Like everyone else, I’m not psyched that Google took away my organic keyword data. It’s pretty uncool and, as a marketer, it makes my life a bit harder.

However, analytics is much more than keywords; and, there’s a lot of great information in there that can help drive better marketing decisions. That same data can also enhance any link building strategy. You just have to look in the right places.

Referral Traffic

Referral traffic is obviously important in understanding how your current link building campaigns are working, but it can also be used to identify new link opportunities. After all, analytics tells you who is already linking to you. What better way to identify relevant sites than by looking at those associated with sites already linking to you?

Partner Sites

An easy way to identify potential link opportunities is to find out if referring sites have partner sites or associated sites. For example, in identifying links for one of our agriculture-related clients, we found that the referring site had seven other agriculture-related associate sites. While all seven of the sites weren’t exactly targeted to our client, a few were.

Associate Sites

To identify whether the site is associated with any other sites, take a look at footer links and about sections.

Related Sites  

Similar to partner sites, look for related sites. You can do this at,, or the old-fashioned way: using the Google related search operator [].

Related Site Search

Authors & Editors

Many writers these days aren’t writing for just one blog. They have a personal blog, they write for their company blog, they write for an industry blog, hobby blog, etc. The point is, look at the author of the article/post sending traffic your way and see if they write for any other sites that might be related to your business or industry. A quick Google search for the author’s name can show you where they are writing.

While they likely aren’t going to write about you again right away, just remember that whole relationship building thing search marketers keep talking about.

Site Search & Keyword Referrals

I attended a BlogWell event here in Boston the other day where a presenter talked about how they use search queries to come up with ideas for new content. I’m a huge fan of this concept, especially when it comes to long-tail keywords. (Remember, there is still keyword data in Webmaster Tools — and, if you run PPC, you can use search query reports.) Internal site search data can also be valuable in uncovering what people are looking for on your site.

How does this relate to links? With Hummingbird geared toward answering users’ questions, content that answers those questions is becoming more important and will likely rank better for those queries.

So… create content that answers your users’ questions and can act as a resource for others. You know what makes a great link? A resource.

Social Data

Not only can social drive links, it can also be a great indicator of what type of content people will link to.

Start by looking at your Google Analytics social referral data to identify the type of content that drives the most referrals from social. Is it list posts? White papers? Posts on a specific topic? Pull out to the top referring posts in social and start figuring out what it is they have in common. Also make sure to look by social channel to see which content performs best on which channel.

Twitter analytics and Facebook insights can also provide some good information to help with your link building strategy. Twitter will show you which posts get the most shares and favorites, while Facebook insights can tell you if specific photos or posts resonated with your audience. For example, at KoMarketing, we know that our list posts tend to get the most shares on Twitter (and often links), so we make sure to include a list post every couple months.

Twitter Analytics

Once you have all this data, you can start creating content that you know has a better chance of garnering shares and links.

Location Data

Do you know what people from Upstate NY love? Garbage plates. (Seriously, they are amazing.) Do you know how many links that BuzzFeed post has? According to Majestic, it’s 1,164.

People are connected to where they grew up, where they went to school, and where they currently live. By identifying where your audience is through analytics, you can create content and link strategies targeted at those areas.

While few of us have the reach of a site like BuzzFeed, it just takes one influencer to mention or link to your content.

Note: Google Analytics now has some demographic data about site visitors including age, gender, and interests. 

Start Digging In!

With all the challenges facing link builders these days, coming up with new link building ideas can be tough. By using your analytics data and understanding your audience, you can enhance your current campaigns and create new, targeted campaigns based on real data.

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

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Building | Link Building: General | Link Week Column


About The Author: is the Director of Online Marketing at KoMarketing Associates, a B2B Internet marketing firm based in Boston, MA. She has been in the search industry for eight years and loves all things Internet-related.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


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  • Nick Stamoulis

    “look at the author of the article/post sending traffic your way and see
    if they write for any other sites that might be related to your business
    or industry.”

    Great idea! A well-respected figure in your industry is bound to pop up on several different sites. Use their name to track those sites down and see what kind of linking opportunities exist for your brand.

  • Casie Gillette

    Thanks Nick!

  • Peter Odryna

    Nice article Casie, but it only scratches the surface of Marketing Analytics (social or otherwise). Google Analytics is really targeted at optimizing AdWords traffic, though as you point out can serve a more general purpose as well. We use it often.

    What’s interesting is that your article was identified as a Top-5 article by SocialEars even though it was just published today. It popped up because Angela Hausman (among many other key influencers) shared is socially.

    Angela’s sharing is important in that she is an expert in Social Media Analytics, and is Professor of Marketing at Howard University. SocialEars considered this information when observing which articles were being shared.

    As Nick points out in the above comment “A well-respected figure in your industry is bound to pop up on several different sites. Use their name to track those sites down.”.

    That’s a very, very tedious process without automation. And that’s exactly the purpose of Social Marketing Analytics such as SocialEars: To identify the Influencers, Find the key trending articles in real-time (like yours), and to Engage with the key audience to get your message heard.

  • Gaurav Makkar

    Thanks for the tips.. Casie..:-)

  • Casie Gillette

    Thanks for the comment Peter! And you are absolutely right on analytics, there’s a ton more it can do and people should be using it for not just SEO elements like content and link building, but to understand customers and drive sales/conversions.

    Good info on how the post found it’s way to you as well. Social sharing and influencers are a huge component of link building and overall online marketing these days. Cool to see the path.


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