Why we build a target universe of link possibilities

Inhabit the niche and become active in outreach.

To open up as many possibilities as possible its important to know everyone in your niche.
At the start of any link building campaign we normally start the process of building our little black book of everyone who we might want to have a relationship with and therefore get a link from. This is key to powering ideation and the campaigns to come.
By creating what we call a 'Target universe' we are able to have one central store for all the sites that we want to eventually have a relationship with. We can start the process of categorising them and building discreet lists of people who will help us sculpt and define our link graph to the best possible benefit. 

By understanding who we want to target we get a much clearer understanding of what campaigns we are best focussing our time on and on how we might make a connection with those people and gain that link.

Building the initial dataset

Typically we start by gathering as much information about the link graph around our own site.
By gathering data across the niche we are in we are able to see a number of important things.

Advanced gap analysis

What links do our competition have that we would want to also emulate?

Serp analysis

What sites are in our general niche that we want to make sure we have in our dataset?

News analysis

Who is talking about our niche, where are they talking and how do they publish?
From that analysis we are left with a good idea of not only the volume of places we can outreach to but also the types of people we would want to engage with, how we can reach out to them and therefore what campaigns we are best placed to create.

A typical initial

Target Universe

All subsequent outreach and pitching becomes easier once you know where to go for the data.
Sites we don't have a link from but our competitors do
8,000 domains
Organisations and bodies etc that we need to engage better with
76 organisations
Possible partners in our niche or in related arenas
6,500 domains across 12 topic areas
Journalists, publications and influencers in our niche
600 journalists across 120 publications

A living document that grows with the campaigns

The Target Universe is a living document, its constantly being added to, refined and developed.
Once we have our initial Target Universe we can start to plan the campaigns that will reach these targets and we can start to engage with these targets at every possible opportunity. 
Outreach and pitching always goes better when you already have a relationship with the person you're outreaching to. If you've shared their work or liked their content for weeks before they get an email from you, the chances of them reacting positively to your email are vastly increased. 

The Target Universe tends to start as very broad brush strokes, an ocean of data and then over time we will refine this down to focus on those people, publications and domains that we really want to have a strong ongoing relationship with, this is key to powering successful campaigns and to making sure our site moves to the centre of the link graph for our niche.
The less interesting but important stuff
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