when you only need a small list of prospects. But if you’re working on a massive link building campaign, this will take you hours—even days.
But I have a solution for making the most of Google search for content prospecting: a search results scraper.
In particular, I use the Google SERPs Bookmarklet, which automatically downloads Google search results into one simple list.
All you have to do to set it up is visit the site where you’ll see the following button:
Click on that button and drag it to your bookmarks bar (just click on it, hold it down and drag it to the bar).
It’ll look like this when you’re done:
Now let’s go to Google and search for articles about “types of nuts:”
Lots of articles here but I don’t want to check all of them individually by clicking on them one by one. So, let’s use our first link prospecting tool: the SERPs Bookmarklet.
While staying on Google’s search results page, click on the “SERPS ‘18” button you just added to your bookmarks bar.
When you click on it, a new page will open with a full list of the articles that are displayed on Google’s results page. It’ll look like this:
Now when you scroll down the page, you’ll find the “Links” window with an easy-to-copy list of all the ranking URLs:
And you can copy them to your working file for a further check.
Make sure to go to the Google Search settings and set the minimum number of results it shows to 50 or even 100.
This means if you search for “types of nuts,” Google will show you 50 or 100 results on the first page. From there, you can use your scraper tool to get all of them into one list.
But don’t just stop there—check the second and maybe even the third page as well. You’ll end up with a list of 300 potential backlink opportunities in less than three minutes!
b. Qualify them
Okay, you’ve learned how to prospect tons of content opportunities really quickly. But you also know that you don’t need all of them, that’s for sure.
Some of the link prospects won’t be relevant, some of them will be competitors, and so on. So how do you check this massive list? Don’t you still have to go through them all one by one to see if they’re the right fit?
Nope! You can save heaps of time with another handy link prospecting tool by The Upper Ranks, called PROSPECTOR. It looks like this:
Basically, it works this way:
- You enter up to 60 URLs to the tool,
- It shows you previews of all the URLs on one page,
- You can reject irrelevant URLs, and
- Export the final list of approved URLs.
Let’s try it out with the list of URLs from our “types of nuts” search.
Copy the list from the SERPs Bookmarklet’s “Links” window, add them to PROSPECTOR and click “Import.”
Wait a few minutes and let the magic happen. When it’s ready, you’ll see a long page with preview versions of all the URLs from your list:
You can do a preliminary check of every page this way, fast and easy. There’s no need to click and open every one of them in a separate tab.
But if you do want to look at the full website, you can just click on the link to visit it.
You can also easily remove articles from your list that aren’t a good fit for you by clicking the “Reject” button beneath each preview.
I’ve just rejected a couple of articles from my list, and now I’m going to press “Export” to save a list of refined content opportunities. I prefer to choose the “Copy URLs to clipboard” option and then paste them to my own working sheet:
And that’s it!
You have a ready-made list of link building prospects and it didn’t take you hours to qualify them:
This is the method we regularly use to save time at our company LinkBuilder.io, and honestly, again and again it’s helped us get heaps of outstanding prospects in no time at all.
2. Prospecting for Guest Post Link Building
Guest posting is another one of the most widespread methods of link building. You already know that.
But I do want to emphasize that guest posting becomes truly challenging when you’re doing it on a large scale. Sooner or later, you’ll reach the state where it seems like you’ve tried everything and there are no more websites that you could possibly find and collaborate with.
I know that feeling.
And I also know that there’s still something you can do, even when you feel like you’ve already done everything.
a. Find unique guest post opportunities
What’s the most common way to find guest post opportunities?
To use the good old “[keyword] + write for us” search query. And it works really well.
But as I’ve mentioned before, the traditional methods becomes much less effective when you’re looking for guest post opportunities in the same niche for the thousandth time. Eventually, you’ll start seeing the same websites over and over again, and that’s it.
Now, think about how you usually do this standard “[keyword] + write for us” search.
You know that the keyword is important, and you’ll probably have a few different variations of the keyword to try. Try to recall the keyword variations you used. I bet the majority of them were two-word (okay, maybe three-word) short-tail keywords.
But what I suggest is to use longtail and very specific keywords for your guest post searches.
The idea is simple:
If you use popular and short-tail keyword variations, you limit yourself to websites that rank for those keywords only. And there are many more websites that rank for other—usually longtail—keywords.
To roughly demonstrate what I mean, let’s have a look at the Google results page for “cycling tips + write for us:”
You can use different variations of course, like “cycling tips + contribute” and “cycling tips + guest post,” but you’ll be getting similar results for all of them.
So now let’s check the Google results page for a more specific longtail keyword, “leg exercises for cyclists at home:”
These are completely different websites! And trust me, you’ll find more and more unique websites with the more specific keywords you use.
If you know your niche well enough, it’ll take you no time at all to come up with a list of very specific longtail keyword variations to try.
There’s no need to use typical guest post-related queries when working with longtail keywords. You may have noticed that I didn’t add “write for us” or “guest post” after the “leg exercises for cyclists at home” search.
Practice says that some websites may be open to guest posts even if they don’t have a dedicated Write for Us page on their website.
And anyways, it never hurts to ask!
b. Double them
Now, we’re going to find even more guest post opportunities with another effective—but highly under-used—technique:
Using the names of authors who regularly contribute posts on a particular topic.
Your main goal here is to find an author who writes on similar topics to you and who has been an active guest blogger. Usually, you’ll find such people when you’re researching your competitors or you notice that they crop up a lot when you check other websites’ content.
If you still want to try this from scratch, my suggestion is to start by Googling “guest post by + [keyword].”
I used the keyword “customer feedback” and this is what I got:
That’s the easiest way to find the first guest posts by any author on any topic you need.
What you want to do now is to check those guest posts for the author’s bio. Here’s an example of a customer feedback guest post on Mopinion, and I can find the author’s bio in there as well:
Now I’m going to check if this author has written any other guest posts.
Of course, you can try and Google his name—but you’ll mostly get a long list of social profiles, which isn’t very useful.
Instead, it’s better to take one sentence from the author’s bio and Google it.
The reason is super simple: Most authors usually provide one and the same bio for all websites—and that’s all you need to find them.
So, after Googling “Perry Oostdam is the co-founder and CEO of Recruitee,” I got a pretty messy list of different articles, but managed to find a few gems as well.
In particular, his guest posts for Smallville and Good&Co are both on a similar topic. So if you were looking for more guest post opportunities for your “customer feedback” topic, you just found two more!
Link Building Prospecting Summary
These have been some simple but effective ways to discover more prospects for link building that I personally love and use.
The opportunities are waiting. Now it’s your turn to find them!
And once you’ve done the outreach, make sure you’re using Monitor Backlinks to keep track of which prospects come through for you and how they link to you. This tool can also help you find new link prospecting opportunities from your competitors—another goldmine of potential backlinks!
Erika Rykun is a senior strategist at Linkbuilder.io. She believes in high-quality link building, reads tons of books and is excited to finally see the last season of Game of Thrones.