I. Link Prospecting: Overview
Links are essential to increasing traffic online. It’s safe to say that a business, whose website has no links, isn’t going to get any traffic from organic search or from other websites.
That’s why businesses invest time and resources in link building, the process of securing a link on an independent website back to their own (client’s) site.
What is Link Prospecting?
Link prospecting refers to the process of finding relevant backlink targets based on the criteria of high-quality backlink.
Key Elements of a Successful Link Prospecting Strategy
Link prospecting entails a mix of creativity, experience and technical understanding. To push your link prospecting strategy forward, you need to have the following key elements:
Typing a few keywords into Google search box and getting the results is never enough. You need to have a blending of knowledge, skills, and patience when finding backlink targets
- Quality Assurance
Next to finding new, relevant sites, you need to ensure the quality of these sites before any attempt to build links.
From using advanced search operators to leveraging social media, you constantly need to find unique yet effective ways to explore the web and look for new websites.
Link prospective is one of the most time-consuming and challenging aspects of link building. It’s a must to have access to the best SEO tools to save time and deliver great results.
II. Guest Blogging: How to Find Guest Blogs
Guest Posting, also known as “guest blogging”, refers to an off-page SEO strategy of writing a creative content and publishing it on someone else’s blog or website in exchange for a link to your own blog, website, or social media. Guest posts are utilized to acquire backlinks and (or) gain exposure, popularity, and authority.
A. Finding Guest Post Targets
Next to putting some quality effort into writing an excellent, buzz-worthy article, you also need to be strategic about finding high-quality sites to contribute to.
Here are 7 proven strategies for to find guest posting opportunities.
1. Using Google search strings
Google is the best place to start link prospecting. A successful Google search string entails a well-curated combination of these three essential elements: keyword, search query, and advanced search operator.
Choose broad keywords that define the industry and/or the market of the client.
- Search query
A search query refers to a specific term or phrase you put into the search box in order to pull up a list of relevant results.
- Advanced search operator
An advanced search operator is a character or a string of characters used to narrow the focus of your search and give you exactly what you need. Combined with search queries, search operators retrieve more specific and relevant results.
Here are some of the most commonly used search operators.
- site: this search operator can be used for a variety of purposes. mainly used to specify organization type.
- inurl: This search operator will allow you to find results that contain a specific keyword in the URL, be it the domain name or the slug.
- intitle: Similarly, the intitle search operator returns results that contain a specific keyword in the title of the page.
- intext: restricts results to pages containing the specified term in the text
- inanchor: will restrict the results to pages containing the terms you specify in the anchor text in links to the page
- List of winning search strings
For tried and tested search operators and queries that retrieve the best results, you may refer to the following templates:
|Your Keyword + “write for us”||Your Keyword + “submit content”|
|Your Keyword + “guest article”||Your Keyword + “submit your content”|
|Your Keyword + “guest post opportunities”||Your Keyword + “submit post”|
|Your Keyword + “this is a guest post by”||Your Keyword + “This post was written by”|
|Your Keyword + “contributing writer”||Your Keyword + “guest post courtesy of ”|
|Your Keyword + “want to write for”||Your Keyword + “guest posting guidelines”|
|Your Keyword + “submit blog post”||Your Keyword + “submit an article”|
|Your Keyword + “contribute to our site”||Your Keyword + “contributor guidelines”|
|Your Keyword + “guest column”||Your Keyword + “contributing writer”|
|Your Keyword + “become a guest blogger||Your Keyword + “become an author”|
|Your Keyword + “guest blogger”||Your Keyword + “become guest writer”|
|Your Keyword + “guest posts wanted”||Your Keyword + “become a contributor”|
|Your Keyword + “looking for guest posts”||Your Keyword + “submit guest post”|
|Your Keyword + “guest posts wanted”||Your Keyword + “submit an article”|
|Your Keyword + “guest blogger wanted”||Your Keyword + “submit article”|
|Your Keyword + “accepting guest posts”||Your Keyword + “guest author”|
|Your Keyword + “writers wanted”||Your Keyword + inurl: “guest blogger”|
|Your Keyword “articles wanted”||Your Keyword + inurl: “guest post”|
2. Utilizing guest posting platforms
Another effective way is to search using guest posting directories and networks that keep the most updated, curated database of websites that accept guest posts. These directories are designed to make link prospecting easier for you.
In most cases, you just need to provide the niche or category you’re looking for and the directories will show the best results. You may narrow down the results depending on the websites’ domain authority (DA), page authority (PA), traffic, bounce rate, and location.
Examples of Guest Posting Tools:
1. My Blog Guest
Visit the site: https://myblogguest.com
2. Guest Post Engine
Visit the site: https://www.guestpostengine.com/
3. Guest Post Tracker
Visit the site: https://www.guestposttracker.com/
4. Big Guest Posting
Visit the site: https://www.bigguestposting.com/
3. Leveraging social media
There are many ways social media can be used to your advantage.
Look for guest posting opportunities on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Just enter a basic guest post search string such as “keyword + guest post” or “guest posting opportunities”.
You may follow a couple of high-authority blog owners who accept guest posts. You can even join guest blogging communities in social media pages where you can engage with blog owners and writers, sharing similar goals.
4. Looking for guest blog compilations
If you don’t want to spend hours searching for guest posting opportunities the traditional way, you can use this cheat sheet.
Simply type “lists of sites that accept guest posts” along with your keyword, and you’ll find a goldmine of guest posting targets, collected and curated by other bloggers for you.
5. Finding your competitor’s links with backlink checkers
You can look for the competitors’ backlinks and use them to your advantage.
First, do a quick competitor analysis. Look for sites that are ranking for a lot of keywords in your niche – these are your competitors. Take their homepage URL and place it into a good backlink checker to see a list of all their backlinks. You may find that a good chunk of their backlinks came from guest posts.
Examples of Free Backlink Tools:
1. Open Link Profiler
- Know more about Open Link Profiler here: http://openlinkprofiler.org/
2. SEO Review Tools
- Know more about SEO Review Tools here: https://www.seoreviewtools.com/valuable-backlinks-checker/
3. The Hoth
- Know more about The Hoth here: https://www.thehoth.com/backlinks-checker/
4. Small SEO Tools Backlink Checker
- Know more about Small SEO Tools Backlink Checker here: https://smallseotools.com/backlink-checker/
6. Using Google Reverse Image Search
This is one of the advanced strategies you may try. First, find someone in your niche who writes tons of content online and is likely to contribute to a lot of blogs. Second, grab the URL of the headshot they used for their author bylines. Lastly, place that URL into Google reverse image. You’ll now get to see a list of sites they’ve guest posted on.
7. Social networking with bloggers and webmasters
Build a good relationship and keep in touch with the bloggers and webmasters are working with. Have a good record of their contact details in place. Should you run out of guest posting targets, you may ask them for referrals. You may even be referred to a high-authority site.
B. Checking the quality of your target guest blogs
Knowing the different strategies in seeking guest post targets isn’t enough – you should also know how to separate the winners from the losers.
What makes a guest posting website great? When comparing sites, see if they have the following criteria.
1. It should have the ability to rank in the SERPs
Domain Authority (DA)
Domain Authority (DA) is a metric developed by MOZ which aims to predict the ranking strength of a website over time on the search engine result pages (SERPs). The ranking scores are measured by evaluating several factors, such as linking root domains and the number of total inbound and external links.
Page Authority (PA), on the other hand, is another metric that predicts the ability for a specific page to rank in the SERPs. DA and PA scores range from 1 to 100 – the higher the score, the greater ability to rank.
Use Moz Link Explorer, the best tool for checking the authoritative link profile of a website. Paste their homepage URL on the box to get data including their DA, inbound and outbound links, ranking keywords, and their metrics over time.
2. It needs to have an authoritative link profile
Find out the quality of websites linking to your target guest post site and the ones your target guest post site is linking to.
- Inbound links (backlinks)
An inbound link (backlink) refers to a link from an external website to your site. The backlinks shouldn’t come from paid sites.
- Outbound links
A good website links to authoritative websites and other external websites associated with their niche. You shouldn’t associate with websites that link to sites that promote porn, casinos, pills, and other adult content.
3. It receives high traffic
If you want to obtain traffic, then look for high-traffic sites. While you can’t check their analytics, you can see their sociability levels across the web. See whether they have social media pages and whether they have a significant amount of followers.
4. It’s Niche-related
See if the site you’re looking into is related to your niche. Ideally, you would love to post your article about hotels and vacation tips on a travel blog, where it can be viewed and shared by travel enthusiasts – not on a blog related to tech and digital marketing.
5. Check for engaging website content
Check whether the blog provides value to their visitors by publishing high-quality content. Are their articles informative and relevant? Do the blog postings have healthy comments? How do their social shares work?
6. Check if the blog is currently active
Make sure the blog is active and is regularly publishing content. If you notice that the site’s most recent post is dated six months ago, look elsewhere. It’ll give you a harder time in your email outreach efforts.
III. Email Outreach: How to Send Effective Outreach Emails
A. Data Gathering
1. Create a spreadsheet
Keep a record of all your niche-relevant guest post targets. The spreadsheet should include the following: Website name, URL, niche, contact details, and niche. You may even include the DA.
2. Read and understand the writing guidelines
Once you’ve reached the blog’s guest posting guidelines page, read and understand their contributor policy. Determine their do’s and don’ts, the required word count, and the number of backlinks allowed in the content.
3. Determine how they can be contacted
Look for their email address, which is usually written along with the guidelines, and include it in your spreadsheet. You may also reach the webmaster via their on-site contact form or social media page.
Then, reach the webmaster via email or contact form for inquiry, pitch, and submission.
B. Creating a winning email outreach template
Webmasters receive tons of emails everyday. Your goal is to make your email stand out, from your subject line to your content ideas.
1. Pay attention to your email subject line
email subject lines matter – it’s the first thing your recipient sees when he checks his inbox. If you feel like your messages are being ignored, chances are your email subjects are overly generic or spammy.
An email subject line should be short, simple yet attention-grabbing – something that will create curiosity and urgency on your recipient’s end, Another tip is to make it personalized by adding the blog name.
Below are some of the winning subjects you may use:
- Guest post proposal for [blog name]
- Guest post inquiry for [blog name]
- Guest post request for [blog name]
- Great content ideas for [blog name]
- Unique [niche] content ideas for [blog name]
- Review these 3 blog post ideas for [blog name]
- Free high-quality articles for [blog name]
- High-quality guest post request for [blog name]
- Request: Guest post ideas for [blog name]
- Check out these link-worthy guest post ideas for your [blog name]
- Hey [blogger name], here’s a great guest post idea for [blog name]
- New guest post ideas for [blog name]
- Add value to your subscribers: content ideas for [blog name]
- Feed your content-hungry blog: content ideas for [blog name]
- You haven’t covered this topic, right?
- Let’s discuss your new blog post
- Don’t use all capital letters and unnecessary exclamation points
- Avoid sugarcoating
- Make sure it doesn’t sound spammy
- Avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs
2. Establish a good persona
Put yourself in the shoes of your prospective website administrator. Of course, you’d prefer receiving articles from passionate content writers who are genuinely interested in your blog, instead of publishing spammy, poorly-written promotional articles from random link builders.
When sending an email outreach, send the notion that you’re a friendly, trustworthy, and skilled writer who is eager to provide valuable content for the blog’s readers. You can present yourself as a regular reader of their blog or someone who randomly stumbled upon their website while researching for something. Next, briefly state your achievements and guest posts on other popular websites.
3. Keep your pitch personalized
Don’t just say, “hi admin” and copy-paste a generic-sounding email. Personalize every email outreach.
When looking for prospects, make sure to determine the name of the administrator. You can find it in their “about us” page. If the name isn’t stated, just put address the blog owner using the name of the blog name + admin.
- Example: Hello Tour and Travel Blog Admin
It would also be smart to mention the blog’s previous works to imply that you’ve been following the blog for quite some time.
4. Prepare a killer pitch
No matter how good your content topic is, the chances of it getting accepted would be low if you don’t package and promote it enough.
Start with a straightforward yet catchy title for your guest post idea. You may also include a short description of what your content is about. You can also include a maximum of three topics. Your pitch should always be centered around the intention of providing benefit to your prospective blog.
Your past writing accomplishments can also be used as a selling point. Consider including 1-3 links to your best published articles just to give your recipient a gist of your writing style.
5. Keep your email short and precise
Nobody likes to read long, wordy, and boring emails so keep yours short and straightforward. Avoid sugar coating and using unnecessary adjectives and adverbs.
Make sure to add a clear call-to-action statement or question at the end of the email.
Examples of winning email templates:
Template 1: You’re an avid reader with one topic idea
Template 2: You’re an avid reader with one content idea + you’re an experienced writer
Template 3: You randomly stumbled upon their blog + you’re pitching three content ideas
Template 4: You’re pitching three content ideas + you’re an experienced writer
C. Tracking response
1. Using mail trackers
Gone are the days when you send an email and just pray to get a response shortly, without any idea of whether or not it’s delivered successfully. Now, you can use email trackers to check if your message is delivered and opened by its respective receiver. You can even see webmasters who choose to ignore your mail.
Mailtrack is the best tool to start with.
Mailtrack (email Tracking for Gmail)
Mailtrack is an email tracking extension for Gmail, that allows you to know If the emails you’ve sent have been read or not. It’s free and unlimited.
- (✓✓) means that your email has been sent, but not opened.
- (✓✓) mean that your email has been opened.
It includes “sent with mailtrack” signature. If you want to send emails without the signature, you may upgrade to the paid version, “Mailtrack Pro”. You may also check out other mail trackers including Yesware and Boomerang.
D. Sending your guest post article
1. Bringing the content idea to life
If a webmaster is interested in any of your content ideas, he/she will ask you to send the article for review. Depending on the quality of your content, you may be asked to revise your article to make it deem fit for the blog.
2. Generating a link-worthy guest post article
Before sending an article in, refer to the blog’s “write for us” page and make sure you comply with the guidelines.
The format of your article should be reader-friendly, with short paragraphs, subheadings for dissecting the content, and relevant images. Listicles, tips and tricks, and How-To’s are commonly-used formats.
You should include two backlinks in your guest post: one link in your article body and one in your author bio, and make sure to include semantic keywords.
3. Following Up
Following up is easier if you have an email tracker. You become aware of why you can’t get a response: it’s either the recipient is inactive or the recipient blatantly ignores your message. The latter implies lack of interest on the webmaster’s end.
Here’s a sample of a follow-up email.
4. Canceling Submission
Ideally, you should receive a response within three days. If not, following up once is enough for you to decide whether to push through with your submission or cancel and move forward with a different guest posting blog. If you don’t get a response after the first follow up, it’s time to cancel your submission and move on.
Simply send a short, precise, and polite message, stating your guest post withdrawal due to the lack of response.
E. Updating the Guest Posting Spreadsheets
1. Checking the published article
Let’s suppose your article has been published. Generally, the webmaster sends a brief email, informing the writer about the successful guest post and the article’s live link.
After receiving the good news, review the published article and check if the links you placed are included in the final output. If not, notify the webmaster right away.
If you’re satisfied with the output, send a short “thank you” email to the webmaster.
2. Updating the guest post tracker
Simply copy the link of the published link and paste it on your guest post tracker. Put the final title of the article, the date posted, and the anchor texts placed.
IV. Must-Have Tools for Link Prospecting
Let’s suppose you wanted to start a guest blogging campaign. You’ll find some relevant sites that accept guest posts, compile them, make sure they’re a good fit, look for their contact details, and send a well-crafted, personalized outreach email.
If you plan to target a few sites, you can do all these manually. But if you plan to target a large number of sites and build links efficiently, you need to use professional link prospecting tools.
Link building tools are designed to make your campaign easier in every step of the way. Below are three of the best tools professional link builders swear by.
1. Link Prospector
Link prospector quickly and efficiently look up relevant link opportunities for guest blogging, niche directories, sponsorships, link pages, and more. It’s designed to help link builders and content marketers search and organize outreach opportunities.
Step One: Choose your report type
Step Two: Enter your keywords or key phrases
Step Three: Find link opportunities
Know more about Link Prospector here: https://linkprospector.citationlabs.com/
Ontolo is another powerful tool you can use to find link prospects you can contact. No need to type advanced search queries on google, think of other ways you can say “guest post” or “write for us”, and scan pages after pages – ontolo takes care of expanding your prospecting queries.
The tool instantly searches your prospects using advanced queries and narrows down the results depending on how you configure the tool and the type of keywords you provide.
Know more about Ontolo here: https://ontolo.com/
3. Citation Labs
Citation Labs, the maker of Link Prospector, is an enterprise link building agency. Aside from Link Prospector, they have developed other tools for SEO specialists, link builders, content marketers, and CEOs, including the Broken Link Builder, Co-Citation Tool, Contact Finder, and Zipsprout.
Know more about Citation Labs here: https://citationlabs.com/tools/
V: Guest Blogging & Outreach Flow Chart