UPDATE: 12/14/11 8:00am EST
I have fixed a bug in the Google Doc that was returning the API data one row off, please re-copy it now if you have used it prior to now, thanks!!
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So I’ve been playing around with the related: search operator. Not many folks talk about it, but DAMN Google, nice work. This baby is FAST at helping with some quick competitive research, keyword research and linkbuilding. Especially if you beef it up with some extra add-ons and tools like I’m going to show you.
DON’T MISS THE GOOGLE DOC IN TRICK SIX!
The Query: Gets Lots of Similar Websites
The related: search operator is a simple search operator, in which Google returns usually 100-200 websites for which it thinks to be similar. (NOTE: Clicking “similar” in any Google result site preview runs the related query for that page – same search, just another way to get to it.) More about search operators on the SEOmoz site here.
So you may remember an infamous chocolate company which I posted how I would do SEO for a few months ago. (Still going to pursue that more, after the Holidays). We’re going to use Vosges Chocolate as the example throughout this post.
First, behold. The related query on www.vosgeschocolate.com
AWESOME! This answers a few questions for me, very quickly, that usually take longer to answer;
- Is this site “seen” in the right family of sites on the web?
- What are some of this site’s potential competitors?
So we’ve established the value to the related: operator, let’s beef it up a bit!
Tip One: Add SERP Overlays for Fast Analysis
Who doesn’t love a good SERP overlay with useful metrics? The SEOmoz SERP overlay is fantastic. Turn that baby on for some data for some fast sizing up of the “competition”. Get SERP overlay for Chrome or Firefox
Don’t forget SEO Quake’s SERP report too!!
That’s some FAST down and dirty competitive analysis. Especially handy right at the beginning of the project, when you’re trying to get a quick feel for where the site stands.
Still with me? Ready for some more?
Pssssst…. Google Doc in trick six down there….
Tip Two: Show Sites With Images for Fast Content Assessment
Want a quick visual indication as to the content of the sites? Just turn on “sites with images”;
Ok, ok. Things are picking up a bit. But all our work up til now has still been in the SERPs. Let’s get some of this into Excel!
The Online Sales JS Bookmarklet puts all that data into easy cut and paste format.
Tip Four: Fast Prospecting for Link Building
Suppose you’ve got some good links from high quality sites, but you’re saying “I wish I had MORE links from sites like this one”. You guessed it, the related: search query is your friend here. Do this:
- Find a high quality site that already links to you (and ideally sends referral traffic too).
- Run the query
- Smile. Hundreds of more sites just like it.
- Proceed to trick six and get that into a spreadsheet!
Let’s do that for our favorite chocolate company, Vosges.
1. First, I’ll find a site they already have a link from in Opensite Explorer
I’ll choose www.indiegogo.com. Never heard of the site, but the title and domain authority look promising. Win. Check out this link they got from doing a good thing.
And a related search on that site shows….
LOTS more opportunity. They could hand pick some more charities or sites they like from this list that are in line with their goals and values. (Wouldn’t hurt if they had an SEO on hand to help them find more sites, which align with their companies values, to help identify ones that provide high ranking and referral traffic value…. ahem ahem… )
And once they pick these, over time, supporting some more good causes… LINKS!! (I do feel a little possessed by Wil Reynolds at the moment – if you’ve seen any of his decks you know what I’m talking about.)
Now go and do that for all of the top quality links you have. Lots of link opportunity to be found. They could also use the top 5 sites from the related query, and run them through the AdWords tool for more keyword ideas too.
Tip Five: Find That Next New Tool/Blog/Site (before everyone else does)
Last trick before the grand finale.
Need some more social bookmarking sites? More photosharing sites? Sure, you could look for a list someone has curated on the web or search [social bookmarking site]… but this is WAY faster.
172 Social bookmarking or related type sites. There’s definitely some you will have heard of, but lots I was not aware of. Can be used for links, for research….
[related:technorati.com] returns some interesting sites that could be useful for blog linkbuilding etc.
*meant to say “thinks” instead of “things” 🙂
Tip Six: Copy This Google Doc for FAST Prospecting!!
No matter the application of the query, you’ll want your juicy list of URLs in a spreadsheet – without having to cut and paste or hire a random college kid on fiverr.com
Here it is, I made you a little Google Doc Tool. All you have to do is enter the site name, and it will return the Titles, URLs, mozRank and Domain Authority automatically. (I want to beef it up a bit more in the future, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, yes?).
The beauty of this technique is, you only need ONE website name and it returns 100 sites of similar content. It builds the list, and starts the prospecting process for you all in one step.
First, here’s a screenshot of the final result. Marvelous. Just look at ‘er. (I know, its getrichslowly.com – I’d done some random ones while trying it.)
Now, here’s all you need to do to use this for yourself.
1. Open the Google Doc from the link.
2. Make a your own copy (File->Make a Copy)
3. Enter your own SEOmoz Linkscape API key in the Config sheet.
4. Type the URL you’d like to get the related result for in cell A2 (Sheet1). Sit back. Relax. And let ImportXML and the LS API do the work.
Then you can pull the data in Excel and per usual; sort, filter, mash up etc to refine your list.
HUGE thanks Tom Critchlow, John Doherty, Ian Laurie, Richard Baxter & Tom Anthony (who calls himself the sexiest SEO ever). They’re really the ones who’ve done the technical heavy lifting, I simply put some pieces together from several of their blog posts. And thanks to Mike King & Ted Ives, who let me bounce a few ideas off of them before putting together this post.
- Playing Around With ImportXML – Richard Baxter
- How to Build Agile SEO Tools Using Google Spreadsheets – Tom Critchlow
- Linkscape & Google Spreadsheets – Together at Last – Ian Laurie
- Using SEOmoz’s Linkscape API With Google Docs – Tom Anthony
- Link Prospecting With Twitter Tools and APIs – John Doherty
What Do YOU Think??
So that’s it, now you’ve got a fast way to get some SERP data into Google Docs. Please leave feedback, ideas and comments below. I’m going to continue playing around with ideas for making the SEO process easier – so your thoughts are crucial!!