Keyword Research for Link Building: Lateral Thinking

One question we hear frequently at BuzzStream is “How do I find link opportunities?”

There are lots of ways, but one of the best (and easiest to use immediately) is using prospecting queries. (You can also use the BuzzStream Prospecting Module to rapidly run lots of prospecting queries.)

Stems and Keywords

A prospecting query typically consists of (at least) two parts: a stem (otherwise known as a footprint) and a keyword.

Query stems have been written about extensively on other blogs.  Most people get them right.

So let’s look at the other piece that gives folks trouble: keywords.

Link Building Keyword Research: Your Link Building Keywords Aren’t Your SEO Keywords

The first impulse newer link builders have is to put in their SEO keywords.  If you’re promoting a blog, or something else in a content-rich, cooperative community (like, say, the SEO community), this works great.  But if you’re aiming for commercial keywords, you won’t get much back with this approach. 

Instead of thinking about your ‘money’ keywords, you need to think about the keywords you’d use to described link opportunities.

The Process

When people ask me “What keywords should I use for my link building keywords?” I give them a process like:

–          Make a big list of EVERYONE that could be interested in your product or topic

–          Make it bigger. I mean EVERYONE.  Not just the obvious ones – go beyond. 

–          Google around for some sites/publications in these areas, and make note of how they describe themselves and what keywords they use.  (Sometimes you can use lists like AllTop to find these.)

–          Now take these keywords and use them for link building keyword research.

An Example

Because that’s kind of an abstract concept, let’s take an example.  Let’s say you’re working on a linking campaign for the youth golf section of a ecommerce sports retailer.  Your client sells child-sized golf clubs, bags, balls, accessories, etc.

Well the obvious place to start is golf sites.  So you might start with some guest post prospecting queries for Golf.

But you’ll run out of golf linking opportunities pretty quickly.  And chances are your competitor’s SEOs went out and grabbed all of those golf link opportunities as well.

Lateral Thinking

Now it’s time for lateral thinking: Who else is interested in golf for kids? Might they have websites?

Let’s think:

–          Mommy Bloggers (numerous but have been hit up by marketers so frequently you need to come to the table with serious gift items)

–          Dad Bloggers (a rapidly growing category)

–          Youth sports coaching blogs (not as numerous, but definitely a strong fit)

–          Elementary Schools and Middle Schools

–          PE Teachers

And the list goes on.


Let’s unpack that example a little bit and look at PE teacher blogs. 

I immediately find four or five, and they all call themselves some variant on “the Physical Education blog”, so I start with the query “Physical Education inurl:category/guest” to find PE guest blog opportunities.

Happy Link Building, and please leave any thoughts or questions in the comments.


  • Its nice to hear about keyword trageting research but i am little confused with how dad bloggers and mommy bloggers are realated to this sphere?

  • Hi Norman,
    Parents are the ultimate economic buyers of youth golf equipment, so it’s important to appeal to them. Additionally, in certain parts of the US, teaching your son or daughter to golf and going golfing with them are things people do with their kids, so there’s relevance to parents.

3 pingbacks