LinkSpotting – Headlines That Lead To Links and Why

My last column, When Linking Experts Go Underground, elicited some interesting responses, and a private email with the following awesome request:

OK Eric – if you really follow hundreds of SEM news sources every day, you are seeing literally thousands of headlines every week. How do you spot the few that actually relate to and impact link building, and when you do spot them, would you please send them to me with your analysis/reasoning why? HAHAHAH just kidding but not really…

As I read it I had one of those forehead slapping Eureka! moments.

In other words, among the daily deluge of millions of news items, stories, announcements, press releases, etc., that scream at all of us, there are a couple, and just a couple, that indicate or lead to a real linking opportunity or a strategy idea. But you can’t find the “just a couple” that matter unless you scan through all of the nonsense and non-news and know what to look for and why, all based on headline and summary alone. This is no easy task.

Here’s an example. Last week, among the hundreds of headline links across hundreds of feeds, was this innocent little entry sandwiched between a pair of meaningless headlines…

34 Google Local Maps Sources For Hospitality Industry Reviews By Miriam Ellis – January 29, 2008

Buried among 388 other items in your feed reader or iGoogle page, it would be easy to just pass this entry by, especially if none of your clients are localized or hospitality related. Also, the article headline and body do not include or mention the words link or link building anywhere. This article is just about maps and the hospitality industry, and has nothing to with link building at all.

But it does. For the link builder that recognizes the immense power of the advice in that article, it’s a link builder’s dream. Why? Because Miriam’s fantastic work spells out and links to the exact sources that Google mines for reviews for any given search related to (in this case) the hospitality industry.

What does that really mean for the link builder? It means those reviews, with links back to the restaurant’s web site, have a shot at showing up above the organic results at Google. And that means, for example, a restaurant chain with locations in 87 cities could use that list of review sources as the exact targets where they should be encouraging patrons to submit reviews, because those targets are already on Google’s “white list.”

Have a look at it live right now: See this search result for Knoxville Steak House?

Now, tell me you aren’t going to end up at the Butcher Shop (FYI, not a client, never been a client). The Butcher Shop has six reviews and a direct link above the organics, and all because those reviews existed at citysearch, 10best, and insiderpages, which are among those 34 sources Google checks. If none of those reviews existed, that link to the Butcher Shop does not show up, or if it did it likely won’t be at position one. Also notice that The Butcher Shop does not appear ANYWHERE in the organic top ten, meaning the only reason the link to the Butcher Shop appears at all is due to those six reviews, all of which are user created (note to review spammers: please don’t).

Those six little reviews have put the Butcher Shop web site and restaurant at the top of the results for that particular search. Now do the same search for Orlando, and The Butcher Shop’s Orlando locale, with 21 reviews, is all the way down at position eight, nearly off page one completely. Charlie’s, on the other hand, with over 100 reviews, owns the Orlando search results for that same phrase, and has a map and phone number, but ironically misses the chance to get a direct link to their Orlando site and instead opted for a corporate site link that isn’t much help to someone in Orlando at all. Oops.

The savviest link builders probably already spotted the opportunity I just described, but the majority of online marketers, even heavy duty SEM folks, will miss it because it started out as little headline among hundreds of others speeding by you. Take that headline and describe/outline the impact like this example above, and the linking opportunity will be more obvious, especially for anyone with local or national clients with local locations. You’ll know what you have to do and why, and can initiate a link building strategy for this specific opportunity.

Now, back to that email I received. This example above has me wondering about launching a service to do just what I did here, not just for hospitality industry sites, but for ANY site. In other words, I’d read and mine the thousands of headlines each week like I do now, and when I identify one with legitimate linking related impact, I’d send you a short summary describing the link opportunity, plus what to do about it right now. In some I’ve always been doing this, just in my head where I file it away mentally and hope I remember it. This may be a way to finally catalog the linking opportunities I spot each day, plus share them with you. People say we link builder’s don’t share the good stuff. Here’s a way to do that.

Does this sound like something you’d like me to do here at LinkWeek? It beats the heck out of you having to scan all those headlines yourself, doesn’t it?

Tell me what else would be useful to you, and let’s see where it leads us.

Eric Ward has been in the link building and content publicity game since 1994, providing services ranking from linking strategy and link building training. The Link Week column appears on Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: B2B Search Marketing Column | Channel: SEO | Google: Maps & Local | Google: Partnerships | Link Building | Link Building: General | Link Week Column | Local Search Column | Search Marketing: Local Search Marketing


About The Author: has been creating linking strategies for clients since 1994. Eric publishes the strategic linking advice newsletter LinkMoses Private, and provides linking services, training and consulting via

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