One of my favourite ways to build up a link building prospect list is to find a few sites which I think I can get a link from, either with a simple link request, a guest post, a payment or something more creative, then to dig around for similar sites which might also make good prospects.
Here’s a run down of a few tools you can use to make this research a bit easier. All these tools work best if you use them for general queries or themes rather than something very specific.
Google ‘related’ operand
This is the simplest and still probably most effective way to search for similar sites. You can either search for related:www.mysite.com on Google or use the “similar” button which sits next to the cache link on some results.
Similar Sites is a great little search tool which uncovers the top related sites from a starting site. Again keep the starting url as generic as possible and this search tool will analyse the themes and topic of the site and suggest similar alternatives. I find this especially useful for uncovering advertising opportunities with non-commercial sites or for recruiting niche affiliates.
Google Chrome similar pages extension
Google make the best link building tools! This is a neat little extension for Chrome which shows you similar pages to the page you’re on. I like this tool for finding similar content on other sites so if I’m on an article about “things to do in Barcelona” this tools is good for finding similar articles on other sites, as opposed to similarsites.com which is better for finding similar sites based on their overall theme, which doesn’t always work as well for finding relevant content on generally themed site like a world travel guide.
From the same people who make the similarsites.com tool and I presume based on the same results but this firefox extension shows you similar sites to the one you’re on in a side panel. This is a pretty efficient way to browse prospects. I browse to a site, tag it in Raven tools link manager then click the next similar site in the sidebar and repeat- a really quick way to manually build up a qualified prospect list.
Directories & links pages
Not exactly a tool I know but decent general web directories like DMOZ or Best of the Web (see my previous post on Best of the Web advertising) are often a handy resource for finding sites in a particular category. Start with a seed site and identify what directories its listed in, then work through the other sites listed in that category.
Similarly links pages like you see on many old school information sites often link out to lots of the most established sites within a particular niche, making them a really quick research tool when entering a new niche (blogrolls can be used in the same way if you’re looking for related blog sites).
What techniques do you use to research similar sites for your link building campaigns?