Your Guide To Link Prospecting
A Complex Part of Link Building Process Explained in Simple Words
First of all, let’s explain what link prospecting is.
In short, this is a process of finding relevant websites you would like to link back to your resource.
Why should you spend your time and efforts on it?
Because you are dreaming about high Google ranking for your web page, aren’t you?
So, you should strategically distribute your content and build backlinks raising the authority of your domain.
This article is aimed to help you with one of the first steps of your link building campaign, which is link prospecting.
Here I’m going to tell you how to qualify a prospect, how to build a prospecting list, and finally how to find the emails of your prospects in order to start your email outreach campaign.
As a rule, link prospecting includes the following steps:
- Identifying keywords aka topics you are going to target.
- Finding websites publishing content on the topics of your interest.
- Excluding the irrelevant websites from the list.
- Exploring deeper and prioritizing the relevant websites.
After you finish to build the prospecting list, you may start to get in touch with them via email outreach.
How To Qualify a Prospect
To make your link building campaign efficient you should qualify your prospects during the link prospecting process.
You can’t approach each and every person on your list the same. I advise dividing your targets into groups.
Investigate how influential they are by looking at their audience and achievements.
Here you are going to put people with tremendous audience and outstanding achievements like Seth Godin for instance.
It’s really challenging to catch their attention, they never read messages from unknown people.
Simply don’t have time for that.
Your only chance to get in touch with them is personal introduction or doing something terrifically creative and notable.
It’s up to you to decide whether you are ready to spend time and effort trying to reach the sharks in your business niche.
If you want our advice, I would not recommend doing it. Save your energy for the next groups.
People in the second group are not industry celebs like the ones in the first group, however, their audience is still big enough to make a positive impact on your business.
Now we are talking about entrepreneurs like Noah Kagan for example.
Second group prospects can be reached with a friendly personal email.
Please don’t try to use a generic template, you will waste your time and never get a reply.
It’s a good move to ask second group prospects for comments on your ideas.
Don’t ask them for links and tweets, if they like your work, they will link and tweet it without any request.
This group of prospects is worth reaching out to because either a link or a tweet from them will bring value to your business.
Prospects in the third group don’t have a big audience at the moment.
They are actively promoting their websites participating in niche communities, publishing guest posts, and taking part in all kinds of events.
They will respond to your personalized, polite outreach email that adds value. The message may be template-based.
Are you wondering whether you should reach out to them?
The third group of people is open to building relationships, which is good even though a link or tweet from a group representative won’t bring your business as much value as one from a second group.
The fourth group are startups. They are newbies in the industry and don’t have a substantial audience yet.
They will reply even to a bulk templated outreach email.
But we don’t advise you to reach out to them.
A link or a tweet from one of the fourth group prospects won’t bring your business much value, so don’t bother.
Well, now you know how to qualify your prospects in order to reach out only to those who are powerful enough (yet accessible) to bring value to your business.
You can save your time by removing the first and the fourth groups from your list.
You can easily identify which group a person belongs to by analyzing their domains authority in your favourite marketing tool.
Please note that people from the Influencer group are more valuable for your business, so reaching out to them must become a priority.
Free and Paid Ways To Build a Prospecting List
The first step in building a prospecting list is finding prospects. Herein under we are going to cover four effective ways of doing it.
1. If you feature somebody in your article, let them know
When creating an awesome piece of content we frequently provide readers with links to other useful resources inside it. So, if you link to another blogger why not let them know about this mention?
All you need to do is just look through your content and find all mentions of the bloggers in your niche.
If you are not a fan of manual work, try to automate this process with the help of the tool that extracts all external links from a web page – URL Extractor.
Please choose “External” from the drop-down as you don’t need internal links in your list and uncheck “Image” and “Meta tag” boxes.
Then export the results you’ve got to CSV and sift them deleting the irrelevant prospects.
2. Search for people writing articles on similar topics
If a person is writing articles on topics similar to yours, they are clearly interested in those topics. There are a couple of ways to find these people you are interested in.
Go to Google, type main keywords related to the topic of your content and study the results of the search (articles list).
Let’s imagine that we are looking for prospects for this post. We should put some keyword like “link prospecting” into Google.
Do you agree that people care about the recent blog posts much more?
They don’t miss the chance to update and improve them. Because of that you can filter for recently published content only. This is simple, just click the Tools tab > Any time dropdown > and choose recent dates.
If you want to get more relevant results, you can use advanced Google search operators. I.e.: “search term”, “or”, “and”, “-”, “*”, “()”, “$”, “define:”, “cache:”, “filetype:”, “site:”, “related:”, “intitle:”, “allintitle:”, “inurl:”, “allinurl:”, “intext:”, “allintext:”, “AROUND(X)”, “weather:”, “stocks:”, and others.
Here is an example for you.
This guide on link prospecting contains a section about free and paid options to find people’s emails.
This means that we can use search operators to find blog posts about link prospecting that don’t cover the techniques.
It will be easy to compose a good outreach email as well.
You can start like this – “Came across your article about link prospecting and noticed that it doesn’t tell anything about email lookup services, which I highlighted in my article…”
Please note that you can involve scraping tools (like Screaming Frog) if you have a basic knowledge of XPath/CSS/Regex to speed up extracting data from any web page.
Decent paid SEO and marketing tools provide data on keyword mentions on web pages across the Internet.
They let you apply different filters (show websites that have never linked to you before, etc.) to make your results more specific.
When you get the result you are happy with, you can export it to CSV.
3. Find people who already linked to articles dwelling on the same topic
Look for blog posts closely related to the topic of your article.
You only need the ones with lots of backlinks.
Please check the number of backlinks in the marketing tool you are using.
Filter the articles you’ve got by referring domains putting the ones with the highest authority at the top of the list.
4. People who tweeted articles on the same topic
Frankly speaking, searching for people who tweeted articles on the topic similar to yours is not the best way to find prospects, however, you should know about the option.
It’s easy to find people who tweeted this or that writing.
Put the article URL into a Twitter search and you are done.
If you are making a default search, Twitter shows you the “Top” tweets, which is good for outreach prospecting.
But you can go a little further and click the “Latest” tab.
Why should you care only for the latest tweets?
Because people tweet a lot.
Sometimes they don’t even read the content they tweet.
They just don’t remember what they tweeted a few months ago, so opt for the last 24 hours – last 7 days tweets.
Is There Any Way To Automate the Process of Finding New Prospects?
Actually, there are a few ways to find new prospects on a regular basis without doing much.
1. You can monitor mentions of your keywords
Use Google Alerts or similar tools.
They work like this – you insert a few keywords associated with your piece of content, then you are notified every time someone mentions these keywords on the net.
You take a look at the mentions and decide if you want to reach out to the author and show your content or not.
2. Monitor new links to relevant articles
The top articles on Google get new backlinks consistently.
So, if you monitor the top-ranking pages for your target keywords, you’ll get the prospects delivered straight to your email box.
You can do this with your marketing tool if it has the functionality of generating new backlinks reports (to a certain URL) and sending them to your email.
3. Monitor new tweets of similar articles
If you track the tweets that link to the articles written on the same topic as yours, you will get approximately one prospect from one article every few days.
If you start practicing this technique, you will notice that your prospecting list increases by 50-100 new people every month.
That’s not bad.
Do you know how to monitor tweets?
It’s not rocket science.
Try the “New tweet from search” function for Twitter on IFTTT.
How To Find the Emails of Your Prospects - Free & Paid Methods + Best Practices
Do you like shortcuts and automation?
Then you definitely should give email discovery tools a try.
Below we have listed 8 of the handiest email lookup services.
- The first tool on our list is Clearbit Connect. You can access it for free and perform 100 searches per month.
- With Hunter you can perform 100 searches per month for free. If this is not enough, their paid accounts start at $49/month for 1,000 searches.
- The next email discovery tool is toofr. You can make 30 free trial searches with it. Then you need to pay a minimum of $19/month for 2,500 searches.
- Findanyemail 2.0 service provides 100 free searches per month. Their paid accounts start at $49/month for 5,000 searches.
- Voila Norbert allows 50 free searches as a trial. If you like the service, you can buy an account with them starting at: $49/month for 1,000 searches.
- You can use Emailmatcher for unlimited free searches.
- Anymail finder lets you start with 20 free trial searches. Then, their most affordable account will cost you $18/month for 200 searches.
- Find That Email allows 15 free searches per month. Their paid accounts start at: $29/month for 500 searches.
Unfortunately, sometimes the above listed as well as other email discovery tools available on the net don’t meet your needs.
They turn out to be expensive or just unable to find some email addresses you need badly.
Please read on to know some free ways to find the desired email address when email discovery tools don’t work.
1. Guess it
You have surely noticed that there are several formulas most of email addresses follow. When you know First Name, Last Name, and Domain of your prospect, you can guess their email address.
Here is the list of these most common firstname.lastname@example.org email address formulas.
If manual matching the emails seems too time-consuming to you, give a try to the tools like these – Email Permutator+ and Email Permutator spreadsheet. All you need to do is just fill in the necessary fields and get your list of email addresses. Not all of them will be real, so please make sure that you checked the suggestions in LinkedIn Sales Navigator Lite for Chrome.
Then you can click “Compose” in your Gmail box, copy and paste the email permutations you’ve got into the “To” field and move the mouse cursor through the email addresses to see if they are associated with a Google+ account.
At the same time LinkedIn Sales Navigator extension will show if those email addresses belong to LinkedIn profiles.
In case neither Sales Navigator nor Gmail give you relevant information, you can just google for the exact match of your guesses and check if they were mentioned somewhere on the www.
2. Involve Bing search engine
If you put “@domainname.com” in Google, the result will be disappointing because it uses “@” symbol for social tags.
But if you try the same trick in Bing, it will be another ball game.
The search engine will fetch all publicly available email addresses related to the domain you are interested in.
3. Look for email addresses in LinkedIn Connections
This is simple, an email is visible for your direct connections on LinkedIn. You can easily check this, view the profiles of your connections and see their email addresses in the ‘Contact Info’ section.
4. Hunt for email addresses on Twitter
You are collecting emails to deliver some important info to people, aren’t you?
And your message will probably be longer than 280 characters.
In this case you can find a person on Twitter and ask them for an email address.
If you have a decent Twitter profile that clearly explains who you are, you are likely to get what you want.
5. Advanced Twitter Search is also worth a try
Sometimes people state their email addresses in tweets replacing “.” and “@” symbols with “dot” and “at” words.
What you can do is go to Twitter Advanced Search and search for the words “at” and “dot” in tweets of a person you are interested in.
Use words email, contact, reach and others to narrow down the search results.
6. It’s a good idea to subscribe to a prospect’s email list
Most of your prospects run personal blogs.
You can find an email newsletter subscription form there and start to get newsletters that most likely will come from their personal email addresses.
Please note that you can comment on one of the newsletters and start a conversation.
Sometimes bloggers use addresses like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or similar for their newsletters. But if you reply to one, you will get the answer from personal email address.
7. You can ask for a personal email via inquiry form
Every corporate website has a contact form or general email address stated in their contact information section.
You can write via this inquiry form and ask for the contacts of the person you would like to get in touch with.
8. Check WHOIS Data to See the Owner of a Domain
Sometimes you can find the domain owner’s contact email address in who.is data.
The hack works well for one-owner websites who don’t hide their contact information, though, this info is available for bigger sites also.
Over To You
You have just read a step-by-step guide on link prospecting.
Hope the above info clarified many aspects that seemed confusing to you before.
You know, we believe that the quickest way to get a deeper understanding of something is starting to do it.
So, we wish you the best of luck in qualifying prospects, building your prospecting list, finding their emails, and outreach campaigns.
Have any questions/thoughts/suggestions on the topic?
Please drop them in the comments section below.
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