Digital PR & Outreach

How to find great sites for link building outreach

by on 26th September 2016

How do you gather information about potential site targets for link building?

Are your campaigns based on previous data or do you collect new information each time?

There are so many ways to extract data for link building outreach from the Internet it’s difficult to know where to start. In fact, it’s different every time (or it absolutely should be!) and I’ve found that your starting point and information sources are highly variable depending on the sector you’re targeting.

There are lots of best practices for finding great target sites and journalist contact details it’d be quite pointless to list them all. With that said here are a few of my personal favourites.

Search “Site:Best Websites For”

Communities tend to freely curate resources you can lean on; in a really broad range of subjects. Want the best websites for football tactics analysis? Reddit has your answer.

Google Query: Reddit

Google Query: Reddit

Similarly, sites like Quora can be a goldmine for inspiration on a range of site recommendations from learning jQuery, sites to hire freelancers or sites to download or watch anime.
Google query: best websites on Quora.

Display Planner

Display Planner will happily cough up a decent starting list of domains that match a keyword and target landing page. Use “Search for new targeting ideas using a phrase, website or category”, input a keyword and page URL to get a list that looks like this:

search metrics

Search Metrics

Searchmetrics is one of the go to visibility monitoring tools on the market. Aside from insight on organic and paid campaign performance, the tool offers data on organic competitors too. You don’t need to run this report on your entire list but it’s certainly a very fast way to grow a list from a handful of good starting domains.

It’s worth mentioning that using tools like Searchmetrics affords you a chance to examine the SEO health of a potential target site. You’re aiming for traffic, granted but would it be worth checking to make sure the site hasn’t been placed under penalty recently? Definitely.

organic competitors


Like Searchmetrics, SEMrush offers similar competitive analysis tools. You’re almost certain to get different suggestions based on your choice of tool, so cast a wide net and use every data source that you can.

sem rush

Ahrefs (Popular Content)

aHref’s content explorer is an amazing research aid. Search for popular content by topic, sorted by social shares. If you’re looking for ideas for target sites in a particular vertical, this report is great:


Once you’ve found a few search terms that yield results, you can scrape the results with an extension like Scraper for Chrome:

scraper for chrome


Anewstip for journalists or publications by keyword and pitch them via their UI. It’s free to send 10 monthly pitches or $69 per month for 200. The platform lets you set up mention alerts, manage pitches and build private or public media lists.



Buzzsumo has to be the most popular (and best) tool for content analysis in the market. There are lots of ways to use the tool to find influencers and content ideas. For domain targeting, try the “Most Shared Domains by Network” report under “Content Analysis”. Enter a search term, and the report will tell you which domains are most popular by social shares:



Notey is a great collection of publishers, communities and stories on a wide range of topics. When you’ve been looking at charts and lists of domains all day, the visual interface is a welcome relief.

Travel blogs on Notey, an excellent resource for publication suggestions. What if you want to find Journalists that Write About a Particular Topic?

Travel blogs on Notey, an excellent resource for publication suggestions.

What if you want to find Journalists that Write About a Particular Topic?

Muckrack and journalisted are good resources for finding contacts. Muckrack users: Use this list of every major US and UK publication you can think of. Clicking on any publication, you can find a journalist by topic or location including their name and general interests.

For more, read Matthew Barby’s guide to press requests on Search Engine Land.

Twitter Lists and Bios

It’s very easy to find journalists in a particular space. Usefully some journalists post tweets about how they prefer to be pitched to and what sometimes annoys them about being outreached to. Heed their advice!


Lists on Twitter can yield huge numbers of results for journalists in lots of different niches. Try this Google query for journalists or writers in travel.

google query

Once you’ve found your journalist you might be struggling with their contact details. I like Email Hunter; it’s quick and easy and can immediately show you how email addresses are usually configured for a particular domain.

You can grab the email address with the emailhunter chrome plugin which among other neat tricks, adds a useful button to someone’s Linkedin profile:


Make Your Pitch Focus Relevant to the Publication’s Editor

As you’re prepping to get started on outreach it makes an awful lot of sense to have a good idea of the formats that work for a particular site section Editor. In this case, Danny analysed the articles posted on The Telegraph’s Travel section to make sure he had a better, more successful pitch.


Use “Really Targeted Outreach”

If you want to get the attention of a particular person, or achieve reach via the shares of an influential person on Twitter, it makes sense to understand which publications they like to read. We’ve used this tactic for years: learn what domains influential people share on Twitter, get your message on that domain.

Can you use this data as the basis for your outreach targeting? If we were promoting Builtvisible to Marketing Directors in the UK, we might choose to target some of the sites below. This is domain data from Sage UK’s Marketing Director, Paul J Say:

links shared

The process is quite simple, really. As we’ve mentioned previously. Followerwonk is an ideal tool to identify influential Twitter profiles:


Or, you can extract shared links from Buzzsumo


Put Together Your Media and Prospect Lists

Before you get started on the outreach itself, it’s time to get your data together. Some outreach teams like Buzzstream for content management. For Builtvisible, each outreach project is so bespoke that we find we’re perfectly comfortable working with Google Sheets

Quite often there are 2-3 of our team working on outreach for any one project so it’s important we’re all on the same page and up to date. Google Sheets is ideal for this:

google sheets

With your list ready for action, it’s time to start outreaching. Good luck!


  1. This is great thank you. I’ve used Ahrefs for backlink analysis for over a year but I’ve never actually explored the content tool that is built in! Thanks for the heads up :-0

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