Guest: @garrettfrench. He co-founded the @ontolo link building toolset with @benwills. @garrettfrench is also a mad blogger on all of the top search engine marketing blogs (wish I had the time he did).
I started in publishing at WebProNews WAAAAY back in the day. My background is in content and in particular building links with content. I’ve got an amazingly cute 1 year old ~ @garrettfrench
What are the stages of link prospecting?
Inventory your linkable assets – that’s what you’re exchanging for links. http://lnkn.it/hcgH25. There’s definitely a process to effective link prospecting.
Linkable assets can include: content, cash, expert access, widgets, products for review, interns etc. For each linkable asset you determine who might care enough (be incented) to link/mention/share.
For example, asset = our link building ebook http://lnkn.it/eRCV8H Audience = link builders. Many link builders read seo blogs. Inventory your linkable assets – thats what you are exchanging for links. http://lnkn.it/hcgH25. So we want to build an seo blogger prospect list and offer a free copy for review + humbly request link.
Conduct Link Prospecting Keyword Research (more on this later). List out your prospecting phrase Roots. For example, for our ebook = SEO, Link Building, SEM, Online Marketing.
Generate your prospecting phrase stems (see http://lnkn.it/9qMEb6). Stems = terms that target particular sites or pages. For example, blog, forum, even inurl:resources. Combine prospecting phrase roots with stems targeting site and page types http://lnkn.it/hhMnai.
Query your search engine of choice and add potential prospect URLs to your spreadsheet. Hand qualify your prospects to create your outreach list http://lnkn.it/dOZD37.
Q: @tbrownseo: Are there any linkable assets that many SEOS commonly pass over when prospecting?
A: I don’t know actually – I do know I ALWAYS get ideas from client conversations. Always. Definitely helps to have a process or flow chart – that’s why we developed the asset inventory process.
Q: @garyjmag: I get Keyword roots and Keyword stems…but what’s Stem Replacement?
A: Stem replacement is to replace a variable string. Lets you put the stem inside of the root instead of after. So you can put “word [var] word2″ and the stems will go where [var] is, rather than appending to the end. For those interested in the stem replacement usage: http://lnkn.it/eUeDej and http://lnkn.it/hNGfzl.
@kmullett: For those following who need Google operator ideas, one of my favorite lists » http://bit.ly/etRPN2
Why is link prospect qualification important?
Outreach and relationship building is the long, tedious and most valuable part of link building. Qualifying link prospects PRIOR to outreach, instead of AS you outreach makes outreach smoother and faster. Qualification based on target’s Authority/Trust ensures that you’re spending your outreach time effectively. Qualification can also save you the anguish of accidentally contacting competitors or esteemed colleagues.
Always qualify by available stats/numbers first, then by-hand second. Remove duplicate hostnames (not URLs) from your prospect lists with this nifty tool: http://lnkn.it/gF4KkW. Qualification is all about actionable lists that you can pass off to PR or execute on yourself.
Q: @JadedTLC: How do you send out emails? LinkedIn? Contact us?
A: @clientdomain.com is usually best. “I always had the best luck sending out emails from the client domain. Gmail etc. not so much.” – @dan_patterson. Agreed – lower trust. Have heard of people emailing with celebrity names, and of course womens’ names.
Q: @AndrewKolyvas: Do you automate 1st contact with form mail or is it personalised?
A: Not automated, but definitely templated. First P customized though. “Automated email inquiries for links are very easy to spot (and delete).” – @AnnieCushing
Q: @JadedTLC: Do you write to webmaster or find their SEO through linkedin?
A: I usually try to get in through the editorial door and rarely if ever reveal that we’re SEOs. Our toolset collects email addresses and contact urls so we start there.
Q: @tamrajh: What do you say you are if not an seo?
A: “I usually contact as an in-house PR Associate.” – @garyjmag.
“I like “content coordinator” or some such.” – @TomDemers.
“I disagree with contacting as a PR Associate – I’m an SEO . They can search and find out I’m not – bad self form.” – @JadedTLC.
“I contact people currently as someone in marketing, search marketing. Usually works pretty good.” – @dan_patterson.
Q: @nuttakorn: What do you think about traditional PR approach and also digital PR agency to work on approaching?
A: I’ve seen PR folks go ape over what I first thought of as link prospects… PR see the brand/publicity value clearly.
Q: @lyena: Why do you think revealing that you are an SEO is a bad idea?
A: We often approach guest posting ops… we find there’s a great deal of suspicion around SEO in general.
“Because webmasters HATE seos.” – @shuey03.
“Because most think they are SEOs.” – @arniek.
“Tarnished brand image.” – @garyjmag.
How is link prospecting keyword research different from SEO keyword research?
There’s an illustrious school of thought for SEO Keyword Research and next to nothing for link prospect keyword research. SEO Keyword Research finds opportunities based on a market’s info and $$$ demand. Link Prospecting Keyword Research finds opportunities based on a target prospect’s unique language usage.
Conducting link prospecting keyword research requires a keen eye for these unique “foot prints”. @MelanieNathan talks about “foot prints” here: http://lnkn.it/fcOxKD. I began outlining a “school of thought” here http://lnkn.it/b1xNBg, but have a lot more work to do.
When looking for great foot prints I look first at the SERPs, in particular the snippet titles. Google’s suggested searches often provide great ideas for prospecting phrases. I also look for any on-page foot prints of a “definite” prospect page or site. This kind of foot print thinkery: http://lnkn.it/csFl4b led to the local citation finder tool http://lnkn.it/hi1p6e.
Note that effective research also includes looking for intitle and inurl usage of language! There are no tools specifically for prospecting phrase research – it’s all by hand right now.
Q: @tamrajh: I’m sorry but I don’t know what you mean here…footprint?
A: Simple foot print example: blogs usually call themselves blogs, and use that word on the page. Here’s an interesting footprint: .gov sites usually use the word “Preparedness” on their disaster resource pages.
“For footprints, consider language patterns. ie “Leave a comment” = blog comment footprint. “add your site” = directory footprint.” – @benwills.
Q: @TonyVerre: What’s you’re feeling on Wonder Wheel? I like that to find adjacent/related terms to the KW?
A: I honestly have not used it yet – I usually get what I need straight from the SERPs. I will check it out though!
“I love Soovle. Queries multiple search engines at once. http://ow.ly/3LGu3.” – @AnnieCushing.
“I love Soovle for blogging ideas.” – @shuey03
“Standard SEO Keywords help you find competitors. Link prospects, not so much.” – @garyjmag.
What is a linkable asset and how does it relate to link prospecting?
Linkable Assets are anything – from people to web pages – that provide an incentive to link or mention. Linkable Assets include: upcoming events, prizes for a contest, a writer, an industry expert, job openings, a widget, PDF, independent research, free data, developers, designers, product for review, and oh yes, cash etc. In short, any person, page or resource that can incent a publisher to link, mention or share. Your linkable assets determine what genuinely is and isn’t a link prospect for your campaign.
For example, no PDFs? – PDF submission sites are out then. No inhouse experts? – Soliciting offsite interviews are out then. No writing resources? – Guest post opportunities are out.
Alternately, a link opportunity inventory http://lnkn.it/fssuVo can reveal what COULD be an asset. Backlink Analysis is also highly effective in revealing linkable asset types http://lnkn.it/hQXOsf. Find the deepest pool of link opportunities based around their unique foot prints. And then go get all of them.
“I love using OSE and Majestic in tandem for comprehensive backlink analysis.” – @AnnieCushing.
Q: @garyjmag: Just started using Raven Tools for link management and prospect finding….anyone have any thoughts on Raven?
“I think raven is cool, I just started using it.” – @matt_storms.
“Raven is pretty much the shiz!” – @shuey03.
“I love @raventools too. That’s my link building command center.” – @AnnieCushing.
What are the best tools to assist in link prospecting?
- (free) Google for prospecting phrase research.
- (free)Talk to clients, find and read through vertical forums, trade pubs, blogs, resource lists, etc.
- Advanced query operators http://lnkn.it/hg30oD (other list posted earlier actually better!)
- (free + email) Link Building Query Generator http://lnkn.it/9qMEb6
- (free) Prospecting phrase root + stem combination tool http://lnkn.it/9qMEb6
- Your favorite backlink analysis data provider
- (free + email) SERP dominator tool http://lnkn.it/fcLjfq (use prospecting phrases instead of SEO kws)
- (free) URL Reviewer http://lnkn.it/dOZD37 for faster qualification
- (free) Remove Duplicate Hostnames tool http://lnkn.it/gF4KkW for faster qualification
- (paid) the Ontolo Link Prospecting Toolset (automates broad and thorough link prospecting) http://ontolo.com – free 2 week trial http://ontolo.com/user/register.”We do a lot of OSE reverse engineering and find that for the right client that alone can tie us up a long while.” – @ImageFreedom.Here’s my pontificating on link strategists: http://lnkn.it/dKxO7j
Q: @garyjmag: Does ontolo help w/ link management, or are you working out of Excel spreadsheets?
A: We are prospect discovery-centric right now.