Content-Based Link Opportunity Analysis: Building Links With Content
Upon the publication of How to Conduct a Link Opportunity Inventory we confirmed a need link builders have for quick and easy methods of analyzing the existing link opportunity types within a market. The process we outlined in that piece is sound - where we've decided to push the concept further is in its area of opportunity analysis. In this article we discuss a systematic process for analyzing content-based link opportunities for link builders who use content - or are considering using content - to attract inbound links.
Where Opportunity Analysis Fits in Link Building Campaign Design
Opportunity analysis fits in at the outset of a link building campaign, for help in determining direction and resource allocation. It's not necessarily a substitute for competitor backlink analysis which can help to establish a likely baseline for how many and quality of links that ranking improvement will require. It's certainly not a substitute for thorough link prospecting. However, it's a way to quickly determine what opportunity types will yield the highest quantity and quality of link prospects.
Who Should Conduct Link Opportunity Analysis?
- Link builders who want to know which linkable assets will have the most opportunities.
- Content-based link builders who've just taken on a new client in an unfamiliar market.
- Link Builders trying to get a sense of content-based opportunities in their market.
- Link builders estimating resources required for a campaign.
What You Need to Get Started:
- 1-2 Market Defining Keywords [MDKWs]
- 1-2 Competing Company Names [CCN]
- 1-2 names of prominant Industry Thought Leaders [ITL]
- Spreadsheet or the Content-Based Link Opportunity Analysis Worksheet
- Your favorite search engine
Content-Based Link Opportunity Analysis Queries
Carefully selected and grouped queries are the foundation for link opportunity analysis. Each query grouping targets a particular, industry-consistent content-oriented link opportunity type. Though we've used these in multiple industries and niches, we're always discovering new industry-specific opportunity types. Consider these queries as a baseline for analysis in your market and keep your eyes open for new opportunity types - often we discover these via backlink analysis.
>> Round-Up Writer Queries
Roundup writers publish weekly or monthly lists of great new articles and discoveries that interest your community. If they exist in your space then this is an indicator that you will have prospects for the content you create. We have seen cases of roundups published on highly-regarded sites - and we've seen cases of client content getting discovered via a roundup and mentioned elsewhere.
- [mdkw] intitle:roundup
- [mdkw] intitle:round up
- [mdkw] intitle:weekly picks
Related Linkable Asset: a writer (PR, subject matter expert) who consistently publishes content that supports business goals (beyond SE rankings)
>> Content Placement Queries
Publishing content offsite creates a relatively low number of inbound links (at worst, one). The upside is that - so long as you publish on the right sites - you can earn sales leads, build buzz, and drive relevant traffic to engage with your website. Guest placement also works well for promoting free tools and other linkable assets on your site... especially if these free tools are a part of the sales funnel.
- [mdkw] "guest blogger"
- [mdkw] "guest article"
- [ITL] author OR contributor
Related Linkable Asset: a writer (PR, subject matter expert) who can create content that supports business goals (beyond SE rankings)
>> Linkbait Queries
Often linkbait is designed solely to attract links - this has proven to impact SERPs rankings. Our recommendation - for longest term viability, brand building and sustainable SERPs advantage - is that any content assets you create also support broader business goals beyond just the SERPs. The queries here are designed to determine who's using common forms of linkbait in your market. If you choose to create linkbait, we also recommend reading Simple Link Bait Co-Citation for Link Prospects.
- [mdkw] widget
- [mdkw] infographic
- [mdkw] "top * list"
Related Linkable Asset: a writer, developer and graphic designer who can work as a team to create content that supports business goals (beyond SE rankings)
>> Free Tool Queries
Free tools - especially if they pump leads into your sales funnel - can be a fantastic way to develop links. Here are some queries that will help you to establish first the existence of tools in your market, and second the existence of free tool coverage. Note that roundup writers, news sites and blogs are also excellent targets for free tool launches.
- [mdkw] tools
- [mdkw] tool list
- [mdkw] tool review
Related Linkable Asset: a talented developer plus a vision for how free tools can support your sales process.
>> Interviewee Queries
Interviewees are people whose opinions and knowledge are worth seeking for your readers. The link building angle here is that the Interviewees are likely to link back to your site, and if they're too "big" to link back to your site, then you're likely to attract links from their followers. This is an example of the preciprocity theory of link building. Note that the queries for interview subjects are also useful as News/PR prospects!
- [mdkw] blog list
- [mdkw] blogroll
- [mdkw] twitter list
Related Linkable Asset: an inquisitive, intelligent writer who can ask great questions.
>> Interviewer Queries
If you have thought leaders or other subject matter experts in your organization then you should be looking for opportunities to get them interviewed (and earn a link). You can confirm and measure the existence of interview opportunities based on the following queries.
- [mdkw] interview
- [ITL] interview
- [CCN] interview
Related Linkable Asset: a thought leader who is known in your market or a subject matter expert who's willing and able to answer questions well.
>> News/PR Queries
Industry journalists and other people who cover your industry are link prospects if you have big news or other company developments. These queries will help you to quickly determine whether or not your market has established news, trade pub and association websites that could potentially provide links.
- [mdkw] news
- [mdkw] trade publication
- [mdkw] association
Related Linkable Asset: PR department.
>> RSS Distribution Queries
Some sites publish full or partial RSS feeds from outside sources. If you are consistently publishing content on your site then there's a good chance you can discover some syndication opportunities that will help your link building efforts.
- [mdkw] "read the full article"
- [mdkw] "link to original post"
- [mdkw] RSS Directory
Related Linkable Asset: a consistent flow of content in RSS format + addressing the concerns mentioned here: How Content Syndication Can Backire
Quantifying Your Market's Content-Based Link Building Opportunities
This list of opportunity types and queries is best analyzed as a group so that you can make side-by-side assessments of opportunities in your market. Here are the data points we recommend gathering for each opportunity set.
The number of definite opportunities in the top 10: First scan through the SERPs without clicking any of them. Then click on snippets that appear to be relevant to determine for sure that they are an actual opportunity. The number of definite opportunities in your top 10 serps for a query set is a decent indicator - when compared to other opportunity sets - of the depth of opportunity for a given linkable asset. Be sure to save the relevant opportunities you find! They will come in handy later on...
The total results from your search engine of choice: The total number of results found - especially when combined with the number of definite opportunities in the top 10 - can give you a very rough estimate of the quantity of link opportunities for a given query.
The average of opportunity sites' hostname PR, MozRank or ACRank: Once you've determined that a given site is a definite opportunity, make note of an assesment of that site's value. An opportunity group's value can (very, very roughly) be quantified by an average, or just an addition, of the values of each site.
Other Related Resources
- The Ontolo Linkable Content Analysis Work Sheet
- Link Building with Content: 29 Queries for Content-Based Link Builders
- 7 Ways to Use Keywords for Link Building Campaign Design
- How To Research, Create And Distribute Highly-Linkable Content
- Link Building With Content: How To Attract Links And Leads
- 17 Ways to Accelerate Links to Your Link Bait (and Other Highly Linkable Content)