How to Prospect for Links Using Social Media

by Zeph Snapp November 12th, 2012 

Since the first iteration of the Panda update, the term link building has become a dirty word in the SEO industry, synonymous with forum posts, profile links and comment spam. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Google exists because links are the best way to quantify which sites are best for a given keyword phrase, and despite the advent of social media and Google Authorship as influential factors, that basic fact will never change.

That doesn't mean you can't leverage these same platforms to build links for your website. Each one of the 3.5 major (insert G+ joke here) social networks can help in this process, here is how:

Twitter

We love using Twitter for prospecting. Companies and bloggers who tweet on a regular basis are more likely to be engaged, and as a result you hear back from them faster, and they are more likely to say yes, especially if you a great article for them to post.

  • Search Twitter

This seems pretty self-explanatory, but use your "head" terms, as well as those you found using the method above. Make a list of accounts that are using those terms. Follow them from your alias account, and drop their info into Excel for later use.

  • Search bio's

Followerwonk is great for this. Because of our unique challenges, we end up using the keyword in multiple languages. You also want to start prequalifying at this point as well by looking at user's websites. If you've created customer personas, they can be very helpful at this stage as well, because you can use them to find users who fit the criteria on which you based them.

For example we have a client whose products are for animals. Instead of just searching for the keyword, we know that reaching veterinarians is also crucial, so we use that terms related to them as well.

Google +

  • Rinse and repeat. You can use this same technique for G+ using the GoogleWonk tool developed by Robert Baxter, and while it won't be effective for all niche's, it is always worth a shot.

LinkedIn

Probably the most undervalued channel for link prospecting. If you've created an alias for your account, make sure to create a profile for them and join groups that are relevant to your target market. We always start with the head keyword terms, then look at the industry where the client operates, and finally focus on your potential customer industries.

For example, we work with a company that offers employee recognition software. First we would search for groups that talk about employee recognition and motivation. Since this is SaaS, and other companies that operate in this space (but aren't competitors) will be the quickest to see the value proposition, we'd look for SaaS groups in Latin America. Finally, since we created customer persona's we know that HR people are most likely be interested in this product, we would look for HR related groups.

Pro Tip: Create a LinkedIn profile at the very beginning of the project, since LinkedIn limits the number of groups you can join initially.

Pro Tip #2: Qualify the groups before you apply for entry. Make sure the groups have lots of active members. Of course some groups are not as well regulated and attract spammers, so before you join, check the actual posts to ensure that they are relevant to the name of the group (posts that offer Cheap Gucci Bags, or repeat the same posting from different profiles are a dead giveway).

Once you are in, monitor the posts and contribute relevant opinions. Post relevant articles no matter the author. Ask active members to become contacts. Once you have become a trusted member of these groups, start looking through people's profiles. If they have a blog (or even a company website), pitch them a guest post.

Pro Tip #3 Ask for help. Make sure that your question is specific and within the confines of group discussions, but people like to show off how much they know!

LinkedIn is also a great source for referral traffic, which in a way is just as good as links. Especially if you are in the B2B space it is an opportunity for you to speak directly to potential clients.

Facebook

Of course everybody knows that the key to good marketing is to "Create Great Content". Since there are so many blog posts about this very subject, I'm going to assume that you are already doing this (which is important because some of these tactics hinge on it). Just in case, here is a great way to get new content ideas.

Using the Facebook Ad Creator to Find Content Ideas

This is not a new idea, but I so rarely see people using it, that it can't hurt to include it. Here is a step by step guide.

1. Go to the Ad Creator

Seriously, easy.

2. Choose your Audience

Since we work exclusively on Spanish SEO, we always add all the Spanish-language countries, especially those in Latin America.

3. Choose a keyword

It is best to use a head term because you will get more results. Here we chose "vitamin" and got two interesting results, Veganism and Adidas. There are so many blog posts that could come from that!

4. Write the post.

5. Share the post on Twitter and LinkedIn (and G+ too, I guess :P )

This can also be a great way to expand your keyword list by combining the terms to create long-tail search possibilities. Once you have some great blog posts, use the techniques we showed to place and promote it!

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Link Building Demystified & Simplified: Learning How To Build Links

Zeph Snapp

My company gives great jobs to young, qualified Mexicans. I train, mentor and (try to) inspire our staff. Let me know if you would like me to guest post on your blog, or come speak at your event!

rel=me

You May Also Like

5 Responses to “How to Prospect for Links Using Social Media”

  1. jimi ellis says:

    Good post and thanks for the reading Zeph, I don't really understand LinkedIn though, to me it seems business orientated and having a niche' product or business, i will have to get a grasp of it and follow your tips. Also confusing is the Facebook Ad promotion, it's a bidding platform on how much your budget is? Not good if you have a low budget.
    Thanks again,,, Jimi.

    • Zeph Snapp says:

      Hi Jimi,
      Thanks for reading! We've found that links are tied very closely to social shares. If more people share your content, that you are more likely to get links. The LinkedIn technique is a way to share your great content with a wider audience, which if it is awesome, will result in links. We use Facebook as a way to come up with content ideas that people will actually want to read and share. If you have any other questions about the post or the techniques, please feel free to contact me, I'm always glad to help.

    • jimi ellis says:

      Ok thanks for your reply Zeph,
      I will give it a go, every portal to share your message is worth looking into in more detail.
      Jimi.

  2. Brian says:

    Great article Zeph. I'm with the previous guy, I've tried joining some groups on LinedIn, but have never contributed. That's a big fail on my part. I sometimes think it's too much time involved to do LinkedIn. But I may check back at LinkedIn to find people in the pizza niche. When it comes to pizza blogs, I think mine is one of the best, but it isn't just for pizzeria owners(who I'd find on LinkedIn maybe), but it's for consumers and people who want to be entertained with Pizza themed fun. So I may have bit off more than I needed by trying to be relevant to both groups (consumers and owners). As for G+, I've tried to find pizzerias on there using the service, but while so many people have profiles, they're dead. No one uses G+ in the niche I'm in.

    Thanks again for the info on LinkedIn. I needed it.

    • Zeph Snapp says:

      Hi Brian,
      Thanks for reading!

      As you say, you might have bitten off more than you can chew, but that is OK too! If you want to reach restaurant owners/operators, then LinkedIn is probably the best platform out there. I agree, G+ probably won't do much for you.

      Sharing on LinkedIn is actually super easy. If you reach out to me on social media, I'll share a time hack with you that allows you to post in multiple groups at the same time (just don't spam, OK?).