I’d say roughly 80% of my time as an SEO is spent link building. It can be a tough challenge sometimes, but I always find it satisfying to see the fruits of my labour coming through. Whilst I strongly believe that link building is all about hard graft, and that you should be able to do the job with all but an email address; the following tools certainly make my life a lot easier. Included in this list are tools that I use for a variety of things such as valuing a link prospect, right through to identifying poor quality links that I might want to consider removing.
Having recently changed from working as a freelance SEO, to working in an Agency role at SEOgadget, I’m starting to find BuzzStream more and more useful for organising large sets of contacts for outreach. I’m convinced that over the next 12 months link building is going to have to learn more and more from PR, and being able to store your contacts all in one place is crucial. The beauty of using BuzzStream is that I can easily filter though a list to find sites that we have already worked with. Being able to find sites that I know will accept my content makes getting some quick wins nice and easy.
I tend to use Google Docs for a couple of tasks; it’s a very easy way to keep clients updated regularly on the progress of a link building project; and it’s also a very easy way to scrape some SERPS and get some quick link prospects. On the subject of client communication, I’ve always believed in being as open as possible. By setting up a Google Docs sheet I can easily add new links as and when they come through in order to give a client ‘real time’ updates should they require them. It’s a bit of a crude and simple way to do it, but it gets the job done quickly allowing me to spend more time on getting links.
As mentioned above, I also really like using Google Docs as a way to scrape SERPS when trying to find new link opportunities. It’s really easy to do, and it doesn’t even cost a penny. I’ve got a pretty basic version here that I’ve set up to help me find new potential sites for guest posts. Feel free to have a play yourselves.
When looking through sites, the first thing I want to know is ‘how many linking root domains does this site have’ and ‘how authoritative is this domain’? The SEOmoz ‘Mozbar’ is perfect for having a first quick glance at these stats. Although the toolbar gives you many more data points and has a wealth of features; from a link building perspective I’m concentrating on the number of linking root domains (lrd’s) to the sub domain; and the domain authority score of the site in question. Usually a quick check of these numbers will tell me whether to continue or leave and look for another domain.
Nine times out of ten, the biggest setback with link building is a lack of response from people you’ve been contacting. Either they’re not interested and will never reply; or they are just taking what seems like forever to get back to you. Trying another method of communication can often open up doors that seem to be remaining firmly shut through the use of email. We’re finding increasingly that twitter can acts as a very successful channel, and that response rates are much, much higher if the first point of contact has been made on Twitter.
Just by searching on for the industry you’re looking for, Follerwonk returns a huge amount of results that should all be worth a tweet. Naturally, to speed up the process you might opt to scrape this list and start filtering the results by the best domains.
For getting stuck into my competitors back-link profiles, and because one’s never enough, I like to use Majestic SEO in addition to linkscape and the Mozbar for collecting large sets of data. Majestic’s index is by far the biggest available, and it simply can’t be beaten for depth and up to date information. Due to Majestic’s amazingly fresh index, you can get a really accurate idea of what other sites in your niche are doing. That means spotting good opportunities quickly and trying to strike while the irons hot. With their new ‘flow metrics’ you can now get an even more valuable picture of link profiles.
SEO Tools for Excel
I don’t think I could live without this tool. Seriously, if you’re not using it then you’re missing out on a massively powerful tool. In terms of link building, it’s a really easy way to get to know your link profile. Starting with an export from Majestic, I’ll use SEO Tools for Excel to pull through page rank for each domain and then use it to help me pull through the number of linking root domains to each domain from the SEOmoz API. What you end up with is a huge data set that you can drill down into by page rank, linking root domains and anchor text. That’s all hugely powerful in the wake of the penguin update when you’re trying to figure out what links might be causing you issues.
Again, for link profiling Screaming Frog can come in pretty handy. Switching from the standard ‘spider mode’ to ‘list mode’ you can crawl a list of URL’s and quickly find out which one’s still contain a live link. We’ve found that especially with the very lower end of the link graph, there’s quite a large amount of link drop off. If you want a really accurate picture of your current link profile – finding out which links are still live is crucial. This is particularly interesting when trying to look through the link data in webmaster tools, as in my experience the data never seems to be 100% up to date.
Once in ‘list mode’, you simply add the domain you’re looking for and hit the start button. The filter above would work to search the source code from a list of URL’s and return the ones which still have links to stateofdigital.com.
I have to give a little hat tip to Ally for this one; but I thought it was just too cool not to mention! When contacting a large publication for the first time it’s extremely hard to find the right person straight away. It’s even harder to get a response first time. If you make sure that read receipts are turned on from your outreach emails; should your first point of contact forward your email to the most appropriate person you’ll be notified if they read it. So, even though you don’t get a positive response, what you will end up with is the direct contact email for the most appropriate person at the publication – nice!
featured image credit – zzpza