Search Engine Optimization Tutorial – Conducting Effective Research

If you worked alongside me in the first part of this search engine optimization tutorial, you figured out who in your industry you most would like to link to your website. Then you got to work doing some precursory research on that “Golden Prospect.”

In this session, we will be diving deeper into that research.

Don’t Feel Like Reading This Search Engine Optimization Tutorial? Watch the Video Version Instead!


Note: The entire video series is available for free at If you’re new to this search engine optimization tutorial, I recommend you click here to start at the beginning. You’ll get more from your efforts if you do. It’s also important to complete the homework section in each chapter if you’re participating in the challenge.

Three Steps to Conducting Deeper Research on Your Golden Prospect

To earn golden backlinks, you need to create GOLDEN content. But even then, that golden content needs to be content that will BENEFIT YOUR GOLDEN PROSPECT if they link to it. Otherwise, they’ll have zero desire to do so, and they won’t.

That’s why it’s important you make sure the research you conduct on your Golden Prospect is as thorough as you can make it.

Step One – Digging Deeper into Your Golden Prospect’s Blog Content

Getting high-quality backlinks from authorities in your niche is a lot easier said than done.

But it isn’t impossible.

There are clues you MUST discover about your Golden Prospect if you stand any chance of earning a backlink from him or her at the end of this search engine optimization tutorial.

Let’s spend a little time discussing what those clues are, and what you should do with them once you find them.

What Content Format Does Your Golden Prospect Favor on Their Blog?

Your chances of earning a link from your Golden Prospect is better when the content they share comes in the form of long-form text blog posts.

It’s not that you can’t earn a link on your Golden Prospect’s video, it’s just harder, there is significantly less room to place links on videos, the same goes with podcasts, and infographics too.

If you can get a mention on your Golden Prospect’s video or podcast that would be big for your business, maybe even gigantic. If you can make it happen, rock it out, it won’t earn a backlink to your website, though.

So, for the remainder of this search engine optimization tutorial, I’ll focus my efforts on helping you earn a link from your Golden Prospect’s long-form text blog posts.

What if your Golden Prospect doesn’t have any of these types of posts? Replace him or her with another major Influencer in your industry that does have them.

What Topics Does Your Golden Prospect Write About on Their Blog Posts?

Now it’s time to dig in and discover the subject matter your Golden Prospect covers on their blog posts.

That means you will need to organize all their content into bite-sized chunks that will make it easier for you understand, categorize, and access the information contained in them later.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Create a spreadsheet with four different columns; Blog Post Title, Blog Post URL, Summary, and Subject.
  2. Write a three sentence summary of every post your Golden Prospect has on their blog.
  3. Record what the subject matter is for each piece of content.
  4. Fill out the spreadsheet as you read through the posts.

When you complete this task, you will have a worksheet that looks like what I created for my Golden Prospect’s content.

Now that you have that taken care of, you’re ready to dive even deeper into researching the type of content your Golden prospect links out to from their blog.

Why Does Your Golden Prospect Link to the Sites That He or She Does?

If you stand any chance at earning a link from the biggest authority in your industry, you need to study the content they are already linking to from their site.

Otherwise, you’re not going to have the slightest clue regarding what type of content you need to create to earn a backlink from him or her.

Go through the spreadsheet you just created and add every outbound link you can find on your Golden Prospect’s blog posts. Then write down why you believe your Golden Prospect linked to each of them.

There will be a bit of guess work included in your efforts here, but it’s not rocket science figuring out why your Golden Prospect links to the websites that they do.

For example, Eric Ward linked out to Best Practice Tips for Google’s Link Disavow Tool from his blog post Backlink Immunity and Disavowed Link Disasters. I wrote down the reason he linked to the post was that it gave his readers additional information they would find useful when learning how to disavow links.

On his post Why Subject Specific Reciprocal Links Will Always Be Useful, he links to a site about bats at His reason for doing so was to use it as an example to illustrate the type of sites in which reciprocal linking is a viable option.

The reasons your Golden Prospect links to the sites that they do should be obvious once you reread their posts.

There is nothing difficult about this stage of the search engine optimization tutorial, just more reading and filling out the new spreadsheet you just made.

What you’re looking to create is a complete record showing every site your Golden Prospect has linked out to, as well as your guesses on why he or she placed each of the links.

This info will all come in handy later when it comes times to decide on the topic of the content you need to create for this challenge.

Step Two – Searching for Additional Clues on Your Golden Prospect’s Content

If you were a detective on a police force, the first thing you would do when investigating a crime scene would be to look for clues. In this part of the search engine optimization tutorial, instead of looking for clues left by a criminal, you’ll be looking for clues on your Golden Prospect’s blog.

What will you do with the clues you find?

You’ll piece them together to put yourself in a better position to earn a backlink from your Golden Prospect.

search engine optimization tutorial screenshot eric ward

While researching my golden prospect’s blog content, I discovered several clues I MIGHT be able to use to gain a backlink from him after I finish writing this search engine optimization tutorial

In this case of my Golden Prospect, Eric Ward, I spent a couple of days reading his blog posts and found that he favors 500 – 1000 words posts with only a couple of outbound links on each. He also posts a few of his past private webinars on his blog.

The posts took me an evening to read. The videos took me a couple more days to watch.

I learned all kinds cool things I didn’t already know about link building. So, I count that as a free education. Thank you very much for that Mr. Ward!

But I also picked up on some personal clues Eric Ward left in some of those posts and videos.

  • Eric is a one-man team link building agency. What did I learn from this bit of information? Eric and I are not competing against one another for clients. Which if we were competitors, he might not be willing to link to my site. So, I took this to be a real clue.
  • 90% success ration with link placements. Eric achieves this phenomenal success ratio by being selective with the content he pitches, and with the link prospects he targets. Which makes me even happier that he is not a direct competitor of mine, I’d hate to compete against those numbers. His link building philosophy has shaped my own in many ways, so we have commonalities there that might help me. So, I wrote it down on my legal pad.
  • Eric often telephones the link prospects he is targeting because it differentiates him from other link prospectors. Which is aggressive and I like it. It also gave me a content idea that might work to earn a backlink from him. A tutorial sharing step by step instructions on how to effectively phone link prospects might do the trick. It’s a topic I know a little about having owned a telemarketing firm back in the 90’s. Right now I’m putting a pin in the idea to revisit when the time comes to create the content I need.

Now, what are the chances I’ll be able to convert any of that info into something that will help me earn a backlink from Eric?

My guess, pretty good, I’m hoping so at least.

search engine optimization tutorial legal pad notes

Here’s one page of the notes I took while reading Eric Ward’s blog posts and watching his videos. Notice I don’t use any particular formatting on the notes I make. I only write down the nuggets I think will be helpful in helping me land the backlink from him.

That information was easy to find. All it took was skipping a couple of evenings on Netflix.

Can you do the same with your Golden Prospect? You better believe it. Finding the info you need is a piece of cake.

Step Three – Search for Leverage Clues on Your Golden Prospect’s Paid Content

In doing research on your Golden Prospect’s blog, you might find they have paid content for sale. If it’s within your budget, I recommend you purchase and learn everything you can from them.

If they post strong leverage clues in their free content, they more than likely will share even more in their paid content.

search engine optimization tutorial library screenshot

Eric Ward’s book is the one in the bottom left. If I had a buck for every time I opened it, I could retire from SEO. Purchasing the paid content of your golden prospect just makes sense if you want to dig deep and earn a backlink from them.

I learned that Eric has a monthly paid newsletter named LinkMoses where he shares his secret link building tips. Since he only charges $8 a month for it, I immediately signed up. Once I started receiving issues, I started searching them for further clues that will better help me earn a link from him.

Making Additional Soft Touches with Your Golden Prospect

This stage of the search engine optimization tutorial is where most people blow their link outreach opportunities. So, you need to be careful how you approach your Golden Prospect.

The best way I know how to do that is to reach out to them BEFORE you’re ready to ask them for a link. That way when you do finally ask them for a link, it won’t be the first contact your Golden Prospect has with you, which will increase your chances at earning a backlink from him or her down the road a bit.

The first contact I had with my Golden Prospect was when I shared some of his content on my Twitter account. I recommend you do the same with your Golden Prospect’s content.

Make sure to include why you’re sharing each piece of content with your followers. Otherwise, your prospect might not respond back. Golden Prospects respond to the effort, but they almost never deal with lazy clicks of mouse buttons.

This step is very easy and takes zero time to implement, so there’s no reason to skip it.

There are a couple of things you need to keep in mind as you make these soft touches with your Golden Prospect.

  1. Acknowledge your Golden Prospect’s achievements; a little honey goes a long way. Just make sure you believe what you write. Otherwise, your integrity will take a hit with your readers.
  2. Do not address any of your needs in these touches, instead focus on your Golden Prospect’s needs.
  3. Reply to your Golden Prospect whenever they reply to one of your Tweets because it will put your name in front of them that much more.
  4. At this stage, you’re networking, not link building. You need to give to get, don’t forget that.

Ask Your Golden Prospect for Permission to Link to Some of Their Content

After sharing your Golden Prospect’s content on Twitter, and other social media sites for a few weeks you’ll be ready to proceed to the next outreach stage with him or her.

What you do is ask him or her for permission to link to several pieces of their content in an upcoming tutorial you’re writing (the content you need to create for this challenge). Explain that you’re reaching out to them ahead of time just to make sure it will be okay with them and that you’re doing so out of respect for them.

This more likely than not will surprise your Golden Prospect, chances are they don’t receive requests like that too often.

Doing so will give you an additional quality touch with your Golden Prospect, plus set you apart in a big way from most of the people who reach out to them for links.

That’s never a bad thing!

search engine optimization tutorial time-for-reviewEnd of Part Two – What’s Next?

The steps I covered in this section of the search engine optimization tutorial will help guide you in the deeper research you need to conduct on your Golden Prospect’s blog content. In the next one, I’ll show you how to establish your authority in your industry before asking your Golden Prospect to link to your content.


  1. Create a spreadsheet and post the links to your Golden Prospect’s blog content, along with their URL’s and a three sentence summary of each piece of content.
  2. Read every post your Golden Prospect has linked to from their blog, along with your best guesses on why he or she placed each of the links. Include all this information on your spreadsheet too.
  3. Make several more soft touches with your Golden Prospect by sharing their posts on social media and adding their Twitter handle on each of the shares. Include why you’re sharing each piece of content. Doing so will increase the odds of them replying and thanking you for the share.
  4. Read Why “Linksville” Is a Ghost Town: Link Building Is Moving In-House 
  5. Study Changing Course in The New Linking World 
  6. Watch Live Link Building Speed Consultations with Eric Ward & Garrett French
  7. Proceed to the next chapter of this search engine optimization tutorial by clicking here.

If you have any questions regarding this search engine optimization tutorial, suggestions, or areas you disagree with me on I, want to hear from you. Post them as comments below. Thanks

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