This post started as a simple rant about how most Content Marketing tools are too expensive and too complicated for small businesses to make effective use of them, and somehow morphed into a Big List of Content Marketing Tools, with a special emphasis on tools that are less expensive, perhaps even in the range that a small business can afford.
The Problem with Content Marketing Tools
There are two primary problems with some content marketing tools. They’re expensive and hard to use.
Some are so expensive they are only available to businesses with really large budgets.
Some are so difficult to use that entire consulting and implementation industries have arisen around getting these tools implemented and in day to day use.
The Tools are Also Specialized
The phrase “Content Marketing Tools” at a MINIMUM includes the very long list of the following Categories and Subcategories of tools listed in the next section.SEO Needs Link Building
The List of Tools
While at the end of this post there is an extensive list of tools (The Big List), it’s just a list and provides no details about what the tools do and why you might need them.
So between here and the Big List at the end of the article, is a description of what these various Categories and Subcategories of tools do for you.
Within these summaries, I provide specific information about some of the tools.
Because of the focus on tools for SMALL business, some tools (the expensie ones) are listed only in the Big List at the end of the article.
The criteria for being described within this article is twofold: 1) the tools cost less than $X per month, where X is decided based on the type of tool, and 2) where the number of contacts is relevant, up to 1,000 contacts are included for the monthly subscription price of $X or less.
Where those conditions are NOT met, the tool is listed ONLY within the Big List at the end of the article.
Unfortunately WordPress doesn’t do HTML bookmarks well, so if there is a tool you want to jump to, you’ll need to use ctrl-F and search for the tool name. Sorry.
Additionally, if you know of a tool that should be on this list, but isn’t, please let us know.
- SEO analytics
- SEM Rush
- Raven Tools
- Advanced Web Ranking
- Website analytics
- Google Analytics
- Social media analytics
There are no subcategories of this tool type.
- Blaze Content
- Content Insight
- Blogging and content management
- Writing tools
- Content optimization
- Atomic Research
While full-fledged Content Marketing Platforms are a valid subcategory of Content Collaboration, they’re too expensive for small businesses and as such are only listed in The Big List of Tools, at the end of the article. The listed subcategories are:
- Content Launch
- Google Drive
- Marketing automation
- Active Campaign
- Link auditing and research
- Raven Tools
- Link Explorer
- Majestic SEO
- Link building prospect search (building lists of prospects)
- Link Prospector from Citation Labs
- Link building prospecting outreach
- Backlink Analysis
- Google Search Console
The Tool Subcategories That Got Left Out
During the writing of this blog post, the list of tools became so long that I decided to leave out entire subcategories of tools where the tools tend to be better known.
The specific subcategories I left out are:
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
I classify tools of their type as subcategories (in my mind) of Content Promotion.
I wish to be clear that:
This list of tools is by no means all inclusive, and as this industry of content marketing software tools is still maturing, vendors come and go. It is even possible that by the time this article is published there will be a tool or two on the list that is no longer available, and a new tool or two that is not on the list.
I have not personally used all these tools. While I understand what the tools do and have an idea of how they do them, I am not familiar with the nuances of all but a few of these tools. As such, it is not the purpose of this article to be a Consumer Reports style review of these tools. Rather, the purpose of this article is to provide an overview of what tools exist, what those tools do, and where you might find more information.
The Ones Small Business Might be Able to Afford
These will be discussed by Category and Subcategory, with a description of what the Category is, what the Subcategory is, and how these tools differ from tools of other Categories and Subcategories.
These tools exist for three broad reasons:
- You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
- Content marketing is complex.
- Successful content marketing requires a lot of drudgery and details that feel meaningless, but aren’t, yet are hard to keep track of.
Analytics: You can’t manage what you don’t measure
For this category of tool, the threshold for getting a description within this article is that the monthly subscription price is $120 or less.
Within this category are 5 types or subcategories, two of which seem similar at first glance. So the first thing to do is to define the differences between SEO Analytics and Website Analytics.
SEO Analytics vs Website Analytics
What distinguishes SEO analytics tools is their focus on comparing a website to other (competitor) websites. Some identify competitor websites based on the keyword phrases your site ranks for. This is really useful as there may be sites ranking for similar keyword phrases to yours that you’re unaware of.
These tools are made for SEO agencies who need to provide detailed reports to their clients.
The analysis includes keyword phrases and ranking thereof, and backlink profiles.
All the tools in this subcategory seem very similar, with very few features that immediately distinguish them them the others.
Website Analytics is focused on the analysis of YOUR website. It provides you with extreme detail about what people are doing on YOUR website..
These tools include features that allow you to know in detail what keyword phrases your site ranks for, how well it ranks for those keyword phrases, where your backlinks come from, and allows you to measure website conversions and run website conversion experiments.
These tools do not provide comparisons of websites against other websites.
These tools are marketed to people who manage websites with an interest in commerce (either directly selling through the website or generating leads through the website) and help when you manage one site, or are an agency managing several.
SEM Rush allows you to audit any website (such as yours) for free and see how it stacks up against competitor websites. The output of the report is very limited until you upgrade to a paid plan.
Key features claimed by the vendor are reporting on:
- Keyword phrases which attract organic search traffic
- Keyword phrase research, without a focus on a specific website or domain
- Domain vs Domain analysis
- Audit the backlink profile of a website
Raven Tools allows you to run a site audit, in which issues are categorized as Critical, Warning, or Needs Attention. This is very convenient for people who are still learning how to interpret the data.
The characterization of issues as Critical, Warning, and Needs Attention is a key feature that distinguishes this tool from others, as simple an idea as that may seem.
There is not a demo video on the website. For a demo you must schedule a time for someone to walk you through the system.
MOZ seems similar to the other tools with this subcategory, but one thing MOZ seems to do right is to provide online tutorials for people coming up to speed on SEO.
These online tutorials are not free, but they’re there. I can not speak to how good they are, as I have not seen them, but just having them is a step up on the other vendors.
MOZ has two distinct “sides” to their offering:
- Link Explorer: Provides Link Analysis
- Keyword Explorer: Provides Keyword Analysis
They also have a free Chrome extension called MozBar which allows you to learn information about sites you visit as you visit them. I personally use MozBar almost daily.
Additionally, their online tutorials are worth mentioning again.
They also do not provide a demo video on their website.
But I found a 32 minute long demonstration video on YouTube uploaded by one of their customers. I watched about 5 minutes of this and the guy seems to know his stuff.
SerpStat is the least expensive tool in this subcategory.
The main key feature is their lower cost. Beyond that their tool seems similar to the other in this category.
While I saw a reference on their website to something called the SerpStat academy, I could not find it anywhere on their website. It is apparently available only to paid subscribers.
SerpStat does provide a promotion video on their website.
I also found a SerpStat demo and review on YouTube.
CostSEO Needs Link Building
Alexa is one of the best known of the website analytics tools. They are now owned by Amazon.com and since then the free capabilities have been eliminated.
The basic features are tools to help with:
- Keyword difficulty
- Competitor keyword analysis
- On page SEO checker
- Competitor backlink checker
- SEO audit
- Site comparisons (yours vs a competitor)
- Traffic statistics
- Finding similar sites
- Finding top sites
There is also a FREE library of online video tutorials. Showing you how to use the tools.
The Alexa Toolbar browser extension is somewhat useful. It’s free and it gives you the global Alexa rank of a website. This is not as useful as the detail provided by the MozBar browser extension, but it gives you a very terse snapshot of the ranking of your website which you can compare to your competitors.
I did not find a demonstration video per se, but the Alexa online video tutorials mentioned above show how you use the tool.
- The Marketing Stack product starts at $99 a month.
- The Website Analysis product costs $79 a month
- The Certified Alexa Rank product starts at $20 a month
Based on their website I might describe Woopra as Google Analytics on steroids, which is saying something as Google Analytics provides an enormous amount of useful data for free.
What seems to differential Woopra from Google Analytics is their claim to incorporate customer data from other “touch points” (email, social media, etc) into the analytics. This is something Google Analytics does not do.
Additionally Woopra claims to be able to implement what they call “automations” which per their description is similar to what Marketing Automation tools do. This is to say they allow you to present a web page to a visitor that is custom built on the fly (I’m not sure how or what criteria is used to build it) as well as to submit a message to you (for follow up) via one of several means: a slack channel, a HipChat room, and more.
There is no demo video on their website, but I found a Woopra demonstration video on their YouTube channel.
As an overview or introduction, it’s not very good, but it’s the best one I found. It’s a tutorial for people who are implementing, not an introduction for people who get lost in technical detail.
The most interesting key feature of Quantcast is that it’s free.
- Fairly detailed traffic analysis
- Demographic information about your visitors
- Geographic information about your visitors
Once again, this is completely free.
You’re may be wondering, as I was, how can Quantcast make money when they provide the use of their tool for free.
The answer is they collect enormously amounts of demographics about the visitors to websites which their tool monitors. Then they sell this demographic information to advertisers. That is why the tool is free to the owners of websites.
Google Analytics is free, provides a wealth of useful and actionable data, and requires a steep learning curve to use effectively.
However at the Google Analytics Academy there are free online tutorials structured into “courses” in which anyone can receive certification. The certification isn’t worth much, but the way they bundle lessons into courses is very practical and useful.
The key feature is that it’s free. Google Analytics can tell you:
- What traffic sources bring people to your website.
- What landing (or entry) pages are most popular.
- Where geographically your visitors come from.
- How well specific landing pages convert.
Google Analytics also allows you to perform what is called A/B Testing of landing pages that are similar, but slightly different, using a framework they call Google Optimize.
Google Analytics ALSO allows you to monitor activity (events) within a page, using a feature called Google Analytics Event Tracking. Examples are:
- How often a YouTube video is started
- How often a YouTube video is paused
- How often a YouTube video is finished
- How often a Call to Action button is selected
- How often someone scrolls to the bottom of a long page
The big claim to fame for Google Analytics is that it’s free.SEO Needs Link Building
Social Media Analytics
This category of tool does not make it easier for you to schedule social media posts, but rather provides you with detailed analysis of your social media interactions, whether the interaction is a social media comment made by your company, or was made by someone else posting about your company. Many of these tools also include comparisons of your social media activity to those of your competitors.
These tools are sold to social media managers.
This company claims to be able to tell you what topics should be published on what social media channels at what times.
There is a sales promo video on their website, and there are various other promotional videos on their YouTube channel.
I also found one 30 minute long webinar video from someone on the SocialBaker education team, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I watched only the first five minutes. Having said that, it looked good.
Their pricing is interesting. They charge $20 per profile per month, where a profile is one social media channel. For example: a company twitter page, individual Facebook pages, and pages on other social media networks.
If you’re a data geek, you’ll probably love Zuum. Zuum creates leaderboard comparisons of your social media activity against social media activity of competitors. These comparisons also include Content Themes, by which I think they mean Topics.
For $59 a month you can track 7 social media accounts.
Content audits are quite literally audits of your content. Why does this matter?
Looking at this from the perspective of “the trees”, you may have web pages, blog posts, and images with duplicate, missing, or poorly specified metadata. Having easy visibility to this makes it easy to fix.
Look at this from the perspective of “the forest” what topics is your website missing that will provide value to your audience?
It’s important to state that while these tools allow you to audit content, they do not provide tools to help in the generating of new content or the updating of stale content.
Content Auditing Tools
Within this category of content marketing tool, there are no subcategories.
The sales promo video for Blaze claims they crawl all your content (websites, microsites, etc) and creates a single comprehensive content inventory which allows you to more easily see duplication and gaps.
There is a sales promotion video on the home page, and I could not find a demonstration video anywhere.
Their lowest cost plan, which is good for 5 projects (a project being simply a “container” for your work), unlimited users, and unlimited URLs costs $99 per month.
The product is called CAT which stands for Content Analysis Tool. The tool does compile a very detailed inventory of content, but in their promotion and demonstration video they make no mention of how you USE this extremely detailed inventory to make your content better.
They make no mention of how to easily identify and resolve duplicate metadata between posts and images or how to find posts and images with metadata issues (such as missing, too short, or too long).
The cheapest plan, which allows you to inventory 25,000 pages per month, costs $79 a month.SEO Needs Link Building
Content generation is a broad category which I’ve subdivided into the following sub-categories:
- Blogging and Content Management Systems (CMS)
- Writing Tools
- Content Optimization
- Content Collaboration
Details of what the various subcategories are is found below.
Blogging and CMS Tools
There is only one tool for this where the cost of the tool is listed, let alone affordable, and it’s a pretty amazing software tool you’ve surely already heard of. It’s called WordPress.
WordPress is FREE content management software that was first released in 2001 (under a different name). Since then, it’s use has grown to the point where more than 25% of all websites on the Internet now run on WordPress.
While the technical aspects of SEO matter, when you use WordPress they’re easy to comply with. And the technical aspects of SEO are maybe 10% of the total work. The bulk of the work of SEO is publishing, and WordPress was specifically designed to make publishing web content easy.
There are two “flavors” of WordPress, WordPress.com (where your website is a subset of wordpress.com) and WordPress.org (where your WordPress website is hosted under your domain at a hosting provider).
One thing that sometimes confuses people in you can have a subdomain at WordPress.com appears under a “vanity URL”. So domain.wordpress.com can be accessed under the URL domain.com. For this reason it’s really important you KNOW the different and ONLY build your business website at a hosting provider OTHER THAN WordPress.com.
While the WordPress software is free, you pay hosting fees to your hosting provider. These start as low as $4 a month at hosting providers such as GoDaddy.com.
You might be thinking if WordPress is free, how does the company (Automattic) make money? They make money by selling advertising on sites hosted at WordPress.com, and selling consulting services to enterprise customers.
Anyone (and I mean anyone) can bring up a website and start publishing. When you’re first learning WordPress your website might be ugly, but as you learn more you’ll figure out how to make it better looking.
If you are willing to pay for a pretty website up front, WordPress development is MUCH cheaper than Joomla or Drupal development as WordPress is much more common and there is far more WordPress talent available.
Go to YouTube and search for “WordPress demonstration” and you’ll find lots. Having said that I’ve heard very good things about the website wpbeginner.com.
FreeSEO Needs Link Building
These are tool that help you write better, and being a regular user of some, I can personally attest that they help.
Grammarly improves your grammar by highlighting grammar errors and making specific recommendations. It’s only defect (that I can see) is that it does not yet work with Google Docs, and I do almost all my writing in Google Docs. What this means for me is grammar errors are brought to my attention after I push a Google Docs document into WordPress as a draft post.
Highlights grammar errors and recommends changes. However, while it’s almost always right, it’s is sometimes wrong, so pay attention.
There is a very good sales promotion video on the Grammarly YouTube channel that gives a great overview.
There is a free version which runs as a Chrome extension (which I use) and there are paid versions. The cost for a paid version is $30 a month if you pay monthly, $20 a month if you pay quarterly, and $12 a month if you pay yearly.
I love this app, with two interesting caveats. This app helps you use fewer words to express yourself.
The two caveats are:
- You can copy your text into a browser on the website hemmingwayapp.com, or you can pay a $20 one time free for the Windows or Macintosh version of the software (not monthly, just one time). There is no Chrome extension for this app.
- I pasted some of Hemingway’s writing into the Hemmingway app to see what would happen and it ripped it to shreds. Go figure.
Go to hemmingwayapp.com to see for yourself. It’s easy to grasp the value of this software.
The demonstration is to go to hemmingwayapp.com and paste some text to see what recommendations are suggested.
Free if you use online, and $20 ONE TIME if you want to run it on your Windows or Macintosh system.
The key to its success is it’s very easy to use and is useful on smartphones and tablets. You create the initial outline of a blog post on your phone, and it syncs to iCloud, Dropbox, (but NOT Google Docs).
Key drawback: No Android version (can you believe that)!
I found a great Byword demo video on YouTube.
There is a one time fee of $12.
I admit up front the name of this app turns me off.I’m a very good reader.
I’m a very good reader. I’ve read some hard to read complex books in my day. Thousand plus page books. But when I finally sat down to read Ulysses by James Joyce, I couldn’t make sense of it. During chapter 1 I could not tell who was where when and with whom. I hoped by the time I got to chapter 2 things would make more sense, but they didn’t. So I read chapter 1 and about two paragraphs of chapter 2 and bailed on it. I’m not sure why it’s considered to be one the great novels of English language literature. It is obtuse.
And considering how obtuse the novel seemed, why would anyone name a writing app Ulysses? Did they wish James Joyce had used it when he wrote Ulysses? Who knows.
But anyway, the idea is this app helps you focus (seems ironic I know).
It only runs on Apple devices (strike 2 as far as I’m concerned).
On YouTube there is a 20 minute long tutorial of Ulysses by a guy who seems to love it. He also seems to feel the fact that it “runs on all Apple devices” is a good thing. Go figure.
By the way, he compares it to scrivener, and I LOVE scrivener. I might even add it to this list.
For people in the US, Ulysses costs $5 a month.SEO Needs Link Building
Content Optimization means to implement some improvement on content. Examples are: topic suggestions, tools for people to write better, tools that create charts and graphs from tables of data, etc.
This is a broad category. It seems that any form of improvement is referred to as optimization.
MarketMuse claims to use Artificial Intelligence to create great content.
The specific features listed on their website are:
- Create perfect content outlines from keywords
- Optimize content by building detailed blueprints
To see their promotional video, go to their website and provide the details needed for either their Create or Optimize feature. Having said that, that video is pretty skimpy.
MarketMust costs $95 per month.
Atomic Reach also claims to use Artificial Intelligence to create better content.
The key features listed on the website are help with:
- How to write
- What to write about
- Where to publish
- When to publish
The least expensive Atomic Reach subscription is $75 a month, which is for one user.
This is a proofreading service, which near as I can tell is performed by people, not AI systems.
This is basically a marketplace where people who want writers to proofread their articles and blog posts are provided access to writers who do just that.
There really is no need for a demonstration video. You place an order, you upload a document. It is returned to you marked up by a proofreader.
The standard price is $0.033 per word. The express price is $0.044 per word.SEO Needs Link Building
Now we’re getting to the really good stuff where the work of creating content can be shared among multiple people.
As writing and other aspects of content creation are fairly solitary tasks, and as people who work without input from others can get “stuck in a rut”, I expect these tools to be immensely important to the Content Marketing effort of companies who are serious about Content Marketing.
I’ve defined two broad subcategories of products within this category. I call them Content Collaboration (not very original – I know), and Content Marketing Platforms. What makes them different is scale.
The Content Marketing Platforms are enterprise scale system sold to big businesses with big budgets and are too expensive for small businesses. As such, only Content Collaboration tools are listed below.
Content collaboration is exactly what the name says. Multiple people collaborate on the creation of content.
Sold to SEO agencies and larger businesses with an in house content marketing function.
Their website makes the following claims:
- Application dashboard: View of tasks, team activity, and new content ideas
- Planning module: Generating and testing topic ideas
- Create module: Writing and workflow tools, access to writers
- Collaborate module: This is about finding industry influencers
- Calendar module: Scheduling publishing and tasks needed to
- Marketing automation: Plugs into some Marketing Automation platforms
There is a demo video on their home page.
$99 a month for up to 3 users.
The customers they list on their website seem split between digital ad agencies, companies, government agencies, and universities.
From their website:
- A central hub for all content
- An inventory of all content
- Tools to help with content structure, and writing
- Tools to define requirements and rules for content
Starts at $79 a month for up to 500 pieces of content, which doesn’t seem like very much. I’m not sure if that means 500 in total or 500 “in production” at one time.
The customers they list on their website all seem to be large businesses, universities, and government agencies.
Their website claims:
- Proofing (which seems to be THE focus of this tool)
- Custom roles
- Task management
- Time tracking
- File management
- Project templates
- Integrations to other calendars and storage systems
Their “Essential” level starts at $50 a month.
I tend to think of CoSchedule as the leader in this niche, but that may be due to better marketing on their part. I am a regular user of the free CoSchedule Headline Analyzer tool.
They market to businesses and only recently came out with CoSchedule for Agencies.
Their software takes a calendar or scheduling perspective, which is similar to (as I understand it) how newspapers and magazines look at publishing.
Per their website, their key features are:
- Marketing calendar
- Social media scheduling
- ReQueue: Social Automation
- Workflow management
The entry cost is $30 per month for one user, or $60 per month for up to 5 users.
Their customer stories and testimonials (of which they have quite a few) seem to come mostly (perhaps exclusively) from digital ad agencies.
From their website:
- the product looks Kanban based (a format I personally find organizes tasks well)
- Create and copy workflows, which include social media promotion posts
- Editorial calendar
- Focuses on removing distractions
- Task prioritization
- Time tracking
- Bottleneck analysis
- Email integration
- File and asset management
- Milestone tracking
- Messages and Request tracking
- Daily Digest (individual to do lists)
The lowest cost plan is $29 per month for up to 10 users. If you want time tracking, you need the $69 a month subscription.
Their website does not list customer stories or testimonials, but based on their promo videos they tool seems to focused on the needs of businesses, rather than agencies.
This is a calendar centric product where within calendars you create campaigns. They don’t provide a list of key features on their website, but seem to market themselves as a provider of Simplicity, Convenience, and Visibility. However from the promo videos, their user interface does seem a bit cluttered.
I found two short videos on the DivvyHQ YouTube channel that shows different aspects of the software tool:
$25 per user per month for LITE, and $95 per user per month for PRO.
Why is Google Drive on this list at all? Because people who are either too broke or too cheap to pay for a collaboration tool use it.
When I list Google Drive I’m also including Google Docs and Google Sheets. They provide an easy ability to share documents and folders between teams of users, with very granular (but usually poorly managed) access control.
One thing many people do not take advantage of is the Windows (and presumably Mac) implementation which allows easy navigation of Google Drive directory structures via the Windows Explorer. This is really useful when you want to view directories of images.
The newest iteration of this software is called Backup and Sync from Google, and in addition to allowing easy sharing of files and folders, creates a very simple cloud backup system for critical files and directories.
A key feature worth mentioning is there is a Chrome add-on called WordPress.com for Google Docs.
- Use JetPack (a WordPress product) to allow you to manage your self hosted WordPress system from within your WordPress.com account, and
- Install this Chrome add-on, and
- Use Chrome as your browser….
You can write a blog post in Google Doc, and once it’s ready you can save the Google Doc document as a Draft post within your WordPress system.
We now use this for every blog post we write. It’s great!
I’m not sure much a demonstration is needed, but then again I am a very regular user. Having said that I did find a link to a Google Drive demo that looks very good.
Free for up to 15 Gbytes of storage. When you need more storage, it’s pretty cheap.SEO Needs Link Building
Content promotion is you getting your content in front of more eyeballs with the hope that people like it enough to link to it (which has a very strong positive effect on your SEO), comment upon it (which also has a positive effect on your SEO), and like and share it via social media (which has an indirect benefit to your SEO).
While content promotion includes Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Marketing Automation, I think most people who might read this article are familiar with Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing, so this article omits them and only discusses Marketing Automation software platforms.
Marketing Automation is email marketing on steroids. It is the sending of messages to contacts where the next message they see depends upon: 1) Whether they did or did not open the last message, and if they did, 2) Whether they did or did not click through from that email to your website.
While there is no compelling reason Marketing Automation packages don’t also send messages via social media, they generally don’t, at least not yet. One described below allows for SMS messaging.
I find it helpful to think of Marketing Automation as Email Marketing with “If – Then” statements which determine what message goes out next.
Their website copy is focused on companies, not agencies
From their website:
- Content editor
- Content management
- Content showcase
- SEO & Blogging
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Create landing pages
- Create CTAs and Forms
- Lead management
- Nurture leads
- Single view of customer
I found nothing. Not on their website, not on YouTube, not anywhere on the web.
Their lowest cost subscription is $99 per month for 1,000 contacts, 25 pieces of content, 3,000 emails, and 1,000 engagement views. I’m guessing that except for the number of contents, everything else is “per month”.
The web copy of AutoPilot of focused on businesses, not agencies.
From their website:
- Visual drag and drop marketing automation flow editor
- App integration with Slack, Zapier, Segment, Lob, Twilio, and SalesForce
- Leads management
- Includes SMS messaging (in addition to email)
You can submit a form on their website to request a demo, but in addition, there are two good videos on their YouTube channel:
Cheapest subscription is $20 per month. The $40 a month level includes A/B split testing.
This tool is also marketed to businesses and not agencies.
Per their website:
- Email marketing, with segmentation
- Marketing automation
- CRM & Sales follow-up
- Messaging via SMS and website messages (there are messages that display while someone is one your website)
- Dynamic Content: I’m not sure how they do this but the claim is you can built a web page on the fly from other pages, RSS feeds, etc
- A/B split testing
You can request a demonstration video via a form on their website, and they have what looks like a good set of tutorial videos as well.
The lowest cost subscription is $17 for 1,000 contacts, for up to 3 users. The $49 level is where the SMS messaging, CRM, and lead scoring becomes available.SEO Needs Link Building
Link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to content on your website. Links are incredibly important to SEO.
Building links is mostly a matter of:
- Publish something really really really good to your website. Something others will be happy to share.
- Create a list of people to ask to share it (which really means link to it).
- Send messages to those people asking them to share it.
Link building is prospecting and (for the most part), cold emailing.
WIthin Link Building there are a few subcategories of activity. The tools we describe in this article are of the following types:
- Link Building Auditing and Research
- Link Building Prospecting Search
- Link Building Prospecting
- Backlink Analysis (of your site)
Link Building Auditing and Research
This is a broad topic, and to be honest, I don’t see how the level of detail reported by these tools is necessarily useful. What you need is a way to identify sites that could (I’ll say should) link to you, and contact information for those people who manage those sites. While the level of backlink analysis these tools provide is impressive, it’s almost too much.
It seems to be that tools that build prospect lists, and tools that make the prospecting easier, are of greater value than these tools that give you reams and reams of detail, without giving the really important stuff.
The copy on the website indicates they market this software to companies more than agencies.
From their website:
- Competitive analysis (know what keywords your competitors rank for)
- Keyword research (help finding “golden nugget” keywords – if any are left)
- Backlink research (backlink analysis for ANY website)
- Content research (shows which content performs best based on any keyword)
- Rank tracker (tracks the ranking of your web pages for your keywords)
- Web monitoring (alerts based on criteria you’ve set about competitors)
There are a series of promotional videos near the bottom of their homepage, but they’re rather shallow.
The least expensive subscription is $99 a month.
Raven Tools was also mentioned in the SEO Analysis section of this article. Another aspect of their tool is what they call Link Manager.
I’m not sure how serious Raven Tools is about Link Building. There is an article on their website that describes how you do Link Building outreach, and how you use their tools for this.
This was published in March of 2013 and has never been shared. It appears they are not strongly promoting this aspect of their toolset.
At the very least, Raven Tools Link Manager can help you identify who links to your competitors so you can contact them in an effort to have them link to an article on your website.
Their lowest cost subscription level is $99 a month.
Link Explorer is the MOZ link research tool within MozPro.
On the Link Explorer web page, you enter the URL of any website, and get a detailed backlink analysis of that website. If you want to use this tool to get similar detail about your competitor websites, it seems as if you have to query those websites one at a time.
There is however a Link Opportunities report that is available to people with paid subscriptions.
There is a 32 minute long review video of MozPro (including Link Explorer) on a YouTube channel.
The lowest cost monthly subscription is $99 per month.
Majestic claims to manage the planet’s largest Link Index database. This tool is for analyzing backlinks profiles of sites. That is their focus and they do provide an enormous amount of detail.
Their main tool is Site Explorer which provides a detailed analysis of what they call Trust Flow and Citation Flow. Trust Flow seems to be focused on the quality of the sites linking to your site, whereas Citation Flow seems to be focused on the quantity of the sites linking to your site.
I was unable to find a demonstration video on the Majestic website, but I did find (on YouTube):
There is a free plan which I signed up for, but often when I click a link to see detail I see a message telling me that feature requires a paid subscription. The least expensive subscription is $50 a month when you pay quarterly, and $80 a month when you pay monthly.
MozBar is a free Chrome extension that provides details about the website you’re currently looking at. If you’re looking at a Search Engine Result Page, it tells you details about every page in the SERP.
Key metrics reported are: Domain Authority, Page Authority, Spam Score. You can run a Page Analysis, which provide extra detail about the page, you can highlight links on the page,
Since it’s free, just install it, register at Moz.com and try it. It’s pretty simple to use.
FreeSEO Needs Link Building
Link Building Prospect Search
These tools help you identify websites and people to prospect for links. They save you time by doing Internet searches, finding sites, and contacts listed on those sites, so you can contact those people via email.
However, these tools do not make it easy to contact these people. These tools allow you to create the prospect list, not perform the prospecting.
Their taline is “Detailed research for time-crunched marketers”. The thing I find most interesting about Ontolo is their About page tells about Ben and Ontolo. Ben is the programmer who wrote it. They present themselves like a very very small company, which I suspect they are.
Per their website, Ontolo finds prospects for: Link Building, SEO, Content, Social, Competition, Sales, Contact, etc, but it could be that these are different labels for the same basic service.
Interestingly, the only demonstration videos I found are on their YouTube channel. There are 8 of them, they’re 7 years old, and the greatest number of views is 1.1K. Not a very popular product.
Their lowest cost subscription costs $97 a month.
Link Prospector searches the Internet for prospects whom you will contact later to request links to your content.
After you enter keyword phrases, the tool identifies relevant websites for you to solicit links from. It does not provide a tool for tracking your outreach efforts and responses to your solicitations.
There are some sales/demo videos on their website. They’re poorly organized. On the home page they show you one video, but after it finishes, the next one starts.
I did however find a few good demonstration and review videos on YouTube, some of which are on the YouTube channel of Citation Labs:
They have a “pay as you go” plan which costs $5.00 per credit. Their website copy leads me to believe one credit allows you to run one link prospecting report.
Their lowest cost paid subscription is $47 a month, which buys you 20 credits per month.SEO Needs Link Building
Link Building Outreach
This entire subcategory seems to consist of only one tool, which surprises me. This tool is not focused on building lists of prospects (although it does some of that) but rather is focused on reaching out to those people and requesting links.
BuzzStream can find you websites and contacts, and can also import lists of websites and contacts from some of the tools listed above. I’ve used this tool and was frankly underwhelmed. After about two months I stopped using the tool and went back to Gmail for sending messages and an Excel spreadsheet for tracking activity and responses.
Creates lists of prospects, and manages your outreach efforts.
Their lowest cost subscription listed on their website is $99 a month for 3 users.
They used to have a single user cost for less, but I could not find it on their website. I sent the company a message through their website (about this) and received an email response telling me the single user subscription is still available at a cost of $24 a month.
They also have a page on their website which is a list of free Link Building Tools, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I have not used any of them.SEO Needs Link Building
These tools are somewhat lightweight, but free, tools that provide an analysis of the backlinks of a site.
In the case of Google Search Console, you can see backlinks of sites you manage and have the ability to register (which is how you prove you manage them). The reports are of some use, but limited use.
Again, a fairly lightweight, but free tool.
You enter a domain and you get a summary report about that URL, including the number of backlinks to the domain.
Go to wholinks2me.com, and enter a domain name.
First, be aware that Google Search Console used to be called Google Webmasters Tools. You will see that name in many articles and videos on the web.
This tool provides an incredible amount of detail, and the learning curve can be steep. Go to google.com/webmasters/tools, login and register your site. For help with this step, Google for “How to set up Google Search Console”.
In terms of backlinks, there is a report under Search Traffic named Links to Your Site that allows you to see what domains link to your site and what page they link to on your site.
FreeSEO Needs Link Building
Appendix A: The Big List of Tools
When the Entry Cost is listed as NL, it was Not Listed on the vendor’s website.
|Squeeze CMM||Analytics||Funnel Analytics||$499||month|
|Bright Funnel||Analytics||Funnel Analytics||NL|
|Insight Squared||Analytics||Funnel Analytics||NL|
|Raven Tools||Analytics||SEO Analytics||$99||month|
|SEM Rush||Analytics||SEO Analytics||$100||month|
|Socialbakers||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||$20||per profile per month|
|Zuum||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||$59||month|
|Rival IQ||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||$299||month|
|Cafyne||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||NL|
|Crimson Hexagon||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||NL|
|Curalate||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||NL|
|IBM Social Analytics||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||NL|
|Nuva||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||NL|
|SimplyMeasured||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||NL|
|TrackMaven||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||NL|
|Trendspottr||Analytics||Social Media Analytics||NL|
|CrowdBooster||Analytics||Social Media Analytics|
|Google Analytics||Analytics||Website Analytics||$0|
|Content Insight||Content Audit||Content Audit Tools||$79||month|
|Blaze Content||Content Audit||Content Audit Tools||$99||month|
|Google Drive||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$0|
|Divvy||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$25||user per month|
|Brightpod||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$29||month|
|CoSchedule||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$30||month|
|ProofHub||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$45||month|
|GatherContent||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$79||month|
|Content Launch||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$99||month|
|Hightail||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$125||month|
|Contentful||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$249||month|
|Oracle Conpendium||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$500||month|
|Minted||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$500||month|
|Kapost||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||$3,500||month|
|Comindware||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||NL|
|Curata||Content Collaboration||Content Collaboration||NL|
|Oracle Conpendium||Content Collaboration||Content Marketing Platforms||$500||month|
|Kapost||Content Collaboration||Content Marketing Platforms||$3,500||month|
|Curata CMP||Content Collaboration||Content Marketing Platforms||NL|
|Newscred||Content Collaboration||Content Marketing Platforms||NL|
|Percolate||Content Collaboration||Content Marketing Platforms||NL|
|WordPress||Content Generation||Blogging and CMS Tools||$0|
|Percussion||Content Generation||Blogging and CMS Tools||NL|
|ScribbleLive||Content Generation||Blogging and CMS Tools||NL|
|ContextMX||Content Generation||Blogging and CMS Tools||NL|
|Storify||Content Generation||Content Enrichment||$30,000||year|
|AcorLinx||Content Generation||Content Enrichment||NL|
|Wordy||Content Generation||Content Optimization||$0.033||word|
|Atomic Reach||Content Generation||Content Optimization||$75||month|
|MarketMuse||Content Generation||Content Optimization||$95||month|
|Ulysses||Content Generation||Writing Tools||$5||month|
|Byword||Content Generation||Writing Tools||$12||one time|
|Hemmingway||Content Generation||Writing Tools||$20||one time|
|Grammarly||Content Generation||Writing Tools||$30||month|
|Quabel||Content Generation||Writing Tools||NL|
|ActiveCampaign||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||$17||month|
|AutoPilot||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||$20||month|
|SalesPanda||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||$99||month|
|InfusionSoft||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||$199||month|
|Right on Interactive||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||$300||month|
|HubSpot||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||$800||month|
|Act-on||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||$900||month|
|Pardot||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||$1,000||month|
|Oracle Eloqua||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||$2,000||month|
|Marketo||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||NL|
|PeopleVine||Content Promotion||Marketing Automation||NL|
|WhoLinks2Me||Link Building||Backlink Anlysis||$0|
|MozBar||Link Building||Link Building Auditing/Research||$0|
|Majestic SEO||Link Building||Link Building Auditing/Research||$50||month|
|Link Explorer||Link Building||Link Building Auditing/Research||$99||month|
|Raven Tools||Link Building||Link Building Auditing/Research||$99||month|
|Ahrefs||Link Building||Link Building Auditing/Research||$99||month|
|Advanced Web Ranking||Analytics||SEO Analytics||$49||month|
|SEO SpyGlass||Link Building||Link Building Auditing/Research||$125||one time|
|Link Research Tools||Link Building||Link Building Auditing/Research||$329||month|
|BuzzStream||Link Building||Link Building Prospecdting||$99||month|
|Wordtracker Link Prospector||Link Building||Link Building Prospect Search||$27||month|
|Link Prospector||Link Building||Link Building Prospect Search||$47||month|
|Ontolo||Link Building||Link Building Prospect Search||$97||month|
|Link Detox||Link Building||Link Research Tool||$329||month|