3 Ways to Find Inbound Links to Your Site

1. Google Analytics Referral Traffic

If you are getting referral traffic from other sites then those are sites that have linked to you.

You can find the sites that are referring visitors to you by logging into Google Analytics and clicking on the “Referrals” link under the “Acquisition” tab in the menu.

referrals

Change the date range to a month or longer to see a longer list of referring websites.

Also, select the drop down menu “secondary dimension” and select “Acquisition” and “Referral Path”. This will show the exact page URL that is linking to your site.

referral-path

You can then view the referring URLs in Google Analytics or export the file to Excel or Google Sheets.

inbound-links

I like to export to Google sheets and then run a vLookup against a list of domains that I already know link to my site to discover new links that I didn’t know about yet.

2. Ahrefs.com

Ahrefs is my favorite backlink checker tool. It is very intuitive and has a great index of links.

Simply enter your domain and it will display a report of the backlinks to your website.

ahrefs

You can also click on “New” in the left menu to find the latest links to your site that Ahrefs has found. This is not always accurate (as it often shows old links) but I have found a lot of new links to my site with this method.

3. Google Search Console

search-console

If you click on “Search Traffic” and “Links to Your Site” on the left menu you can view the links that Google knows about and is willing to show you.

If you click on “More>>” it will display a button to “Download Latest Links”.

You can export either a CSV or Google Sheets and then run vLookup if you want to compare the exported list of “latest” links to a list of known linking domains.

The “latest” links are not always new links as there are a lot of false positives but I still find this feature very helpful. Google updates the “latest” links every few days.

If you have any questions or can suggest additional methods, leave a comment below.

Categories SEO

How to Filter Link Opportunities with Open Site Explorer and Excel

Open Site Explorer is an extremely useful tool for finding out who links to a specific site. You can export your competitor’s link data and use Excel to filter the best link opportunities to the top. Like mining for gold, you often have to filter through a lot of worthless stuff to get to the gold nuggets.

Here is my process for filtering link opportunities with Open Site Explorer and Excel.

1. Go to Opensiteexplorer.org. You will need a Pro membership with Moz or a free trial.

2. Enter the URL of a website that you want to mine for link opportunities and click “Search.”

3. Select “only follow”, “only external”, “pages on this root domain”, and “show links ungrouped” from the drop down menus.

ose-step1

4. Click on Export to CSV.

ose-step2

5. Open the CSV file in Microsoft Excel (I use Excel for Mac).

6. Turn the sheet into a table by clicking on the cell in the first column and second row and clicking on the create table icon.

ose-table

7. Go through the rows and highlight rows that are good link opportunities. You can use different shades of color to indicate the level of opportunity. If you go by the temperature of stars, yellow cells can be moderately hot targets and blue cells can be very hot targets.

ose-shades

8. Click on the table header to filter the highlighted rows to the top of the table.

ose-filter

9. Work on taking action with the highlighted opportunities. When an action is taken, write a note and change the highlighted color to gray. If it turns into a link, change the color to green (or use your own color scheme).

10. Create a Google Doc and keep track of your link wins over time. Seeing your list of links grow can keep the motivation going.

won-links

20 Helpful Resources for Learning About Keyword Research

A successful campaign to increase valuable traffic to your website starts with understanding the right keywords that you want your website to rank for. Keyword research can help you determine what potential customers are searching for and uncover opportunities where your site can move up to the first page in search results. The following resources provide helpful ideas and tips for conducting effective keyword research for your company. I have also included my top takeaways from each article or resource.

How to Do Keyword Research: 17 Industry Experts Shared Their Methods & Tools Rana Shahbaz
-Use Ubersuggest to get suggested keyword based on a root phrase.
-Look for keywords that are related to the problem you are solving.

How to Improve Your Rankings with Semantic Keyword Research SEOMoz
-Semantic search tries to determine what people mean when they enter keywords.
-Search for a keyword in Twitter search to see how people are talking about specific keyword phrases.

5 Tips for Conducting Semantic Keyword Research Search Engine Journal
-Related searches indicate what Google “thinks” are semantically related keywords.
-Write for humans first, search engines second.

The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research Viperchill
-Use Yahoo Answers to find popular questions that people are searching for.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO – Keyword Research SEOMoz
-There has never been a lower barrier to entry for understanding the motivations of buyers in any niche.

Keyword Research for Web Writers and Content Producers Copyblogger
-Keyword research indicates what people are interested in and what language they use.

Google Related Searches Blind Five Year Old
-Review “related searches” for keyword ideas and keyword modifiers.

Keyword Research for SEO SEO Nick
-Make sure to set the Google Keyword tool to exact match to get a realistic monthly search volume.
-“Local” in the Google Keyword tool refers to the local country, not the local area.

How to Take Your Keyword Research to a Higher Level Search Engine Land
-Keywords that you have not assigned to a specific page will be a distraction.

SEO Strategy For Business – How To Build A Keyword Opportunity Model SEONick
-Use this Google spreadsheet to estimate the value of specific keywords for your business.

4 Under The Radar Keyword Research Sources You Can Use To Find Hidden Gems Search Engine Land
-Use http://stats.grok.se/ to find out how many people have visited a specific page on Wikipedia.

Minimum Viable Keyword Research John Doherty
-Your domain strength helps determine which keywords you have a chance to rank for.

How to Research Keywords: Tips, Competition and Squirrels Orbit Media
-Use Google Trends to see if a keyword is becoming more or less popular.
-The competition level in Google’s Keyword Tool estimates competition for Adwords not organic search results.

5 Unexpected Keyword Research Sources Search Engine Journal
-Check popular industry forums and review titles of popular threads.
-Listen to how customers describe your offering over the phone.

Extending Keyword Research: Learn from Your Offline Audience Seer Interactive
-Think about questions that people are asking offline.
-Create FAQ pages to answer common questions.

Conducting a Keyword Performance Audit Zazzle
-Export your visits from keywords in Google Analytics into Excel and compare this to the values of the estimated monthly exact search volume from Google’s Keyword Tool.
-Google’s Keyword Tool might not be accurate for recently trending keyword phrases.

Spy on Your Competitors for Keyword Research Authority Labs
-Look for keywords where Google thinks sites like yours should rank well.

Keyword Research Mistakes to Avoid Single Grain
-Consider the competition level of the first page of Google; don’t be deterred by a large number of results for a keyword phrase.

Beyond Google Adwords Keyword Research Quicksprout
-Bing’s Keyword Research Tool shows the exact amount of times a keyword phrase showed up in search in the past 30 days or longer.
-Use strict mode for the equivalent of exact match.

When Keyword Targeting Gets Tough SEOMoz

-If it makes sense for users, put multiple keywords on the same page.
-Use natural language on your pages.
-Combine keywords that make sense.
-If it is a competitive keyword phrase, consider a separate page.

If you would like to suggest a helpful resource that we missed, please mention it below in the comments.

Top Interview Questions For Hiring an SEO Writer

Hiring for SEO can be tricky for two reasons: First, it’s difficult if you aren’t overly familiar with SEO yourself, and second, even if you do have an SEO background, it can be tough to know what questions to ask someone because it is such a new industry. Most colleges and universities don’t have classes regarding SEO, and it can currently be tough to find a writer who specializes in SEO content only. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be too difficult if you do a bit of planning ahead of time. It’s important to understand the industry and think outside of the box when it comes time to hire.

SEO Interview Questions and Possible Answers

One of the biggest things to keep in mind when hiring writers is your goal. You want to have a budget for writers and then decide how much training you’re willing to offer. If you want to jump into very advanced articles right away, you may have to pay a little bit more for a specialized writer. If you’re willing to hire someone who is a good writer and give him/her some time to learn, the way you interview might chance.

Below are some common interview questions that work well if you’re looking to hire an SEO content writer, as well as some answers that might help you make a decision:

1. Tell us a little bit about your background—where you went to school, why you chose the field you did, some of your past experience, etc.

Answer: In all honesty, someone doesn’t have to be an SEO expert to be a great SEO writer. You have to remember that it may take him/her a while to write an article because research can be tough, but it isn’t impossible to come up with a great article. It might take a while for a writer to really get a good grip on the subject, but it can happen. As stated above, it’s all about your goals and how long you have to invest in a writer.

2. Have you ever contributed guest content to a website in the past? If so, what was your process for pitching? How did you find new editors to work with? In other words, how do you analyze the sites you choose to write for?

Answer: This is something that can be taught and learned pretty easily, so I wouldn’t say this is a make or break. A good answer would be something about taking time to get to know the site by commenting and sharing content, and then sending a pitch complete with sample articles for the editor to check out. A great way to find new sites is to continually keep up with social media and check out the sites that your connections are associated with.

3. Do you work well on your own, or do you prefer to work in groups?

Answer: This was something I was asked before and it made me think. For this job, it’s important to be happy working alone and setting your own daily goals.

4. Do you have any background knowledge working with SEO related topics? If so, how do you continue to make sure you are creative and not regurgitating the same information as other blogs out there?

Answer: I typically go around to different blogs to find a topic, and then I take that topic and find a bunch of articles regarding that topic. I try to take bits and pieces of each, and the majority of the time a new angle or opinion will come to me through all of the research.

5. What do you know about your target audience, and how do you really make sure you are leaving a lasting impression?

Answer: This is a tough question to answer, but most good candidates will explain that the target audience is typically small business marketing departments. This of course depends on the type of company that the candidate wrote for in the past (which might very well be slightly different than your current audience).

6. Do you use any tools or specific strategies when writing?

Answer: There are tons and tons of different tools that a writer can use. Mentioning any sort of social tools for promotion (Buffer, SocialBro, etc.) is a great way to show that he/she understands the industry. Any talk of using analytics and analyzing CTR is also a great (and fairly advanced) answer. This is one of those questions that you’ll have a good feeling about right when it is answered.

7. What types of social networking techniques do you use to make sure your content is always earning visibility?

Answer: This is a great opportunity for the candidate to talk about the importance of Google+. This network is only going to get more important as Google begins to alter SERPs based on connections and shares, and this is something a writer should be aware of when it comes time to get involved with authorship and social sharing. You can learn more about authorship here.

8. How would you handle working with different clients?

Working with different clients often means having to change not only the topic of your work, but even the tone and style. This is where a very good writer is going to be your goal, and the research about the topic can be learned.

Were there any questions that you found incredibly helpful? If you were once a candidate, what questions seemed to catch you off guard?

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a nationally recognized SEO agency and local SEO company.

Tips for Promoting Your Content with Email (Infographic)

This instructographic by Portent Interative provides some helpful tips if you want to reach out to bloggers, editors, and webmasters to try to get a link to your content. Even if you create an awesome piece of content, you still have to promote the content to get it in front of influencers who can help spread it. Getting organic links to your content is great, but you often need to be proactive to get the links that a great piece of content deserves. Check out the helpful tips in the instructographic below.

How to Write an Effective Outreach Email

In my experience, it can be helpful to mention a recent article that they have written that you liked or explain why you think your content is a good fit for their site based on a related piece of content on their site. It also helps if you can be helpful or add value before you ask for help or pitch them on adding a link. You can be helpful by pointing out any broken links on their site or leaving a thoughtful comment on a blog post. A branded email from the company you work for is ideal because it makes your email seem more trustworthy (as long as your company is known). By personalizing emails and making them short, I usually receive many positive responses and negative responses are very rare.

Categories SEO

Review of the Point Blank SEO Link Building Course

I recently purchased the Point Blank SEO Link Building Course and highly I recommend it for anyone whose job involves building and earning links.

Jon Cooper is a bright young online marketer who also attends the University of Florida. He is the author of Point Blank SEO, one of the best blogs on the topic of search engine optimization. If you haven’t checked it out, you are missing out on a gold mine of online marketing ideas and actionable tips that can help you immediately.

Here are a few features of the link building course that make it worth exploring:

Continuous Improvement
Unlike eBooks that are written once and may become obsolete over time, this is a constantly updated set of resources that reflect the changes in the SEO industry and new tips that will be updated in the future.

Hundreds of Ideas for Building Links
The Link Strategies resource describes about 200 ways that you can build or earn links to your site so there is sure to be a few ideas that you haven’t thought of before and tactics that would be a good fit for your SEO strategy. There is a version of this resource on the Point Blank SEO blog but only the premium version will be updated with new ideas in the future.

The Best SEO Tools for Link Building
The course recommends over a dozen useful tools for link building and how to get value out of them. This is helpful for navigating the countless tools that are available and figuring out which are best for helping you get more links.

Specific Sites Where You Can Get Links
A continuously updated spreadsheet is provided that points to specific sites with link opportunities of different types such as niche directories or CSS galleries. This by itself is worth the price of admission since it could directly lead to at least a few links.

You can tell that a lot of work went into producing a great resource and the value of the course far exceeds the price of $67.

You can learn more about the Point Blank SEO Link Building Course at the website. (affiliate code)

Article by Charles Sipe, a marketing specialist from Seattle, Washington. Follow me on Twitter at @charlessipe.

Review of DIY SEO Audit eBook by Nick LeRoy

I recently had the opportunity to review Nick LeRoy’s recently released eBook on conducting an SEO audit. Nick LeRoy is a well respected SEO consultant from Minneapolis and has contributed to popular sites like SEOMoz and Point Blank SEO.

This is an excellent eBook to pick up if you work in marketing or own a small business and want a quick guide to identify SEO opportunities and issues that may hurt your visibility in Google search. Reading this eBook will give you the information that you need to effectively increase your search engine optimization and attract more visitors who are interested in what you do.

Pros:
-It provides only the essentials of what you would need to know to diagnose issues on your site and learn how to fix them.
-Provides great information for small businesses that don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on a site audit by an SEO expert.
-It covers many of the important technical aspects well, which can be difficult to learn on your own.
-If you are a beginner to SEO, you should be able to understand most of the content because it is explained in a straight forward manner with little fluff.
-It provides actionable tips, not just theory.

Cons:
-Design and visuals of the eBook are minimal, but screenshots are helpful.
-If you are an advanced SEO professional, most of the content should be review.
-Doesn’t cover auditing your inbound link profile or how to get more quality links (Although the focus of the eBook is on-page SEO elements. The Point Blank SEO Link Building Course may be a good supplement).

Some of the topics covered include:
-Identifying Canonicalization Issues
-How Publishing Relevant Quality Content Helps
-Why You Shouldn’t Publish Content that isn’t 100% Unique
-Duplicate Content Issues
-Why You Should Silo Your Content into Buckets
-The Panda Update and How to Avoid Being Negatively Affected
-Measuring Site Speed
-Social Integration

Bottom Line: If you are not an expert at SEO and want to conduct an audit of your website yourself without paying a consultant hundreds or thousands of dollars, I recommend purchasing this eBook. The potential value far surpasses the cost.

You can lean more about the DIY Audit eBook at Nick LeRoy’s website.

Charles Sipe is an online marketing specialist in Seattle and executive editor of Cool Marketing Stuff. Follow him on Twitter at @charlessipe

Categories SEO

6 Ways to Locate Guest Post Opportunities

Guest blogging is an effective way to increase your online visibility by getting in front of new audiences and earning authoritative links back to your site. When used right it can increase traffic through referrals and improved search engine rankings. However, be careful to avoid the trap of wasting time on sites that are off-topic or are low quality as this may produce weak results or even hurt you as Google continues to penalize sites that use low quality link acquisition tactics.

Here are some tips for finding good guest post opportunities to spend your time on:

1. Search Google for Known Authors

If you come across a guest post by someone in your niche, search for the author’s name in Google in quotations + guest post. This can reveal sites where the author has contributed guest articles and are likely sites that are willing to accept guest article submissions. You can record these opportunities in a Google Document if you want to pursue them later.

2. Search Keywords in Google Blog Search

Google Blog Search is an excellent way to search the blogosphere for targeted blogs. By filtering out most non-blogs, it is easier to find the blogs you are looking for that have recently accepted guest contributions.

3. Find Lists of Blogs in Your Niche

Searching Google for “top ______ blogs” can return some curated lists of blogs in your niche that may accept guest posts. It can be helpful to start reading these blogs regularly and leaving comments that add value before pitching them on your idea. Alltop.com is an excellent source for lists of top blogs in almost every category you can think of.

4. Use MyBlogGuest

MyBlogGuest is a forum that also has a gallery where you can post your articles so that bloggers can offer to publish them. Bloggers who are looking for free content will post guest post opportunities to the forum. In my experience there are a lot of low quality sites that you must filter through but you can also find some gems.

5. Develop Relationships in Social Media

Followerwonk is an excellent tool for searching Twitter bios for a keyword and can help you find people in your niche to follow. Engaging with key influencers can develop relationships that can lead to positive things like guest blogging invitations. Retweeting someone or commenting on a blog article they wrote can help get on a successful blogger’s radar.

6. Outsource Guest Post Prospecting

If you work with freelance writers, you could request that they also research guest post opportunities. Another option is to hire virtual assistants from the Philippines to research opportunities and record them in a shared Google document. Onlinejobs.ph is a good resource for finding virtual assistants in the Philippines. The cost varies on the individual but the average is around $500 per month for a full time VA. The drawback is that Filipino VAs may require a lot of training up front to get up to speed.

Charles Sipe is an online marketing specialist from Seattle, Washington and the executive editor of Cool Marketing Stuff. You can follow him on Twitter at @charlessipe.

9 Resources for Writing Great Blog Headlines

Having a great headline can make the difference between an article that gets thousands of interested readers and an article that is read less than an academic journal article (estimated at an average of 7 readers). The following articles provide great tips and advice for writing great headlines for the Web.

Blogging by Numbers: How to Create Headlines That Get Retweeted Four Hour Work Week
-Coming up with good headlines is an art.
-Focus on an obsession that makes you a little bit weird to come up with topics.
-Seth Godin uses “The Difference Between __ and ___.”

Are Your Titles Irresistibly Click Worthy & Viral?! SEOMoz
-Don’t set the wrong expectation in the title.
-Provide a clear benefit.

7 Sneaky Ways to Write Irresistible Headlines Jonathan Fields
-Adding numbers makes the title more concrete.
-Write headlines that assume that the reader is experiencing something.

10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work Copyblogger
-Use the “Secret of ___” and share insider knowledge.
-Here’s a Quick Way to ___.
-Get Rid of ____ Once and For All, helps readers solve a pain point.

How to Craft Kick-Ass Titles & Headlines SEOBook
-Self interest usually trumps curiosity.

Headsmacking Tip #21: Write Better Headlines Than Anyone Else SEOMoz
-Your goal is to provide value to your potential customers.
-A decently written article with a fantastic headline is almost like a free lunch.

Why Gawker is Writing Better Headlines Than the Rest of the Web Engage
-The headline is arguably the most important factor in your visibility online.
-Write like real people talk.

7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work Copyblogger
-List headlines are a very old technique in advertising.

Writing Headlines That Get Results Copyblogger
-8 out of 10 people read the headline and only 2 out of 10 read the rest.
-David Ogilvy rewrote one ad headline over 100 times.

Headline Formulas and the Science of High-Converting Copywriting Copy Hackers
-Use proven headline formulas instead of trying to reinvent the wheel each time.
-Effective copywriting is a science.
-Apply Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence to your headlines.
-Learn to _____ without the ______.

10 Great Resources for Broken Link Building

Broken link building can be an effective way to earn links to your site because it helps website owners improve their user experience and they often thank you by including a link to your site. Here are some of the best resources on the Web that provide tips and tactics for broken link building.

Broken Link Building using BuzzStream Paddy Moogan
-Use the Check My Links plugin for Chrome.
-Use Buzzstream to send personalized email templates.

Broken Link Building: How Napoleon Suarez Gets 8-12% Conversions Citation Labs
-Tell them every single broken link on their page (you can put them in an Excel document to share).

Fixing the Web’s Lost Content: An 8 Step Guide for Link Builders Search Engine Watch
-Use Xeno Link Sleuth to crawl for broken links.
-Create an alternative version of the original dead content.

Broken Link Building Guide: From Noob to Novice SEOMoz
-Fixing broken links makes the Web a better place.
-Use the Citation Labs contact finder. You can also check the WhoIs record.

Broken Link Building In Action: Real Email Example Inside! Nick Leroy
-Use Xenu’s Link Sleuth to get a snapshot of broken links on a site.

5 Creative Broken Link Building Strategies Point Blank SEO
-The broken link doesn’t have to be on the same page that you get a link from.
-When you find a 404 page, plug it into Open Site Explorer to see who is linking to it.

Citation Labs Process and Tools for Large Scale Broken Link Building Citation Labs
-1 to 1 replacements often work best.
-Record any dead sites with 100 or more links.
-Mention only 1 broken link on the page.

Broken Link Building – A Case Study SEO ROI
-Recreating dead content is like cloning link bait that has proven to be successful at attracting links.

The Broken Link Building Bible SEOMoz
-Use advanced search operators to find resource pages like: inurl:”suggested links”, “useful websites.”
-If you customize your emails you will greatly increase your conversion.

How to Use the Broken Link Building Strategy to Get Links Search Engine Journal
-Check resource link lists.
-Keep an eye out for competitors that go out of business.