Link building is nowhere near dead, and some of the best link opportunities can be discovered by setting up email alerts for various things that are published on the web. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand runs through eight specific types of alerts that you can implement today for improved SEO.
Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going to chat about email alerts and using them to help with some of your SEO efforts, specifically content identification, competitive intelligence, some keyword research, and, of course, a lot of link building because email alerts are just fantastic for this.
Now here’s what we’ve got going on. There are a number of tools that you can use to do email alerts. Obviously, Google Alerts, very well-known. It’s free. It does have some challenges and some limitations in scope, so you won’t be able to do everything that I’m going to talk about today.
There’s Fresh Web Explorer from Moz. Of course, if you’re a Moz Pro subscriber, you’ve probably used Fresh Web Explorer. And Fresh Web Explorer’s alerts functionality, in particular, is kind of my favorite Moz feature period right now.
We also have some very strong, good competitors in this space—Talkwalker, Mention.net, and Tracker—all of which have many of the features that I’m going to be talking about here. So whatever program you’re using, this stuff can help.
That being said, I am going to be talking in terms of the operators that you would use for Fresh Web Explorer specifically. Google Alerts has some of these operators but not all of them, and so do Talkwalker, Mention, and Tracker. They might not have all of these, or theirs might be slightly different. So make sure you take a look at how the search operators for each of those work before you go engaging in this.
The operators I’m going to specifically mention are the minus command, which removes. I think that works in all of them. That’s essentially saying show me this stuff, but don’t show me anything that contains this.
Link:, this works in plenty of them. That’s showing links to the URL specifically. RD: which in Fresh Web Explorer shows links to the root domain, and SD: which shows links to the subdomain.
Quotes, which matches something exactly, works in all of these. TLD, which shows only links from a given domain extension. If I want to see only German websites, I can put TLD:DE and see only sites from Germany. Then, site: which shows only results from a specific sub or root domain, as opposed to like SD or RD, which show links to a subdomain or root domain.
This will all make sense in a second. But what I want to impart is that you can be using these tools, these types of commands to get a ton of intelligence that’s updated daily.
What I love about alerts is whether you do it weekly, or you do it daily, however, whatever frequency works for you, the beautiful thing is it’s a constant nudge, a constant reminder to us as marketers to be concentrating on something like, oh, yeah, I should really be thinking about link building. I should really be thinking about what my competition’s writing about. I should really be thinking about what bloggers in this niche think about my keywords and who they’re talking about when they mention these keywords, all that kind of stuff.
That nudge phenomenon of just having the repetitive cycle is really important for marketers. I feel like it helps me a tremendous amount when I get my alerts every night just to remember oh, yeah, I should do this. I should take a look at that. It’s right in my email. I take care of it with the rest of my work. Very, very helpful.
#1: Links to my competitors, but not to me
I mean come on. It’s just a gimme. It’s an opportunity for a bunch of things. It shows you what types of keywords and content people are writing about in the field, and it almost always gives you a link opportunity or at least insight into how you might get a link from those types of folks. So I love this.
I’m going to imagine that I’m Rover.com. Rover is a startup here in Seattle. They essentially have a huge network. They’re sort of like Airbnb but for people who do dog sitting and pet sitting. Great little company.
Rover has got some competitors in the field, like DogVacay.com and PetSitters.org and some of these other ones. They might, for example, create an alert that is RD:dogvacay.com. Show me people who link to my competitor’s domain, anywhere on my competitor’s domain, people who link to PetSitters.org minus RD:rover.com. Don’t show me people who also link to me. This will show them a subset of folks who are linking to their competition not linking to them. What a beautiful link building opportunity.
#2: Mentions my brand, but doesn’t link to me
Number two, another gimme and one that I’ve mentioned previously in some link building videos on Whiteboard Friday, places that mention my brand but don’t link to me. A number of these services can help you with this. Unfortunately, tragically, Google Alerts is the only one that can’t. But mentions my brand, doesn’t link to me, this is great.
In this case, because Rover’s brand name is so generic, people might use it for a lot of different things, they’re not always referring to the company Rover. They might use a keyword in here like Rover and any mention of dog sitting minus RD:rover.com. That means someone’s talked about Rover, talked about dog sitting, and they didn’t link to them.
This happens all the time. I have an alert set up for Moz that is “RD:moz.com,” and actually for me I just put minus Morrissey because the singer Morrissey is like the most common thing that people mention with Moz. I think I have another one that’s like “moz marketing minus RD:moz.com.” Literally, every week I have at least some news sites or sites that have mentioned us but haven’t linked to us. A comment or a tweet at them almost always gets us the link. This is great. I mean it’s like free link building.
#3: Mentions my keywords, but doesn’t link to me
This is similar to the competitive one but a little broader in scope.
So I might, for example, say “dog sitting or pet sitting minus RD:rover.com.” Show me all the people in the space who are talking about dog sitting. What are they saying?
The nice thing is with Fresh Web Explorer, and I think Talkwalker and Mention both do this, they’re sorted in terms of authority. So you don’t just get a bunch of random jumble. You can actually see the most authoritative sites.
Maybe it is the case that The Next Web is covering pet sitting marketplaces, and they haven’t written about Rover, but they’re mentioning the word “dog sitting.” That’s a great outreach point of view, and it can help uncover new content and new keyword opportunities too.
#4: Shows content produced by a competitor or news site on a topic related to me
For example, in the case of Rover.com, they might be a little creative and go, “Man, I really want to see whenever the Humane Society mentions dog sitting, which they do maybe once every two or three months. Let me just get a reminder of that. I don’t want to subscribe to their whole blog and read every post they put out. But I do really care when they talk about my topic.”
So you can set up an alert like dog sitting “site:humanesociety.org.” Perfect. Brilliant. Now I’m getting those content ideas. Potentially there are some outreach opportunities here, link building opportunities, keyword opportunities. Awesome.
#5: Show links coming from a geographic region
Let’s say, hey, I saw PetSitters.org is going international. They just opened up their UK branch. They haven’t actually, but let’s say that they did. I could create an alert like “RD:petsitters.org TLD:.co.uk.” Now it shows me all the people who are linking to PetSitters.org from the U.K. Since I know they just expanded there, I can start to target all those people who are coming out.
#6: Links to me or my site
This is very important for two reasons. One is so you know when new links are coming, where they’re coming from, that kind of stuff, which is cool to see. Sometimes you can forward those on, see what people are saying about you. That’s great.
But my favorite part of this is so I can thank those people, usually via Twitter, or so I can promote it on social media networks. Seriously, if someone’s going to go and say something nice about Rover and link to me, and it’s a third party news source or a blogger or something, I totally want to share that with my audience, because it reminds them of me and is also great promotional content that’s coming from someone else, an authoritative external voice. That’s wonderful. This can also be extremely helpful, by the way, to find testimonials for your business and press mentions that you might want to put on your site or in your conversion funnel.
#7: Find blogs that are writing about topics relevant to my business
This is pretty slick.
It turns out that most of these alerts systems will also look at the URL when they’re considering alerts, meaning that if someone has blog.domain.com, or domain.com/blog/whateverpost, you can search for the word “blog” and then something like “dog sitter.” Optionally, you could add things like site:wordpress.com, site:blogspot.com, so that you are getting more and more alerts that are showing you blogs that write about your topic, your keywords, that kind of stuff. This is pretty slick.
I especially like this one if you have a very broad topic area. I mean if you’re only getting a few results with your keywords anyway, then you can just keep an alert on that shows you everything. But if you have a very broad topic area, and dog sitting is probably one of those, you want to be able to narrow in on the blogs that you really care about or the types of sites that you really care about.
#8: Links to resources/data that I can compete with/offer a better version
I like this as a link building strategy, and I’ll use it on occasion. I don’t do it all the time, but I do care at certain points when we’re doing a campaign.
For example, a link to a resource or a piece of data that’s been collected out there on the Web that I can compete with or offer a better version of. Somebody, for example, is linking to the Wikipedia page on dog sitting or, let’s say, a statistics page from a Chamber of Commerce or something like that, and I have data that’s better, because I’ve done a survey of dog owners and pet sitting, and I’ve collected all this stuff. So I have more recent, and more updated, and more useful data than what Wikipedia has or this other resource.
I can reach out to these folks. I love seeing that. When you see these, these are often really good link targets, targets for outreach. So there’s just a lot of opportunity by looking at those specific resources and why people link to them and who.
So, with all of this stuff, I hope you’re going, setting up those alerts, getting your daily or weekly nudges, and improving your SEO based on all this stuff.
Thanks, everyone. See you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.