Link building undoubtedly is the core of SEO (search engine optimization) — not on-page or technical. It involves careful research and outreach to REAL people.
The “interesting” part of link building (research and identification) is “link prospecting.” And without the latter, the former’s result will be null.
In short, your link prospecting game must be top-notch for your website to rank high on search results.
So, how can you get the game on track?
This detailed guide will help!
Here, we will discuss and show you all there is to know about link prospecting:
- The steps involved
- Tested strategies
- Sample outreach templates to adopt and much more
That said, let’s delve into the details!
What Is Link Prospecting? Getting Started With The Basics
At mere thought, link prospecting seems like a task you can brush aside or something best left to your virtual assistant. If you think like that, you need to know this:
Link prospecting is the foundation of link building.
Can you build a house that will survive storms and termites without a solid foundation?
Likewise, link prospecting determines the success of your link building processes (and SEO objectives). It prepares your site to cope with any Google algorithm update.
So, what then is this “link prospecting”?
Link prospecting is the first step in link building that involves identifying the RIGHT link prospects and targets.
Link prospecting does not involve qualifying a link or outreach.
Often, prospecting and qualification are interwoven. Regardless, you must understand that the former is strictly for identifying prospects and targets.
On the other hand, qualification focuses on prioritizing links based on metrics such as DA, DR, and traffic.
Either way, we’ll focus solely on link prospecting. Nevertheless, we’ll include tips for qualification and outreach.
Up next, we’ll discuss the steps involved in effective link prospecting.
5 Steps Involved In Effective Link Prospecting
To understand effective link prospecting, we will combine the research steps with (a bit of) link qualification and outreach. We’ll show you how below.
Here’s a sneak peek of the steps to be discussed — should you want to jump to a later part:
- Define your link building strategy
- Define your target metrics
- Create a list of targets
- Find contact information
- Create an email sequence and launch your campaigns
Define Your Link Building Strategy
To start, you must choose a strategy to build your links. And be careful with your choice; it will determine the types of sites and personnel you can work with.
So, what should you consider?
There are generally three strategies to consider:
- Guest posting
- Skyscraper content
- Niche edits
Guest posting is the most straightforward link building strategy. Here, you will write an article for others and then place a link within it.
However, you shouldn’t guest post on just any site. Check if the website is in a related niche. Are the design and content high-quality?
More importantly, the site must be open to guest posting.
So, how would you know if a site accepts guest posts?
- Look for pages with “write for us,” “guest post,” and “become a contributor” titles.
- You can use Google search. Type [your niche] + guest post
- Also, look out for sites with authors outside of “the team.”
Skyscraper content creation is when you scrape the internet for the best articles on a topic and create something better. Naturally, the “better content” will attract links.
However, you can fasten the process with link prospecting. Find who will benefit from your skyscraper content and pitch.
Note: this strategy is somewhat what everyone is doing. And often, the so-called skyscraper articles all look the same.
If you must use this method, let your content approach be different. Add visuals, interviews, and expert quotes.
So, how can you find ideas to create skyscraper content?
We wrote an extensive article on how to check your competitor’s backlinks. You’ll find the guide you need there!
Also known as link insertions, niche edits are not the same as guest posting and skyscraper content. Here, you won’t write any content.
Instead, you’ll ask a site owner, author, or blogger to insert your link into their published articles.
Because of the nature of the “ask,” niche edits often require some payments. And because you’re paying, it is crucial to choose the right websites.
What are the RIGHT websites for niche edits?
- Websites in your niche
- Sites with around 30 DA/DR ratings
- Websites with an about page or contact information
- Sites that attribute their articles to an author
Now you know the “strategies” to use. Let’s discuss your target sites. We’ll start with how to pick them.
Define Your Target Metrics
When picking your target metrics, there are three crucial factors to consider:
- Domain authority,
- Traffic, and
Let’s look at the factors individually.
Remember we talked about sites with 30 DA/DR ratings (at least) being the right ones. But does it matter?
Should you focus on metrics determined by tools?
Short answer: yes!
Domain authority is not just “authority.” It represents Google’s trust in a website and its content.
In other words, the higher your target sites’ domain authority (and domain rating), the better your SEO results.
In essence, the authority of the target sites will drip down to your website and increase its ranking on search results
Sites with high traffic are as vital as ones with 30+ DA/DR. With more traffic, your links will be in the face of more people.
But does that matter?
In a typical marketing funnel, no one converts all their traffic. Often, the lot drips out before getting to the bottom of the funnel.
So, the more traffic you attract, the higher the number you will convert.
The same principle applies to link building. The purpose of the whole process is to get traffic to your site. So, placing your links on high-traffic websites is a no-brainer.
But what traffic is good enough?
Target sites with at least 1k organic traffic and $1k value.
The ultimate metric to consider when choosing a target site is its relevance to your website. Are the targets in the same niche as yours?
Can your site benefit from the traffic of the target and its audience?
Bottom line: the authority and traffic of a target related to your niche will significantly impact your ranking efforts.
Now, what next?
Combine the factors discussed so far and use them to create your prospect/target list. We’ll show you the “how” below.
Create A List Of Targets
At the start of this article, we promised to show you tested strategies for link prospecting. Well, we’ll do that in this section.
So, get ready for some action!
Now, there are 2 tested strategies for creating target/prospect lists.
- Using Google’s advanced search
- Using Ahrefs
Using Google Advanced Search
This method is the easiest way to build a prospect list. All you need is Google and Excel.
So, let’s begin!
- Head to Google, then type your [search term] + “guest posts.”
For example, here is a search result for [skincare “guest posts”]
- Outside “guest posts,” you can use the following search terms:
- “Guest author”
- “Guest contributor”
- “Partnership opportunities”
- Now, go through the search results and handpick the best opportunities.
Install MozBar on Google Chrome to pick the pages with at least 30 DA from the Google search results.
- Now, compile the prospect on an Excel sheet.
There are two ways to use Ahrefs for link prospecting.
- You can use “content explorer” to view active websites that accept guest posts.
- Use “site explorer” to find the referring domains of your competitors.
For the content explorer method, follow these steps:
- Head to Content Explorer, input your keyword into the search bar
- Change the search drop-down to “In content,” then click search
- Next, change the “Platform” from the filter bar to “Blogs.”
- Comb through the search results and pick the sites with 30+ DR ratings
- Add them to the Excel sheet
For the site explorer method (for skyscraper content), follow these steps:
- Pick an ultimate guide in your niche, like below:
- Copy the link into Ahrefs site explorer
- Filter the search results by “Dofollow.”
- Pick the top referring domains for later use (outreach)
Now, we’re done with link prospecting and qualification. The following steps are for outreach. So, we’ll keep it brief.
Find Contact Information
Remember the Excel sheet we created for the target/prospect list. It is time to revisit it; add a new column for “contact.”
So, how do you get the contact information of the targets?
- You can use the author line on the post
- Follow through on the guest post submission rules
- Tools like Ahrefs and Respona can help.
Create An Email Sequence And Launch Your Campaigns
Now that you have the “contact information,” plug it into outreach tools like MailChimp or Respona.
After doing that, create a 3-email sequence.
- Warm up your prospect,
- Introduce your offer, and
- Follow up
Here’s a sample template you can adopt:
I just read your article [title] on [URL]. It was an INTERESTING read.
I learned X, Y, and Z.
I look forward to reading more of your piece!
About your last post [title] on [URL], I noticed you didn’t go in-depth about how to use X.
Fortunately, I just published an extensive guide on X on my site [URL].
Kindly take a look!
It’s [your name] again!
I wonder if you checked the URL I sent over.
Do you find it resourceful? You can use the statistics to bulk your article.
What’s the catch, right?
I’d appreciate a backlink to the original study on my site.
You won’t need an email sequence if your target has a defined guest post submission form. Just fill it out!
Additional Tips For Effective Link Prospecting
Factor In Link Prospecting In Your Content Plan
High-quality content takes time to create, undoubtedly. So, understandably, you would want to start the process as early as possible.
But while that is the case, wait until your link prospecting is successful. Why?
If you’re writing a post for “link building,” your content must wait. Your target sites might nudge you in a different direction.
This tip doesn’t apply to skyscraper content or your usual blog writing.
Pitch To Prospects With Better DA Than Yours
If you’re a new site, stick to the general “DA/DR” 30 benchmarks. However, if your site has passed that line, pitching to websites with such a rating won’t help you.
In fact, you would be wasting your time.
As a rule, only pitch to sites with better domain authority, backlink profile, and organic traffic than yours.
But what about the difficulty of getting links from sites with higher DA and traffic?
The process is the same regardless of the site’s impressive authority and traffic. Offer value first and warm up your prospects. You’ll get results.
Focus On Relationships
The core of link prospecting is building a relationship with real humans. So, focus on that and not just the backlink you crave.
If you’re desperate to acquire backlinks, you’d never get one — unless you use link farms. Instead, build relationships with site owners, authors, bloggers, and influencers.
Again, offer value first, and the backlinks will come. In fact, you’ll attract more links than you had plans to onboard.
FAQs About Link Prospecting
What Is Link Prospecting?
Link prospecting means identifying sites with desired authority and traffic where you can get high-quality backlinks.
Is Link Prospecting Important?
For a successful link building strategy, link prospecting is non-negotiable. It sets the foundation and framework for success.
More importantly, link prospecting weeds out unqualified target sites. In other words, it will help you save time and money.
How Do I Find Link Prospects?
There are generally two ways to get link prospects:
- Google advanced search, or
- Tools like Ahrefs
Afterward, design a strategy to work with the results from your research. You could use guest posts, skyscraper content, or even niche edits.
Link Prospecting Is Crucial To Your SEO Efforts
It (link prospecting) sets the foundation for successful link building and search engine optimization. So, it’s not something to overlook or delegate to a virtual assistant.
If you need help with link prospecting, you’re best served with a pro link builder. Otherwise, do it yourself.
Fortunately, this guide covered all you need to know about link prospecting. But say you need further assistance, reach out!