7 ways to find relevant Linkpartners

To be visible in the search engines it is of the essence that your websites should not have any technical flaws and that you have great content with the right keyword focus. Having said that, this does not automatically mean that you will reach the top of the search engine results pages. To achieve this you will need to build up a richly filled linkprofile: linkbuilding. In this post I shall give you 7 tips in getting good quality links. I shall also explain how you can find relevant linkpartners.

Find relevant domains for link requests

Natural links are links that are placed without you requesting it. You may have interesting and also useful content on your site, which are linkworthy. A requested link means that you contact potentials linkpartners for a link request.

Never forget this: The more relevant a site is, the more value a link will pass. Authority plays an important role. This means that your links will preferably come from a theme or industry related domain because its relevance is far greater. There are several ways to find relevant and authoritative sites and I shall discuss 7 different ways.

1. Competitors backlinks

A quick but effective way to find relevant link partners is to analyze your direct competitors. What works for the competitor will also work for you. To gain insight into your competitors backlinks, several tools can be used. In this article, I use Open Site Explorer (OSE), but you could also use, Majestic Site Explorer or Raven Tools. The data in OSE is a rough estimate of your (competitors) backlinks, but it is highly effective for linkbuilding. When analyzing a competitors domain in OSE you can gather the following information:

  • Page / domain authority
  • How many (different) domains are linking to your domain and those of your competitors
  • What are the most important domains (page / domain authority)?
  • Used anchor text
  • 301 redirects, no-follows
  • Social shares
  • And much more data

Go to Open Site Explorer (take a 30 day trial to test) and enter the domain name of a competitor. Then choose: Show Followed + 301 >> links from External Pages Only >> to All Pages on the Root Domain >> Download CSV.

Open Site Explorer

All the data and information you have now obtained must be arranged, so it can clearly be analyzed. I recommend you to read this blog post carefully. This allows you to investigate within minutes (provided you have the proper filters) the link building strategies of your main competitors. You can then see what the page / domain authority is per domain and what anchor text is used. You can also go one step further by making advanced filters in ‘Advanced Reports’ tab. You can then filter by ip-adres/C-Block, images, <noscript> tag and much more. Now the pages of the sites linking to your competitors can be analyzed to find out what type of links your competitors are getting. By doing so you can see if you can also get such type of links or get ideas in acquiring different type of links. A good approach strategy is therefore of the essence to ensure that the chance of getting a link is increased.

2. Google search operators

Google itself is a powerful tool for finding good link partners. To get the most out of finding potential link partners with Google, you can use search operators. With the search operators you can use specific queries to find relevant domains. The results are not arranged by relevance, as in the ordinary search results.

Here are some examples:

Search operators inurl

You get to see all the domains / pages where “marketing books” is stated in the url.

You get to see all the domains / pages where “guest blog” is stated in the title.

Search operators allintext

You get to see all the domains / pages where “buy shoes” is stated in the text.

There are many more possibilities to find relevant link partners using search operators.

Tip: combine search operators to find more relevant domains.

As I indicated before, the results are not ranked by authority and relevance. This means that the top 10 results are not necessarily good link partners. It is therefore recommended to judge all the results in terms of domain / page number authority. There is a useful tool to view all important data in one glance and that is the SEOmoz SEO Toolbar for Firefox and Chrome. Once installed, you choose “Display Overlay SERP”. If you focus on International sites, it is recommended to choose right in the Google results “Pages written in language” button. You can also use SEO for Firefox to access domain data in the search results.

SEO Toolbar

When the SERP Overlay gets turned on and you can then do a search for example “inurl: washing machine” and then the results will look like this:

Now under each result data from OSE is displayed and therefore it is possible to quickly analyze each domain. If the results are interesting enough then you can approach them to get a link.

3. Link directories

Link directories are domains (often theme related) with a lot of (relevant) links for visitors. In the Netherlands “startpagina” is a large link directory. A link directory can easily be found by using the following query in Google: inurl: <domain-name> intext: <theme / topic>. Please note that the value of link directories might decrease the coming time.

4. Google Display Network

Google’s Display Network can also be used to trace potential link partners. The “Placement Tool” can be used to find relevant link partners. You can also set-up a display campaign to find other relevant domains. To see what the authority of a domain is you can analyze it by using OSE.

Adwords placement tool

5. Google Alerts

New relevant sites can also be found by using Google Alerts. Create alerts for the important keywords, so you can get notifications when something is written on the subject. You can then see whether it is a relevant site for you to acquire a link.

6. Existing articles without reference link

It often happens that someone writes about your service/product/site, but does not link back to you. You can check out (it can be time consuming), which of these sites have not linked back to you by using the following search operator in Google: “brand name” -site: <domain-name> (eg “zalando” -site:zalando.nl). You now get a clean list of all the domains mentioning your domain. The anchor text is unfortunately not filtered. It is then a matter of checking if the sites are linking back to you. You can also use Google Alerts or a social media monitoring mention tool to track and see whether or not a link is placed. If it appears that no link has been placed you can contact the author / administrator and asking there if they are willing to place a link back to your domain.

7. Google Reader

Google reader is a handy tool to find link partners. Search on the topic of your choice by clicking on the “Add a subscription” button. Then you will get a list of recommendations (unfortunately it is not possible to segment by language).

Google readerBy looking at the amount of subscribers you can get an idea of the popularity of the site. Then check what the page / domain authority is by using OSE to determine whether the domain is relevant.

And now ….?

When you have found a list of potential link partners the next challenge will be to acquire a link. There are tons of ways and tactics to obtain links. So the next step will be: how and in what way will you approach relevant link partners to acquire a good reference.


My name is Stephen Farrelly and I am an Online Marketeer specialized in Search Engine Marketing (SEA and SEO), Analytics and Social Media (Strategy and advertising). I live in Rotterdam (The Netherlands).

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  1. Peter van der Graaf

    This looks like a great article on finding websites to get mentions with a link in them. SEO link building has little to do with it because all your checks and places to find partners don’t have anything to do with their link value.

    What does the site: operator in tip 6 do? If it is joined with zalando.nl it only shows results on that website and with a space in between it makes no difference in my search results.

    Good first article stevie and great domain. Keep up the good work and now start sharing the great stuff.

  2. Stephen

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for your reply. Sorry I see I forgot to put a “-” in front of site:zalando.nl. I adjusted it so it now should work.

    If you by change now a tool, which can track brand mentions without a link please let me know. Was testing a tool of Microsoft (forgot the name), but was not able to get it to work for me.

    And regarding the link value I like to check how strong a domain is to see if it is worth approaching, because imo they pass on a certain amount of link value. Of course the placement of the links within the website (structure) has a lot to do with this, but this is a topic I would like to soon discus with you ;-)

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