Think you need dozens of tools for link building? Think again.
Two weeks ago I asked 55 SEO experts and prolific bloggers a simple question:
“If you could only use 3 SEO tools for your link building campaigns which 3 would you choose?”
I wanted to know plain and simple which tools I must seriously consider and what I can live without.
As a newbie blogger I’ve been overwhelmed by all the top 10, 20 and even 100 lists that have got me nowhere closer to choosing a manageable selection of tools. That’s why I decided the only way to know for real was to ask the experts and see if the best tools in the industry would indeed reveal themselves. Well guess what…they have:
Favourite Link Building Tools (as voted by 55 experts!)
#1 BuzzStream – 18 votes
#2 Ahrefs – 15 votes
#3 Majestic SEO & Open Site Explorer tied with 12 votes
#4 Google Search & Google Webmaster Tools tied with 9 votes
#5 Followerwonk & Link Prospector tied with 5 votes
Read on to discover each expert’s favourite 3 tools along with their awesome tips on how to use them! You can either skip to your favourite expert using these quick links or grab a coffee, get comfortable and commence scrolling!
Adam Connell, Aleyda Solis, Amal Rafeeq, Ann Smarty, Anthony Mangia
Bill Hunt, Bill Sebald, Bob Jones, Brian Dean
Carrie Hill, Chris Ainsworth, Chris Antoni, Chris Dyson, Chris Gilchrist
Dan Petrovic, Dan Stelter, Darren Paterson, Debra Mastaler
Geoff Kenyon, George Stevens, Gianluca Fiorelli, Gregory Ciotti
Harris Schachter, Harsh Agarwal
James Agate, Jason Acidre, Joel Widmer, Jon Dykstra
Matt McGee, Mauro D’Andrea, Miguel Salcido, Mike Essex
Neil Patel, Nick Eubanks, Nick LeRoy, Nicole Beckett
Paddy Moogan, Pawel Grabowski, Peter Attia, Philip Bryant
Rhea Drysdale, Ryan McLaughlin
Samuel King, Sanket Patel, Sean Stahlman, Sebastian Cowie, Silicon Beach Training, Simon Penson, Sujan Patel
(Disclaimer – the ONLY affiliate links in this post are for BuzzStream. I’ll earn a small commission if you buy this amazing tool at no extra cost to you. These small commissions are how I keep clambr up and running so your support is highly appreciated).
Responses listed in the order they were received in:
Pawel Grabowski - StayCity
BuzzStream - Great tool for blogger outreach and prospecting management. Think of it as your link building CRM with research tools built in (my personal definition of it of course ). A tool I simply can’t live without. Oh, an important thing, their support is absolutely magnificent. One of the best I have ever seen.
Link Prospector by Citation Labs - A tool for finding link building opportunities. It’s fast, super easy to use and can find plenty of great websites you can build links from. Although as with any tool of that type, the results you get largely depend on what information you put in first (just thought I’d mention).
Rank Tracker - Perhaps not the most ideal tool but the one I use so thought I’d include it here too. It’s good for checking out your rankings but since it runs from your local machine, make sure that you use some sort of proxy or VPN if you want to check results from other location than yours.
Brian Dean – Backlinko
Aleyda Solis – Aleyda Solis
Amal Rafeeq – BloggerDoc
I think I’ll be going with Alexa. It records backlinks more quickly than others I think. And I recommend you NOT TO care much about the backlinks and Social Shares. Just continue what you are doing, produce great content and natural links will flow to you.
Chris Dyson – TripleSEO
Miguel Salcido – ProfessionalSEOConsultant
First off, 3 tools is tough! Link building is so dynamic and encompasses so much. But if I had to only live with 3 tools for link building they would have to be Link Prospector, Google Docs, and BuzzStream.
Google Docs is just invaluable for things like organization, collaboration, and data management. What I mean by data management is being able to slice and dice data for different URLs or links and pull in metrics, contact info, etc. There are also tons of great tools built in Google Docs that one can leverage to generate content ideas and search queries.
Link Prospector is great for quickly developing lists of potential link targets whether it’s guest blogging, niche directories, contests, etc. This tool, I could not live without! It does what many of us had to do manually for years in terms of finding link prospects. It’s also extremely affordable and pays for itself easily.
And Buzzstream is useful for contact management, task management, and finding contact information. You can get alot with the paid version, but their free tools are excellent as well! You can use their free tools to find contact information, generate search queries, build lists, etc.
With these three tools one can build a very successful link building campaign that can last as long as you can keep working.
Adam Connell - BloggingWizard
BuzzStream - this is an essential part of our process at UK Linkology. It allows us to manage large guest posting campaigns with ease, track links and social mentions – even prospect for link building opportunities. The built in CRM is perfect for link building and it makes what can easily spiral out of control into something that’s easily managable.
Ahrefs - I use a couple of different sources for examining link profiles, but Ahrefs has got some really impressive tools that make it stand out… the way they break down anchor text into different numbered terms makes identifying issues very easy. (Ross Hudgens wrote about the possibility of using term anchor text a while back here: http://www.rosshudgens.com/term-anchor-text/).
The crawler comes in handy, along with the mentions and batch analysis tools.
The graphs it spits out come in handy for reports too.
Advanced Web Ranking - I’ve tested a lot of rank tracking tools and I know that tracking rankings is really difficult, lots of factors involved but you still need a bench mark – this bench mark will help you identify possible issues in the future.
I’ve tried desktop and online based tools to track rankings and I’ve had problems across the board – lack of features, poor reporting but AWR does everything that I need with some crawling and site evaluation tools too.
Paddy Moogan – PaddyMoogan.com
BuzzStream – most people know that I’m a big fan of BuzzStream, it has so many uses but ultimately, it lets you scale link building in the right way because you build up your “black book” of link building contacts which can help you get more and more links the more you use the system. It also does a great job of pulling in link metrics so you can do quick link analysis tool
Followerwonk – I like link prospecting with Followerwonk because it lets you find true influencers in an industry which means that if you can build a relationship with them, the value goes far beyond just a link.
Google – you can find all the link prospects you’ll ever need by learning how to use Google properly. It sounds basic but you often don’t need fancy tools to scrape Google for you, you can get much more granular by refining your own queries quickly and pulling in the results manually than having to rerun tools.
Jon Dykstra – BTwoWeb
My 3 most-often used tools are:
Camtasia Video Screen Capture – I make tons of videos and transcribe them. It’s one of my favorite content-generation methods these days… plus I put the videos on YouTube.
Iness Bokhan – SEOLots
As for the 3 SEO tools I’d use for link building, I’ll probably pick the following ones:
1. SEO Spyglass – the tool has a huge database that gets regularly updated and it brings back the unlimited number of backlinks and analyzes top backlink page factors (PR, age, Alexa, anchor text, etc.).
2. Google Analytics – pretty obvious, but still, this is the tool I keep open in the browser tabs most of the time.
3. The SeoQuake plugin for Firefox – for instant analysis of potential backlink pages.
Chris Ainsworth – HighPosition
My answer would depend upon the purpose for your link building tools.
If you’re looking for link analysis tools in the post-Penguin era then personally I would have to say:
If you’re looking for actual link building tools (i.e. automated tools) then don’t!
Otherwise if you’re looking for tools to help with the placement of links (i.e. identification of a trustworthy domain) then there are an array of tools such as Archive.org, WHOis, Majestic SEO etc which will help to establish the history of a domain.
My answer would depend on your goal for the tools but getting it down to just 3 may be a problem. Any SEO with clout will advise using an array of tools to ensure you obtain the widest overview possible. I hope that helps.
Gregory Ciotti – Help Scout
For the sake of being different, I’ll try to include a few of the less obvious options.
Yesware - I’ve written thousands of words about email outreach and networking over email and if there is one tool I can’t live without, it’s this. Reminders, tracking, customizable templates, it’s got everything a link builder needs for email.
Ahrefs - Simply put, the premier tool for checking links. Their mentions tracker is also highly underrated.
AuthorityLabs - Instead of wasting time tracking the results of your linkbuilding, tools like AuthorityLabs let you get an overview of your current rankings quickly so you can go back to (surprise!) building more great links.
Ann Smarty – SEOSmarty
Silicon Beach – SiliconBeachTraining
Chris Antoni – TheTrafficBlogger
3 Essentials to my link building:
Community Specific Forums, YouTube, and Guest Posts. I don’t need no stinking tools!
Just playing with you, but that is my real answer.
Matt McGee – MattMcGee
I can give you one tool: Help A Reporter Out (www.helpareporter.com), also known as HARO. It’s a great place to discover journalists and writers that are looking for expert sources, and then reach out to them to be interviewed for their reporting needs. That can lead to great mentions and links from trusted websites — so-called “editorial” links that are given freely and seem to be highly valued by Google.
Hope that helps. I don’t do “traditional” link building anymore, just PR/outreach like I’ve described above.
Mauro D’Andrea – BlogGrowth
I love Long Tail Pro. You can integrate it with your Moz free account so that you’ll have the chance to analyze your competitors and their links pretty easily. Other than links you can check site age, domain authority, page authority and page rank of many sites at a glance.
Open Site Explorer is another powerful tool. It gives you many insights about links pointing to a certain page.
As a third tool, I’d think about Microsoft Excel, or other similar softwares (even though it isn’t really a SEO tool). With it you can track your link building strategy, your search engine rankings, your keywords, important websites and email contacts.
Bill Hunt – WHunt
Google Webmaster Tools – to find broken and misdirected links often to the home page
Majestic SEO – for bulk links and drill down in link value
Link Research Tools – primarily for their Link Detox tools to weed out bad and old links
Anthony Mangia – MangiaMarketing
I love the Moz Keyword Analysis tool. I don’t think there’s a better tool on the market to quickly analyze the SERPs and really look at how competitive a given keyword will be to rank for. The interface is slicker than ever with the re-brand from SEOmoz to Moz, and their Full Reports are as in-depth as it gets. I use this tool a ton when I’m prospecting for new niches to enter when building websites for myself.
GroupHigh is my favorite blogger outreach tool. It’s Buzzstream’s slicker, more powerful, much more expensive older brother, but I think it’s worth every penny for some of my larger clients. Being able to mass import URLs by the thousands and pull down basic blog information, SEO and traffic metrics, social networking stats and even things like whether or not the blogger normally runs giveaways/guest posts/sponsored posts makes prospecting for new blogger connections a breeze.
Evernote isn’t really an SEO tool, per se, but it is my whole life. I use Evernote to organize any and all information relating to various clients and websites I own, including notes, to-do’s, new content and any important files. This allows me to access the files I need from any device, whether I’m at my apartment, at a client’s office, or on the road. My favorite feature of Evernote, however, has to be the Clearly extension. Whenever I see an article on Inbound.org that I know I want to read, I just hit the Clearly button and the content of the article gets scraped and saved to my Evernote account in a clean, easy-to-read format that I can access offline on my iPad, which makes my Subway rides a million times more productive.
Zac Johnson – ZacJohnson
Three tools that I like to use are:
Google Keyword Tool - always a good resource for people just starting out and don’t have money to spend on premium services.
Serpfox - a nice little site that keeps me updated with all of my site rankings and movement.
Long Tail Pro - an awesome software application that provides deep research and numbers or finding winning keywords.
Nicole Beckett – PremierContentSource
You really got me thinking!
One tool would definitely be Open Site Explorer. Some of the best SEO advice I ever got was ridiculously-simple — Google your target keywords, and see what kind of links the top 3 results have. Then, try to get links from the same places (like publishing a guest post on the same blog, etc.). It’s easy to do with Open Site Explorer and it really works!
Another tool I use is Google’s “sites like” option to find guest blogging opportunities. For example, I have alot of articles published on Site Pro News, but I’m always looking for similar sites that I can contribute to. The “sites like” option has helped me find websites that I may never have found on my own.
I think those are the only 2 tools I really use. Since SEO has changed so much over the past few years, I’ve focused more and more on other opportunities (like guest blogging and even *quality* forums that I can join and build relationships on — not just drop a link on). Luckily, I’ve gotten some great exposure AND some really great links in the process!
Kane Jamison – ContentHarmony
In a hypothetical world where I only get 3 tools, the best answer to this question will always be the following:
- An email client
- A Google search box
- A spreadsheet to track it all
I think the smartest link builders would argue that a phone is just as good as an email client. That said, linkprospector.citationlabs.com is the one paid tool I wouldn’t give up – it greatly speeds up the prospecting process. After that, OSE & BuzzStream are the next best additions to our toolset.
Darren Paterson – QueryClick
Personally, I find the following three tools to be the most important and potentially invaluable in terms of my day to day activities and “tools for your offsite link building campaigns”:
Open Site Explorer – There is really no need to explain in detail why and how we utilise OSE, but mainly the ability to download and manipulate backlink profiles for both clients and competitors is quick and simple.
Ahrefs – I have found Ahrefs to be a great secondary tool, which provides a lot of data, which is easily accessible, which otherwise would involve hours of work when using OSE. For example, anchor text distribution graphs are automatically created and require no additional work when entering a URL into Ahrefs.
Google Webmaster Tools – Although not necessarily within the “tools for your offsite link building campaigns”, it has to be one of the main tools I use day-to-day. A lot of my my time, especially within the last few months, has been focussing on identifying measurable backlink data. Therefore utilising the the ability to download ‘discovered’ backlinks over the last few years is incredibly useful. Especially when conducting backlink audits for new and potential clients.
Bill Sebald – GreenlaneSEO
BuzzStream would be my first. My love for BuzzStream knows no bounds.
Second would be RankRanger, a daily rank tracker with a lot of different metrics and a great whitelabel option. This is a big time saver with clients.
If you wanted a fourth, it would be Google Drive. Our entire company runs on it, from client management to deliverables.
Bob Jones – Visible
Raven Tools – The link manager is an essential part of our daily link building hustle.
Majestic SEO – Although we also use OSE from Moz and Ahrefs, Majestic seems to have the right type of functionality for us when it comes to competitive research.
Google – This includes GWT but also Google.com itself. Learn all about advanced search operators and you’ll be able to find fantastic link opportunities if you do it right.
Samuel King – SEOSamuel
My 3 top tools are:
Google Analytics – This is the only tool I need to evaluate campaigns, track conversions and monitor set KPIs.
Google Webmaster Tools – Another google tool. Tells me what is going on with links.
Raven Tools – A very robust SEO assistant that pulls in data from multiple sources.
Chris Gilchrist – HitReach
I don’t have time to explain all the choices but,
James Agate – SkyrocketSEO
Those would be mine
Carrie Hill – IgnitorDigital
My 3 go-to tools for linkbuilding are:
Raven Tools – their Backlink explorer and link manager are awesome
Open Site Explorer – you don’t need both Raven and OSE, but if you have them, they’re great!
HARO – Help A Reporter Out service looks for niche experts to provide info to reporters and journalists. A great resource for certain businesses looking to get the word out
Harris Schachter – OptimizePrime
1. Ahrefs domain comparison. I’ve always been a fan of Ahrefs and this tool tucked away in the site is no different. With it, you can compare up to 4 of your competitors alongside your own domain. It presents very useful data, including link and referring domain counts, backlink sources, TLD types, link types, authority metrics, social lovin’ and more. You can quickly size up the competition with this, before diving into the individual sites. Once you identify some top performers, you can then go into the main section of Ahrefs and export all their links and pivot in Excel to find some great opportunities which your competition has but you might not.
3. LinkRisk. Simply put, you can’t grow a garden without pruning some things here or there. I got in during the beta, but I’ve really been digging on LinkRisk. It does a great job of identifying bad and risky links which you might want to consider disavowing or removing. For sites with a ton of backlinks, this tool saves a lot of time and can also serve as validation for your own opinions about the quality of links, as sometimes this type of judgement can be subjective. I love that you can take an ahrefs or Majestic export and plug it right in, identify different classes of risk and then automatically export a disavow file. It’s simple, useful and plays nice with other tools I already use.
Rhea Drysdale – Outspoken Media
I’d say that covers 99% of our needs!
Harsh Agarwal – ShoutMeLoud
Also SEMrush deserve a mention….not directly for link building…but help me to determine for what keyword any page is ranking for.
Gianluca Fiorelli – ILoveSEO
The tools I would use – and that I actually use – are:
BuzzStream, which is the state of art CRM for link builders. It solves tons of time consuming tasks so you can spend your time for what it counts: outreach
Followerwonk, because I consider that the best way of doing link building is targeting your audience well – its tastes, dislikes et al – but especially analyzing those ones who influence your audience. Try to understand what they like, what they share, from what sites and create that kind of content and target the sites they read and share things from, because it works!
Philip Bryant – Outspoken Media
My top three SEO tools for linkbuilding would have to be:
Debra Mastaler – AllianceLink
Hub Finder from SEOBook – Finds co-occurring sites
Link Detective – Analyzes back links by type
Social Crawlytics – Identifies most shared content
Sean Stahlman – Outspoken Media
Three link building tools I can’t live without? While I use BuzzStream for management, I think there is some great value in the following tools. With the recent Google updates, I’m spending significantly more time for clients auditing link profiles and cleaning them up before earning them some great value.
Screaming Frog – I use this for anything from site audits, detailed backlink analysis, redirect mapping and so much more. Pair it up with data exported from other tools and it’s a massive time saver. You also can’t beat the customer service that Dan delivers!
Majestic SEO – I know there are a variety of 3rd party link tools available but Majestic has always been one of my favorite sources. It’s affordable, fast and provides the majority of information I’m looking for. That doesn’t mean I don’t still leverage OSE, FWE or other tools for some missing components.
Google/Bing Webmaster Tools – Free information directly from search crawlers! Regardless if some data (links) is not entirely complete, I think it’s extremely valuable to know how crawlers are interacting with your site, how their index matches up with the actual amount of content you are presenting and what roadblocks are being encountered. While I wish the link data from Google was more accurate, I’m happy to have a fairly solid starting point for reviewing potential threats.
George Stevens – Nebstone
I’d probably say:
1) Google Webmaster Tools – gives you your fundamentals – a place to check how Google is looking at your website. Also one of the best lists of backlinks you can get – links that tools like MajesticSEO and Open Site Explorer don’t pick up. I’ve found link lists in Webmaster particularly useful for combating negative SEO.
2) Majestic SEO – I prefer MajesticSEO to Open Site Explorer. I use this for lots of backlink profile metrics.
3) Moz (SEOmoz) – wide selection of tools to help with SEO. E.g. checks websites for errors and issues and gives keyword competition.
Joel Widmer – FluxeDigitalMarketing
Happy to contribute. My top 3 are:
Sebastian Cowie – SCDigital
Top 3 Tools / Sites for me:
Ahrefs – Invaluable and definitely the leader of the pack when it comes to backlink data and competitor research.
Scrapebox – Too many tools to list, but it’s basically got everything you could ever need for data collection, scraping, rank tracking… the list goes on.
Google Webmaster Tools – Great at detecting issues and the backlink data is definitely more accurate and inclusive. Also offers insight into key term visibility and effectively does your keyword research for you.
Nick LeRoy – BackBreakingSEO
I like OSE and MajesticSEO as tools to do competitor research. Not only is it good to find links going to their websites but also other websites the sites link out to which might be relevant for me to hit up in the future.
After that i am a purist — i like google docs and excel spreadsheets. I’ll simply keep a list of what site i’ve reached out to, dates, domain value (seomoz metrics & PR) and relevance. I also utilize this spreadsheet as a little black book in case any of these websites i’ve received a link before are relevant for future projects!
It’s as simple as that for me. No fancy tools in my arsenal!
Ryan McLaughlin – Clarity Ventures
BuzzStream – Every time I discover a new opportunity, I immediately click my Buzzmarker in order to get it queued up in this tool. As someone that really appreciates easy organization, BuzzStream is a lifesaver.
Open Site Explorer – Of course, for backlink research everyone has their preference (whether it be OSE, Majestic, ahrefs). Personally I use all of them, but my “go to” is usually OSE. The export of competitor’s backlink profiles in order to identify their top links is one of my first things I check.
Google Search – Advanced queries in the big G are invaluable to the link building process. I could go on and on about the ways in which to do this, but Geoff Kenyon already wrote a good summary here.
Simon Penson – Zazzle
(if not ours then Excel and the Linkedin or Twitter API!)
Peter Attia – CucumberNebula
It would depend on many factors including the type and scale of link building. I’ll focus on traditional outreach link building, as I feel that’s what most people are seeking. However, the scale of link building is still a factor here. For example, if I was working with a high budget business with a team of link builders who are getting as many links as they can, all day every day, I would say:
BuzzStream – To keep track of who got a link where (so two link builders don’t approach the same person) and to churn out outreach emails more efficiently.
Ahrefs – To keep track of my back link profile and make sure things look organic and healthy.
Excel – To organize everything properly, keep track of budgets, and assess which terms to go after moving forward.
For a low budget business that is trying to get a small amount of high quality links, I would say:
Followerwonk – To find higher quality candidates with healthy social profiles.
Ahrefs – For competitive analysis and to see if I can mine some higher quality leads from competitors.
Boomerang – To make sure I send out a follow up email if I don’t get a response from someone.
Sujan Patel – SingleGrain
My favorite tools are:
Open Site Explorer – Finding the competition’s links
Ontolo – building a contact list
Cognitive SEO - for link cleanup and removal. Because these days everyone needs to remove a few links.
Wiep Knol – Wiep
If I could use only three, it would probably be:
Majestic SEO (for raw data)
Cognitive SEO (for detailed analysis)
BuzzStream (for campaign management)
Dan Stelter - DansSEOCopywriting
As a copywriter, I don’t get into the SEO side of things too extensively, but some concepts, like keyword research and on-page optimization, are critically important for my copy to succeed. I use some tools to check SEO health too, but when I’m talking about SEO, I’m more discussing tools I use for keyword research etc…
So, here’s what I use:
1. SEMrush – I use this tool mostly for keyword research. You don’t even need the paid version. Basically, you can type in competing domains and see the exact keywords they’re targeting, as well as where they rank for those keywords. It works great for generating ideas.
2. SeoQuake toolbar – This toolbar is pretty awesome for checking competition. It gives critical stats like domain age and page rank of the pages you that show up in Google’s SERPs. This information is vitally important for me to have when determining which pages and keywords to target when designing clients’ or my own websites.
3. My own eyeballs – I use these because Google wants to give the best rankings to websites that provide the best user experience. That can only be judged by looking at the site yourself. About 80% of the guest post requests I get come from spammy, awful websites I’d never link to. The same goes if I’m guest posting on someone else’s website – I know I’ll get the best SEO value if the site has great content and comes across as a credible resource.
Sanket Patel – Blurbpoint
Three tools which i use always are:
BuzzStream – As far as finding good link prospects is concerned, I love this tool. I have made many channels through this tool and recently have added one more to have a far and wide reach to bloggers. I have been able to pick microinfluencers having conversations about their products. This software really helps me in finding better opportunities easily.
Moz – The best thing i like about this tool is the toolbar provided by Moz Community. It gives us a bunch of SEO metrics in few seconds. I am able to evaluate many things for the initial start-up of the web promotion.
I love other stuff too, like OSE for link analysis, Onpage checklist analysis and recently added Followerwonk for twitter analysis and many more tools which enables quick tasking. All Moz tool makes your workflow easy at the end.
IFTTT – If you are running social media campaign then do not forget to add IFTTT. You will get powerful connection through normal triggers via ‘if’ & ‘then’ statements. There are 57 channels which are associated to this tool. I have setup the same for youtube, twitter and many more channels and i am getting quick reactions through those trigger which i have set already. It becomes easy to measure all social signals from one easy platform.
Lyndon Antcliff – CornwallSEO
Email, Twitter and occasionally the free Moz bar.
I am a content based linkbuilder, a buzz marketing, newsjacking, linkbaiting type. I no longer care about seo as such. Don’t get me wrong it’s certainly not dead and never will be. But the aim of the game is to get links, improve brand awareness and improve customer base.
The three tools I mention are what I could not do without, although most will not think that Email and Twitter are a tool, but that is how I use them.
My experience tells me what I need to know about a website these days. Few tools can replicate that
Dan Petrovic – DejanSEO
There are many great tools which my team uses for link building and link management. This includes Majestic, Raven, Moz, BuzzStream, Ontolo and recently we’ve been looking at Cognitive SEO as well. But since the question is about what I use I’ll have to go off the beaten path, so I hope it won’t disappoint.
I’ve built so much functionality around Google Webmaster Tools data that I would find it really uncomfortable to plan my campaigns without it. Before I create an outline for a link building campaign I look at the pages that have already attracted natural links and ask a question: “What made this content linkworthy?”. Once I answer that question I can then plan content creation strategy and then focus on outreach. Google Webmaster Tools also helps me prioritise which type of content and keywords are worth targeting. I even built a custom tool which helps me crunch all the Webmaster Tools numbers and streamline the decision making process.
I try to keep link creation process as organic as possible and for this reason I’ve built a tool which helps me track natural links as they happen. Fresh Link Finder analyses three link sources: Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytcis and server log files. It’s also capable of tracking referrer string data with .js much like Google Analytics code. I log in daily and observe what content has attracted links and the quality of links generated. This allows me to connect with fans, build new relationships and credit those who link to me. From time to time I’ll have an opportunity to correct a link or in rare cases request a removal (if I feel the link is a risk to our link profile). One fun thing is that I can tell that I will get a link from an article before the article goes live (e.g. blogger clicks the link in a post draft before publishing the story).
Link building is relationship building. I like to start with my existing connections to source links from, rather than begging for links form complete strangers. What better place to start with than your own followers on Twitter? I drop my Twitter username in Muil and it gives me a list of users and their websites/blogs in a CSV file. For me that’s a great starting point when building links through relationships. Of course you wouldn’t spam people all at once as social outreach works best when applied on an individual level.
Neil Patel – QuickSprout
Tim Grice – SEOWizz
Geoff Kenyon – GeoffKenyon
The Link Prospector by Citation Labs is a great tool for finding outreach targets – it’s easy to use, fast, and while you can use advanced search queries in Google, this scales a lot better making it a much more efficient way to do your prospecting.
Once you have your prospects from Link Prospector, you have to determine which targets you should pursue as not all sites and links are equal. The OSE API provides a fast way to do this. There have been several posts written about using gdocs to access the API, but the best way is to use Pyscape.
Additionally, OSE (and Pyscape) are great for doing competitive analysis so that you can determine where to concentrate your efforts.
Your analytics is ultimately what you need to turn to in order to determine how effective your link building is (You don’t have to use Google Analytics, I just like GA, more on that here). Rankings don’t matter, your organic traffic and your revenue matter so it’s important to spend more time in your analytics, understanding what’s happening on your site rather than checking ranking reports.
Mike Essex – Koozai
Majestic SEO: Fantastic for checking which links have been received and analysing competitor strategies
TweetDeck: I add lists of journalists on Twitter so I can see whenever they have questions and can interact with them, building long term connections
Nick Eubanks – SEONick
Jason Acidre – Kaiserthesage
HUGE thanks to everyone who contributed to this mammoth post! Please share if you think it was useful!
Make sure you follow me on Twitter for more exciting interviews like this one and just to recap, here are the results again:
Favourite Link Building Tools (as voted by 55 experts!)
#1 BuzzStream – 18 votes
#2 Ahrefs – 15 votes
#3 Majestic SEO & Open Site Explorer tied with 12 votes
#4 Google Search & Google Webmaster Tools tied with 9 votes
#5 Followerwonk & Link Prospector tied with 5 votes
P.S. This post is part of a 3 part SEO case study. Use these links to check out Part 1 and Part 2. I’ll be doing a lot of these in the future so if you’re interested please sign up to clambr updates at the top of this page!
If you could only use 3 SEO tools for your link building campaigns which 3 would you choose?