What is Link Prospecting?
Link prospecting falls under the umbrella of link building: obtaining links from relevant and trusted websites pointing back to your page.
A high-quality link building campaign uses ethical methods complying with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (now Google Search Essentials).
A robust white hat link building campaign involves three components that our SEO specialists observe:
- Prospecting & research
- Domain & page qualification
- Outreach & Execution
Most forms of successful link building campaigns begin with link prospecting.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss what link prospecting is and how to find valuable link prospects.
What is Link Prospecting?
Link prospecting is scouting websites and pages where you can build backlinks for your website to improve SEO. It may sound simple for many, running a few Google searches, listing down content-rich and relevant sites in your niche, and reaching out for link building.
But the secret to a compelling link building opportunity lies in establishing a complex and advanced analysis of each industry and separating the wheat from the chaff.
Looking closely at the top ranking websites for most industries from an SEO perspective, you’ll realise that many pages aren’t worth linking to. Some websites may potentially harm your website’s SEO since you will be linking to websites with low Domain Authority.
In other words, you should efficiently spend your resources by reaching out only to authoritative websites and sending a solid link building pitch that’s likely to boost your SEO efforts and provide real value to your readers.
Why is Link Prospecting Important For SEO?
Link prospecting, qualification, and outreach all boil down to earning valuable and high-quality backlinks. Google evaluates your pages by looking into your backlink portfolio. If it finds several highly authoritative websites linking to your domain, it will see the content as relevant and boost its rankings across Google SERPs.
Furthermore, earning exceptional backlinks can significantly improve your website’s domain authority and start a domino effect of SEO benefits all throughout your other pages.
A high domain authority leads to better rankings, expands your audience, improves your niche expertise, and finally cements your brand as an authority. This positive cycle loop enables your business to capture the most high quality leads available in the market.
Ways to Find Link Prospects
The internet has plenty of gold mines for link building opportunities. Most of them may take time to scour, but innovative thinking can save you hours of prospecting by narrowing down your targets to the most relevant ones, such as:
- Websites already ranking for your target keywords;
- Websites linking to your competitors;
- All websites in your niche; and
- Companies and people you work with or products you reviewed on your site.
Linkio does a great job at detailing the many steps to find high value link prospects through Ahrefs.
1. Websites Already Ranking for Your Target Keywords
Prospecting sites ranking well for your target keyword can save lots of time. Simply run a Google search with your target queries or keywords and list all websites that rank well.
Google already recognises most top-ranking sites as relevant and authoritative, earning them valuable organic traffic. Prospecting them for your link building campaign involves less risk and high rewards for your website. But that’s not without a catch.
One major challenge with top-ranking sites is that they may have a high standard for new backlinks. If the first site doesn’t respond, try the next one and keep going. You’ll still walk out with valuable information to ramp up your link prospecting campaign even if the websites don’t respond.
2. Websites Linking to Your Competitors
If you don’t get a response from top-ranking websites, we recommend looking into their backlink profile and targeting websites that link to them. Pages that link to your top competitors are untapped gold mines for link building opportunities.
We can help you assess your competitors’ link profiles and determine how many backlinks and which sites link to them. There are also tons of available tools, such as Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker that can help you streamline your link prospecting strategy.
If you still don’t get any response from link prospect source #2, you may try the third source:
3. Websites In Your Niche
Another way to find link prospects is by searching with relevant terms. List down Google results and websites that may benefit from linking with you.
There are tons of free tools online that scrape Google SERPs for information based on your given criteria.
4. Companies You Work With & Products You’ve Reviewed
The first three sources of link prospects involve effective bargaining and pitching. But we also recommend sourcing links from your existing partners since they are familiar with your site and may be eager to build links with you.
You can save time searching through Google search results for link prospects by going directly to your partners. Though we still advise expanding your prospects to authoritative pages.
What Not to Do When Link Prospecting
If you get too confident with link prospecting, you may commit a rookie mistake common to many poor SEOs: pitching to websites openly accepting guest posts.
Avoiding sites that openly invite guest posts may seem counterintuitive. But posting on these sites can have harmful consequences.
Google may see you as a spammy link builder if you publish on guest posting websites with no specific niche. In most cases, we consider this a big mistake that could result in reduced ranking power or getting your page entirely removed from Google SERPs.
Moreover, Matt Cutts, former Google Webspam Team head, declared the fall of guest blogging in 2014. Leading up to his blog post, he goes on to cover what should be considered (be aware of) if one engages in guest blogging here.
Today, Google uses direct and indirect methods to detect signals from sites engaging in link schemes and spammy guest posting.
While it’s common knowledge that guest posting still does work, it’s always best to filter through low quality opportunities and only work legitimate authoritative sources.
Be careful of websites displaying a “Write for us” button on all pages’ headers or footers. Non-spammy websites tuck this button away from the front page, and it is usually found on their contact information page.
Link Prospecting FAQs
Why is it important to find high-quality link prospects?
Finding valuable link building opportunities will help define your website’s link building success. Google evaluates link quality as a ranking factor that assesses how well you rank against your competitors.
If you have the right websites and perfect link prospects in your list, you have an excellent chance of getting a backlink that leads to your desired link building results.
How are Link Prospecting and Link Building different?
Link prospecting is the first step of any link building process. It is crucial since link prospecting helps you optimise your resources and can make or break your link building campaign.
What is backlink analysis in link prospecting?
Backlink analysis is a process that involves analysing a website’s link profile. It differs from link building and prospecting since it focuses on understanding what works and harms your overall backlink profile.
Additionally, the data you acquire from backlink analysis will help you acquire more links from authoritative websites.
What benefits can I get from link prospecting?
The main benefit of effective link prospecting is acquiring a list of relevant and high-quality websites or prospects who may want to link back to your website.
Leveraging this data and getting approved by your prospect websites involves a remarkable outreach campaign to convince your link prospects to link to your site.
Any effective and efficient link building campaigns begin with comprehensive link prospecting. But it does not come without a catch.
If you want your link building campaign to produce sustainable and real growth results, you must implement the best practices and avoid spammy behaviour.
Let our experts kick off your link building campaign and implement ongoing SEO support to ensure your website ranks on Google’s first pages. If you need help with your SEO and link building campaign, we’re the experts to call.