Link building in the SEO world is an art that has yet to be mastered and the first step you need to conquer is link prospecting.

What does that entail exactly? Creeping on some competitors’ backlinks and getting lost in the Google search rabbit hole is a great way to start. To help point you in the right direction, we created this quick guide.

What is Link Prospecting?

Simply put, link prospecting is searching for new website pages to get a link on. Although it seems simple, the act itself can be especially tough for companies just jumping into the link building world.

A common misconception is that link building is easy and that you can reach out to any website to get a quick link. It’s important to make sure your link prospecting research is going in the right direction. The more research you do on the front end, the more success you’ll see when it comes to outreach and link acquisition.

There are two common link prospecting paths we take. The first is competitor backlink research.

Competitor Backlink Research

The first step we take in any new link building campaign is to see what the top competitors are doing when it comes to building their backlinks. Use a tool like Ahrefs to see which types of websites are adding your competitors’ links and exactly what type of links are being built.

Are there some that we can reach out to for our client? Do we have resources similar that could be useful? Knowing a website is adding our competitors’ links shows they’re open to sharing information within our industry.

Another useful tool to use is the Moz Link Intersect. This tool allows us to put in two competitors and see on what pages they have been able to build links. If we know two of our competitors are currently listed it gives us even more reason to reach out and also be included.

We can use these tools beyond finding pages on which we want to get links. We also use this research to see, in general, what types of sites are sharing information and how that information is being presented. Are we noticing a trend of visual resources such as infographics or are stats/datasheets gaining more backlinks?

When it comes to link prospecting, competitor backlink analysis is the best way to start but you shouldn’t stop there. This brings us to the second most common type of link prospecting: finding content gaps.

Finding Content Gaps

Finding Content Gaps

What is a content gap? Simply put, it can be defined as the space between what searchers are looking for and the results they receive. They know what they want, but they can’t find it through their searching. This opens up some link building opportunities. How? Easy. Make the content they are searching for.

A content gap can come in all different forms:

  • The posts are outdated
  • The posts are too broad and no examples/details
  • Lacking visuals to help support content

The next question is: How do you find content gaps? You can start by searching to see what content is already ranking in Google. For example, let’s say we wanted to write a blog post around e-commerce marketing. Start by doing a simple Google search and see what pops up on the first page.

The next step can take more time because you’ll want to look at the articles that pop up first and analyze what they’re missing. Are the posts from 2012? Are the examples outdated?

Once you know what the new content should cover, it’s time to send it over to your writing team to get everything created.

Bonus tip: If you see an old stat, try to find the updated one to include in your new content. Show that you’re trying to keep content updated and help their readers.

Now that you have new pieces of content to utilize, where should you reach out to first?– those same sites that were already sharing the outdated articles.

“I see your readers loved an article from 2015 on this topic, so we created an updated piece to make it more relevant for today!”

New, quality content takes a good amount of resources to create, but does a world of good for link building.

Remember that content gaps are always popping up. Make sure to continually check if there is any new content your team should be creating. To stand out from other companies, you want to provide readers information they can’t find anywhere else.

The Link Prospecting Journey Never Ends

The basics of link prospecting start at competitor analysis and content gap research but don’t end there. Do you have some more time to put towards link prospecting? Try looking into industry publications and see what links they have to offer that even your competitors haven’t been able to land yet, or jump onto social media and see what type of content is being shared that could be turned into backlink opportunities.

Link prospecting can take some time, but your link building and overall SEO strategy will greatly benefit in the long run.

Need a little help diving into your link prospecting or general SEO strategies? Let’s talk!