I got this question on Twitter recently and wanted to expand my answer into a post to explain a bit more about my thinking behind tracking down of niche sites.
@MarkoSaric Which site do you think is best to track down niche sites? Technorati is the one I use most.
My quick Twitter response was:
@katebarlow I use Google myself, probably the best way. When you find a good site then you can also see who they associate themselves with.
And now a bit of a longer and more detailed response for you all:
Why should I track niche sites?
If you are wondering what is the use of tracking down different sites there are several reasons for it. Knowing different pages allows you to figure out the situation in the field – what the best places are, who your competitors are, what kind of content is being produced, how are the projects monetized and what seems to be working very well. Tracking pages allows you to build a database of competitors, of potential authors to cooperate with, of sites that you want to comment on to build a connection and drive traffic back to yourself, of pages that accept guest posts and that you’d like to guest post on and much more. Some call this blogger outreach.
My process of finding niche sites is pretty simple and relies heavily on Google and Google tools. I do some Google searches, some Google Blog searches and I subscribe to some Google Alerts for relevant keywords I am researching. Google searches can also be subscribed to so you get an update in your RSS reader when there is a new post published on the keyword phrases you have searched for.
In my search results I look through the top results and I click over to the interesting sites. I spend some time on the sites themselves, and potentially I subscribe to their RSS feed or I follow them on Twitter. What I also look for on good pages is links. Links within posts, links in the sidebar, links in the different pages, links they send on Twitter, links of people they follow on Twitter and so on. Another useful tool in this context is Similar Sites. Just type in the URL of the page and you will get a list of relevant sites to that page.
Building a contact database
Some other sources of finding niche sites can be looking at who’s speaking at relevant conferences. Go to their sites, go to their social media profiles and see who they interact with. Who has a very engaging social media presence. Who has written books in the niche you are researching.
Always make sure to collect all the information you find and put them in your database. The database can be an Excel file or a Google Doc file where you list URL of the site, contact info, your notes and any other fact or metric that is important for you. This database gives you an easy overview of all the different sites you are targeting and makes it easy for you to send guest post requests, or go comment on their latest post, or even pitch them an idea.
A big part of this “outreach” process is getting your emails opened and read. Check out my tips on that.