24 Tools for the Link Building Process
Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to speak at SMX Sydney where I talked about a bunch of link building tools (over 30 of them). I never really got around to writing up a post about those tools so I wanted to address that and add a few more tools into the mix.
To make this list more useful to you, I’ve grouped the tools into the following areas:
- Selling a link building project
- Link profile analysis
- Project planning
- Content creation
- Finding link prospects
- Link monitoring
Selling a link building project
What it does: Allows you to create proposals for potential clients very quickly.
Why this matters: For smaller companies who don’t have sales teams, Bidsketch can allow you to create good looking proposals very quickly. Looking professional in your proposal is very important if you want to win business and if you’re a small company trying to balance lots of responsibilities, you don’t always have time to spend on making proposals look great. Bidsketch can help with this.
Where to find it: http://www.bidsketch.com/
What it does: Whilst it has a large number of features and uses, Searchmetrics is a great tool for the sales stage because it can give you a broad idea of how visible a website is in search results over a period of time. Note this is visibility and not traffic – so you should take the results with a grain of salt as Richard Baxter points out in this post.
Why this matters: It is quite common for clients at the sales stage to not give you access to their analytics platform, so Searchmetrics can give you a quick insight into potential problems and provoke lines of questioning. So if you see a big drop in visibility around the time of a Google update, you can dive into this and ask if their analytics data shows this too and if so, start to look into what may have happened.
Where to find it: http://suite.searchmetrics.com/en/research
Link profile analysis
3. Link profiler
What it does: Allows you to input URLs and it will compare the backlink profile of each one based on the Domain Authority (from Moz) score of the incoming links.
Why this matters: Getting an idea of where your client or website sits in relation to it’s competitors is useful for a number of reasons. One of which being the example above where you can clearly see the blue line sticks out compared to the others, so this is a good reason to take a deeper look into this profile and see if there is a good (or bad!) reason for the difference. It can also show when you’re way behind competitors which means you could have a lot of work to do before you can start ranking well!
Where to find it: http://moz.com/blog/link-profile-tool-to-discover-linking-activity
4. Link Detective
What it does: Link Detective will crawl your backlink profile and attempt to classify your links based on the type of link they are. So a few common classifications are directories, profile link, blogroll and article site.
Why this matters: Although it won’t possibly be able to classify everything, this can be great for getting a quick view on the breakdown of your link profile and see if it is skewed a bit too much towards lower quality links such as directories or article directories. If it is, then you probably want to address the balance a little.
Where to find it: http://www.linkdetective.com/
5. Mozscape API extension for Excel
What it does: This is a great little plugin that will allow you to pull a bunch of link data from lots of sources straight into Excel, ready to be sliced and diced.
Why this matters: You’ll save a bunch of time by learning how to use this plugin and it can pull data from a bunch of sources such as Moz, Majestic SEO and the SEOgadget API. This allows you to do link profile analysis very quickly and lets you spend more time on the important bit – analysis, as opposed to spending loads of time just gathering the data.
Where to find it: http://seogadget.com/mozscape-api-extension-for-excel/
What it does: Trello is an online tool designed to help with project management, it is best utilized for projects that have stages and you can move the cards along those stages. You can also set reminders and upload files so that everything is kept in one place. You can also share boards with clients and give them the option of editing or just viewing.
Why this matters: Project management and planning is very important, especially on link building campaigns where there can often be multiple people involved and collaboration is important.
Where to find it: http://www.trello.com
What it does: Planscope allows you to define a list of tasks that need to be completed in a project and the approximate time each one should take. It can also show you when some tasks have gone over budget and lets you easily see this and adjust future tasks accordingly.
Why this matters: Over delivery on projects can cause problems and whilst sometimes it’s fine to over deliver, constant over delivery ultimately costs you money and often causes stress. Planscope lets you easily manage over delivery and makes sure that you can see quickly when it is happening – then you can communicate this with the client and make adjustments to the project to account for this.
Where to find it: https://planscope.io/
What it does: I know that you probably know what Google does! in this context though, the related searches on Google can give you a bunch of ideas for the content you can create. These related searches are partly driven by what users are looking for, so it can be a great way of finding ideas but things that your audience may want to read.
Why this matters: Generating content ideas can be quite tough sometimes, with this technique, you’re not only finding content ideas but you’re finding ones that are probably of interest to people. You can also keep drilling pretty deep into these by clicking on the related searches and seeing what else appears:
Where to find it: http://www.google.com
What it does: Soovle is like a Google suggest scraper on steroids. You start typing a keyword and it will scrape a bunch of websites and return the suggestions from each one.
Why this matters: Being able to see the search suggestions for so many websites at once can really help you generate content ideas quickly, particularly as Soovle also scrapes websites such as YouTube, Answers.com and Wikipedia.
Where to find it: http://www.soovle.com/
What it does: Quora is a question and answer community. You can ask questions on pretty much anything and the community will answer you. For our purposes, this can be a great way to find content ideas or even get others to do research for you!
Why this matters: When looking for content ideas, Quora can be great for discovering what questions people have that generate lots of discussions and interaction. You can then use this to drive some of your own content ideas and try to go really in depth with answers on your own website. Alternatively, if you’re looking to do research for a piece of content, you can ask a question based around it on Quora and have the community provide you with some answers which is almost like having a research team at your disposal
Where to find it: http://www.quora.com
What is does: oDesk is a website where you can hire freelancers to do jobs for you. It can be utilized in a number of ways but in this context, I’m talking about using it to help you carry out research for your pieces of content.
Why this matters: Pulling together a big, quality piece of content can be quite tough, especially when you have lots of other things to be getting on with. So being able to recruit some extra help at a good cost is always helpful and can allow you to focus on the bigger picture things that can’t be outsourced very easily.
Where to find it: https://www.odesk.com/
Why this matters: Big, shiny pieces of content can take lots of time to do, especially if you need help from designers or developers. Bootstrap lets you bridge the gap a little and whilst it may not look as good as a custom design, Bootstrap templates are very clean and minimal which can often make big pieces of content look really good.
Where to find it: http://getbootstrap.com/
Why this matters: Cool data visualizations can make for great pieces of content, especially if users can manipulate the data themselves to pull out interesting facts or stories.
Where to find it: http://nvd3.org/
15. Super Scrollorama
What is does: This is a jQuery plugin which allows you to do cool animations such as scrolling infographics or long form pieces of content that have interactive visual elements.
Why this matters: The basic code is pretty simple to use and to edit so that it fits with your own content. So potentially, you can create a really cool, interactive piece of content without having to rely on a developer to do it for you.
Where to find it: http://johnpolacek.github.io/superscrollorama/
Finding link prospects
16. Broken link finder
What is does: Allows you to find websites in your industry that have broken links on them, therefore giving you a way in to contact the site owners and potentially get a link in return.
Why this matters: As we know, link building can be quite tough and this technique is one of those that actually scales pretty well as long as you have a good reason to get a link in return. It works well if you’re creating a piece of content that has been done before, because you can then find broken links to those other pieces of content and try to get that link instead.
Where to find it: http://www.brokenlinkbuilding.com/
What is does: Followerwonk allows you to drill into lots of areas of Twitter including searching Twitter bios, checking follower count and cross-over, honestly, if you haven’t used it, go try it!
Why this matters: You can do loads of things with this tool but one of my favourite things is to use it for link prospecting because not only can you find people who may link to you, but you can filter them by their Twitter following which means that you can connect with real influencers.
Where to find it: http://followerwonk.com/
18. URL opener
What is does: A nice simple tool that allows you to paste in a list of URLs and it will open them all for you in new browser tabs, so you don’t have to open them one at a time.
Why this matters: When you’re link prospecting, you can often end up with a big list of URLs that you need to manually check, this tool saves you a bunch of time by opening them all for you in one go.
Where to find it: http://www.urlopener.com/index.php
19. Linksy email finder
What is does: Allows you to find someones email address by using their name and organisation. The tool will guess a bunch of email combinations and show you if you’ve hit the right one because it will display an image of the person.
Why this matters: When you’re building links, sometimes it can be hard to find a contact email for someone. So this tool can help bridge that gap and gives you a chance of finding the right one.
Where to find it: http://linksy.me/find-email
20. Scrape similar
What it does: Scrape similar is a simple browser plugin that allows you to scrape HTML elements from a web page without needing to be a coder or hard core scraper.
Why this matters: When it comes to link building, scrape similar can be great for gathering big lists of URLs very quickly such as the one above. You can scrape the list and then copy it into Excel or Google Docs.
What it does: BuzzStream is best described (I think) as a CRM tool for link building. It lets you keep track of your link building efforts and share work across teams and collaborate on projects.
Why this matters: BuzzStream works best if you have a team of people working on link building, so if you’re working on a large link building campaign, you can keep track of who has been contacted, what the email said, what the response was etc.
Where to find it: http://www.buzzstream.com/
What it does: Rapportive is a Gmail plugin that pulls in various pieces of information about the person that you’re emailing. It can show their their social accounts, their photo, their recent tweets as well as their location.
Why this matters: When doing outreach, you can really customise your emails based on the information that Rapportive gives you – without leaving your Gmail window. This can save you a bunch of time and make your outreach a bit more effective.
Where to find it: http://rapportive.com/
What it does: Boomerang does a number of email related tasks but in this context, it is useful for scheduling emails to be sent at a certain time. It can also be used as in the screenshot above to tell you when someone hasn’t replied to your email in a given time period.
Why this matters: If you’re working on a different timezone to the people you’re contacting, you may not be emailing them at the most optimal time. So being able to schedule an email is super useful here. Also, it can sometimes be tricky to keep track of who has and hasn’t replied to your email, so Boomerang can make it easy by reminding you if you haven’t had a reply from someone.
Where to find it: http://www.boomeranggmail.com/
24. Canned responses
What it does: Canned responses is another Gmail plugin which allows you to quickly insert pre-defined templates into an email.
Why this matters: Whilst you should definitely customise your outreach emails as much as possible, pre-defined templates can help speed up your process whilst not compromising on quality. Try setting up a few pre-defined templates and edit as appropriate to customise them to the person you’re speaking to.
I hope that some of these were new to you, feel free to let me know if there are other tools you prefer for these tasks in the comments