Prospecting is the first stage of every link-building campaign. It can also be quite lengthy, depending on the strategy you’re using.
But it doesn’t have to take hours upon hours. In this article, I will share some tips on how to fill up your prospect list with more high-quality opportunities faster.
In the end, link building pays off, though, thanks to the increased traffic, authority, and SEO-driven content marketing benefits.
In no particular order, let’s start with arguably the most helpful tip that allows you to get hundreds of prospects literally in just a few minutes.
The competitor backlinks strategy is my personal favorite simply because your work is practically cut out for you there. All the prospecting has already been done for you, and all you need to do is open up Ahrefs and look at your competitors’ articles.
Let’s imagine I was preparing a link-building campaign for one of our link-building guides. It is a very competitive topic, so there’s no shortage of websites with solid backlink profiles.
Here’s how I would look for prospects.
Open The Ahrefs Content Explorer
You can also just Google your target keyword. The results on the first page typically show pages with many backlinks, but since you need Ahrefs for this strategy anyway, why not take advantage of its content explorer.
So, open it up and enter in the keyword you’re competing for. Let’s do a “link building guide” for this hypothetical scenario.
Apply the “By Referring Domains” Filter
The Referring Domains filter is quite handy for our purposes, and by applying it, you will be left with the juiciest link-building opportunities right on top of the list.
As you can see, the top results for this search have a ton of backlinks: 3K, 1.8K, and 1.7K. That’s a whole bunch of prospects, all revealed with just a simple content explorer search.
Keep in mind that not all of the prospects will be of high quality, and you will also need to clean up the list a little bit.
Select a Competitor
Click on the competitor who has the most backlinks to take a closer look at their backlink profile. Let’s select Moz’s link-building guide since it’s more relevant to our query.
Copy the URL and paste it into Site Explorer, then click on the number under the “Backlinks” section.
Now, let’s apply four more filters: “one link per domain,” “Dofollow” link type, “Blogs” platform, and English language.
Export the results into an Excel document.
Step 4: Delete Any Low-Quality Opportunities
The exported sheet contains websites with a wide range of Domain Ratings. We only go for DR 50+ opportunities, which requires an extra round of cleaning up the list.
To speed up the process, let’s apply conditional formatting on the Domain Rating column to highlight all websites with DR lower than 50.
Delete all of the highlighted rows, and you will be left with a massive sheet of high-quality link-building prospects in a matter of 10 minutes or so.
The only downside to this strategy is that if you’re trying to build links to a more obscure niche, few competitors can speak of, and the ones that are present might not have a lot of backlinks at all.
#2: Use Helpful Search Operators
You’ve probably heard of the editorial link-building strategy before (aka the anchor text strategy). The process goes like this: you find articles that mention your main keyword but aren’t in direct competition with it, then you send your pitch asking to insert your link there.
But how do you find these opportunities? Well, of course, you could just do a Google search of your target keyword, but most of the results will be your direct competitors.
Search operators allow you to run a much more precise query. For the anchor text strategy, none are as helpful as “intitle,” “intext,” and “inurl: blog.” They let you search for specific words in the article’s titles and bodies and find pages that are part of a blog. This is how the search would look like for a hypothetical anchor text campaign for this very article.
Broken link building is a strategy with a much higher typical conversion rate than most other strategies. The reason for this is simple: if someone already gave a backlink to a piece of content that no longer exists, there are zero reasons for them to turn down your pitch if your content fits into that spot perfectly.
The downside to broken link building is that you need to create new content just for your link-building campaign to work most of the time. But it pays off in the long run.
This strategy is quite similar to competitor backlinks, and once again, you will need Ahrefs for it. You can start by checking your competitors for broken pages.
Let’s take Neil Patel’s site as an example. Paste your prospect into Site Explorer and go to the Best By Links report.
Next, select the “404 not found” from the HTTP code dropdown. You will now see the list of all pages with the 404 code, along with their number of backlinks right next to them.
Click on the number in the Referring Domains column to view that specific page’s backlink profile. From there on, the process is the same as with the competitor backlinks strategy.
Even though the page titles are listed as “not found,” you can still guess what their contents were judging by the URL since most of them contain the primary keyword that the article used to be going for.
Create a piece of content that fits into that topic, and pitch it to the prospects you just found. Sure, it’s more time-consuming than building links to already existing content, but the actual prospecting phase only takes a few minutes, and the increased conversion rate makes it very much worth it.
So, these were my tips for a more streamlined link prospecting process with three different link-building strategies.
Competitor backlinks seem to work best for us. What is your preferred link-building strategy? Feel free to share your experience in the comment section.
Managing brand partnerships at Respona, Vlad Orlov is a passionate writer and link builder. Having started writing articles at the age of 13, their once past-time hobby developed into a central piece of their professional life.