Link Prospecting with Google AdWords

Sep 16th 2014

Link Prospecting with Google AdWords

AdWords is an underutilized treasure trove for link builders. We know about the power of the Google Keyword Planner for new keyword ideas and ballpark search volume estimates but many are unaware of the other tools within Google AdWords that can provide a whole slew of link opportunities. Fortunately, I’ve put together a guide for using four of my favorite AdWords reports and tools for link prospecting.

Your Auction Insights Report

The Auction Insights report is a fantastic tool for discovering your true SERP competitors and analyzing how your ad coverage stacks up against them. It’s also a potential goldmine for discovering companies who serve the same industry as you, but are not direct competitors – the ultimate link prospects.

In diving into these reports, you’ll likely find a list of websites that are your direct competitors, indirect competitors (not selling the same products/services), and irrelevant competitors (companies who aren’t legitimate competition).

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Download the report, as shown below, and open it in an Excel doc. Filter out your direct competitors and comb through your list.

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Not every report will bear link prospecting fruit, but every once in awhile you’ll find a relevant prospect or ten. Automate the report to send to you on the first day of the month and add it to your link prospecting process.

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The Display Planner

Identify potential link partners by searching for your core business topics in the Display Planner. The tool will reveal dozens or hundreds of websites that are opted into Google AdSense and run Google ads on their pages. Many sites that monetize through serving display ads also accept guest posts and/or user-generated content.

Type your company’s main topics and keywords into the “Your customers are interested in” field and you’ll be shown dozens of high traffic volume, high PR websites with quality link metrics.

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Select the “Individual Targeting Ideas” tab then Placements, and Sites. Download your report and start prospecting!

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Your Display Campaigns

What Display Network placements have you been successful on already? They’re probably located on industry-related websites. They’re definitely not located on your competitors’ websites. They could be the perfect places to distribute content!

Open your desired Display campaign and navigate to the Placements tab to see where your ads have been shown.

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Customize your columns to choose the metrics that are important indicators of success and relevance as potential link prospects.

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Apply your conversion metrics. Of course, conversions are the go-to indicator for success, but don’t neglect Assisted Conversions, and View-Through Conversions. Assisted Conversions tell you that a placement helped another touchpoint to convert a prospect, and View-Through Conversions tell you about placements where users did not click on your ads, but later converted.

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Your Display Remarketing Campaigns

Display Remarketing campaigns may be the best resource in your tool belt for learning about how your customers use the web.  Ideally, you’re running a Display Remarketing campaign with minimal placement / topic / keyword layering to get a true sense of how your target customers use the web. If not, no problem, as you’ll still find relevant websites that your customers visited on their path to conversion.

Open one of your Remarketing campaigns and navigate to the Display Network tab, then Interests & remarketing.

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Download and comb through your placement reports and find industry websites to target for guest blogging / contribution. Like the Auction Insights report, this is one you can automate and get directly in your inbox on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.

Link prospecting is hard work. If your company uses Google AdWords, then you’re essentially paying Google for data – you best be using it. Using your Auction Insights report, Display Planner data, Display campaigns and Remarketing campaigns can be a wealth of link prospecting data for savvy link builders.

What AdWords tools and reports do you use for link prospecting? Share in the comments!

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