Using Google Search Operators to Discover Link Building Opportunities
by Geoff Hineman
Link building is often the most time-consuming element of SEO, what with all the discovery, vetting, and outreach. That's why so many digital marketing tools offer link building components. If you are just getting started, however, there are some old school ways to shorten your discovery time for free, so you can get to the vetting part right away.
In this post, we are going to look at a fun way to use a couple of Google search operators to find link building opportunities the old-school way.
Revisiting Google Search Operators
Google search operators are basic commands you can include in a Google search query to help parse your results in ways that get you closer to your desired content. For example, the "site:" operator will narrow your search queries to only pages from the site you specify. In practice, it would look like this, "site:lettdirect.com geoff hineman". That search would yield only results about me from this site.
For our purposes, we won't be digging into the full list of Google search operators. Instead, we will be focusing on using a combination of two search operators: OR and -.
When looking for link building opportunities, you first want to find sites that are relevant to your brand and/or products. Some common places to look for relevant posts and articles are review sites or comparison sites. For instance, if you sell running shoes, you'll want to look at sites that review or compare running shoes.
Once you have established a vertical to search, it's time to use those search operators to narrow your search to pages that include the names of some competitors, but not your brand. Using our example of running shoes, we would execute a query that looks like this: "running shoes vs (nike OR reebok OR saucony) -adidas".
In this search, we are looking for comparison articles on running shoes that may include Nike, Reebok, or Saucony, but not Adidas. If I'm looking to building some links for the adidas brand, these types of results are a great place to start. The results look like this:
If you find the results too narrow for your purposes, you can play with alternate keyword verticals, such as athletic shoes, distance running shoes, etc.
When you gather enough results into a spreadsheet, you can then start the vetting process to identify which of the pages you gathered would be from logical sites to send outreach emails.
While this technique might seem a little old-school, it's a good one to keep in your link building toolbox. When it comes to link building, having a variety of different techniques at your disposal can only make you more effective.