SEOs have a love-hate relationship with backlinks.
They love when they have them but hate the work that goes into acquiring them. But, luckily for us SEOs, there’s one hardly talked about tactic that can give you a huge leg up in the footrace for high-quality backlinks: SEO footprints.
SEO footprints are like little breadcrumbs that lead you to the sweetest, juicy backlinks you wouldn’t have otherwise found. They’re a hidden gem in link building; while everyone else is scrounging and scraping for scraps, SEO footprints let you pick the best of these links at scale.
So, What exactly are SEO Footprints?
SEO footprints are the digital imprints websites leave behind. They’re like little markers that can help you identify a website’s link sources, competitors, or broken links.
An SEO footprint can even be a group of words or phrases that a website or people use online when doing something.
Examples of SEO footprints:
- “Built By” left in the footer of a website by the web design or development team
- The author bio on a blog post
- A comment left on a forum by the same person
All these are examples of SEO footprints that search engines index, giving you the opportunity to search for them in the SERPs.
One of the most common footprints is “Proudly Powered By WordPress.” Every new WordPress site has this phrase in its footer, and if the owner doesn’t change it, search engines will pick it up and index it.
For example, try searching for: “Proudly Powered by WordPress” — intitle:digital marketing.
You will find dozens, if not hundreds, of web pages related to digital marketing powered by WordPress.
You can see that there are about ten websites listed; those are just the ones that showed up in Google’s index.
Remember, there are millions of SEO footprints, so don’t be afraid to get creative and leverage them for high-quality backlinks.
Why Are SEO Footprints Good For Link Building?
SEO footprints are a secret weapon for link building. Most SEO professionals who use them to build backlinks don’t want you to know how they do it.
But here’s the secret: SEO footprints make backlinks easy.
So, how do you use SEO footprints for link building?
#1. SEO Footprints Can Help You Find Great Link-Building Opportunities
The question is, how do you find SEO footprints? The answer is simple: by using Google’s search operators.
For example, let’s say you want to find .gov backlinks. There are certain SEO footprints that will only return .gov websites that you can harness links from. As you do this more often, you’ll get better at recognising which footprints will work for the type of backlink you need.
#2. SEO Footprints is Cheaper Than Other Link-Building Strategies
While SEO footprints are invaluable for finding link-building opportunities, they’re also much cheaper than other link-building strategies. As long as you know how to use them correctly, you can find plenty of websites willing to link to yours for free.
All you have to do is use the right SEO footprints and wait for the results.
Luckily, we’ll uncover some of the best SEO footprints for link building in the later sections of this article — no fancy SEO tools, no membership fees—just you, your SEO footprints, and the search engine results.
#3. SEO Footprints Can Help You Find Highly Relevant Links
It’s not about finding SEO backlinks but rather finding relevant ones.
Relevancy means that the website you’re getting a link from has a similar topic as yours.
When using SEO footprints to find links, relevancy is one of the key factors in deciding which websites are worth your time and effort.
The more relevant the website, the higher the chance of securing a link and the higher the link’s value will be.
The Key to Building a Successful SEO Footprint Strategy
Just to be clear, SEO footprints aren’t magic.
You’ll still need to put the time and effort into finding the best links, and that means understanding which footprints will work for your website.
You’ll also need to keep track of each footprint you use and the results they provide.
It takes a lot of patience and focus, but the rewards can be immense.
Most link builders fail because they don’t take the time to understand the link-building process, or they ignore the details.
SEO footprints aren’t a get-links quick scheme — bure more of a get-links smart scheme.
Here’s what you want to do: pick a method and stick with it. While at it, you want to keep track of each footprint you use and the results they yield.
With a little bit of patience and focus, your efforts should pay off, and in no distant time, you’ll be rewarded handsomely.
7 Categories of SEO Footprints You Can Use for Link Building
Ready to take the leap?
The possibilities of using SEO footprints to find high-quality backlinks are almost endless, so let’s look at a few of the most common categories of SEO footprints you should be aware of:
#1. Guest Blogging Footprints
Guest blogging footprints are the most common form of footprint-based link building. If you’ve been around the SEO world for any length of time, you’re likely familiar with this one.
Essentially, guest blogging footprints involve finding websites looking to accept guest posts and contributing your content in exchange for a backlink.
You can use SEO footprints to identify relevant guest blogging opportunities by searching for phrases like “guest post,” “write for us,” and “submit an article.”
Once you’ve identified the potential sites, you can contact them directly to offer your content.
Here’s what you want to do:
Go to Google and type in a guest blog-related footprint
- Your Keyword + “guest post”
- Your Keyword + “write for us”
- Your Keyword + “submit an article”
- Your Keyword + “become a contributor”
- Your Keyword + “inurl:guest-post”
- Your Keyword + “inurl:blog/guest”
- Your Keyword + “inurl:contributor”
- Your Keyword + “Contribute to this Site”
- Your Keyword + “Submit a guest article”
You’ll be presented with a ton of opportunities, and all you need to do is narrow them down and start reaching out.
You can play around with different keywords and phrases to identify even more potential sites. Go nuts and see what you come up with. We suggest you create a Google spreadsheet and list all the sites you find and track them.
Now let’s a look at the other categories.
#2. Blog Commenting Footprints
Blog commenting is still a viable way to get backlinks. It works like this: You find relevant websites that allow comments and then add your comment with a link back to your website.
It’s an effective footprint-based strategy, but it can take some time to execute it properly.
Here’s what you want to do:
- Go to Google and type in a blog commenting-related footprint.
- Your Keyword + “leave a comment”
- Your Keyword + “post a comment”
- Your Keyword + “comment here”
- Your Keyword + “add a comment”
- Your Keyword + “inurl:comments”
- Your Keyword + “inurl:comment/reply”
- Your keyword + “Notify me of follow-up comments.”
- Your Keyword + “Enter YourName @YourKewords”
Again, all these footprints will turn up a bunch of different sites that allow you to comment. You can drop a comment on a few of these sites with a link back to your website. But before you do that, check to make sure the link is dofollow.
Here’s how you can check if a link is dofollow or nofollow:
Go to the site you want to comment on. Right-click on the page and select “View Source” or “Inspect.” Then press CTRL+F and search for “nofollow.” If you see the nofollow attribute next to the link, it’s a nofollow link.
If it doesn’t return any results, the link is a dofollow one, and you can comment on it with a link back to your website.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with commenting on a nofollow link, but if you’re after backlinks, it’s best to focus on dofollow links.
Take some time and carefully go through the list of sites. Once you’ve collected enough websites, start dropping your comments with a link back to your website.
Don’t spam the sites. Instead, take your time and craft a thoughtful comment that adds value to the conversation. You’ll be surprised by how much backlinks you can generate this way.
#3. Forums and Message Boards Footprints
Forums and message boards are great for finding dofollow backlinks. Here’s a list of footprints you can use to locate them:
- Your Keyword + “forum”
- Your Keyword + “message board”
- Your Keyword + “discussion board”
- Your Keyword + “bulletin board”
- Your Keyword + “Powered by PHPbb”
- Your Keyword + “Powered by vBulletin”
- Your Keyword + “Powered by SMF”
- Your Keyword + “Powered by PunBB”
- Your Keyword + “Powered by ExpressionEngine”
- Your Keyword + “Powered by BlogEngine.NET”
- Your Keyword + “comment closed”
- Your keyword + inurl:blog “post a comment”
- Your keyword + inurl:forum “post a new thread”
- Your keyword + intitle: “Post New Thread”
Go to your favourite search engine and use the footprints you just learned. If you find any forums or message boards relevant to your niche, create an account and be part of the conversation. Once you’ve gained some authority, start dropping links with a brief explanation.
For example, if you’re working with a technology blog and come across a tech forum that allows dofollow links in the comments section, start engaging with other members. Once you’ve gained some credibility on the platform, introduce your website as a resource for something relevant to the thread.
#4. Sponsors and Donations Footprints
Another great way to find backlinks is by looking for sponsors and donation pages on websites. You can use the following footprints to search for these pages:
- Your Keyword + “sponsorship”
- Your Keyword + “donations”
- Your Keyword + “sponsors”
- Your Keyword + “contributors”
- Your Keyword + “become a sponsor”
- Your Keyword + “make a donation”
- Your keyword + inurl:sponsor
- Your keyword + intitle: “Become a Sponsor”
- Your keyword + intitle: “Make a Donation”
- Your Keyword + “sponsor charity”
- Your Keyword + “sponsor nonprofit”
Sponsorships and donations are an excellent way to get backlinks from high-authority websites. You can acquire more backlinks with a little effort and research.
You don’t have to go big and donate thousands of dollars to sponsor a website; sometimes, even just donating a few bucks could get you the backlink you need and, at the same time, make your website look good.
Plus, it’s a great way to support the causes you believe in. So, look for websites that are passionate about their mission and ensure your values align with theirs before donating or sponsoring them.
#5. Edu Footprint
Edu links are the most valuable types of backlinks you’ll ever find online. Most educational websites have high domain authority and are very trustworthy in the eyes of search engines.
To get edu backlinks, use the following footprints:
- Your Keyword + site:.edu “forums register”
- Your Keyword + site:.edu “register I am over 13 years of age forum”
- Your keyword + site:.edu “create an account”
- Your keyword + site:.edu “join the discussion”
- Your Keyword + site:.edu “discussion board”
- Your Keyword + site:.edu “discussion board register”
- Your Keyword + site:.edu “message board register”
- Your Keyword + site:.edu “discussion board post”
- Your Keyword + site:.edu “phpbb register forum”
- Your Keyword + site:.edu “punbb register forum”
- Your Keyword + site:.edu “bulletin board register”
- Your Keyword + site:.edu “vbulletin register forum”
These footprints will help you get those precious edu backlinks with ease. The best part is that most of these websites don’t require you to be a student or anything else to post your link, so it’s easy for anyone to get edu backlinks.
Be creative and think outside the box. You also want to experiment with different keywords to see what works best for your site. You never know — you might find a hidden gem.
#6. Wiki Footprints
Wikipedia is the original wiki site, and it has a lot of authority in the eyes of search engines. It’s also one of the most popular websites, so getting backlinks from here can significantly benefit your SEO efforts.
However, Wiki is an all-encompassing term for many different types of websites, including the original Wikipedia, which allows for collaborative content editing.
These days almost every Google search term contains a wiki in its results. To search specifically for wiki sites, we can use the following footprints:
- Your keyword + “this page was last modified on wiki”
- Your keyword + “This page was last edited on wiki”
- Your Keyword + “wiki page author”
- Your Keyword + “wiki article history”
- Your Keyword + ‘wiki”
- Your Keyword + “wiki index”
- allinurl: “.com/mediawiki/index.php”
- allinurl: “.net/wiki/index.php”
- allinurl: “.org/wiki/index.php”
- allinurl: “http://wiki.”
- allinurl: “.edu/wiki/index.php”
- allinurl: “.info/wiki/index.php”
- allinurl: “.com/wiki/index.php”
- allinurl: “.org/mediawiki/index.php”
- Your keyword + Inurl: Wiki
- Your keyword + Inurl:MediaWiki_talk
As you can see, there are plenty of Wiki footprints you can use to find link opportunities. If you’re creative enough, you might even be able to find some niche-specific wikis that could provide great backlinks for your website.
Here’s a Bonus Tip:
Most .edu sites use a wiki-style for their forums. So, you can use the following footprints to find .edu sites with a wiki:
- Your keyword + “wiki inurl:.edu”
- Your keyword + allinurl: “.edu/mediawiki/index.php”
- Your keyword + “wiki” site:.edu
Try these footprints and see what you come up with.
#7- Review Sites Footprints
Review sites can be a great source of backlinks. Not only do they provide valuable insights about your product or service, but they’re also an excellent source of high-quality backlinks.
All you have to do is find the right review websites and get listed on them. To find such sites, use these footprints:
- Your keyword + “add review”
- Your keyword + “submit review”
- Your keyword + “write a review”
- Your keyword + “user reviews”
- Your keyword + inurl:reviews
- Your Keyword + inurl:review
- Your keyword + “product reviews”
- Your keyword + “review site: .com”
You want to experiment with as many keywords as many of these footprints as you can. And you also want to be mindful of the niche you’re trying to target. For example, if you’re targeting a tech-related niche, use “tech reviews” instead of “product reviews”.
How to Use SEO Footprints to Find Link-Building Opportunities
By now, you should have a clear idea of how to use SEO footprints to identify link-building opportunities.
Remember, it’s not a matter of finding the most number of link opportunities. It’s a matter of finding quality ones that are worth the effort that follows.
So, when using SEO footprints, you want to keep a few things in mind:
Choose One or Two Footprints
Don’t try to use all the footprints at once. Pick one or two, and narrow down your search. That should help you focus on link-building opportunities most relevant to your niche and objectives.
Create a strategy around the footprint you choose, and exhaust every variation of it.
Use Different Search Engines
Don’t just rely on Google. Try other search engines – for example, DuckDuckGo, Bing and Yahoo – to find different opportunities that you can use.
Sift Through the Results to Find Quality Opportunities
Once you have a list of results, go through each one to determine if it offers quality link opportunities. Make sure that the sites are relevant and trustworthy before investing any effort into building links.
Remember that this will take some time, so have the patience and diligence to do it right.
Make a List
It’s always a good idea to keep track of the opportunities you find. Make a spreadsheet and list down the sites you find in it. That will make it easier to track your progress and see which ones are worth pursuing.
Keep an Eye Out for New Opportunities
You don’t want to miss any new opportunities that open up. Keep checking back occasionally to see if there are any new link opportunities.
SEO footprints can be a great way to find link opportunities, but it’s not an instant solution. Building quality backlinks takes time and effort, so don’t expect quick results. Have patience and strive for long-term success.
Found Some Good Link Opportunities, What Next?
Well done. You’ve gone through the hard part. Now it’s time to leverage those link opportunities and build some quality backlinks for your website.
Contact the websites you found using SEO footprints and tell them about your website. Follow up with them after a few days if they don’t respond right away, but don’t be too pushy.
You want to pitch your content in a way that benefits them, not just your website.
Here’s a template you can use
I was going through your blog or site today and found the guest post you published from (a Guest Post author’s Name). I enjoyed reading the article and even shared it with my audience.
I’m a blogger myself, and I wanted to reach out to see if you would be interested in having me write a guest post for your blog. My content is always well-researched, and I’m sure it will add value to your website.
Here’s some topic I think would do well on your blog:
Do any of the ideas look good? I’ll be happy to discuss them further and provide you with a sample for your review.
If You Get Rejected
Don’t be discouraged if the website doesn’t accept your guest post. Try other websites or reach out again in a few weeks. It’s also important to note that some websites might have stringent rules for accepting guest posts.
If You Get Accepted
Congratulations! Follow through with the website’s instructions and requirements, and make sure to submit quality content. Quality content is key to successful backlinks, so double-check everything before you hit “submit”.
Don’t Forget that Link Building is a Numbers Game
You might not get accepted by every website you pitch your content to. SEO Footprints: Backlinks Made Easy is designed to help you make the process easier, but remember that link building is a numbers game. Keep up the good work, and don’t give up when your email is not responded to.
The idea is to keep trying until you succeed. With enough persistence and quality content, your backlink game should improve.
Here’s some simple math:
For every ten people you contact, you should get a response from at least 2 or 3. From there, the sky’s the limit.
Now say you pitch to about three websites every day. In a week, you’d have pitched to about 21 websites. That means you should have around six successful backlinks by the end of the week.
And that’s just the start. Do this for over a year or so, and you’ll have an impressive SEO portfolio.