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27 Apr 2010

7 Ways to Use Keywords for Link Building Campaign Design

keywords 1Keywords are a gateway to understanding how a market thinks, acts and buys. They’re also the common language for most SEO and PPC teams, and a clear way of connecting revenues with their work in the eyes of upper management. This all makes keywords a natural place to begin discussing – and designing – a link building campaign.

(Note: To thank early adopters during the launch of their new Link Building Toolset, Ontolo is offering a 25% discount that ends today at 9pm PST on 4/27/2010. They’ve let us know that they will never be offering a discount like this again, and that the pricing is good for all future upgrades, price changes, etc.)

Money Keywords vs. Market Defining Keywords

First, a note on the disctintion between money keywords ($KWs) and market defining keywords (MDKWs). Most SEM teams are familiar with $KWs – those are the terms that they bid on and optimize for because prospects use them when looking for solutions to their pains. However, $KWs are not always as useful when analyzing a market for its link building opportunities. This requires market defining keywords, which are the highest-level terms used to describe a market. So, for an online golf retailer, the money keywords would look like [brand name, model number, driver]. The market defining keyword is, simply, golf and possibly golfing.

1) Identify Your MDFK and $KW SERPs Dominators

SERP dominators are the websites that consistently rank well in the SERPs for your $KWs as well as your MDKWs. Though you may think you know your primary search competitors, you’ll be surprised at the true SERPs dominators when you do a comprehensive analysis. Start with reading our guide to SERP dominator analysis here >> We created a worksheet and occurrence counting tool to help out (there’s also source code available for a tool that automates this process). The SERP dominators in your keyword market space are also excellent places to start pulling competitive backlink data, should you choose to develop a link prospect list that way.

2) MDFKs for Industry Link Opportunity Analysis

What link opportunities exist in your market? Your market defining keywords are an excellent place to start gauging opportunity. You can look for blogs: [MDFK blogs], news sites: [“MDFK news”], guest posting opportunities: [MDFK “guest post”], interviewers/ees: [MDFK intitle:interview], niche directories: [“MDFK Directory”], niche forums and community sites: [MDKW community], and industry associations if you’re in the B2B space: [MDKW association]. Search for each of these in Google and compare the number of relevant hits in the top ten. The query with the most relevant hits could be an area for you to query more deeply and begin developing a specific campaign.

3) MDFKs for Competitive Link Analysis

While surveying your industry for opportunities, keep an eye out for your competitors, as well as any of the SERP dominators you previously identified. Are their hostnames appearing in any of your result sets? Are they mentioned in the news sites you find? Are they the subjects of interviews? Track them carefully and you’ll uncover the PR and content-based link building moves of your competition. Most importantly you’ll get some great ideas on what’s working.

4) Connecting Existing Linkable Assets to Keywords

We wrote recently on link building assets, which are pages and resources on your site – and people within your organization – that are the most linkable to your market. This could be a PDF collection, a jobs listing page, coupons, or even your CEO (for interviews). The important thing is going from assets to the keywords that will help you turn up link opportunities. Start with your list of assets and then brainstorm their keywords. Then combine these keywords with your MDKWs and you should start to turn up some places to submit your assets or request that someone check them out for consideration.

5) MDKWs + Link Building Query Operators

MDKWs are crucial when conducting a thorough dig for ALL the link prospects in your keyword space. You conduct this dig by combining your MDKWs with link building queries, designed to root out opportunities based on their “footprints.” We recommend the following tools for this:

SEOBook Link Suggest Tool

Link Search Tool by SoloSEO

The Ontolo Link Building Query Generator

6) Getting Your Money Keywords in Anchor Text with Guest Posts

One way to use your money keywords in linkbuiding is when you’ve decided on a guest post campaign, in which you write articles for publication on relevant sites that accept content submissions. In most cases you’re allowed a snippet of description, along with a link or two. Depending on your relationship with the publisher, you may be able to have more control over the anchor text. In some occasions they may allow you to even add links within the body text, especially if there’s a value-add reason for the links to be there.

7) Getting Money Keywords in Anchor Text with Outreach Requests

When conducting outreach you can request that people link to you with particular link text. However, unless you’re paying them, it’s not highly-likely that people will respond to your requests. It doesn’t hurt to ask, though you’re probably better off focusing on building high-trust editorial links to your site and letting your onsite SEO handle the rest!

Garrett FrenchAbout the Author:
Garrett French is the co-founder of Ontolo, Inc., creators of the Ontolo Link Building Toolset which uses your target keywords to find and grade link prospects. The Link Building Toolset reduces link prospecting and qualification time, letting you focus on the most valuable part of link building: relationships.