Find link-building prospects

1. Build a persona for each link-building campaign, considering the content you want to promote.

To get a sense of who would naturally link back to your content, ask yourself: Do they manage a personal blog or a business blog?  Someone who has a personal blog and writes regularly has different goals than a blog editor hired by a company. Reach out to them in a way that resonates with their unique goals. If it’s a business blog, who is the best person in the company to reach out to? What topics do they specialize in? Know their topics, so you can easily find them using either Google search or a specialized SEO tool. Search for inurl:[topic] + inurl:blog to get a list of blogs that often write about your target topics. This Google search gives you a list of all blogs that mention email in their URLs. What types of content do they usually link to – stats, how-to’s? What is their goal, and how can you help them reach it?

2. Using the personas you built, create a shortlist of criteria and share it with those responsible for finding the right prospects.

3. Make a list of specific negative and positive qualification criteria to ensure you’re only adding the right prospects to your outreach list.

Negative signals: They are a competitor. They mention Advertising or Sponsored posts. They have no recent posts (<2-3 months). They link only to internal sources (their own domain). They link externally only using Nofollow tags. Use MOZ Pro’s chrome bar or download the free IgorWare Chrome extension to see if an article has Nofollow tags on links. Positive signals: The website has a high DA or DR (over 40 DR). The website specializes in the topic you’re looking for. The website publishes high-quality content at least once a month. Article links to external sources – which means there’s a good chance it will link back to your content as well. Article authors are visible, so you can find them on LinkedIn and reach out. The blog has a named editor, so you can find them on LinkedIn and reach out.

4. Look for prospects that match your persona and qualification criteria list. Make a list of their websites and double-check it against your positive and negative qualification criteria. Get contact details for the remaining prospects on the list.

You can get in touch with other teams in your company and look through your own list of close business partners for prospects. For example, resellers, integration partners, co-marketing partners, and your company’s CRM database.

5. Find websites that linked to you in the past for additional prospects.

To find articles that linked to your website in Ahrefs, go to Site Explorer, click on Backlinks, and select One link per domain. You can do a similar analysis with almost any other backlink analysis tool. In Ahrefs, you can filter the report further to only see backlinks to your /blog/ and only the backlinks coming from English language blogs. Download the list to analyze it further against your list of positive and negative signals. For example, you can immediately remove backlinks coming from websites with a DR lower than 30.

6. Compare your website to your top competitors to see which websites linked to them and not to you.

If you’re using Ahrefs, go to More > Link intersect to check who linked to your competitors’ websites or to compare specific pages: Compare websites Compare specific pages Download the list to further analyze it against your list of positive and negative signals.

7. Depending on your persona profile, use LinkedIn to find each company's blog editor, digital marketing expert, or marketing executive.

The goal is to get in touch with someone who understands why you’re reaching out and the potential value of your partnership.

8. Use a tool like Rocketreach or VoilaNorbert to find email addresses for your selected contacts.

Sometimes you can simply guess someone’s email address. If you find the email address of anyone in the company, you probably found their pattern. For example, To verify your guesswork, type the email address in Google and look for results that include the email.

9. Create a database of your contact records in your company’s CRM or an outreach tool like Respona or BuzzStream.

10. Track communications (email threads) with each contact for further reference.