At the foundation of any link building campaign lies the somewhat daunting task that is prospecting for sites. It is by no means a difficult task; but if it’s a big campaign you’re working on then prospecting is an ongoing process that, without the right tools, can use up a lot of time and resources. That being said, it is a necessary process. Finding the right sites to outreach to can potentially make or break a link building campaign.
There are a vast array of tools and methods out there to help with exactly this task, from specific link prospecting tools like the Prospecting Module built in to BuzzStream, to manually scouring Google with the assistance of the odd search operator.
These are all perfectly valid forms of prospecting, however when you’re looking for sites within specific niches with a minimum metric requirement, trawling through pages and pages of Google searches can prove to be a somewhat fruitless task. This is where SEMrush comes in.
For those of you unfamiliar with the service, SEMrush is a piece of online competitor analysis software. It’s a great tool that provides a range of metrics to help you analyse and understand your target market and the competitors within it. Unfortunately. it does cost a minimum of $69.95 a month; however for a digital agency or in house SEO team it is definitely worth the cost.
The interesting thing is that SEMrush is not really a prospecting tool nor is it marketed as such, yet personally, I find it to be the most powerful link prospecting tool I’ve used. So enough talk, let’s have a look at how to use it!
Most of my own prospecting process takes place within the “Organic Research” section of the SEMrush control panel, specifically the “Competitors” subsection. This part of SEMrush allows you to view all the competitors of a domain based on organic search; it does this by looking at the highest ranking search terms for the domain and then it will display other sites that rank for the same terms.
Let’s use the tech site engadget.com as an example. SEMrush will look at the keywords that engadget ranks for in organic search (e.g. galaxy note 3, nokia Lumia, 1020, google t, etc) and will then display any other sites also rank for these terms starting with the sites with the most keywords in common.
The list that SEMrush then churns out is a perfect source of high quality, niche specific sites that are currently listing in google organic searches for at least a few terms; exactly what a prospector needs. This list can then be used in whatever way works best for you, I tend to open up the sites directly from SEMrush to check them out manually however, it may be necessary to carry out further analysis, in which case you can export the sites you’ve found to an Excel file!
Admittedly, in comparison to using tools like Buzzstream, this method leaves you doing the rest of the work manually (i.e. gathering email addresses, carrying out the outreach, etc), yet I find that when it comes to finding high quality sites within a specific niche, everything you need is right there in SEMrush.