Written on June 20th, 2011 by Simon Slade
Link building is an important phase of marketing and optimizing a website, to make it prominent on search engine result pages.
Links are one of the value indicators used by search engines in order to rank web pages’ importance, popularity and relevancy, in which the more pages from other websites that are citing your page as a reliable and trusted source of information, the more it gets popular and, eventually, the more it is able to be returned to their users as a result for their search queries.
This process of search engine optimization is composed of two parts – link prospecting and actual link acquisition. Link prospecting is a crucial stage of a site’s link development, given that search engines only give value to high quality links these days. The procedure for identifying good link prospects for your site has two major parts: finding link opportunities and determining the value of those link opportunities.
6 Ways to Find Link Opportunities
There are plenty of ways to find topically relevant websites and web pages where you can try to get a link:
1. Advanced Search Queries
The use of advanced search commands on Google Search (e.g. “site:domaintype + keywords”, “intitle:keywords”, “inurl:keywords” “link:domain -site:domain”, “related:domainname” and “define:keywords”) will allow you to retrieve more relevant results, which you can use in listing sites that you might be able to acquire high quality links from.
2. Studying your competitors’ links and relationships
Reverse-engineer your competitors’ links through Traffic Travis’ backlinks section. You can also study their linking relationships by checking their blogrolls or list of recommended sites, which can expand the reach of your link building campaign as you are able to track other linking opportunities from their relationships’ link profile.
3. Web Directories
Large web directories such as Dmoz, Best of the Web and Yahoo Business Directory can also help you mine more thematic link opportunities, given that most websites listed on this type of directory are well established. You can also choose to scale your link prospecting campaign by mining the pages linking to the sites you have found listed on these directories (through Yahoo Site Explorer or Traffic Travis).
4. Twitter Search
In this age of marketing, where Social Media has been emerging, it’s almost certain that most websites on any niche have Twitter accounts integrated into them. Use your targeted keywords to find influential people in your industry through Twitter’s search feature as, more often than not, the URL of their websites are included on their profile.
5. Google Alerts
You can also keep your link building campaign updated by setting up an alert for your site’s targeted keywords via Google Alerts. It’s a free email service from Google, which sends new related results from their index based on your targeted search terms (on daily, weekly or monthly basis).
6. Link search through related foreign websites
Most link builders tend to focus on global and local search when searching for link prospects and sometimes fail to spot a whole lot of opportunities from other channels. Finding and exploring link opportunities through localized Google Search (e.g. Google.de, Google.com.ph, Google.kr, etc…) or country-based web directories will enable you to extract more diverse link opportunities from topically relevant websites, as well as to get ideas on how you can elevate your own strategy by evaluating their link building efforts.
This process will also enable your campaign to maximize its reach by exploring these foreign websites’ link profiles, which will eventually give you more link prospects to reach out.
19 Ways to Determine the Value of Link Opportunities
There are several link value measurements that you can use to determine if a website or webpage will be able to carry high amount of link juice to your site. There are three main parts:
- Domain Authority – measurable through SEOmoz’s data (which we use in Traffic Travis).
- Domain Trust – the best way to know if a link prospect is trusted by Google is by copying any of the site’s inner page’s title and searching it on Google. If the page is returned and displayed on Google’s top page (much better if it’s within the top 5 results), then it’s a signal that the domain is highly trusted.
- High Traffic – can be measured through Alexa traffic rank and/or Compete.com. Acquiring links from sites that have high traffic can get your site more click-through visitors if obtained links have good placements.
- Site Indexation – a site’s indexation rate can simply be gauged by comparing the ratio of the site’s number of indexed pages on Google and the number of internal links on the site’s homepage. A robust domain is capable of having its deeper pages indexed by search engines, and having many pages indexed without the support of internal links from the domain’s main page means that it has a good site structure and has managed to build incoming links to keep the site’s deep pages regularly crawled.
- Domain’s Age – search engines reward more trust on older domains, which simply means links acquired from old domains can carry a lot of link value. However it’s also best to get links from newer websites to naturalize your site’s link growth through the diversity of its links. For links acquired from old and newly published websites, it’s crucial to weigh its potentials as well as the future value of the links (will the linking page stay on the web for a long time?). The easiest way to determine the durability of your link prospects is by checking their sites’ updates, if they are weekly or monthly updating a blog or resource pages.
- Good Search Rankings – you can measure a site’s search engine traffic performance through SEMrush or Alexa’s Site info, wherein you’ll be able to see the top keywords that are sending traffic to their site as well as the approximate value of their traffic.
- Number of incoming links to the entire site – another good metric to use in indicating if a site is still active or still updating the site is by checking its link profile, where you can usually track the age of their links and if they are still getting new links. A site that have hundreds or thousands of links linking to it is also a good sign of link value that you’ll be getting from them, seeing as the links that they have acquired will pass through link juice and authority to your site.
- PageRank – this metric from Google is still reliable in some ways, though a little outdated. It’s best used in targeting pages for link outreach purposes (most commonly on resource pages, homepage blogrolls, recommended links, etc…).
- MozRank – a good alternative in measuring a page’s importance/popularity, since SEOmoz’s Linkscape updates this toolbar much faster compared to PageRank.
- External link attributes – it’s also important to identify the link attributes that your link prospects are giving (if the links they cite are followed or nofollow). It’s known that dofollow links pass higher value than nofollow links.
- Number of incoming links – the amount of backlinks that your target page has is a strong indication of a valuable link, as it will be very much capable of passing link juice from internal links within the domain directing to it as well as from other domains linking to that page.
- Link’s placement – the higher the link will be placed on the page’s content, the more value it is able to carry, since web crawlers have more access to links placed on the higher section of the body (within content).
- Anchor text – if the page allowed keywords or highly-descriptive anchors for the links it host.
- Difficulty – the level of difficulty in pursuing the link, given that time is very important when it comes to link building.
- Quality of content – if the content of the page offers useful content and is authentically worth linking to, since obtaining a link from pages that are of use to many of their visitors can draw referred traffic to your site.
- Durability – if the target page will stay useful to their visitors or if the page will stay on Google’s index for a long time.
- Presence of spam links – a page that is linking to spammy websites reduces its link value, as the external page that it’s related to or vouching for affects its ability to pass trustworthy citations. Getting links from sites’ that are linking out to questionable pages, bad neighborhood sites and topically irrelevant sites with obvious manipulative anchor texts (like gambling sites and adult-content sites) can make a bad impression for your links and may also be tagged by search engines as spam if it’s seen along with them.
- Presence of paid links – paid links can be easily detected if the target page has a “sponsored links” placed anywhere in the sidebar or footer area of the site. Google penalizes page that take part on these activities, which can put your site at risk once they are caught.
- Excessive outbound linking – acquiring links from web pages that contain more than 150 external links will pass little to no value to your site, knowing that web crawlers will only prioritize the ones that are placed on the higher position of the page.
Do you have another method for identifying quality backlinks? Share it below and go in the draw to win a copy of Traffic Travis v4 (Valued at $97.00)