I’m often asked what link building tools I use. The truth is, that I don’t use that many and the ones that I do use aren’t that fancy. There are loads of tools out there and the market is certainly very saturated right now, but I always find myself using the same tools over and over again. I admit that my process for link building may not be the most mind boggling, but it works for me even if it does take a bit longer!
In this post I’m going to talk about the tools that I use the most and for fairness, include a few others that I use but perhaps not as often.
Simplicity is key when it comes to link building. We spend all day playing with fancy tools for finding blogs and sometimes, we forget the biggest, most comprehensive one of them all sitting right in front of us. I ALWAYS start my link building research at Google, I know I can use tools and scrape away at Google SERPs all day long, but nothing beats your own intuition and gut feeling when first doing research.
Before I move onto specific tools, I wanted to cover off some simple ways of getting quality link prospects using Google.
I’ve talked about using lists for link building before, so I won’t go into detail on this one again. Something that you should know about very well is using advanced search queries for link prospecting. I still love finding new queries and there are so many ways to use this skill. Here are a few you can use for guest posting from Geoff at Distilled and here is a full guide from SEOmoz. Here are a few to get you started and maybe provoke some more:
This will find you travel bloggers on LinkedIn who have at least one website listed on their profile.
This will help you find travel bloggers who have a contact page – reducing the chance of you looking through a blog but not being able to find contact details.
I love Followerwonk and their recent acquisition by SEOmoz means that the software is only going to get better. There are a few ways you can use it for link building but I wanted to outline a simple process that I use to find good quality, active blogs to outreach to. There is also a subtle bonus to using Followerwonk in that you can add in metrics to find bloggers with lots of Twitter followers and influence.
Firstly, click on the Search Twitter bios tab and enter your keyword:
You can then see a list of Twitter users that have used travel blogger in their bio:
At this point, you’ll want to pull all of these into a CSV where you can do some filtering and find the users who have listed their website in their Twitter bio. If you’re an SEOmoz Pro member, you can do this for free. If not, it is pretty cheap to run reports using just Followerwonk.
Once you’ve got the CSV open, you can filter out people who haven’t got websites, then order by something useful like number of followers. If you want to go a step further, you can use something like SEO tools for Excel to pull in the PageRank of the domain too.
There are a few practical ways that BuzzStream helps you find high quality blogs to outreach to. One of which is their browser bookmarklet (called the BuzzMarker) which you can use to quickly add blogs to the BuzzStream database. So you can be browsing the web looking for link prospects, then when you find one you like the look of, you can very quickly add it to BuzzStream and come back to it later. When you click the BuzzMarker, you can quickly view a bunch of metrics to make sure that the blog is of a decent quality. Here is what it tells us about StateofSearch.com:
But here is the bit that I really like, BuzzStream will try and find contact details for the site automatically. Again, this is what it does for State of Search:
This speeds up your link prospecting process massively and helps you become a bit more efficient and finding good link targets.
The other feature of BuzzStream that allows you to find good link targets is called the link prospector. It allows you to enter Google search queries and BuzzStream will go off, run these searches for you and pull the results back into your campaign. You can then sort by link metrics and domain metrics so you can very quickly filter out low quality blogs:
Once you’ve done this, you can quickly go through the list and accept or reject the websites that BuzzStream has found:
Nice and simple, now you’re left with a nice list of quality blogs to outreach to.
These three tools will always give me 95% of what I need when it comes to planning and executing a link building campaign. There are times that I use other tools though so I wanted to briefly mention those.
I have to admit, AHREFs has become my backlink checker tool of choice recently. I love the interface of Open Site Explorer and I love the depth that Majestic goes into. But AHREFs, for me at least, strikes the right balance between the two.
When it comes to link building (as opposed to link analysis) I tend to use this tool for checking who has linked to competitors content in the past. Or, more recently I’ve used it slightly differently. I’ve used Google to find pieces of content that are on the same theme as the piece of linkbait I’m working on, then I’ll use AHREFs to find who has linked to these similar pieces of content. This works well for news stories too because AHREFs is pretty fresh and updates quickly.
I tend to use SEO Tools for Excel more for link analysis, in particular if looking to do link cleanups, but recently I’ve used it on the odd occasion for checking the PageRank for a large list of link targets that I may have pulled in from Google or somewhere like Blogger Link Up.
That’s about it, as always, I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments. What tools do you always use when doing link building?