I recently covered how to identify audiences for obscure industries (without access to data, to boot). I chose a novelty candle company as the example and outlined several personas who might be interested in buying some weird candles.
Now I’m going to use those personas to determine where that audience is active online. Yes, I will be sticking with the example weird candle company.
Today we’ll find target websites that we could secure links on. Ideally, you could find weirdcandleenthusiasts.com and be embraced as one of their own.
But sometimes there aren’t communities specifically built around your product or industry. We’d have a hard time creating a list of target sites if we limited ourselves to communities devoted solely to obscure candles–niche products don’t always reflect the existence of niche communities.
So to cast a wide, but relevance-focused net when looking for target sites, we’ll use one of our personas to guide our search.
Focusing on what interests a specific persona allows us to target broader audiences than just a narrow group of novelty candle enthusiasts. We know our personas all have some connection with our product: Now we just need to get our links in front of them.
Running Example: Weird Novelty Candle Company
The Party Planner: Someone who loves playing host for social gatherings, interested in unique themed decorations or party favors.
The Party Planner’s interests intersect with our candle company since she’s likely to purchase themed or decorative candles for her parties. She could need rainbow candles to decorate for a child’s birthday or perhaps mini heart-shaped candles to give away at a Valentine’s Day bash.
The sites we find today will be examined with intent to create content for publishing links. Our articles will bridge relevance between our audience and our client by tying together the topics of party planning and those weird candles we love so much.
Bonus points if you eat the cake with the candle still lit. Source.
Locating Target Sites for Personas
Using our Party Planner’s interests to guide us, we’re going to make a list of possible target sites.
How? So glad you asked:
- Content Discovery Tools
- Moz Content
- Follow the Leaders
- BuzzStream Discovery
(Note: The sites I’m going to pull for this post will need further vetting. Some of them may have strict linking policies, may not be up to our standards, or present other hurdles. So for all of you obscure candle companies following along out there, do your homework before taking this list and running with it.)
The first place for information should be search engines. They are, after all, the largest information retrieval systems ever built.
Convincing Google to serve you the exact results you want often requires the use of search modifiers, such as quotation marks to denote phrases you want grouped together exactly.
Let’s try something relatively simple to see if we can’t pull up a blog that hosts candle-related content:
The top result here is a post on Sophie’s World, a blog focused on children’s activities and parties. The fact that it has a blog post called “Unique Candle Lighting Ideas” is a good omen–maybe she’d be open to accepting a piece of content with a link to one of our unique candles.
If you’re looking to earn your black belt in Google-Fu, you can use multiple search operators (also known as search strings) at once in order to ensure that your searches are as relevant as possible.
Let’s try constructing an advanced search string that will pull relevant sites we could target specifically for our Party Planner:
Behold all the relevant blogs! Almost every single result we’re served is related to event planning, save for guidebook.com which focuses on apps and technology. But you know what? Even that Guidebook post, “The BEST Event Planning Blogs On The Internet,” is actually super useful because it we can mine that list for more targets.
Each of these sites listed would look particularly interesting to our Party Planner persona. Delving into more of the pages of SERPs and tweaking your search string will help you make the most of the keywords you associate with your personas.
(Pro-tip: If you’re using Chrome as your browser, remember to do these searches in incognito mode so your personal search history won’t affect what SERPs you get.)
Pretty much all of these blogs belong on our list of possible target sites:
Content Discovery Tools
Content discovery tools are fantastic for finding what topics have a real audience online. These are tools that find what content is popular on the web based on the keywords you input. The idea is that if someone else is gaining traction with a topic, you can as well.
You’ll also be able to find which sites are hosting these topics–which might be just the foothold you need.
A few tools you can use in this task are BuzzSumo and Moz Content.
We love BuzzSumo around here, so let’s start there. If we input “candles” we get a slew of possible target sites.
A bit down the list, we find a site relevant to interior decorating:
This site, Goods Home Design, actually has a whole host of candlemaking tutorials! We can easily imagine our Party Planner persona looking through this site for inspiration.
Here are a couple of sites I found tooling around for just a few minutes on BuzzSumo:
Note that some of the results pull up hyper-relevant candle content that we could emulate easily:
Let’s try the same thing with Moz Content, but zero in on “Halloween candles”:
While we get relatively few results, we already find candlemaking.craftgossip.com, a crazy-relevant subcommunity on a website our Party Planner persona would absolutely hang out on.
And here are some target sites I discovered found after messing with Moz Content for a bit:
Follow the Leaders
Another way to discover hotbeds of topical activity online is to find a leader or celebrity that consistently talks about your chosen niche.
Where do they comment? What websites are they most active on? As an added perk, you’ll be able to pick up whatever cutting-edge information they share.
Try searching for niche-centric hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, or other social platforms. Top users will often post on their specific subjects regularly.
Let’s have a look at Twitter. Searching for the hashtag #partyplanning pulls up recent tweets with that tag. I browsed for about 10 seconds and came across @MrsKathyKing, mentioned in a tweet focused on party planning:
Hovering over her profile, we see that she is a self-proclaimed “family lifestyle influencer” (an assertion backed up by her 29k followers):
We also see that she has a website, mrskathyking.com, that has a “party planning” section. Score!
Here are the sites I pulled from poking around Twitter’s hashtags and accounts:
Another option is to use tools like Followerwonk to identify active influencers. For comparison’s sake to our Twitter example, I tossed “party planning” into the search bar and found a promising influencer right off the bat, Jessica Garvey:
If you check out her Twitter, you can see that she has a party-planning blog, Hostess Handbook, absolutely perfect for our Party Planner persona, full of party tips and ideas:
Sites I found using Followerwonk:
Finally, you can use BuzzStream Discovery to find writers of niche-related content, which ranks writers considered authoritative for a given topic. Let’s stick with “party planning” and see what we can dig up:
Aha, within the top ten results is a blog centered completely around party planning: Kara’s Party Ideas. The URL is right there in the search results.
Clicking into this profile, we can see a list of recently published content on the blog (which we can filter by topic) and also an assessment of both the engagement and activity associated with this influencer:
So we know for sure that karaspartyideas.com is a popular, relevant blog we’d love to get a link on.
Here’s what I dug up in just a few minutes using BuzzStream Discovery:
Get the Picture? Find Momentum!
Don’t stop there! Our Party Planner persona likely has a few Pinterest boards she watches or craft blogs she keeps up with–plenty of places to find target sites. The people who inspire your personas are treasure-troves of community engagement and ideas.
Bonus! Here are our Tutorial Tuesdays on finding influencers on Google Plus and LinkedIn.
We’ve thought critically about audience-first relevance as it pertains to super weird candles, and identified people who might buy them. Now we’ve located some places they live online, and found some influencers to stalk while we were at it.
Here’s the full list of target sites we’ve found for our Party Planner persona:
- Moz Content
- BuzzStream Discovery:
Not a bad haul for the amount of effort, eh? Again, we’d need to quality check each site thoroughly before even considering pitching them, but we’ve got a much better grasp of what sites our persona might frequent than we had before.
Despite the fact that none of these domains are directly dedicated to candles, we can pursue them confidently as link targets because we’ve established that they’re relevant to our persona, with topical relevance to our client (obscure candles).
These processes can work for each vertical that each persona is interested in, no matter what obscure industry you’re trying to work with. Even the weird ones. It just takes a bit of elbow grease and creativity.