Six Powerful Ways to Find Link Targets

    February 17, 2004

Finding quality sites to target is at the heart of any effective linking strategy. Quality sites’ are not the ones that are easiest to get links from but those that will drive most relevant traffic to your site. In an earlier article, I looked at how to maximize your link value to make your site more attractive to link targets. In this article I’ll explore how to find quality link targets.

To find quality sites, you’ve got to do methodical research before you start – lots of it.

But before you begin, here are two important tips:

It’s easy to get lost when trawling for target sites so bookmark interesting sites immediately: at the end of each research session, sort your bookmarks into categories immediately – don’t leave it till later. Get to know how to organize your bookmarks in Explorer or (as I do) use a handy bookmark program like Acqurl, (

When you do find an interesting site, always do a backwards link search on Google. Say I’m looking for ezine sites and come across, I like the site and want to find more like it. I press backward links’ on the Google Toolbar or do the search: link: This returns about 346 web pages that link to Zinos. Scan through these quickly – about 10 seconds per page and on page 16 (yes, 16 pages, that’s under 3 minutes) I strike gold. The editor at has compiled a list of over 40 sites like Zinos. Finding those sites on my own would have taken a lot longer than 3 minutes.

So here are six powerful ways to identify quality sites.

1. Mine your referrer logs

Check your referrer logs every day (if you don’t know how check with your ISP). Cut and paste that day’s referring websites into an Excel spreadsheet, then review once a month. Take the sites that refer most traffic and do a backwards link search looking for similar sites that you could also approach.

2. Find out who links to your competitors

Logic says that if sites link to your competitors, they could also link to you. This is a good start. But don’t stop at just sending me-too’ link requests. Look carefully at the sites that link to your competitors. What market sectors do they come from? Are there any surprises? Is there a niche market that you haven’t thought about. Again for every useful site do a backwards link search.

3. Drill down through directories

Start with DMOZ, Yahoo and Looksmart. Look specifically for information sites or industry specific directories. Be comprehensive and explore as many relevant categories as you can.

4. Scan the Blogs

Search engines love blogs because they are full of fresh content and extensive links. They’re useful for linking because:

Blogs are great pointers to useful interesting sites

When you make a comment, you often get a link back to your site

You get a feel for the real news of the day.

One of the best places to look is, which is a specialized search engine that crawls more than 59,000 news sites, weblogs and RSS feeds at least once a day (and some once every 3 hours). You can find more blog search engines in The Search Engine Journal, .

5. Look for ezines

Great ezines generally provide more in-depth content than blogs and are published less often. I’ve yet to find an ezine directory that I’m entirely happy with but you could try or Usually, I’ll just do a Google search. If I’m looking for ezines on photography, I’ll just enter the search term, photography ezines’.

6. Cultivate Journalists

Get to know the traditional media in your market sector and watch what they do online. Start to keep a record of key journalists and the type of stories they cover. Do some searches on Google News – and note the latest news in your industry. If you find this useful, sign-up for Google’s news alert service.

This methodical approach takes time but results in a long list of highly relevant link targets and an important overview of your market online.

Now you’ve got the list, go get the links.

Ken McGaffin provides link building services to established and new
launch websites. He is the author of the highly acclaimed ‘Linking
Matters Report’. You can claim your free copy at