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How to Find Great Link Prospects

“Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.” What was true of Thomas Edison is true of SEOs. We have to sweat and work hard to find excellent linking opportunities. Fortunately, here’s a big list of how you can use our tools and free ones to make you look like a genius with less effort.

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Creativity and Sweat = Diversified and Natural-Looking Link Portfolio

 how to find great link prospects

"Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration." What was true of the American inventor Thomas Edison is true of SEOs. We have to sweat and work hard to find excellent linking opportunities. Fortunately, here's a big list of how you can use our tools and free ones to make you look like a genius with less effort.

If you're new to SEO, read this before you build a single link. If you're an SEO veteran that lived through the Pandas and Penguins, this is a useful refresher on the powerful tools in your toolbox.

By searching for direct and peripheral keywords, you're covering all sides of a topic. Who knows what hidden opportunities you will discover?

Enjoy & Learn
Christoph C. Cemper


Bonus: You can also download this case study in PDF, ePub, and Mobi (Kindle) format for easy offline reading. Get it FOR A TWEET HERE

Table of contents


During an interview at the July SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle, Matt Cutts said that “Link building is sweat plus creativity.” Unlike many issues Matt has ever talked about, that one is actually hard to disagree with. That accurately describes all of the stages of the link building process, starting from the very initial one—which is link prospecting.

Searching for high quality, relevant link opportunities is probably the most time-consuming and laborious of all the steps. It is also very important to have a good start with it. Performing successful and creative link prospecting can facilitate later phases of link building, and it can even ensure the success of your whole campaign.

You should begin with a simple Google search.

Google search using advanced queries

Manual research

To get the most accurate results, you should not search with basic phrases like you would with an ordinary search. Here is where the advanced search operators can help. If you are an SEO, probably the most popular one you know is which restricts results to the site or domain you specify. However, here we will need some additional ones combined with quotation marks and plus and minus signs. You can use the following:

inurl: - will restrict the results to pages containing specified word in the URL

allinurl: - restricts results to those containing all the query terms you specify in the url

intitle: - restricts results to pages containing the specified term in the title

allintitle: - restricts results to those containing all the query terms you specify in the title

intext: - restricts results to pages containing the specified term in the text

allintext: - restricts results to those containing all the query terms you specify in the text of the page

inanchor: - will restrict the results to pages containing the terms you specify in the anchor text in links to the page

allinanchor: - restricts results to pages containing all the query terms you specify in the anchor text in links to the page

To have a full prospecting search query, obviously a keyword is also necessary.

Remember: A keyword you use for prospecting doesn’t have to be the Money keyword you want to rank for.

You need to think more widely and really get a feel for the industry you are prospecting. Identify who may be interested in your product or content, as well as the categories of blogs related to it (even indirectly, in some perhaps more vague ways). The key thing is to come up with a justification and a fair reason, so that the link being there will make sense.

To execute your search properly, you have to know what type of opportunities you want to get and what is the footprint you need to use to find them. For example, if your strategy is to build links from “resource pages” or relevant “ links” subpages, you can type:

  • inurl:resources + keyword
  • inurl:links + keyword

Let’s try an example in the hairdressing niche:

google advanced search

google advanced search2

After just clicking on one of the first results, we can see a pretty decent link opportunity:

link prospect example
If you are looking for guest posting opportunities, there are also many ways of searching to find the right prospects, including:

  • intitle:write for us + keyword
  • intext:keyword + “write for us”
  • intitle:contribute + inurl:blog + keyword
  • inurl:category/guest + keyword
  • inurl:category/guest + intitle:keyword
  • “guest post” + keyword

google advanced search3

google advanced search4

google advanced-search4
And here’s another nice example from just some quick research:


At this stage, it’s time to show off your creativity and impress even Mr. Cutts by inventing and combining all of the various effective search queries. Your main goal is to collect the largest possible list of matched link prospects.


To scale your link prospecting and give yourself some more possibilities, use the SERP Research Tool.

You can simply use the same combinations of advanced search formulas here. Personally, I always recommend trying search query ideas on manual research before entering them into the tool. It’s interesting to examine the results’ accuracy and to make sure I should continue research using that query. You can set up the tool to show only fresh results by selecting the past week in the “From” section (for example). serp tool

serp tool2

serp tool3

What is really great about the tool is that it gives you huge possibilities of immediately filtering and sorting the results by many important metrics, including Power*Trust, the number of backlinks to the page or domain, Domain Authority, social votes, and many more. If you would like to check the backlinks of a specific page in detail, then click a particular digit and a new Quick Backlinks Report will automatically start in a new tab. serp tool4

When you perform your research manually, you only see results from a single search phrase. Here, you have full control and a view of the keyword next to each result. You even find out if your site is already linked from a particular resource.

While selecting your prospects, you can simply mark them with a star, which means adding them to favorites. When you finish, you can go to the Favorites section to see all of the prospects you have chosen.

serp tool5

Competitors research

Following your competitors and using their resources to find potential link prospects is one of the first tactics you should execute. It’s useful not only to get link opportunities, but also to be well-oriented about what is going on in your industry. This will also help you define your strengths, weaknesses and potential room for improvement for your business in other fields.

The LinkResearchTools Toolbox has more than enough features to benefit from competitive research. They include:


Watching for Brand Mentions is a must for every SEO. The mere fact that a mention about your website or product already exists is half of the battle to bring a new link into existence. All you need to do is kindly reach out to the webmaster of that particular site and ask him to change it into a link.

How would you go about finding mentions across the Web? For the existing ones, you can perform a detailed BLP (Backlink Profiler) and filter the results by Link Type to “Mention.” blp

To be regularly up-to-date with new mentions, you can subscribe to sites like


There are many ways to find great link prospects with LRT and other tools. But sometimes it can be hard to assess if the targeted website you’ve found should really become your link prospect, and later a backlink source. My latest blog post about verifying the quality of resources during link prospecting may be helpful to you.

Being very creative and carrying out various ideas to look for link opportunities will help you maintain a diversified and natural-looking link portfolio.

This case study was written by Wojtek Mazur, CEO at Elephate, and proud user of Link Research Tools and Link Detox.

A word from Christoph C. Cemper
LRT Certified AgencyLRT Certified Professional
Are you as excited as I am? Tools and guides like this are like Christmas morning for an SEO. I want to try them all at once and see what works. If you use these tools in conjunction with our other how-to guides, you will be an unstoppable link builder.

Try out the tools and let me know in the comments which ones are your favorites and what they helped you do. Now let's get link-building!

Elephate is a LRT Certified Agency. This certification allows Elephate to receive consulting leads from us.

Our goal is to provide our user community and clients with quality service and knowledge. Our LRT Certified Professionals, Xperts, and Agencies are key to achieving this goal.

Looking forward to Wojtek’s and the Elephate team's future works. I personally recommend working with them whenever you get the opportunity.
Wojtek Mazur lrt certified professional

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Wojtek Mazur

Wojtek is a Search Marketing Specialist, focused particularly on Link Building, Content Marketing and Competitive Audits. He creates and implements campaigns for clients from various industries, endlessly discovering new and untapped prospects and strategies for Link Building. Wojtek is also experienced in Affiliate Marketing. Feel free to contact him with any issues. 

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