SEO Link Building Fundamentals

Link building is one of the biggest SEO tasks. It can often be confusing and difficult to come up with ideas of how to get started. Let’s explore a couple of different techniques for using Yahoo Search to help you find some juicy targets by looking at your competitor’s links.

For example, let’s say you’re looking to build links to Nissan USA. First, look at the backlinks of your major competitor’s sites using the link domain command. Here are the results you might get from this exercise:

Note that the “-site:” part of the command is there to screen out the internal links on the site. After all, your focus is on the external Web sites linking to them, not their internal links.

Nonetheless, this is still a bit overwhelming. You’ve checked out three competitive sites, and they all have more than 100,000 backlinks. This project might be a bit more than your summer intern can tackle.

To begin narrowing this down, see who links to all of the competitors you’re targeting. You can do that by using a command such as:

This identifies the Web pages that link to all three domains, Ford, Chevrolet, and GM. This is interesting because if a Web page links to more than one car company (in this case Ford and GM, and GM’s sub-brand Chevrolet), it’s likely that it’s an article meant to be a bit more of a roundup of sorts.

In any event, the results from this query look like this:

Yahoo Link Domain Query

This gives you 3,360 links targets. But there’s one remaining flaw in this output: if you start contacting all of these Web sites about these various pages, you may end up contacting sites that already link to yours. This can be embarrassing at best, and even worse, result in the removal of your link.

So it’s best to refine the command to something like:

Here’s what the results end up becoming once you use this form of the command:

Yahoo Link Domain Results

Notice how the volume of links dropped from 3,630 to 3,100. You have successfully filtered out 530 links that already link to the Nissan USA site. Now it’s much more plausible to hand off this campaign work to your intern.

However, some additional filtering may still be valuable. For example, you may want to isolate news-oriented sites, and handle them a bit differently than other types of sites. You may even hand these over to your PR firm.

You can target a command at such sites using a command such as: “news”

Yahoo Link Domain News Results

The command is admittedly a bit imperfect (because a site could mention the word news without being a news site or page), but should still act as a pretty good filter. There are many flavors of this. For example, you can also isolate “.edu” domains quite easily, using a command in this form:

Here are the results you get from that command:

Yahoo Link Domain .Edu Results

There may be only 41 of these, but they’re likely to be juicy targets, and worth approaching individually. Links such as these are likely some type of overview of the automobile industry, and if you were Nissan USA, you may feel like you belong on the list!


Link building is often a slow and arduous process that unfolds over a long period of time. But the rewards are large and it’s a fundamental requirement for marketing any Web site, regardless of how established it may be.

Creative link research can provide you with some real advantages. It focuses your link building efforts on targets that are likely to provide a high response rate (or a high success rate) and also likely to be pretty meaningful links.

Join us for a Search Engine Marketing Training in Boston, November 6 at the Hilton Boston Back Bay. Not only will you walk away with the knowledge and skills to be a successful search engine marketer, you’ll also jumpstart your career and enhance your professional know-how.

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