Tools You’ll Need
Ahrefs, Ahrefs SEO Toolbar, Google, Website SEO Checker, Google Sheets/Microsoft Excel
So you’ve spent countless hours creating that perfect piece of content.
How now do you go about promoting that content so that it reaches your target audience, acquires backlinks, and also has a chance of ranking?
One of the key first steps in getting there is by discovering the right opportunities to reach out to. This is called prospecting.
An opportunity is a website and the contact person at that website, often the webmaster or content marketing manager.
What qualifies as the right opportunity?
There are a few factors that we look for:
- The content we created is relevant to their audience.
- Their website is a place we would be proud to have our content on.
- The website is updated regularly.
- The metrics of the website meet our quality standards (more on this below)
This article will provide you with actionable steps to find quality opportunities for your content promotion piece. We will examine three useful strategies for finding quality prospects to reach out to:
- Competitive analysis
- Prospecting with Ahrefs Content Explorer
- Prospecting for resource pages
The tools we will be using include Google, Ahrefs, and Website SEO Checker. For each method, we will imagine that we have created content on lawn care tips.
Let’s get the ball rolling with Competitive Analysis!
One of the best ways to find suitable opportunities for promoting content is by conducting a competitive analysis.
In a competitive analysis, you perform research to discover websites that have linked to articles similar to the one you have written.
Here’s a step by step process by which you may go about doing this.
The Ahrefs’ SEO toolbar for Google Chrome helps tremendously with this process. You may download it here.
If you are like me and videos are super helpful, then watch the video below which goes through steps 1-5. Videos will be provided throughout this article to make learning all of this as easy as possible.
Perform a Google search to generate a list of similar articles by entering your keyword in the Google search bar. In this case, we will use the keywords “lawn care tips”. You can experiment with similar relevant keywords to generate different results.
Here you see that the top result has 58 RDs or referring domains.
A referring domain is an individual website that is linking to this article.
These are all possible opportunities that you can reach out to.
Click on “RD” and take a look at the results on Ahrefs.
Click the drop-down arrow next to “Link type” and select “Dofollow”.
Next, click on Export to export the domains and relevant data.
Copy the referring domains into the Ahrefs Batch Analysis Tool.
Click the orange Analyse button.
Click on Export to get the data results. The results will be generated in an Excel file.
Open the file using Google Sheets or Excel and delete all columns except for:
- Target (i.e the referring domain)
- Domain Rating
- Organic Traffic
In this step, we will find out the Domain Authority (DA), Spam Score (SS), and Trust Flow (TF).
In our sheet that was generated from our Ahrefs results, we have the DR, OT, and Keywords.
Now we need to get the DA, SS, and TF.
Website SEO Checker gives the domain authority, spam score as well as the trust flow, so if you don’t have a subscription to Moz or Majestic, Website SEO Checker is a great affordable alternative tool to use.
Next, upload the referring domains to Website SEO Checker.
Download the CSV and delete all columns except for DA, SS, and TF. On the spreadsheet with the Ahrefs results, type DA, SS, and TF, into the three columns on the right and copy and paste the results from Website SEO Checker.
Return to the Google search results and repeat steps 2 and 4 for as many competitors you want to analyze.
Next, we filter the results as per your qualifications or take a look at the table below to view the basic qualifications we use for link building for our clients.
(If you are not familiar with Microsoft Excel or Google sheets, the videos below are helpful resources to learn some of the basics.
The resulting sheet should look something like this sheet, with many more results of course ?.
This final step may take some time but is an important part of the process.
It’s important that you manually “inspect” (open the webpage and examine the website) the sites that you have arrived at after the qualification stage. Although the sites have passed the basic metrics qualifications, you still need to make sure that they would be a fit. Here are some basic questions you may ask when “inspecting” the sites.
- How relevant is the website?
- If for example, you have created content on lawn care tips, links on sites that focus on gardening would be helpful but a link on a site that is centered around SEO would not add any value.
- Does the site look like it’s being kept up to date?
- When was the last post published?
- Is this a website you would be proud to associate with your client/your business?
After you have answered these questions, you now have a list of opportunities that would be suitable for outreach.
Link Prospecting with Ahrefs Content Explorer
Using Ahrefs Content Explorer is an excellent way to prospect for a content promotion piece.
Take a look at the video below to see how the entire process is done or read on for step by step instructions.
Here’s how to do it:
- Launch Ahrefs Content Explorer
- Type the keyword: Here you can use your preferred anchor text or keyword ideas similar to your desired anchor text
- Select “in content” and Ahrefs provides you with a list of articles with the specific keyword that you are targeting.
- Export the results
- Filter by domain rating. For us, we filter by 20 – 80
- Insert columns for Domain, Keywords, Organic Traffic, DA, Spam Score, and Trust flow
- Extract the root domain from the URL string using the RegExtract script:
See the video below on how to do this in Google sheets.
NB: Change C2 to the correct cell number depending on where the first referring page URL is located
- Upload the domains to Ahrefs Batch Analysis Tool
- Export and copy and paste the data for keywords and organic traffic in the Google sheet
- Upload the Domains to Website SEO Checker and copy and paste the data for DA, Spam Score and Trust Flow in the Google Sheet
- Filter as per your requirements
Prospecting for Resource Pages
If you think that your content promotion piece would be a good fit for a resource page on a website, prospecting for resource pages is another useful way of finding link opportunities. A resource page is a page on a website that lists useful links and resources for a specific topic. Resource pages are often found under the heading “Useful Links” or “Resources”.
Here’s an example of a resource page:
Watch the video below on how this is done, otherwise keep reading for the step by step instructions.
Here are a few ways you can do this.
Use the Google operators below to generate a list of sites with relevant resource pages.
- “Keyword” + inurl:links
- “Keyword” + “helpful resources”
- “Keyword” + “useful resources”
- “Keyword” + “useful links”
- “Keyword” + “helpful links”
Manually review the websites and add relevant sites to your list. Upload the list of websites to Ahrefs and Website SEO Checker to get the DR, keywords, organic traffic, DA, spam score, and trust flow. Filter results according to your qualification standards.
Watch the video below on how to use Ahrefs, Website SEO Checker, and Google Sheets to find metrics and qualify data.
Watch the video below on how to find prospects using Google search operators.
This can also be done much faster using Ahrefs:
If you already have a list of competitors, you may go ahead and plug the individual competitor into Ahrefs Site Explorer. Otherwise, conduct a search for relevant sites by entering your relevant keyword in Google.
Select a publisher with a large number of backlinks (BL).
Go to Ahrefs Site Explorer.
Type the publisher’s domain.
Check one link per domain.
Navigate to the drop-down bar which says “Include”.
Enter text such as “links”, “resources”.
Export a list of prospects and filter according to your requirements.
Repeat this process until you have a large number of pages.
Individually inspect the URLs to see if they are suitable resource pages for your content piece.
Bonus Tip: When prospecting it’s highly likely that your final results will include duplicate domains. To filter these domains I used a tool called Scrapebox. Below is a video that explains how to filter in Scrapebox. Be on the lookout for an upcoming article that will delve into the many uses of Scrapebox for prospecting.
The above methods used alone or in combination should provide you with a list of several opportunities for your link building campaign. Happy prospecting!
- Competitive Analysis
- How to Extract the Root Domain
- How to Find Domain Metrics and Filter Using Ahrefs and Website SEO Checker
- Prospecting with Ahrefs Content Explorer (This video also shows how to extract the root domain at 1:50)
- Resource Pages Prospecting Using Google Search Operators
- Resource Pages Prospecting Using Ahrefs
- How to Filter Duplicate Domains Using Scrapebox