Link Prospecting Template for Effective Link Building Campaign

I’ve been dealing with link building here at SEO PowerSuite for quite a while now. While this part of SEO is crucial, it’s also the most time-consuming one.

So, to make the whole process more efficient, I’ve recently made up my own link prospecting template. It allows to combine different sets of data in one place and never lose anything important.

The best thing about this template is that it works great with any kind of tools you’re currently using, be that SEO PowerSuite or any other SEO tool.

In today’s guide, I’ll skip the big theory part and will explain in detail the exact workflow I’ve built around this link prospecting template. Hope it will save you as much time as it has already done for me.

Let’s go.

New to link building?

If you need to brush up your memory on link building first, make sure to check our extensive collection of link-building guides.

What’s inside the template?

Important!

Download the link-building template now as we’ll be using it right from the beginning of this guide. After you follow the link, click Make a copy and save the template to your Google Drive.

The link prospecting template we’ll be using consists of the three major tabs.

The first tab is called 1. My Backlinks. Here, you’ll be adding all the backlinks your website already has. So to eliminate probable cases when you’ll be reaching out to your current link-building partners.

The second tab 2. My Prospects will be used to collect all the potential prospects for a link-building campaign. Here, we will also be filtering those prospects that already link to your website, as well as those who are not good enough to get a backlink from.

The third tab 3. Outreach Dashboard is where you’ll be keeping track of your outreach efforts.

In addition to the three major tabs, the template also has these minor tabs:

  • Outreach Templates. In this tab, I’ve put together some great examples of outreach letters you can use in your own link-building campaign.
  • Advanced Search Operators. Here, you’ll find advanced search operators that will ease getting link-building prospects right from Google search.
  • Placed Backlinks. This tab will have all your backlinks acquired with the help of this template.
  • Stop List. This tab will automatically collect prospects that refused to place a backlink.

Important!

For the template to work properly, you need to make a quick adjustment to your template’s copy:

1. Copy the URL of your template from the address bar. Up to the first question (?) mark. It should end with /edit. ​​​

2. Go to tab 3. Outreach Dashboard and click twice on the A2 cell. You’ll see this formula:

=query(IMPORTRANGE("DOCUMENT URL","2. My Prospects!B2:J"),"select Col1, Col3, Col4, Col5, Col6 where Col9='Yes'")

3. Replace the placeholder DOCUMENT URL with the link to your template.

4. Hit Enter. You'll see a warning telling you to connect the sheets – simply click Allow access.

5. Repeat the same process with the tabs Placed Backlinks and Stop List.

Now that we briefly walked through the contents of the template, let’s move to the link prospecting itself.

The workflow I’ve built around this template is the following:

Step 1. Collect existing backlinks

For starters, you need to collect all the existing backlinks. Gathering them now will help avoid the situation when you’ll be reaching out to those who already link back to your site.

You can collect existing backlinks via:

  • Google Search Console
  • SEO SpyGlass

We’ll start with the easiest way – Google Search Console.

Google Search Console

If you have your site connected to Google Search Console, you can then quickly extract the backlinks you already have. Note though that Search Console is often missing a portion of backlinks so the number of links your extract can be lower than it actually is.

To extract the list of your site’s backlinks, open Search Console and go to the Links tab.

There, click EXPORT EXTERNAL LINKS, choose More Sample Links, and pick the format you like.

Now, you need to copy all the extracted backlinks to the column URL in the 1. My Backlinks tab of your link-prospecting template. The template will automatically extract the domain name from the long URLs and will fill the Referring Domain column.

SEO SpyGlass

This step requires SEO SpyGlass. You can download it now for free.
Download SEO SpyGlass

If you’re using SEO SpyGlass and have a paid plan, you can easily extract all the existing backlinks using the tool. Compared to Google Search Console, SEO SpyGlass knows all your backlinks, so you’ll have a full list after the check. In addition to the backlinks themselves, you’ll get a huge set of data about each one.

If you’ve already been using SEO SpyGlass, your site’s backlinks can be found under Backlink Profile > Backlinks.

 If that’s your first time opening the tool, just enter your site’s URL and wait till SEO SpyGlass finishes collecting your backlinks.

Then, head to the same Backlinks tab in the Backlink Profile module. At the bottom of the screen, you’ll find the button Export all links – you need to click on it and save all your backlinks as a .csv file.

Once done, open the file and locate the Source URL column. All you need to do is copy the contents of this column and paste them to the URL column in the 1. My Backlinks tab of your link-prospecting template.


The backlinks are collected and that’s basically it for the first step of our link prospecting workflow.

You can now switch to the second tab of your template – 2. My Prospects – as we’ll be further working with it.

Step 2. Find link prospects

In this step, we will fill our template with link-building prospects. But first, I’ll share some of the great ways to find them. Just as in the previous step, you can use either free means or paid SEO tools for that.

Let’s start with the free one – Google

Find link prospects using Google

There’s one thing few people use when searching on Google — it’s called advanced search operators. These are the set of special characters and combinations that make your search request more precise. 

By using these advanced search operators, you can easily get hundreds of link prospects in many categories right from Google.

To start your advanced search, just think about several keywords that best describe your business and use them with the following search queries:

Note

Those are just a few advanced search queries you can use to find link prospects. You’ll find a huge list of all search operators in the Advanced Search Operators tab of your link prospecting template.

You can also leverage Google in combo with this Chrome add-on. Install the add-on, go to Google and enter a few keywords describing your business. Visit the pages you want to get a backlink from and launch the Check My Links add-on on each.

If the tool catches a broken link — voila, you just found yourself a link prospect. These broken links may be well replaced with a link to your content if it’s relevant and you find the right way to pitch to the website owner.

We will be adding all found link prospects to the 2. My Prospects tab of the link prospecting template (the URL column).

To copy and paste all the prospects from Google’s SERP in bulk, I use the LinkClump add-on. But if you prefer, you can add them one by one manually.

Tab 2. My Prospects also has a few additional columns that will help you better navigate through your prospects. I recommend that you fill them out now:

  • Title. The title of the prospect’s page.
  • Niche. Entertainment, Electronics, Beauty, etc.
  • Type. Guest posting, directory, etc.

The remaining columns will be covered later as we don’t need them yet.

Find link prospects using LinkAssistant

This step requires LinkAssistant. You can download it now for free.
Download LinkAssistant

In addition to searching for link-building prospects manually, you can also leverage LinkAssistant

Note

The functionality of the free version will suffice for finding link prospects and their contact details. However, if you want to copy and export the results to your link-prospecting template, you’ll need to switch to a paid plan.

First, we’ll go and check the backlink gap between you and your closest competitors. This is a great tactic that will help you find the domains that already link back to your competitors but not yet to you.

To do this, open LinkAssistant and enter your website’s URL. Then click Start a New Search and choose Backlink Gap as your link-prospecting method.

On the popped-up wizard’s screen, you need to enter a few URLs of your competitors and then hit Find.

Once the tool collects all the link-building prospects for you, you’ll need to do a few more things. First, switch to the Table view in the top right corner of the screen.

Now, you’ll have to customize and arrange the columns in the order they appear in your link-prospecting template.

To do this, find the Edit Visible Columns button in the top right corner of the table and click on it.

Make sure that the following boxes are checked:

  • Title
  • Prospect
  • Domain InLink Rank

Before hitting OK, arrange the tiles in the same order they go in the above list.

Now, simply select all your prospects (Ctrl + A / Cmd + A), copy and paste them to the first column of 2. My Prospects tab in your link-prospecting template.

Tip

Not to mix these newly found prospects with the ones you’ll find later, click Move to Prospects in the bottom right corner of the table.

 

 

Also, in your template, don’t forget to specify the type of these prospects. Since those were the prospects of your competitors, pick Competitors’ prospect in the drop-down list under the Type column, and then drag down the cell selection up to the last prospect you’ve just added.

Apart from the Backlink Gap method, LinkAssitant can help you with finding link-building prospects in such categories as:

  • Guest posting
  • Reviews
  • Forums
  • Directories
  • and lots more

You can find all the methods under the Start a New Search button. The mechanism is similar to what we’ve just been doing when looking for competitors’ prospects.


In case none of the above methods provided enough link prospects for you, check this guide on the best link-building tactics.

Step 3. Filter link prospects

Your list of prospects is likely huge by this moment. However, not all prospects are good for you to place a backlink there. 

If I were to name a combination of aspects that describe an ideal link prospect, this would be a prospect that:

A. Fits your niche
B. Has an authoritative site

To address point A, simply go to your link prospecting template, tab 2. My Prospects, and locate the Niche column. Go through the list of prospects you collected and see if there are any who don't fit your niche. Say, if your site is all about coffee, the prospect that focuses on automotive topics is definitely not a good match for you. Delete such prospects from your list right away.

To see if your prospects are authoritative enough, we’ll need to do some quick checks. You have two options here:

Via LinkAssistant

This step requires LinkAssistant. You can download it now for free.
Download LinkAssistant

If you’ve been using LinkAssistant for link prospecting, then you’re good to go – the Domain InLink Rank metric was copied to your template during the previous step. You can freely jump to the outreach step.

In any other case, you’ll need to get the Domain InLink Rank metric for all your prospects. And then manually copy the values to your link-prospecting template:

1. Organize your prospects in the template in alphabetic order. To do this, find the Root Domain column (tab 2. My Prospects) and click on the filter icon. Choose Sort A → Z.

2. Open LinkAssistant, enter your website’s URL, and go to the Prospects module. Click Add and paste all the URLs from the Root Domain column. Hit Next two times.

3. On the next screen, find and tick Authority and click Finish.

4. Right-click any table column and tick Domain InLink Rank.

5. Sort the Prospect URL column in the same order (A to Z) and that’s it.

Now you have to write down the values in your template manually for each prospect.

Via other SEO tools

Domain InLink Rank is a trustful metric we use here at SEO PowerSuite. But I do understand that some of you may be using other tools, and other metrics to assess the authority of this or that domain.

If you’re using any other tools, feel free to use the equivalent of the Domain InLink Rank metric to filter your link-building prospects. However, I cannot guarantee that the template will correctly set the priorities for your prospects with metrics other than InLink Rank.


After you fill the Domain InLink Rank column, the template will automatically calculate the priority for all prospects, ranging from Low to High. Also, if you already have a backlink from this prospect, you’ll see this in the Link Back column. Prospects that already link back to you will be given a low priority by default.

All that is left is to add good prospects to the outreach queue. You can do this by picking Yes in the last table column.

Tip

If you need to add multiple prospects to the outreach queue in bulk, simply drag down the cell selection up to the last prospect you want to add.

Once you do this, the prospect will automatically get copied to tab 3. Outreach Dashboard, with which we’ll start working right away.

Step 4. Start outreaching link prospects

So the prospects are collected, filtered, and added to the outreach queue.

If you jump to tab 3. Outreach Dashboard, you’ll see that there are some empty cells that you’ll need to fill:

  • My URL to place. Here you need to specify what URL you want to place on a prospect’s website.
  • Anchor text. The anchor you want to set for your backlink.
  • Contact name. The name of a prospect you’ll be reaching out to.
  • Contact email. The email address of a prospect you’ll be reaching out to.
  • Contact Social Accounts. The links to a prospect’s social networks.

The first two are quite obvious. The remaining three are what we’ll discuss in more detail.  

You can leverage various methods to find prospects’ contact details:

  • Manual lookup
  • LinkAssistant
  • Third-party apps (Snov.io, Rocketreach, Hunter.io)

Manual lookup boils down to checking every single prospect’s site for contact details. As a rule, those details can be found on the Contact us or About pages.

With LinkAssistant, in turn, you can check all your prospects at once.

If you’ve been using LinkAssistant to collect your prospects, the contact details are already available in the Prospects module. In case you don’t see the Prospect Email and Contact Name columns, right-click any other column, and make sure the corresponding boxes are checked.

If you’ve been using any other method of collecting link-building prospects, you can still use LinkAssistant to quickly find contact details for your prospects. 

To do this, open LinkAssistant, go to the Prospects module, and click Add. Copy and paste all your prospects from the outreach queue and hit Next two times.

On the next wizard’s screen (Step 3), find and tick Contact info. Click Finish.

Then right-click any table column and tick the boxes Contact Name and Prospect Email.

That’s it! The tool has just found the email addresses of your prospects. All you have to do is just copy them to your link-prospecting template.

In case the previous two methods didn’t help with finding prospects’ contact details, you can turn to third-party apps, such as Snov.io, Rocketreach, and Hunter.io.

In addition to prospects’ email addresses, you can also go and find links to their social accounts. Sometimes, prospects are more willing to respond to your link-building requests there. This information is easy to find on any prospect’s website. Make sure you also copy the found accounts to your link prospecting template.

When you add a prospect's contact details, the status of a prospect in your template will automatically change to Ready for outreach.

Your next step is to actually send your first outreach letter to a given link-building prospect. 

To help you out, I’ve collected all the best link-building outreach templates in the Outreach Templates tab. Choose the one that fits your specific case and send it to the prospect. After that, don’t forget to jump back to the template and note the date of your first outreach. Once you do this, the status of a given prospect will automatically change to 1st letter sent. In the same way, when you do further follow-ups and note the date, the status will change accordingly.

If you manage to get a backlink from any prospect, change the status to Link placed. This prospect will automatically be added to the Placed Backlinks tab so to eliminate the probability that you will contact the same prospect again. 

Likewise, if too much time passed and the prospect didn’t respond to you, or if the prospect refused to place your backlink, change the status to Delete from prospects. This prospect will be automatically added to the tab Stop list. So if you stumble upon such prospects again, you’ll see a corresponding mark in your template indicating you don’t need to contact them again.

Step 5. Monitor your backlink profile

This step requires SEO SpyGlass. You can download it now for free.
Download SEO SpyGlass

As you might already know, the backlinks you’ve managed to acquire are not permanent. Your link-building partners may take them down at a certain point in time. So it’s important to keep an eye on your backlink profile.

For a regular backlink audit, I recommend that you use SEO SpyGlass. It’s free.

To check your backlinks in SEO SpyGlass, go to the Historical Data > Backlinks. Here, you’ll see all your new and lost backlinks. To check lost links, choose the corresponding tab next to the date range section.

If you see the note link removed, this means that your link-building prospect has taken down your backlink. Oftentimes, you can simply contact the prospect again and politely ask to fix your backlink.

Before you go…

Hope you’ve found my link-prospecting template and the workflow around it useful. If you need to make any adjustments to the existing template, feel free to change it to your needs. But keep an eye on automated cells with formulas – they can break, but you can easily fix them by simply changing the values inside the formulas.

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