Link Building Tools to Boost Your Traffic
Link building is a concept that anyone involved in online marketing will come across and, more than likely, be involved in. The principle is simple — get high quality, relevant sites to link to your own. In doing so you not only generating traffic from visitors clicking through but also give search engines an indication as to the importance of your site. In effect a link is like a vote; the more high-quality votes you get the higher you’ll show up in search rankings.
Fortunately, there are many link-building tools. These can roughly be split into two camps: Those that help with the data and analysis side of things, and those that focus more on speeding up the process of building relationships with other site owners. So how does someone decide which tool best suits their needs? I tested six of the most popular link-building tools over the last few months to figure out the pros and cons of each. Here’s what you need to know.
Ontolo is a powerful, sometimes complex, tool that can work wonders for someone who knows how to use it. For link prospecting it’s pretty much unparalleled but search phrases have to be pretty specific. A search phrase essentially tells Ontolo what kind of sites to search for so if you enter something too generic, you may end up with hundreds of generic results.
In other words, this is not for the beginner link builder. If anything it’s better suited for larger companies or seo agencies who have someone dedicated to this kind of work.
+ Extremely Powerful
+ Lots of customization
+ Allows end-to-end workflow management
– Steep learning curve
– Can result in too much data
Cost: Starts at $97 per month
Value for the Money: For those looking to generate and analyze hundreds (or thousands) of prospects, there’s no better option.
One of the most difficult and time-consuming parts of link building is contacting other site owners for permission to link. This is where BuzzStream comes in. This tool allows you to create your own database of possible link-building sites, lets you assign them to a team member, and then offers options for touching base with site owners. It sounds simple but when you’re trying to contact hundreds of site owners it gets very complicated very quickly, which is why a tool like this comes in handy.
My favorite thing about BuzzStream is the ‘bookmarklet’ — a button that you add to your browser’s toolbar, which allows you to add any site that you’re currently visiting with just a couple of clicks. As an added bonus, BuzzStream automatically tries to find the name, email address, and social media profiles of the site you bookmark.
BuzzStream also makes it really easy to categorize sites with tags, assign their status (such as ‘attempting to contact’ or ‘link accepted’), and even allows you to link up an email account. By doing so you never have to leave the tool, and could even have multiple team members contact different sites using your name and email address.
My only criticism of this tool is that it’s a little hard to navigate. The features are fantastic but many are inexplicably hidden away, meaning that you have to hunt through blog posts and help files to get the most out of it. Be patient though because once you work BuzzStream out there’s definitely no looking back.
+ Massive time saver
+ Great for team collaboration
– Not very intuitive
– Poorly organized help files
Cost: Starts at $29 per month
Value for the Money: The time you’ll save in sending emails alone makes BuzzStream excellent value for money, particularly for those working as part of a team.
Rand Fishkin’s SEOMoz is a very well-known name in the SEO industry with a reputation for delivering high-quality, easy-to-use tools. The program’s competitor analysis option gives you an easy way to look at and understand what competitors are doing to increase their rankings. This is done by giving you a list of metrics such as inbound links to a page or site, their anchor text, and ‘Domain Authority’ (which is a score out of 100 as to the relative power of a domain).
It’s not an end-to-end solution, but does have the ability to export your data to a CSV file. This will contain the raw information on a site or page, as mentioned above, which you can then open as a spreadsheet to work from. An example of this would be to pick your top competitor, find all of their links, export them, and then look to replicate what they’ve done to build those links. Paid members also get access to the SEOMoz campaign tools, the q&a section, and PRO Perks which give you discounts on a number of different services.
+ Very easy to use
+ Great depth of data
+ Simple export options
– Only updates once per month
– No workflow management
Cost: Starts at $99 per month
Value for the Money: OpenSiteExplorer and the SEOMoz campaign tools are absolutely fantastic but the added benefits of the community really can’t be underestimated.
Raven’s suite of SEO tools covers everything from on-page analysis to social media monitoring and link building. The thing that stands out here is the sheer size and scope of the available options which, similarly to Ontolo, can be a little overwhelming at first. The basic UI is reasonably easy to learn, although some of the more advanced features do take a while to get used to.
One of the perks of Raven is that it integrates with a number of external services (such as TextBroker and Basecamp) while still retaining a very high standard when it comes to internal features. The link prospecting, monitoring, and acquisition tools are simply fantastic.
Also, the recently upgraded CRM section makes it far easier for team collaboration, and there are some more of these types of additions on the way, but It would be great to have the ability to send emails from inside the tool. If that was added then you’d be hard pushed to find the need to spend money elsewhere.
+ Huge range of features
+ Link monitoring and management
+ Integrates with Basecamp and TextBroker
– Navigation takes a while to get used to
– No internal outreach functionality
Cost: Starts at $99 per month
Value for the Money: Of all the SEO tools out there, Raven gives you the best value for the money. You get unlimited sites, a wealth of features, and an easy way to buy additional usage as you need it.
5. Citation Labs
Originally involved in getting Ontolo up and running, Garrett French has since moved on to startCitation Labs. As a link builder, one of the most time-consuming tasks is to find top quality sites that are both relevant and likely to link to you — something that Citation Labs makes far easier than any of the other tools that I’ve come across so far.
Simply choose the type of link or site that you’re looking for, enter a few relevant phrases, and wait for the software to generate your report. You’ll end up with an exportable, filtered list of sites that are relevant to the terms that you used in your search. My advice from here is to integrate them into your link-building workflow by importing into the likes of Raven or BuzzStream.
+ Ridiculously easy to get started
+ Returns quality sites
– Prospecting phrases take a while to master
– You only get a single report as a freebie!
Cost: From $27 per month or $2 per report
Value for the Money: The link prospector is extremely well priced. Plus it offers both subscription and pay-as-you go options.
Showing up at the top of specific search results can be a life-changing event for a local business, which is where Whitespark is aiming to help. Their local citation tool offers an easy solution to finding potential link partners at a local level. Simply enter your location and type of business, fine-tune the search phrase, and that’s it. Just a few seconds later you’ll have a list of potential link targets.
Although not as advanced as the likes of BuzzStream or Raven there is a basic management tool included with each report which lets you mark each possible link as ‘got it!’ or ‘useless’. It also includes a clickable link to the submission page which is a massive time saver.
+ Simple but effective
+ Very easy to use
+ Deceptively powerful
– Sometimes returns poor quality sites
Cost: From $20 per month
Value for the Money: If you’re a local business looking to give your link-building efforts a boost then $20 per month for Whitespark’s tool would be a great investment.