ahrefs for unlinked brand mentions

How to Find Unlinked Mentions with Ahrefs – Beyond Brand Mentions

Unlinked brand mentions have proven to be a, somewhat, timeless tool to securing highly contextual links. If you’re strictly against paid link building, you will like this approach because you most likely won’t have to pay for them!

I’ve been preaching this sine 2018 at least, but unlinked brand mentions are only one part of the unlinked technique’s puzzle.

Types of Unlinked Mentions

I wrote this article for Search Engine Journal in 2020 explaining these 4 types unlinked brand mentions:

  1. Company brand: The name of the company or parent company.
  2. Product brands: Products your company manufactures.
  3. Ecommerce/affiliate retail brands: Brands you sell through your website (e.g. nike).
  4. Executive or company influencers: Names of key executives, manager, or even spokes people

Aside from the “eCommerce retail brands,” these link opportunities can dry up and certainly won’t comprise your entire link building initiative.

In order to scale this technique up, I’ve found that “thematic mentions” can be an almost limitless source of links. These are mentions of keywords that are about or related to the products/services you sell.

An example: A CPG brand link Bulletproof coffee can find articles that don’t mention the name “bulletproof” but has content about “coffee” or “keto friendly coffee.”

Types of companies that can use unlinked mentions

Ecommerce: Category or product pages are difficult to secure links on, but I’ve found success with linking to the brand pages. Here you can find articles that talk about the products you sell, much more than your company brand.

Affiliate sites: Affiliate sites either list a lot of products or companies with strong brand names. An example is Treadmill Review Guru that has a list of “best treadmills for home use” (no… this is not an affiliate link) has brands like NordicTrack that has thousands of mentions that can turn into links.

CPG/Direct to consumer CPG: Companies that produce their own products may have a low number of brand mentions compared to big names, but heavily focus on content marketing for traffic growth. Finding thematic mentions and getting them to link to articles or studies is a massive opportunity.

B2B SaaS or technologies: Since 2009 about 50% of the companies or projects I’ve worked on have been B2B. You won’t tend to see a lot of brand mentions here, but thematic mentions have proven to be a great way to scale link building for these types of sites.

National local/Local: These are companies that have physical locations or content that is location specific. Funny tactic that has worked here is to find mentions of the city, attractions, or local resources.

Services: Even service based businesses can use unlinked mentions. But these sites have a tendency to have low amounts of brand mentions as well. So you thematic tends to yield the most opportunities.

Blogs and publisher sites: The floodgates open up for publisher websites since they can write about popular brands, provide unique data, or just create thematic articles.

Ahrefs big ass dataset

And there are a lot of tools and methodologies that have popped up to make this technique more efficient and less mind numbing, but ahrefs has one of the, largest link indexes available to SEOs.

A few quick stats about ahrefs:

  • Over 10 billion pages
  • Every 24 hours they find 30 million new pages
  • Each day they update 40 million page

However, according to majestic.com they have a significantly larger index of pages:

  • Historic index has 19,952,998,569,676 URLs from 4,101,301,374,709 crawled pages
  • Fresh index has 1,371,883,715,591 URLs from 462,000,526,632 crawled pages.

Despite these numbers, ahrefs claims to have “the worlds largest index of live backlinks,” with 3.5 trillion external backlinks (see screenshot below).

Ahrefs current backlink index https://ahrefs.com/big-data

I have personally found that using both tools will yield the most opportunities as there is certainly some unique sites indexed in each tool that the other doesn’t have.

But let’s get you started finding unlinked mentions with ahrefs for now.

Finding Mentions with Content Explorer

Ensure you’re signed in, then in the Ahrefs top navigation, click Content Explorer.

Then follow the rabbit down to the search hole, and refresh yourself on boolean searches.

To locate exact mentions of your brand, your search phrase should follow this format: your brand name within quotation marks, a single space, a hyphen, then your domain. This string of instructions tells the tool to exclude results from your own website. 

For example, to search PureLinq brand mentions, you would enter:

“PureLinq” -PureLinq.com

To narrow your search and exclude social media mentions, you can add their domains as well, each preceded by a space and hyphen. For example:

“PureLinq” -PureLinq.com -facebook.com -twitter.com -linkedin.com -youtube.com 

Now you just have to enter the url to ensure it exclude your domain with the “highlight unlinked” feature. Just put your domain name in any formate (e.g. purelinq.com or www.purelinq.com).

The ahrefs team pays attention to little details that make it easy to not screw this ups. So you don’t have to enter your domain in a specific way, like only https://www.purelinq.com.

As you can see with the PureLinq results I have mentions on Search Engine Land that don’t link to my site. Maybe a good opportunity.

After you find a few mentions, then you’ll want to manually read through the content to see if you’re even able to get a link from page. As you can see in my example I was quoted by the wonderful Abby Villarica.

But as a contributor to SEJ, I know I won’t be able to change the link in the article here as their outbound link policies don’t typically allow for homepage links and she linked to my SEJ contributors page.

This is why a manual review is important and you can’t just blast out bulk emails. I’m sure if I automatically sent emails to anyone at SEJ they would send me a “what the fuck Kevin?” email (haha. they would never say that, but you get the idea).

Monitor Mentions with Alerts

After, or while, you’ve knocked down these low-handing fruit, the alerts feature will give you an ongoing list of fresh mentions of

It’s hidden away under the “more” button in the top navigation. But I agree that it’s not a tool I will navigate to as often as the Content or Site Explorer.

This little feature can be overlooked, but there’s a hot “mentions” tab under the page name.

If you click the “+ New Alert” while on the “backlinks” or “new keywords” tabs you won’t be able to setup alerts for mentions. This requires that you click the “mentions” link first. But after that you’re golden.

I personally want daily updates so I can reach out the moment the content is live. The fresher the mention the higher your chances are to get it updates, in most cases.

I didn’t go into how to identify the emails in this piece, but I will surely get to that in the future.

Closing this out

The unlinked brand mentions technique is about as new as Jnco jeans, so there are a lot of other ways to find these ego boosters. You can use Google alerts, moz.com, or majestic.com.

Consider trying all these tools to find the most opportunities, as each have a unique data set.

Kevin Rowe is Founder of PureLinq and a product focused SEO, developing industry-leading programs for SEO and link building.

He is a thought leader in SEO & link building, being published in Search Engine Journal, Fast Company, Forbes, Huffington Post, and Search Engine Land.

Over a decade Kevin has worked on SEO, link building, and analytics programs for enterprise clients like Hyatt Hotels, Kaplan University, Groupon, VMware, Novartis, Coca Cola, and so much more.

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