Best in Show: Tools for Building Links

April 2, 2012
By Michelle Lowery in Internet Marketing Conferences

LinkLove BostonIf you’re anything like the Outspoken Media team, you use tools every day. Lots of them. We all have our favorites, and we like finding new ones to try out, but sometimes it’s helpful for someone to identify the good ones for you, and save you the time—and possibly money—you could spend trying them all out. And that’s what John Doherty is here to do.

John asks for forgiveness for his voice. He woke up with no voice, and now sounds like a 13-year-old going through puberty, and may squeak through his presentation. I’m suddenly reminded of Peter Brady. But, moving on!

John asks, Who thinks there are too many tools out there? Nearly everyone raises their hands. I would too, but I’m typing. Tools speed up parts of link building so we can concentrate on other things.

We have to know when to use them. Otherwise, you can get overwhelmed quickly.

The purpose of tools is to collect data. But you also have to make data actionable.

When a client comes to him for link building, he asks several questions:

  • What
  • Why
  • Who/Competitor Research
  • Outreach
  • Scale
  • Track

There are two kinds of tools—paid and free. If you can afford paid tools, he highly recommends BuzzStream. Then there are free tools, Excel templates, and hustle.

You can get at least 80% of the way there with free tools.

When you’re starting a new campaign with a new client, you face a problem: What are we ranking for already? Start with the basics. You have to know what you’re ranking for already before you can start building links.

Analytics + Rankerizer (Free)

He just found this recently. You export your Kws from Analytics, and in a few minutes, it gives you a report.

KeywordSpy (Free and Paid)

It’s awesome. A lot like SEM Rush. They send daily tips to help you use it better. You can do competitive research with it, too. Then, export the KeywordSpy report to Excel using another tool like Excellent Analytics.

SearchMetrics (Paid)

This is where he goes after Analytics to find where clients and their competitors are ranking. It matches up very well to Analytics. SearchMetrics Essentials visually maps out the data.

Rank Checkers/Trackers

Rank checking is going out of style, but it’s still good to know how to use it. Tools for this are Authority Labs, Raven Tools, and SEOMoz.

LinkDetective (Free)

You can download your backlinks and competitor’s backlinks. It gives you a high-level view. It does it visually, shows you links by anchor text. It can also help you identify paid links.

Where are my competitors getting links that I should also be getting links from?

LinkResearch Tools

You can compare yourself to competitors to see who’s getting links faster. It shows you who’s winning.

SEOMoz Competitive Link Finder (Subscription)

Shows you where you could be linking but aren’t.

MajesticSEO Clique Hunter (Subscription)

Enter your URL and your competitors’, and it gives you pages of links. Start at the end—that’s where the opportunities lie.

That’s all just to get started.

The next thing is, who’s going to link? You need to find link prospects.

Advanced Queries + LinkClump (Hustle)

Uses advanced query skills with advanced search.

Citation Labs (Free Trial, then Paid)

You enter your keyword and the type of prospect you want and it returns your prospects in a CSV file.

How do you find sites interested in content?


Makes queries for you. It’s magic. You can build queries within it with keywords and what kind of asset you want, like guest post.

(John is very brifely sharing several URLs in his slides for spreadsheets and more information. If you can get his presentation, you’ll find those very helpful.)

Blogger LinkUp

Tells you what blogs are accepting guest posts. You can e-mail those blogs directly from the interface.

Search by Author

Create a bookmarklet to search Google verified authors. It will create a search engine query for tht person.

SEO Tools for Excel

Uses advanced search operators, and imports results to Excel.

How do you find influencers?

Followerwonk (Free and Paid)

If you can get the paid version, it’s much better. You can sort people by influence, and find people to follow. You can also compare Twitter users.

Twitter Scraping

It’s not really scraping, it’s using the API. Take the people you found in Followerwonk, and insert them into the tool John built. (Again, you want a copy of this presentation to get all his URLs)

He shares a tip from Ross Hudgens. When you find an influencer on Twitter, scroll to the bottom of their follow list. Those are the people they’ve been following the longest.

John also mentions Alltop (Free), Topsy Experts (Beta), LinkClump, and Ontolo again. In addition to the functions already mentioned, some of these tools will also help you sort through all the data you collect. The simplest method for this is also using an Excel spreadsheet.

A few other tool recommendations:

  • Rapportive
  • Buzzstream
  • FollowUp CC
  • Boomerang
  • Linkstant

That’s it for John, and for me! Thanks so much to Distilled for hosting yet another fantastic conference. Thank you to all the speakers who have provided to much great information today. And thank you to all of you for reading, tweeting, and retweeting our coverage. We appreciate it! Happy linking!

Be sure to catch all of our LinkLove Boston liveblogging coverage right here on the Outspoken Media blog!

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