I may be going a little old school with this post but sometimes all the tools in the world are no substitute for a little manual digging, imagination and research.
There are some amazing tools out on the market these days and I’m a fan of an automation or two but I do think it’s too easy to rely on a tool and lose some really valuable potential link goldmines because you’re not looking in the right place. Sometimes it takes a little search engine elbow grease.
I know it should be a basic but it’s so crucial, it should also be revisited.
1. Don’t just abandon Google Shortcuts (and Boolean Boolean Boolean)
It’s quick, it’s simple and it’s effective. So a couple of basic examples that can still be invaluable:
Working for a supermarket and you’re looking for possible linkbuilding opportunities? How about recipes that require the
ingredients they sell? Consider the allintext shortcut.
Few too many very large or non-commercial sites like the BBC coming up at the top? Don’t forget that you can subtract sites at will.
Offer a discount code to readers of that site if they shop online at your supermarket, who knows where the partnership could go?
Hang on, it turns out Family Oven readers have proved pretty happy customers at your supermarket.Then take a look at what other potentially useful sites might be waiting just behind them. You can use the Google Related Searches feature or go the old fashioned route again:
Don’t shy away from being a little old fashioned, it may be old and simple but it doesn’t mean links can’t still be found the old fashioned way!
PS. Protip: Don’t forget the old inurl:.gov.uk sports classic eh – sponsor a uni football/sports team. It’s an oldie and it works.
As I think both the wildcard and the tilde are so darned useful, I’ve decided to give them their own sections.
2. The Wildcard – a Link Building Legend
NB. The wildcard generally only seems to work well in Google.
It’s probably the oldest trick in the book but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still have a value. Sometimes you just don’t know what you’re looking for. Never mind in-depth keyword research, where the hell do you start? Well how about that longtail then?
Let’s take a fashion site as an example – there’s more than a few different types of the classic ‘little black dress’ out there so what are people searching for?
Suddenly we’ve got cocktails, lace, slash, mini and ahem wedding(?!) to explore in more depth each. It’s not just about volume and traffic, it’s pretty helpful just to know where to start.
3. The Tilde – an SEO Superstar
Onto highly useful tiny character number two – the tilde. For those that don’t know, it basically acts as a thesaurus for you and returns all searches that Google sees as related or synonymous to your original query. Take for example a search on: ~bank loan – notice all of the variants conveniently emboldened for you: mortgage loan, credit card loan, savings. It’s keyword research being done live in the SERPs. Here’s another one: ~cheap laptops – immediately bringing up refurbished laptops and discount laptops as synonyms to be investigated further.
4. Individual Site Search Engines
Google and compatriots are pretty darned good at indexing some useful sites but that doesn’t meet you can’t find some smaller hidden gems by going to to a more niche search engine. Try using some of the more common Social Media listening tools. For example, look at PostRank which collates a number of blog/twitter/comment feeds on a variety of topics and start to delve a little deeper or build a dashboard so you can jump on product review/competition opportunities with the right blogs at the right times.
Another great little tool along the same lines is BoardReader – which focuses on searches across a number of forums and message boards. Great fodder for a link building campaign. Say for example you’re working on a sports site – do a search on ‘how to buy running shoes’ and you’ve immediately got a captive audience that you can either start to build a relationship with, find out who the experts in the group are and work with them or offer your own advice to them. You also immediately know which forums are actively discussing your topic of interest and who you should be thinking about contacting.
5. YouTube searching – Beyond the Tags
You want to generate more interest in your latest uploaded video but need to get it out there. How about finding users that are pre-disposed to being interested in your subject. Let’s say your video is about Jamie Oliver’s latest book. Whose most likely to be interested?? Those that have already cared enough to comment on other Jamie Oliver videos. Step forward comments search. It’s only in the labs at the minute but you can find it here. A quick search on Jamie Oliver’s name and you have a host of potentially contacts.
A hat tip also to Paddy Moogan at this point for post on easily embedding links into your YouTube videos. Again simple but effective.
6. That Wonderwheel
I’m constantly surprised by how few people seem to use this as a link building tool. I’ve found some really interesting sites out of it. It’s not particularly big or clever but it’s great for coming up with content ideas. Let’s say I was looking to build some links for my own personal site. I’d hazard a guess that pandas might be involved. So straight in with: pandas. This brings up the suggestion of “pandas names”, click on this and we have a lot of content topic possibilities we know are being searched on and are just waiting to be used.
There’s hundreds of manual methods to pro-actively hunt down great link targets – the point I want to make is that sometimes these can yield some goldmines that could otherwise be overlooked.
Areas like Twitter and Flicker Advanced Search, MetaTube, Addictomatic etc. are all mostly social focused but great little tools for finding link targets. The list continues but being able to look beyond just who is already linking to your direct competitors and what blog ranks for a useful keyword seem to be underrated too often!