One of the most powerful parts of BuzzStream is the prospecting module.  However, it’s also one of the parts of the product that’s most frequently misunderstood. 

In this post, I’ll take you through how to use the Prospecting module in detail.

When Should I Use the Prospecting Module?

As the name suggests, the prospecting module helps you prospect for links.  If you have an idea of what sort of links you want, and can create both a search and a qualifying criteria for that sort of opportunity, it’s excellent.  Additionally, because it reruns the searches every week, it’s great for ongoing opportunities, like competitor reviews.

When Should I Not Use the Prospecting Module?

Because the Prospecting Module uses prospecting searches, it’s not good when you don’t know what kind of opportunities you want and what sort of footprint you’re looking for.

Step by Step: The BuzzStream Prospecting Module

 

Step 1: Find the Prospecting Module and Open a Prospecting Profile

The prospecting module is under the Link Prospecting menu in the Add Websites dropdown:

prospecting

Click that button, and then select Create New Prospecting Profile.

Then the Prospecting Profile screen appears:

 

We’ll come back to that in a moment.

Step 2: Identify Your Prospecting Goals

The next step for prospecting success comes not from BuzzStream, but from you.  What are you trying to accomplish with your link building? To achieve that, what sort of link opportunities are you looking for?  Do you want to drive traffic? Sales? Conversions? Attract only followed links from sites with domain authority above 40?  

Once you’ve decided what your goals are, you can go to your next steps.  (I suggest you write down your goal on a piece of paper at this point.  You’ll come back to it later.)

Step 3: Identify Your Linkable Assets

Next, identify your linkable assets.  What’s a Linkable Asset, you ask? 

A linkable asset is a person, web page or other resource capable of inciting a person or organization to create a link. We’ve identified two broad types of assets: the “tangible” link building assets on your website, and the “intangible” link building assets of your organization.

-          Garrett French in Search Engine Land

If I were working with your company, I would ask questions like:

  • Do you have product you can give away to reviewers? 
  • Do you have whitepapers, a resource library, or a blog?
  • Do you have experts who can be interviewed?
  • Does your company fall into an interesting category, like being a woman, minority, or veteran-owned business?  Is it an open-source company, a B-corp, a social enterprise?  What else is unique or special about your company?
  • Do you have copywriting resources who can create guest blog posts?  Do you have designers on staff who can create graphics – info- and otherwise?

From linkable assets, you can begin creating prospecting searches. 

Step 4: Create Your Prospecting Searches

Next, create prospecting searches based on your space and your linkable assets.

Here’s where people tend to run into trouble.  Many people say, “OK, keywords, go!” and start plugging in the keywords they’d like their site to rank for – often commercial or transactional keywords.  Please, don’t do this, because 90% of the time, it won’t work. 

For example, we see folks selling leopard-print Snuggies® (hypothetical example, although snuggies are awesome) typing in keywords like:

  • Snuggie
  • Leopard print snuggies
  • Animal print snuggies
  • Slanket
  • Leopard print slanket

Really, please, don’t do this.  You will discover competitor’s sites. They will not link to you, because they are your competitors.  (And when your competitors do link to you, they tend to be linking to content, not to search landing pages.)

The question you want to ask yourself is, “Given my linkable assets, what sort of sites will link to me?  How can I align my linkable assets with sites relevant to my potential customers?”  Think laterally, and always remember, you’re marketing to people, not keywords.

Going back to our Snuggie example, you find a copywriter on your team who can write great guest posts.  You also notice that just about everyone in the pictures in Snuggie® ads seems to be enjoying some high-quality television. 

When you think back to the television you’ve watched, you’ve seen leopard print the most frequently on thoughtful, non-confrontational reality television like Jersey Shore and the Real Housewives of Wherever.

You can combine combine these together, and try to find some guest post opportunities around reality TV.  Perhaps you could pitch them something about staying comfy while enjoying your favorite shows. 

Use queries like:

  • Reality TV inurl: category/guest
  • Reality Shows “Write for Us”
  • Reality TV “Guest Author”

To use a slightly more serious example, let’s say you’re promoting an open-source enterprise IT management company.  In this case, being open source is a tremendous intangible linkable asset.  You could use queries like:

  • Open source companies “list of”
  • Open source companies “links”
  • Open source Companies resources

To find curated lists of open source software companies to which you can add your company.

Step 5: Create a Prospecting Profile and Choose Your Settings

Compose some great prospecting searches, and add them to the prospecting profile.

There’s a few options here: 

  • Country – This dropdown uses the GL= parameter to show results from certain countries.
  • Search Type – This option lets you select from Google’s Web, News, or Blog search results.

The Retrieve new results weekly check box lets you rerun the searches every week – perfect for finding new opportunities as they emerge.  (At BuzzStream, we use this function to find reviews of other SEO products – if we see a new review of another SEO or link building tool, we know that the same publication might review BuzzStream.)

Step 6: Add Sites to the Blacklist

Sometimes, you’ll never want to see results from a given site in your prospecting results.  There are a few reasons for this:

  • The site might be spammy.
  • You might never be able to get a link on a given site (for competitive reasons).
  • The site may be a platform like Twitter or YouTube that should be viewed differently.

You can exclude sites from specific projects, or exclude them globally.  (BuzzStream automatically excludes some sites most of our customer blacklist – like Squidoo and Ezine Articles.) 

You can delete sites from the blacklist at any time – simply go into ‘Manage Blacklist’, delete a site, and hit save.

Step 7: Review Results, and Mark Them as Qualified, Disqualified, or Blacklisted

BuzzStream takes a few minutes to run the prospecting searches, collate the results, and gather the metrics.  So go grab your favorite beverage and come back.  Your prospects are waiting for you:

You’ll get a big list of search prospects back that looks like this:

 

You can sort these results by your favorite link metric, take a look at their RSS feed, and see which contact information BuzzStream has discovered.

(If you want more metrics, select ‘Configure Columns’, and choose which metrics are displayed.)

If you want to see the individual pages BuzzStream has discovered, click on a domain:

Now, you can go through your list and mark each opportunity as ‘Qualified’, ‘Disqualified’, or ‘Blacklisted’. 

  • Qualified link prospects are good opportunities.  Click the green checkmark, and they’ll be added to your project.
  • Unqualified link prospects aren’t worth the time. Click the red ‘X’, and the prospect will be removed from the list.
  • Blacklist prospects are from sites you never want to see again.  Click the circle with the line through it, and that sub-domain will be blacklisted from the project.

Remember those goals you wrote down earlier?  Here’s where you use it.  Take every site that can help you accomplish your goal, and mark it qualified.

Step 8: Profit!

Now that you have a list of qualified sites in your project, begin your relationship building and link earning process. 

Thanks for reading, and happy prospecting!

 

mattgratt

Matt works on customer acquisition at BuzzStream. Before BuzzStream, he worked as an SEO Strategist at Portent and a Marketing Manager at AppCentral (acquired by Good Technology). You can follow Matt on Twitter or Google Plus.

More Posts - Website