Deeper Prospecting with Backlink Analysis

by Jon Cooper

If you’ve built links before, then you know about the inevitable brick wall that you hit once you’ve run out of link prospects.

One of the two main ways of finding prospects, backlink analysis, yields some really low hanging fruit, because you’re finding pages that you already know are linking to the same / similar thing as you. But the well runs dry far too quickly.

However, a spark lit in my head recently that completely changes how I look at this part of prospecting; not in a way of improving what I’m already doing, but instead, being able to do more of it.

The Concept

The reason you look at your competitors first when prospecting for pages is because you already know they link to someone who does the same thing. That same reason is why most of us don’t look at broader industry resources, just because if they link to them, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll link to you.

But what if you knew that a page linked to two general resources, that are equally distant in relevance that you are to them? That would mean their scope of relevance would allow for you to also qualify for that page.

So let’s give an example. Let’s say you were a niche eCommerce retailer that sold truck parts. You might come across other retailers that sell Jeep parts, but if you look at all their links, there’s a good chance that a lot of them might be linking to them because they’re Jeep-specific.

But you also come across those who sell SUV parts, and you run into the same issue. Sure, you could look through ALL their links, but what if you wanted to more quickly find the ones that you know have a high chance of linking to you? Or what if you wanted to do this with sites that have MUCH more links than a few niche eCommerce retailers?

Here’s what you’d do:

  1. Find all the links to all retailers who are specific to Jeep parts. Combine them into a single spreadsheet, and remove duplicates.
  2. Find all the links to all retailers who are specific to SUV parts. Also combine them into a single spreadsheet, and remove duplicates.
  3. Use a COUNTIF formula in Excel to see if any of the Linking From pages are found in BOTH ranges (meaning: they link to both a SUV & a Jeep parts retailer).

What you find is that these will be much more likely to link, because you know they’re not linking specifically for SUV, or specifically for Jeep parts on that page.

But even if they’re not already mentioning anything Truck parts-related, there’s a good chance that they’d be open to it given the scope of relevance of what they’re currently linking to.

Taking It Further

The above was just a simple illustration, and chances are, you may want to look through all their links anyways, given how closely related those sites are to you. But in much more broader cases, this becomes a practical way of finding tons of new opportunities, especially ones that your competitors don’t find.

Just think broader. Go up & up the hierarchy that your site falls in, and do this with sub-niches that are equally distant in relevance. No, these pages won’t be super-relevant to your business, but using link metrics you can easily sort out the ones that are still going to have a huge impact.

Did that make any sense?

I hope it did. This isn’t a typical post here, just because I usually like to lean on longer, more in-depth pieces, but I thought this concept was worth highlighting for the more advanced crowd.

Thoughts are appreciated in the comments below! I’m traveling this weekend for a conference, so I may or may not get back right away, but I almost always do eventually. Thanks for reading!

This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 129 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper is a link builder based out of Gainesville, FL. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter @PointBlankSEO.

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  1. Nice post Jon

    I have done similar things when looking at industry specifics but did them the LONG way around. Thanks for the excel tips.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      I probably did the same thing. Once you figure out how to make software work with you, it’s… well, as Aladdin would put it… A whole new world.

      (Anyone/everyone now has permission to bash me for that reference.)

  2. Peter says:

    Great post. It just happened to be tailored directly to me.

  3. Larry Heart says:

    Hi Jon
    Thanks for an interesting hypothesis, it’s definitely worth of investigations!
    The more favorable factors a page has, the more valuable prospect it becomes. The main idea is to experiment with these factors and find the best performing combinations.

  4. Hi Jon,

    Two questions. I am a real newbie to this. Two questions:
    You mention prospecting for backlinks as one of the two main ways. What is the other main way?
    What tool you use to do find backlink on your competitors. I tried a few but they are expensive and threw out a long list of links which didnt make much sense to me.


    • Jon Cooper says:

      the other main way would be using query prospecting, i.e. Googling “medical web resources inurl:links” to find prospect pages that way. I mainly use Ahrefs, but Majestic is another great source. Thanks for dropping by!

  5. Elena says:

    I came across a few ‘broader’ sites similar to those you described but I have not been successful getting any links from them. My guess is that my outreach speech is not convincing. It’s easy to suggest XX resource for a page full of XX resources. But when a page suggests AA, BB, CC, DD, and what not, I can’t think of a convincing line to offer XX resource for the page.

    How do you approach those? Can you share what worked for you?

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Hi Elena! That’s a solid question. Sometimes we’ll pose resource suggestions as ‘complimentary’ links to go with a certain group of others. i.e. “you have X, but since you have X, you should also mention Y, because reason #1.”

  6. Matt says:

    Hi Jon, would you mind posting an example of the COUNTIF formula? I really want to try this.

  7. steef says:

    I’ll 2nd the COUNTIF formula example. Would love to give this a go.

  8. Rajib says:

    Hi Jon,
    Thanks for nice post. Will you please brief deeply COUNTIF formula or give me an example to try it.

  9. Wow, I never thought about doing this before in a competitive analysis, but it makes complete sense. I’m going to do this on my next analysis, thanks Jon!

  10. Tom Buckland says:

    Hi Jon, nice article, didn’t make 100% sense to me, but will give it a read through again when im less tired haha!
    Random question: Your in the Dallas area, do you ever consider ranking for “Dallas SEO” keywords? And taking on clients via that generation method?

  11. Edith says:

    Hi Cooper, this is another great post on link building. I will do as you have prescribed. Thanks so much for this inspirational post.

  12. Paulo Duarte says:

    Hey man, I was reading a lot about SEO in the last week and it sounds like prospecting is something vital for link building today.
    I have to admit I was not a big fan of this concept but I will have to adjust to this new trend!
    Nice post Jon! It’s really helpful!

  13. Miller says:

    nice post jon cooper

  14. Elena Nicosia says:

    Nice information has been provided in the above article. Thanks Jon you have covered the great points for doing site analysis.

  15. Great post. Personnally i didn’t know much about prospecting.

  16. Uche says:

    Thanks Jon,

    I had a little problem downloading your thoughts here, glad you mentioned ‘advanced guys” it kind of consoled me. But then again shows there is still much more to learn.

    I have learnt something new today.

  17. Jacek says:

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Pretty useful information indeed.

  18. Dirk says:

    Hi Jon! I couldn’t totally agree with you but your making a good sense out of it. Anyway, your prospecting idea deserves a try. Thanks for sharing it freely with us!

  19. Charles says:

    This is like digging the dumpster looking for name cards, it might works.

Deeper Prospecting with Backlink Analysis - Point Blank SEO