Link Prospecting Guide: How to Find
Guest Post Opportunities
Guest post links… one of the most sought after link types an SEO can build for their own or their clients websites.
But how do you find these quality sites that are not only accepting guest posts, but ones that are likely to increase your traffic and rankings after you land your link?
That’s where link prospecting comes in…
In this quick guide you’re going to learn how to find guest post opportunities – without losing your mind to boredom.
At the end of this guide you’ll get free access (no opt-in)
to my Link Prospecting Tracking Sheet.
Two Types of Guest Post Sites
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, I wanna show you real quick how we identify the two different types of guest post sites and why it’s important to segment them for better outreach conversions (i.e. more links).
Here is how my team and I label the two different types internally and what they mean:
Guest post (has guidelines) – These are your traditional guest post sites. Ones that have a dedicated page on their website that mention they accept guest posts while including their guidelines that you need to follow in order to get your article published – typically known as a “Write for Us” page.
Guest post (no guidelines) – These are websites that have mentioned somewhere on their site that they’ve previously accepted a guest post, BUT they don’t have a dedicated guest post guidelines page or a “Write for Us” page.
You’ll usually find these sites if they have a blog category labelled /category/guest-posts/ or maybe on a post itself they mentioned something like “this is a guest post by…”.
When link prospecting, we’ll want to make sure we’re properly labelling these two types so that when it comes time for starting outreach, we can send them their own tailored pitches.
Figure Out What You’re Linking To
Unless you’re paying for the link, you usually won’t be able to get away with linking to a product or service page in your guest posts.
Which is why it’s important for you to at least have one piece of high quality content that can be used as your link bait.
We’re not doing the skyscraper technique here, so don’t worry about it being the greatest piece of content for its topic – just make sure it’s informative, presentable (nicely formatted), and most importantly; doesn’t have a blatant sales pitch or call to action.
Most guest post sites check every link you add to your article – so if they see a link that leads to a low quality page or is promoting something, chances are they’ll take it out. Wasting all that time and money you spent on the prospect.
So the first step is to either create a piece of content that checks those boxes we just mentioned for your link bait, or select one of your existing articles that you think is worth building links to.
Note: You can do guest post link building for products/service pages, you’ll just be met with a lot more resistance and end up having to pay for links.
For this guide we’ll be focusing on getting links to an informative piece of content, which hopefully will at least have an internal link to your money page(s) to funnel that incoming link juice ;).
Come Up With Keywords
Now that you’ve picked out which piece of content you’ll be using as your link bait, we’ll need to come up with a list of keywords that are related to the topic of the content.
These will be used in the next step to pair up with our search operators in order to start searching for link prospects.
The keywords you come up with can be both super specific to your content and loosely related – we’re trying to find ways to uncover a bunch of sites that discuss not only the primary topic of our content, but related ones as well.
Let’s use my freelance SEO guide as an example for coming up with keywords – here are some I’d write down:
- Search engine optimization
- Freelance SEO
- Digital marketing
- Make money online
- Business owner
- Digital nomad
- Email marketing
- PPC ads
Now why did I add keywords like PPC ads and email marketing?
Because if a website has content about PPC ads, they’re more than likely going to have other digital marketing related topics on their site, like SEO. And if they don’t, it’s still closely related enough to our topic that we can oftentimes pitch a guest post idea that ties in the two.
So come up with some keywords for your link bait, then let’s head down to the next step.
Pair Keyword with Search Operators
Search operators are what we use in our search queries to single out websites that match a certain criteria that we’re looking for. In this case, websites that mention somewhere on their site that they accept guest posts.
For this guide we’re going to be taking advantage of the most consistent, tried and true search operators for finding guest post opportunities.
Here they are:
Keyword intitle:”write for us”
Keyword intitle:”write for me”
Keyword “Guest Posts”
Keyword “Guest Post by”
Keyword “guest author”
Keyword “guest article”
Now, with our keywords in hand we can pair them up with the search operators (replace “Keyword” with your actual keyword).
Plug Into Search Engines
After matching a keyword with one of the search operators, head over to Google and use the newlyweds as your search query.
You should now have a bunch of sites in the SERPs that are related to your link bait and mention somewhere that they accept guest posts.
Note: If you ever get to the point of exhausting your current list of keywords and search operator combinations, try using other search engines like Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo.
Since they all use different algorithms, you’ll be able to find new prospects using the same queries.
Now that you know how to find guest post link prospects, let’s go over what to do with them and how to decide which ones are worth reaching out to.
Analyze & Filter Prospects
So you’ve clicked on one of the sites that popped up in the search results after you put in your keyword + search operator query – now what?
This is the part where we quickly analyze the site to make sure it’s a good link prospect and worthy of reaching out to.
We do this by coming up with a set criteria that each site needs to pass in order for us to mark them down as a quality link prospect.
Here’s a list of criteria that I have my link prospectors run through:
- Updated – They’ve published an article within the last few months (give or take).
- Outbound links – They link out to other websites/blog posts in the body of their content.
- Relevancy – The content on their website is related to our content we are trying to build links for.
- Competitor – The website isn’t a competitor of ours. They are not selling the same products or services as us.
- Traffic – The website is getting a reasonable amount of traffic for how much content they have published. *if no/little traffic, check to see if it’s a new site.
Notice how there’s no mention of DA (moz) or DR (ahrefs)?
In my world of link building, I don’t give a f%#$ about DA or DR. There have been countless times where we’ve found sites that pass all our criteria, but have a DA/DR in the single digits.
Does that mean the website is low quality and not going to provide any value to yours if you get a link on it? Nah.
Well maybe according to this other post…
I’ve been ignoring DA for years for clients sites and my own ecommerce/affiliate sites with a ton of success.
I will say though, if we notice that the site we’re analyzing has a large amount of referring domains but an unusually low DR, then that’s something we’ll look into to make sure that the links they have aren’t spammy (since DR is tied to the sites backlinks).
Anyways, that’s how we handle DA/DR.
Now when you find a site that matches your criteria, we’ll want to track it down somewhere. I’ll show you a free Google Sheet setup that I used to use before switching over to BuzzStream (paid software).
But before we do that, here’s a bonus strategy that I like to utilize for sites that we’ve decided aren’t good guest post link prospects:
Finding Other Link Opportunities
As an SEO, my link building radar never shuts off – I’m always on the hunt for new link opportunities. And I try to instill this same mindset for all my link prospectors.
Whenever analyzing a site, you should always be seeking out other link building opportunities – no matter what link type you’re currently prospecting for.
So if the current website you’re on doesn’t fit the bill for a guest post opportunity, do a quick check to see if you can spot any signs that tell you that this prospect could fall under a different link type.
Here are a few things to be on the lookout for:
- Reviews – have they published reviews of similar products/services to yours?
- Resource page – do they have a page dedicated to recommending a bunch of different useful sites? I.e. resource/useful links page
- Sponsored post – is there something like an “advertise with us” link in their footer navigation menu?
- Roundups – do they do weekly/monthly roundup posts? Could you be included in those?
Alright, now that we’ve covered that, let’s get back to figuring out the best way to keep track of the link prospects you find.
Tracking Link Prospects
Back before I started using BuzzStream, I created a Google Sheet that I’d use to track all my link prospects, the outreach being done, and the links built.
If you’re just starting out, are strapped for cash, or simply don’t have a lot of different sites to build links for, then I’d recommend using this free tracker.
Once you start getting into more/bigger link building campaigns then using software like BuzzStream or PitchBox should be your next play.
Either way – here’s the link to the Link Tracker Sheet.
Each column has a description of what its purpose is and how to use it – so just mouse over them individually and a little text box will pop up with the info.
To get your own editable version of the Sheet, click on File > Make a Copy.
You’ll notice I have a column for DR – even after my spiel of saying I don’t give much weight to it when evaluating link prospects…
It’s more of an indicator of how much extra effort we’ll need to put into the outreach pitch.
Usually the higher DR/DA the site is, the more authority they have in the market, which comes with a more strict guest post guidelines / application process – so a generic outreach pitch usually won’t cut it for these guys.
Anyways, let’s wrap this up shall we? We’ll get into outreach next time :).
Thanks for reading through this guest post link prospecting guide! You now have the knowledge to uncover more guest post opportunities than you’ll ever need.
Now the next step of the link building process is to actually reach out to these prospects to begin the conversation of exchanging value – which ultimately is what link building all comes down to.
If you don’t already have your own outreach email pitches or are wanting to improve your current ones, then stay tuned to this site because I’ll be putting together a similar post like this, but for guest post outreach.
You can follow me on Twitter here if you want to get updated on when that goes live.
Other than that, if you have any questions or suggestions about the link prospecting process we just went through then leave a comment below!