How to Find Golden Link Opportunities

Today’s guest post comes from one of our favorite customers, Brian Dean. Brian is a blogger, site owner, and SEO consultant/trainer. He blogs on just about every link building and SEO site, but can always be found at Backlinko.

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You’ve probably seen a certain type of post on internet marketing blogs that I like to call, “SEO crack”.

You know what I’m talking about: screenshot-stuffed articles that show you how to download a list of URLs, use Excel to separate the list into tiers and and export that list into a tool like BuzzStream to send emails and get links.

It’s all really cool if you’re a hardcore SEO. But if you’re not, it just looks like a lot of clicking.

What these articles lack is an answer to the fundamental question: “How do I find people to link to me in the first place?”.

Well that’s exactly what I’m going to show you today.

Content Curators

Matt actually recently published a post on content curator link building, but it’s so darn effective that it’s worth mentioning again here.

Keep in mind that when you ask someone for a link they’re doing you a favor. In fact, one of the reasons most outreach-focused link building campaigns fail is because the peoplr behind them just beg for links…without offering anything in return.

That’s the beauty of content curation link building. When you beg for a link, you’re actually adding value to that person’s curated list.

Think about it:

If you were putting together a list of the top 100 gardening articles online, would you rather spend a week searching around the web, or have them delivered via email? I think I know what you’d choose.

So when you find curated content, in the form of…

  • Resource pages
  • Link roundups
  • “Best of” posts
  • “X blog posts about Y”
  • “X blogs about Y”

…present them with an amazing piece of content, you’re actually adding value to that person’s site and getting a link in the process. And as Matt points out in his post, these are backlinks that can also get you targeted traffic.

That’s why I usually start off an SEO campaign by producing one linkable asset and then generating links to it from content curators.

Reverse Engineering

Reverse engineering your competitors links is one of the fastest ways to find link opportunities of all shapes and sizes.

After all, if they’ve linked to one of your competitors, there’s a good chance they’ll link to you as well.

However, I see a lot of people new to SEO think that reverse engineering is the holy grail of link building.

It’s not.

Because your competition likely has exclusive relationships and unique link building opportunities, you may only be able to land 5-10% of your competitor’s backlinks. So reverse engineering is a good strategy if you’ve already taken advantage of the low-hanging fruit opportunities and need to find new opportunities that you might have missed.


PR isn’t easy.

But you can absolutely destroy your first page competition with an SEO-focused PR campaign.

And unlike bloggers, journalists are desperate for people, places and things to write about. If you or your client can be that story, then you can get links from some of the most authoritative sites on the web on command.

Even if your company isn’t worth of major media coverage, you can still tap into Help a Reporter Out (HARO). It’s a service that allows you to become a source for journalists on tight deadlines.

For example, here’s a HARO request from this morning:

HARO Pitch

When you see a story that you could add value to, just send your pitch to the journalist. If they like what you have to say, they’ll include your quote (usually with a link).

I should say that the success rate from HARO isn’t exceptionally high. If you send really quality pitches you may get mentions 20% of the time. However, if you stick to it, that 20% will be made up of massively authoritative news sites.

Sites That Need a Hand

Any site that you can add value to is a potential link opportunity.

For example, let’s say you ran a blog about green energy.

First, you could add keywords like “solar panel installation”, “DIY solar panels” etc. into BuzzStream’s Link Prospecting Tool:

Link Prospecting Tool

And then take a look at the results (if you’re strapped for time you can focus on pages with the highest Moz Domain Authority).

Is there anything lacking? Not enough detail? Is something out of date? Are there any broken links? Does the page need a chart or diagram?

When you find a piece of content that could use a paint job, just reach out to the site owner and offer your help. When you help make their page better, you’ll typically get a link without even having to ask (if they forget, a gentle reminder usually does the trick).

(Bill Sebald has put together an awesome tool called The Outdated Content Finder that makes finding these link opportunities a breeze).

Unlinked Brand Mentions

Turning unlinked brand mentions into links (also known as link reclamation) is one of the highest-converting link opportunities out there.

Basically, you’re searching for people that mention you, your product, or your brand on the web…but didn’t actually link to your site. Then you reach out to them and (nicely) ask them to add your link.

You can find mentions at scale using a service like The tool will show you brand or keyword mentions on blogs, forums, news sites and social media:

And if you find an unlinked mention, getting your link is as simple of thanking the person for the reminding them to link.

If you’re a brand that tends to get a lot of mentions, you definitely want to watch this White Board Friday by Ross Hudgens that will show you some black belt tips for scaling the process.


If you have a new piece of content that you want to build links to, one of the first places to look are “pre-linkers”, or sites that have already linked out to similar content in the past.

For example, let’s say you just put out an infographic about the health benefits of coffee. The first thing you’d do is create a new Prospecting Profile in BuzzStream to see what content currently ranks for related keywords:

Link Prospecting

Then you’d want to see who links to that content using a reverse engineering tool like Open Site Explorer.

Finally, reach out to the people that linked to that content to give them a heads up about yours. Because they’ve already shown a propensity to link out to content on that topic, they’re much more likely to link to you vs. a random blog in your industry.