SEARCH MASTER: Using Search Console for Link Prospecting
If your website is struggling to appear on the first page of search results at Google, the reason is simple: it does not have enough inbound links.
SEO gurus can talk all they want about the endless list of on-site influencing factors but in almost every case - if a website has 19 times the amount of links as a competitor (even if they have done everything by the book) it is going to appear on the first page in a competitive position and the other is not. It's a harsh digital reality but there it is.
That doesn't solve any of your problems of course; you still need to go out and acquire links. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done and the majority have simply no idea where to start. That changes today because you're about to learn what is perhaps the single easiest, free manual link prospecting technique ever conceived - and you have Google to thank for the head start.
Buried within the Google Webmaster Console is a feature that shows the links that Google considers as it determines the rank or position of your website. Check it out: Go to Webmaster Console, navigate to the Website profile you are building links for, and select "Links To Your Site" from the 'Search Traffic' option on the dashboard (in the panel on the left-hand side).
What you will find is all of the links that Google knows about and uses to determine your ranking for different keywords and phrases. Using the "link" operator command (link:examplewebsite.com) on the search engine only shows you a small percentage of the links Google knows about. Using Search Console for link prospecting however provides a far larger pool of sites from which a citation has already been earned - and which Google knows about. So, how can you use this information to your advantage in link prospecting?
Consider these links (which SEOs/webmasters can view or download) as the starting point in your link prospecting (and acquisition) efforts. For example, a website may have linked to an article or a product of yours last year but has not done so since. How about an outreach effort in this instance? Contacting the website may end up resulting in several more high-quality links over the next few months or years. You can't build those links if you don't know the opportunity is there, right?
Another way to use this information is to find sites similar to those you find in the 'links to your site" report, perhaps by using the "related" operator at Google (related:examplewebsite.com) and identifying prospects where a link to your site may be beneficial.
Link building is difficult, and sure, sites that have been "at it" for a while will be those that benefit most from using the approach outlined here (as they will have more links on which they can use the outlined tactics). Link building is ultimately about the relationships you have with others, and by getting a head start on identifying sites that could be meaningful to your SEO initiatives, you'll have a significant head start.