19 Jun 2014

5 PROTIPS For Finding Low Hanging Fruit In Your Existing Back Links

Building back links can be the most tedious process of any SEO effort. Therefore, looking for low hanging fruit that can make the process easier, can be a very effect use of one time.

The best way to identify low hanging fruit is to take an inventory of the assets already at your disposal, and look for new opportunities. For example, if you are wanting to develop new content ideas, you can look at the terms that your site already ranks for, and build upon them for new content. For example lets say you already rank for the term “tennis shoes”, then you can create new content for related long tail terms and content like: “Hottest New Tennis Shoe Styles For 2014″.

While content creation can be helped with low hanging fruit; creating back links is a process that can use all the help available. When trying to identify low hanging fruit for back link development, in my opinion, the best place to start is your existing back link profile. Here are 5 strategies to leveraging your existing back links.

In order to preform all of the analysis below you will need to download your entire back link data set. I prefer to use Majestic SEO for my back link data, because I feel that they are the most robust. But you can use any data source you like.


Check For 404s

This is one of my favorite strategies, because its so easy. This won’t build any new back links, but it will ensure that your existing ones are providing the most value. How this works is: First extract a list of the link targets from your data set. This is the list of URLs on your site that are receiving links. Next, remove duplicated URLs and compile this list as a CSV. Then, crawl this list of URLs with software like Screaming Frog. Finally, after the crawl is complete, look at the response codes for each URL and find any that are posting 404s. 404s mean that the page is no longer available on the domain. So now you have a list of old URLs that used to exist on your site, that are still receiving links! To fix this issue, you can either put the former page/content back up, or redirect the URL to a new location on the domain that is some how related. This will ensure that any link equity that is flowing in through those links, isn’t wasted on URLs that don’t exist anymore.

Try this one for your self, you might be surprised at the amount of links you are currently wasting with dead URLs.


Redirect Links Based On Intent

This strategy is similar to the last, but a bit different. For this strategy you will want to sort your data set by anchor text. Next look for anchor text that is relevant to the terms you would like to rank for. Now ask your self, are any of the links that use valuable anchor text pointing at low quality or unrelated content? For example, you might be selling tennis shoes, and have a sales page all about “Women’s Tennis Shoes”, but you might have links that have the anchor text “Women’s Shoes”, pointing to an old blog post that no longer gets any traffic. Wouldn’t it make better sense for your sales page to receive those links, than a blog post that hasn’t been visited in years?

The trick to executing this tactic effectively is to align the linking intent with the new URL. Therefore you can’t just redirect unrelated links. Everything most be related, so when visitors follow the links, the anchor text matches up with the page they land on. Otherwise that traffic is wasted, and you could potentially setup a false pattern that make appear “spammy”.


Identify Prospects For New Links

Web sites that are already linking to your site, are much more likely to link to your site again, if you give them a reason to. So with this strategy, you can start by organizing the links by domain. Next find the domains that have the most value. You can get a good idea of “value” by looking at flow metrics or DA. Then drill down to see what content these domains linked to. Next create similar content or content with the same angle. Finally do targeted outreach to the individuals at the domains that created the original links and thank them for the original links, and then mention the new content.

You can experiment with outright asking for a new link, but be careful not to come across as to aggressive. You are more likely to get a link from these folks if you provide them really great content with out the overt intention of gaining new links.


Bolster Existing Link Value

Because of the way that the link economy works, often times really great content attracts links from not so great content. This is because mere probability states that there will be more mediocre content than amazing content. As a result often times the pages that link to you, don’t receive links or social traction themselves. This can be problematic because it means that the amount of link equity flowing in is lesser. Therefore with this tactic you can take the links that come from decent content, but aren’t receiving any links themselves, and share them in social media, or link to them from other properties if possible. By doing this you are bolstering the link’s value and in turn helping out yourself and someone else at the same time.

While this is an effective strategy, make sure that you only utilize it on content that deserves your attention. As I stated above, the vast majority of your links are likely mediocre, so you don’t need to hunt for awesome content thats been linking to you. But at the same time make sure that you aren’t sharing really low quality content or outright link spam in an attempt to bolster it. This will make you as a brand look….well dumb.


Identify Most Popular Content

This tactic is similar to the new prospects list above, but instead of building new content to get former “linkers” to link again, this tactic focuses on building the same types of content that have attracted links in the past. First you are going to want to organize your data set so you can see how many links each URL on your site is receiving. This might require a pivot table in excel, or your data provider might provide this data as a download option. Sort the URLs by which is getting the most links. Now take a look at the topics and types of content that are getting the most links. Are there any trends that stand out? Can you build more content that follows the same topical patterns? If so you are on your way to creating new content that is more likely to attract more links.

To make this tactic as effective as possible you should avoid any URLs that are receiving unnatural or inorganic links. This is because these URLs aren’t representative of organic link behaviors.

I hope these tactics help you make better use of your existing back link profile! Until next time, happy linking!