The Wizard of Moz, Rand Fishkin recently published a very informative White Board Friday explaining how you can find websites your target audience visits.

The idea behind this clever strategy is to target other relevant websites for advertising, content and link building with the aim of capturing people who are likely to be interested in your product or service. Below is the video from Rand and the team at Moz.

Discovering Which Sites Your Target Audience Visits – Whiteboard Friday

Although I always love Rand’s ideas and think he is the best in the business, I think there is an easier and quicker way to do this.

My strategy is not as in-depth as Rand’s, and if I had the time to do what Rand suggests for the multiple websites I work on, I definitely would.

However, time is of the essence, so I came up with a shortcut to help you find websites your target audience visits without having to do the manual process Rand suggests in his White Board Friday.

Quickly find websites your target audience visits

In order for this strategy to work, you need to have been doing remarketing using the Google Display Network on Adwords.

What is the Google Display Network?

Remarketing (also known as retargeting) is a powerful tool which allows you set up ‘audiences‘ in Google Adwords. This means Google can drop a cookie (not the edible type) every time someone visits a specific web page on your site.

What is a cookie? Find out here.

The cookie allows Google to essentially follow people around the Internet by displaying ads to them on other relevant websites to entice these people back to your website to finish what they started. This can be very cost effective and seriously improve your conversion rates.

For example, let’s say Mr Smith was in the process of booking an activity on your travel website. He got to the Barcelona activities page, had a browse around but didn’t buy the tapas course he was looking at.

Mr Smith then leaves your website, but now the cookie has been dropped and stored in his browser, you could serve him ads on other travel related websites (or websites of any kind) which could bring him back to your website. The ads would be designed with your branding and ask the question ‘still thinking of taking a tapas course in Barcelona?’ or such like. Very powerful.

When Mr Smith clicks on that ad on one of the websites in Google’s Display Network, he comes back to your website to hopefully transact which is great. But in doing so, he also leaves a breadcrumb of a website he likes to visit (other than your own).

Let’s say it was a ‘Weather in Spain’ website for example. You could then reach out to this website to see if you can collaborate in terms of content, advertising or getting backlinks from their website to yours. Very powerful for branding and advertising – in the right place to the right people, and for placing content and backlinks which are great for raising awareness, generating referral traffic and for passing SEO value to your website.

How to find these websites on Google Adwords?

If you have been running your campaigns for a good length of time and have a decent amount of budget, by now you’ll have a good selection of websites you can target.

Finding these websites is simple by following these steps:

  1. Log in to Google Adwords.
  2. Navigate to your display advertising campaign.
  3. Click on the ‘Display Network’ tab.
  4. Click on the ‘Placements‘ tab underneath as shown below.

Find websites your target audience visits - How to find these websites on Google Adwords?

There you will find a list of websites which your target audience is visiting. All without doing any manual work or interviewing your customers.

You can order the list by conversions and also use Google Analytics to look into how the traffic from these ads performed on your website. That way you can identify the best websites to target for your outreach.

To make this list as clean as possible, you should spend time on optimising your ads to ensure they are only being displayed on high quality, relevant websites.

Find websites your target audience visits without using Adwords

Okay okay. So not all of you are using Google Adwords. Or if you are, you don’t necessarily run ads using the Display Network?

In that case, you can use another shortcut if you don’t have time to carry out Rand’s clever process. This way is definitely not as good as what Rand suggests in the video above, but it will help you understand what kind of websites your target audience visits.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Log in to your Google Analytics account.
  2. Navigate to ‘Acquisition’ > ‘All Traffic’ > ‘Referrals’.
  3. Select the date range for as long as you want. 6 months is a good start.

There you will see a list of websites which have referred traffic to your website. Take a look at the quality of the traffic from each referral source. I order the list by Bounce Rate for example.

We can assume that websites which refer traffic with a low Bounce Rate should be high quality and have the right kind of audience for you. Then you can look deeper in to each of these websites and as Rand suggests, use tools like Similar web, SEM Rush and Google to find other websites your target audience visits.

Referring to Google, Rand says “What I want to do is add queries like “verse,” “verses,” “alternatives,” “sites like,” “similar sites” onto the end of whatever the domains are that come from my lists. Then I will get a bunch more domains that I can plug in.”

Do you have any other ways you are able to find websites your target audience visits? If so, let us know in the comments below.