“I’ve reached the end of the internet,” you say with a sigh and a heavy heart.
It’s happened to all of us. Link building is hard work, and it’s easy to feel like you’ve reached the end of your niche when it comes to guest posting opportunities. There’s no perfect way to find relevant sites, and I’ve found that you need to combine many methods for true success.
Here are 7 methods that my team at Page One Power and I use every day. They work for us, seeing as how we haven’t run into the end of the internet yet.
Your Own Work
This method is a good starting place, since it’s the easiest—check your own work. Go through your old link building spreadsheets and emails. See if there’s someone who hasn’t responded to you in the past and try them again.
If they haven’t responded to you, try to put yourself in their shoes. Why didn’t the site owner answer your email? If you improve or alter your outreach, there’s a good chance those ‘dead’ sites still have some life left in them after all, and you’ve already found those sites—it’s an easy win.
Similarly, if you’ve already had success with a site, you might try them again. If you have a different client that’s no-brainer, but it also works well if you have a good idea that would work well for that site. If you have something positive to contribute, it’s a great ‘thank you’ to send another article along that will benefit that website’s audience. Spread the love around.
This one is obvious. Google is a link builder’s bread and butter. The problem is that with basic searches (even clever basic searches), you’re bound to run into the fabled “end of the internet” at some point, and that’s a frustrating affair.
This 2009 post from SearchEngineLand shares advanced search operators from 21 link builders.
If you’re looking for something a bit newer, check out Sean Revell’s post ‘9,800 New Guest Post Opps in 10 Minutes’ and combine it with some of those older strategies. The more you mix, match and play around, the more comfortable you’ll get with advanced search operators.
Even with those advanced search strings, you’re eventually going to hit the edge of Google. That’s where Bing, DuckDuckGo and Blekko come in handy. Play around there, as well. Each engine’s search algorithm works a bit differently, so you’ll find some unique results.
Dmoz, while not a proper search engine, also works great for target sites. It’s a human curated internet index, and you’ll find some stuff on there that you might never see high up in the Google SERPs.
This is probably the most fun approach on the list. I like to think of it in terms of “In a world without Google, how would you find sites?”
Start by clicking around on a relevant website. Dig through its forums, dig through its blog comments, dig through every site it links to. Click through on the next site and the site after that, as well. This is how the web operated before search engines were reliable, and it’s still a great way to find sites. It requires a bit more trial and error than a simple Google search does, but it will show results that Google can’t.
You can also go a little more new school with this method and dig through social media profiles. Twitter and Google+ are especially handy here. Find an influencer in your niche and click through their tweets and G+ posts. Who are they retweeting, respond to and talking about? Click through to those people and see if they’re running relevant sites. This is a big rabbit hole to go down, but sometimes the results are incredible.
Hashtag searches work here too, but they’re a little more hit or miss. search.twitter.com is much more robust than it used to be, so you don’t even need to rely on hashtags—just pick out relevant phrases and start digging.
I’ve already talked about returning to sites you’ve posted on in the past, either when you have a beneficial idea or when it’s appropriate. You can go beyond that, though.
If a webmaster wants to publish you again, chances are you’ve built up a relationship with them. At that point, drop them an email or a tweet and ask if they have any site ideas for you. Ask them if they have friends or peers who’d like some content. Also, don’t be afraid to give them some of the sites you’ve found. We’re not dealing in secrets—we’re trying to help each other out, especially if it means more good content within your niche.
Keep in mind, though, that not every link you build will come with a relationship. You can’t force relationships, and there’s no use in trying. Do your best: be kind, act like a human and be generous. If no relationship comes out of your efforts, that’s fine—move along and keep being a decent human being.
Okay, let’s head back to the “quick and easy” category for a few minutes. After you’ve exhausted yourself with advanced search operators, clicking through relevant websites to the end of the internet and asking all of your friends for contacts, you’ll need a break.
MyBlogGuest occasionally offers some good leads. Its search system is robust and easy. Overall it's pretty great. The problem is that there’s at least some amount of spam. If you find a good opportunity, make sure you perform the smell test on that site: when was it last updated? Is there updated contact information? Was the content written by humans? Are the ads sketchy? If the answers to all of those questions are satisfactory, move forward.
BloggerLinkUp offers similar results, but it’s formatted a bit differently. It’s a free service that emails you opportunities to post content (and people looking to post content, if you’re looking for some) three times a week. It’s simple, but make sure you investigate those leads thoroughly.
There are also plenty of blogger communities, hosted on social networks (G+ in particular) and hosted on individual websites. They’re sure to have vast lists of sites they like and sites they’ve been posting to.
This is another easy method that a lot of people skip over—find sites as you go. For example, if you find a site while you’re doing outreach or doing something unrelated, put it down in a spreadsheet for later. You’re sure to find sites when you’re not looking (which is frustrating if you don’t use this method), and those will likely be some of the best sites you find. Always keep a spreadsheet or a notepad document open, because chances are you won’t find that site again when you need it.
This is also a handy approach when it comes to finding ideas. When you come across an article that gets you thinking about a topic, you should save it for later. You can bookmark it, put it in a spreadsheet, put it in a notepad document or use an app like EverNote. Sometimes ideas are just as hard to come by as relevant sites are, and the best ideas come when you’re not trying to think of a writing topic. Save as you go and it’ll prevent some heartache in the future.
This method won’t ever fit into the “quick and easy” category, but it’s worth the time and effort.
Using a tool like Majestic SEO or Moz’s Open Site Explorer, analyze your main competitors. Where are their links coming from? Explore those sites and see if there’s a potential for you to get a link there as well. If your competition is doing a good job, there’s no harm in following in their footsteps.
You can also use paid tools like Ontolo to bring up huge, useful lists of target sites. Raven Tools also offers robust site finding software. If you’re looking for something free and more specific, there’s also Bill Sebald’s Content Refresh Tool (useful for finding outdated information and then providing an update in exchange for a link) and a multitude of other site finders.
Chances are you already use some of these methods, but finding sites for guest posts works best when you use multiple strategies simultaneously. It’s easy to get burned out and feel like you’ve reached the internet for your niche, but if you employ all of these these strategies you should feel less frustrated and get better results.