Prospecting is one of the most important steps of outreach as it requires some skill to find high value and relevant prospects to pitch to. Even if your standards and outreach abilities are exceptionally high, there’s little point if you’re targeting the wrong sites.
If you’re just starting out with blogger outreach, it would be best to go for the free option and invest time and effort in understanding and mastering the art of outreach before paying for tools.
Once you figure out how you want to run your outreach campaign, you’ll be able to figure out which software you need and what features would help you scale your outreach. Start small – it’ll make a big difference.
Here are 8 ways with which you can identify and build a list of high-quality blogs that match your interests or industry.
1. Advanced Search Queries
We came across advance search queries when Google launched its Power Searching course and fell in love. Since then, we’ve started using them a lot at our agency to find what we need through Google.
If you are serious about link building or outreach, try using advanced search queries to guide you toward richer search results. The goal is to not use Google as a typical searcher would do and instead, really push Google to deliver even more relevant results. Here are five advanced search queries that you can use to help in finding better blogs to connect with:
Inurl Search (Fitness inurl:blog / Fitness blog inurl:.co.uk)
These search queries will filter results of websites that have your preferred search term or domain extension.
As you can see in the above example, the first search string Fitness inurl:blog gave me results with Fitness blogs.
Exact Phrase Search (Fitness “Guest post” / Fitness “Write for us”)
The exact phrase search query is probably the most popular, but it’s not used as often as it could be. Exact phrase can be used to filter search results with the exact word or phrase you’re looking for. The more specific you get in your search, the better.
These can be really handy in your initial outreach efforts. As you can see in the example above, we were able to find sites with our Exact Match Keyword both in the page url and title with relevant results.
Here are Few possible Exact Match Search Operators:
- Your Keyword “guest post”
- Your Keyword “write for us”
- Your Keyword “guest article”
- Your Keyword “guest post opportunities”
- Your Keyword “this is a guest post by”
- Your Keyword “contributing writer”
- Your Keyword “become an author”
- Your Keyword “become guest writer”
- Your Keyword “become a contributor”
Please note that the queries above might not return high quality results. In that case, you can try the following queries to get more search results.
“keyword inurl:blog” “guest post by” keyword “guest post written by”
Intitle Search (Fitness Intitle:Guest Post / Fitness Intitle: Advertise)
This search phrase will help you find search results of websites that have your specified keyword in their page title.
As you can see above, we used the Fitness InTitle:Advertise tag to find advertising information on various fitness blogs. If we were working with a client who sold gym equipment, for example, these blogs might be good ones to use in an outreach campaign.
These tactics can be done in any industry to find key pages such as lists, guides, resources, media kits, and advertising information – all of which are opportunities to reach new audiences and build new relationships.
Wildcard Search (Finance “Guest *” inurl:blog)
The Wildcard search (*) is a very interesting operator. As the name suggests it filters results that contain the exact words within your query and an additional word in the position of the wildcard.
The above query will return finance blogs that feature “guest post”, “guest writer”, “guest blog” etc. within their content or title (with the second word in place of the wildcard).
Blog Author Search (Inpostauthor:query)
InPostAuthor: is also known as the blog author search — will search blog posts for the author.
This is a useful operator which can be used to track prolific bloggers across the web.
In the example above, we typed in Brian Honigman’s name to find out where he has published content as an author. In our own efforts, we might want to pitch those blogs for guest contribution.
You can also use this operator to see where your competition is posting. Here are few other possible search queries for tracking competitor campaigns:
- Inpostauthor:”Firstname Last” –site:mycompeitor.com
- Inurl:Guest Post “Firstname Last” –site:mycompeitor.com
- Intitle:Guest Post “Firstname Last” –site:mycompeitor.com
- “Author: Firstname Last” –site:mycompetitor.com
- “Written by Firstname Last” –site:mycompetitor.com
- “Author Profile” “Firstname Last”
- “About the Author” “Firstname Last”
- “Author Bio” “Firstname Last”
- Inurl:Author “Firstname last”
Make sure to check for any similarity in author bios as a lot of people add author bios with slight variations which can be tracked using the exact match search operator.
2. Brand & Author Mentions
If you’re keeping a close eye on your competitors and want to know when and where they’re building links, it is important that you track both brand mentions as well as any particular author leading the outreach effort, as Amanda DiSilvestro does for Higher Visibility.
Here’s how you can track the mentions through Google:
- -site:highervisibility.com –site:facebook.com –site:twitter.com “Higher Visibility” OR “http://www.highervisibility.com” OR “Highervisibility.com”
- -site:highervisibility.com –site:facebook.com –site:twitter.com “Amanda DiSilvestro”
In this strings above you’ll see (-) sign which is used to exclude any search results including the specified websites e.g we don’t want to see results including the website and social profiles.
You can use tools like Google Alerts, Fresh Web Explorer, and Mention.net to automate the monitoring process so you can receive notifications when your competitor publishes any new posts.
If you are using Google Alerts, you can enter the following strings to track the mentions as they happen, daily, or weekly:
- “Omnicore” –site:omnicoreagency.com
- “Omnicore Agency” –site:omnicoreagency.com
- “Salman Aslam” CMO –site:omnicoreagency.com
- “Salman Aslam” Chief Marketing Officer –site:omnicoreagency.com
3. Curated Lists
These are literally done-for-you resources that are available on the web, all you need to do is go and find them as others have already done the work to compile the list. Just make sure the websites you come across meet your benchmark metrics (Domain Authority). Also consider if the sites mentioned in curated lists are frequently updated or haven’t published anything for months.
You can use the following search queries in Google to find curated lists.
- Top/best lists, ie “Top 10 Finance Blogs”
- Curated lists, ie “List of Marketing Blogs”
- Twitter lists, ie site:twitter.com inurl:lists “fitness bloggers’”
4. Influencer Search Engines
There are some great influencer search engines out there which you can use in your outreach, too. Let’s take a closer look at some of our favorites:
Follower Wonk (Twitter):
Follower Wonk is a Twitter-focused search engine that allows you to search through Twitter profiles, helping you to identify targets for building relationships or just approaching for link building.
Example: If you’re looking to reach out to lifestyle entrepreneurs for your podcast, you can simply enter the keyword, and the search engine will list Twitter profiles of entrepreneurs. Next, filter and rank the profiles using the available metrics such as the number of followers, tweets, or social authority. From there, you can narrow down the right people to connect with.
Topsy (Twiter + Social Web): Topsy is another search engine which isn’t restricted to Twitter but covers the social web, including blogs. We’ve found this can be a great way to find social influencers.
You can search for articles, tweets, videos, and photos across the web. You can search for your competitor’s brand, keywords or websites and find out who’s talking about you or your competitor and reach out to them.
You can also use Topsy to find popular content from your competitors or search for guest contribution opportunities.
Influencers who have shared your content or any given URL can also be found using this tool. This can be a great way to analyze popular industry posts and also gather information about influencers.
Just as you’ve created a list of sites to connect with, create a spreadsheet for influencers whom you can share your posts with once you publish. This can be a great way to potentially reach new audiences while getting their attention.
In the example above, Meloine Dodaro, a LinkedIn Expert, and KISSMetrics have shared our content. Because they liked and shared what we’ve created, this opens the door to share other content with them directly.
You can apply this in your industry to find influencers who share great content and connect with them.
BuzzSumo (Content Marketing): BuzzSumo is a newer tool which allows you to find key influencers and top performing content in your industry (based on social shares across the major networks) related to any keyword that you enter.
This tool is built to the core for content marketers with the ability to filter content in the form of:
c. Guest Posts
You can also filter influencers by the following categories: a. Bloggers b. Influencers c. Companies d. Journalists e. Regular People
With Buzzsumo you can easily use the top content results it gives you to:
- Find authoritative sites in the niche for your content
- Locate the people that share the content related to your niche
- Find the sites that are owned by the people who share content in the niche
- Locate the sites that are also by shared by these people
Here is a handy guide on using BuzzSumo for Building Outreach Lists.
Alltop is a place where you can find the best blogs on the internet categorized by different niche. It is our go to source for finding influencers and leading publications when we do outreach for clients.
Let’s say you were looking to reach out to photographers. Simply go to Alltop.com and enter the keyword “photographer” in the search bar and click on the photography tag, which will take you to a list of photography blogs.
As these are really popular sites, not many will be open to a guest post pitch. However, if you have a great resource, an infographic or strong content asset, reaching out to these blogs can yield great results.
6. Twitter Outreach
Twitter is a really powerful tool to connect with influencers, also. Similar to Google, Twitter has its own search engine which you can visit at Search.twitter.com.
Enter the search query, Keyword + “Guest Post”, to find guest posts on sites that you might want to consider. You can replace “Guest Post” in this example with keywords like “review”, “product review”, or “contribution” to explore more results.
One thing that we like about Twitter is that the results are generated in real time as compared to Google. This means the prospects are warm and active and more than likely to respond to your request. All you need to do is ask.
Let’s say you were interested in writing about Conversion Optimization. Simply enter Conversion + “Guest Post” and see instant results like these:
Now this is great. The results are fresh, some of them just few hours ago – but what if we could show you something that will increase the success rate of your campaign a lot more than what you’ll get following the strategies we outlined above? Cool right? Let’s dig into it.
7. Breadcrumb Trail Technique
There are two steps to this process. The first is to seed the breadcrumbs (breadcrumbs being content) and the second step is to follow the trail and pick up guest post opportunities along the way.
a) Leaving Breadcrumbs: The first step is to find and publish content on high authority websites where you can get your foot in the door and seed the initial content.
Usually these are sites which are high in authority but are easy to publish content on initially. For example, Business2Community & Social Media Today are two websites open to contributions, though all submissions are reviewed by editors to ensure the content that is published is of high quality.
Not sure where to start looking? You can backtrack the Twitter accounts of influencers to see where they find content from to share and then pitch those sites for a guest posting opportunity.
Once you publish a content on high authority website, you’ll see that a lot of people share the article without any promotion. These people can include influencers and other prolific blogs, some of which you can pitch also to contribute a post.
Here is a screenshot of post we did for Social Media Today few months back. As you can see, it has over 1,000 tweets, which means there are over 1,000 people who found the post to be valuable and shared it. This also means you have 1,000 breadcrumbs to pick through now.
Once you’ve published the content, wait for a few days or a week perhaps to allow more time for people to share your post.
Go to Search.twitter.com and enter the exact title of your post, you’ll see the complete list of people who have shared your content. Now you can start picking up ideal prospects and thank them for sharing your content and soft pitch them. If they’re interested, which they usually are, they’ll reply back with a “yes” and you can take it from there
And that is how you can leverage the power of social sharing to capture more opportunities. You can use the breadcrumb trail technique outside of Twitter, too.
What if we tell you how you can get links from major sites like Mashable, Forbes, Yahoo!, etc.?
We know how big it is to get links from sites like these, but the fact is that if you are reaching out to them directly, you have a very slim chance of even getting a reply back from them. They employ writers who get bombarded with email pitches day in and day out. What makes your pitch special?
Well, remember the breadcrumb trail technique we discussed earlier? All you need to do is start paying attention. If you are serious about getting links from sites like these, you need to understand what type of content they publish and most importantly what are their sources of the stories.
Sites like these have content partnerships with other news websites. We came across this during infographic outreach for a client and saw similar opportunities on other major publications.
Here is an example where you can see a story published on Mashable whereas it was published by a writer on ClickZ. Turns out Mashable has a content partnership with ClickZ.
You can search ClickZ inside Mashable search bar to see what type of stories they pick up from ClickZ and you can either reach out to the writer directly or apply to become a contributor and write a weekly column and increase your chances of being picked up by Mashable.
Similarly, Forbes gets their stories from source like AllBusiness and O’Reilly Media. Yahoo! gets their stories from BGR News and Business2Community.
Amazing things can happen when you start paying attention! :)
8. Reverse Engineering
Reverse engineering is a process in which we analyze a competitor’s backlink profile using tools to find new opportunities and at the same time evaluate the strategy being used. You can come across several things during competitive backlink analysis, for example:
- Discover websites where your competitors are contributing regularly, and you can apply to become a contributor there.
- Content assets produced by competitors that have done well across the web in terms of links acquired, social shares and overall coverage. For example, these can be infographics or content resources e.g. Link Building Guide.
- Anchor text ratio that is being used by competitors, and if it makes sense for you to go after that keywords.
Competitive backlink analysis is what we regularly do to keep track of competitors and the campaigns we do for our clients. It helps us come across new opportunities and ideas for our link building campaigns.
Here are a list of tools which you can use for competitive backlink analysis: