Summary: Fundamentals of Large Scale Linkbuilding on #SEOchat with Garrett French (@GarrettFrench)

Guest: Garrett French – @GarrettFrench

@GarrettFrench: is founder of Citation Labs (http://t.co/nC4lAjU9), a linkbuilding toolshop/prospecting agency. He writes articles for SEWatch (http://t.co/y2ypAC2a) and works to perfect his link prospecting tool (http://t.co/tIuEH3ES). If you want to learn a little more about the tool check out this review on http://t.co/uWRdzhLs http://t.co/90NWFZW9 .

What is the first step to get started with any link prospecting campaign?

Awesome question. So there are basically two first steps that have to happen at the same time. You conduct a linkable asset survey to see what you have that people will link or share http://t.co/fxzcFM73 . All while determining if there are enough publishers in the market to support the tactic in question.

That linkable asset survey I mentioned – it could be as simple as: “do you have time and expertise to write guest posts”. Or as complex as backlink analysis to see what’s gotten links on your site and finding more similar potential linkers. But don’t skip the “prospect pool depth analysis” to determine if there’s really enough ops to warrant a given tactic.

I’ve sold a tactic (guest posting) and then later found there weren’t enough ops in the space to support what I sold. Shifting gears is part of the game, but now I pre-prospect to ensure that there are enough ops to support a tactic. And I generally assume we’ll have low conversions. For BLB (Broken Link Building) about 1-3% and guest posting 8-15%.

With those conversion rates in mind I know whether we’ll need 100 prospects + outreach to fulfill a contract or 1000 and usally it’s a whole lot closer to 1000+ solid prospects a month :) It always depends on the market, the tactic and what we’re pitching.

@shuey03: How you handle a “low return” linkable assets inventory? What do you do when you request assets & the client says “that’s what I pay you for”?
@GarrettFrench: I’m fortunate that people come to me for LB only… so I can pitch tactics upfront and build prices in.

@victorpan: What are the expected conversion rates for some other tactics? You mentioned BLB and guest posts. Infographics?
@GarrettFrench: I outsource infographics – I can’t answer on conversions there.

@ashbuckles: You reach out to 1000 guest bloggers per month? Is that correct?
@GarrettFrench: Don’t outreach to 1000 bloggers for guest posting a month… 100 is usually enough for the scale of GPs I’m placing. 1000 a month is more for BLB.
@shuey03: I’m guessing you are able to do that volume (100 guest blogs) due to the amazing tools you build?
@GarrettFrench: I’ve maxed out at about 20 GPs a month nothing insane – BLB is the real prospect hog… but there are more prospects there. But I COULD place 100 GPs a month with my tools, yes. And BLB’s cousin, link equity salvage http://t.co/5R3EvD1q found 40k ref domains for client this way. To qualify it was an amazing publisher – great content and a site that’s probably 20 yrs old. BLB is NOT scalable for every client! at least, not the way I do it :)

@gemwebb: IS there a good resource on Broken Link Building?
@CaptainSpaceman: http://t.co/TT5HTh3i.

What are the core methods of link prospecting and what link building tactics do they support?

I believe there are 6 methods of link prospecting… (could be more/less depending how you slice).

  1. Query google at scale for link prospects – this is the most flexible method of building prospect list http://t.co/aAA2yTJE . Queries can support most tactics, but you often have to run 100s of queries, systematically (plug): http://t.co/CPfGJgCX . Here’s my best guide to link prospecting so far: http://t.co/sgzxwClT
  2. Find and scrape lists of blogs so long as you’re in large verticals with active curators http://t.co/C1d8ljoP . If lists exist in your space they are often lists of blogs, maybe local chapters of pro organizations with resource pages.
  3. Find dead pages that still have links and ask 4 link to your similar content (broken link building) http://t.co/pPirVruZ . You have to have high-grade content for this to work, and a vast library of existing content helps too.
  4. Competitive co-citation analysis – I find this approach inflexible because it doesn’t allow for scale or tactic shifts.
  5. Buy targeted email lists – this is one I heard from @debramastaler but have never tried. @debramastaler email is mentioned here: http://t.co/iakZaR4a .
  6. Lastly I read of folks scraping twitter. Makes sense, haven’t tried it though. Twitter for link building: http://t.co/WpnO3tKu http://t.co/TRiEJ0vB .
  7. I need a method for every client at any scale and queries have always provided that for me.

    @MirandaM_EComm: I think @garrettfrench is being modest with “best link prospecting resource” recomm, his own book is killer! http://t.co/04lONTWt .

    How important is competitive research as part of your link prospecting?

    I rarely use direct competitors as a starting point for link prospecting. I will on occasion look for footprints of especially prolific guest posters though. Their name for example, or if they have a repeated phrase in the author bio. I have looked at a backlink profile to try and discover tactical approaches to adopt (aka steal). And that will certainly impact link prospecting directions and methods selected.

    For my purposes, more important than competitive research is just plain old market-language research. Namely, what terms are used in the market to describe the market and its segments. This makes a HUGE difference in the productivity of prospecting in Google.

    Use the tilde to quickly find productive language variations: [~KW]. Try [~horse] for example. sometimes [~horse -horse] can help as well.

    Careful attention to language usage is one of the fundamentals of productive, efficient link prospecting with queries.

    @scott_dodge:: The Link Prospector’s Guide to the Tilde – http://t.co/Tpr6FRf0 .

    @jonknep: What are you doing aside from switching GP names (maybe) to make it harder for peeps to snoop in on you?
    @GarrettFrench: I’m not currently doing a good job of hiding my GP tracks… it’s tough because I need persona “history” to get placements.

    How valuable are advanced search operators for link prospecting and what are some of your favorites?

    Advanced operators are very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very valuable. Advanced operators enable prospectors to better segment that insanely massive index of Google’s. This segmentation via operators ultimately creates domain diversity among your prospects.

    Because G only cares about the top 3-10 results, going beyond is rarely productive for prospecting. This means you have to force segments up from the index to keep harvesting those awesome top 10-20 results. For example, compare the top results for [horses (https://t.co/sEgPHSfX)] and [intitle:horses (https://t.co/wRA2fUVW)]. Quite different domains in the top 10 and all are worth investigating if I were building a list of horse sites. Some overlap is not a bad thing – it can help show the sites that are strongest in the SERPs.

    Enough theory – I have several favorite advanced operators.

    • intitle: finds pages by conscientious and/or SEO-minded webmasters… it means KW MUST be in the title.
    • inurl: KW MUST be in the URL
    • site: I mostly use this for forcing results from specific TLDs eg: site:.ac.uk for British university sites.
    • ~(tilde): I only recently discovered this one and now eternally owe @wiep for suggesting I test http://t.co/Z0MlHRYv .
    • -(minus): I mostly use this one with tildes, but @rosshudgens wrote a boss article on its usage here: http://t.co/ZsYaueIK .

    @Abbott_Shea: what about the OR???
    @GarrettFrench: I don’t use it much – I like to run LOTS of queries instead of lump concepts/KWs together in 1 SERP. I’d love to read an article on how you use OR for link prospecting though!
    @OptimizePrime: I’m talkin consumer linguistics @OptimizePrime you’re saying you search: (myocardial infarction OR heart attack) right?
    @GarrettFrench: You will dig my http://t.co/CPfGJgCX then cause we have that built in.
    @garyjmag: I use OR alot, but separate makes sense, since ur judging site strength by presence/position across multiple SERPs.
    @GarrettFrench: I like to have narrow-as-possible SERPs… I honestly don’t know the OR well enough to opine. haven’t tested enough.
    @scott_dodge: Here’s my personal review of @GarrettFrench’s Link Prospecting tool – http://t.co/EGrcSsvb .

    @TheGonzoSEO: Oldie but I still use it. 21 Link Builders Share Advanced Link Building Queries http://t.co/P6VYCVBL by @garrettfrench

    You’ve written about the “Footprint” as it pertains to linkbuilding. What is the footprint & how does it affect link prospecting?

    Simply put, footprints are the key to getting targeted prospects at scale. I tried defining the footprint in this article here: http://t.co/sgzxwClT . You can read them defined well here as well: http://t.co/2YM2MmrF . The footprint is part of a link building query, usually appended to the research phrase.

    Footprints are typically tactic-specific, so you need to know your tactic before prospecting with google. The research or category phrase could be something like [law]. If you’re looking for guest post prospects you could use a footprint like ["guest post"]. Putting the two together: [law "guest post"] = prospects (https://t.co/LBiDGyyU) .

    I mentioned careful attention to language usage earlier. That also pertains to WHERE language is used… and advanced operators can help with this. Eg: [law intitle:"guest post"] (https://t.co/C4Tw92xw).

    More recently been using footprints to find websites of local chapters of a national organization. All local chapters had org’s name in them. So we’d do: [*http://t.co/7T8YEfkd] and [orgsname*.org] and scrape down to 1000 using custom preset on http://t.co/CPfGJgCX .

    I sometimes use the term footprint and advanced operator interchangeably. But note that the advanced operator can’t do it’s incredible job without a great footprint.

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