Estimated reading time: 144 minute(s)
What Are Links?
The word “link” is an abbreviation of hyperlink, and hyper means “jump”.
A hyperlink is a jump from one web page to another.
Components of a Link
Links have two parts.
|Anchor text||On the web page the link originates FROM, the anchor text is the text that “anchors” the link. It is the text you select to follow the link. In the next section of this document, the text “Links have a number of possible attributes” is anchor text.|
|URL||This is the web address of the web page being linked to. It is where you are taken when you select the link.|
Attributes of Links
Links have a number of possible attributes, one of which matters for SEO, another of which matters for the User Experience. ;
Link Attribute Affecting SEO
This is mentioned here and will be discussed more fully later in this article. The default attribute is “dofollow”.
|dofollow||The link DOES provide SEO benefits to the site being linked to.|
|nofollow||The site DOES NOT provide SEO benefits to the site being linked to.|
Link Attribute Affecting User Experience
It’s called target and it determines “where” the link is opened. The most common “places” are 1) In the existing browser tab, or 2) In a new browser tab.
This attribute does not affect the SEO benefits of the link and is listed here for information purposes only. When you create links on your site, you want links to other sites (external links) to open in new browser tabs so as not to “take people away” from your website.
The idea that links could be used as the basis for Internet search started as a research project at Stanford University in 1996. The two students conducting this research are now world-famous, as this research led to the formation of the most successful search engine on the Internet, that being Google.
However, in the beginning, Larry Page was interested in how academic papers cite each other and how the “value” of the academic paper increases when it is cited more, and how the value of its citations increase as the value of the paper increases.
This research project was called BackRub and it started as an analysis of the link structure of the World Wide Web.
Very quickly they realized that creating a mathematical model of the link structure of the web based on how academic papers cited each other led to really good search results.
The rest, as they say, is history.
The basic idea is described above and is repeated here for emphasis.
The value of a Page is determined by the aggregate values of the Links coming into the page.
The value of a Link is determined by the value of the Page the Link originates on and the number of other Links that originate on that Page.
Why Do Links Matter to SEO?
While it’s true in the years since Google launched as a search engine the number of search signals has increased. Rumor has it there are now more than 220. But there is no denying or disputing the value of links to the SEO ranking of websites.
Simply put, without links to your site, it will NEVER rank well.
Are All Links Equal?
No. Definitely not. In fact, some links to your site are harmful.
When it became clear to everyone that links were all important to Google rankings, people started gaming the system. This created a market in “Link Farms” which were large numbers of servers that simply provided links to anyone who paid.
Google has (long ago) updated their algorithm so links from link farms not only do not help your SEO, they hurt it.
Know beyond any doubt, not all links are equal. Some help a little, some help a lot, some hurt.
And while only Google knows for such what the rules are, there are some rules about links we easily infer.
DoFollow vs NoFollow
As stated earlier, DoFollow links provide SEO benefit and NoFollow links do not. That does not mean NoFollow links should be rejected in every instance? No. If someone offers (or provides) a NoFollow link from a very high traffic website, by all means, say thank you.
However, when you pursue Link Building, you’re interested in there being more DoFollow links from other websites.
What Is Link Building?
Link building is the process of actively working to increase the number of sites that provide DoFollow links to the content on your website.
What Does It Consist Of?
In short, publishing, and the promotion of what you’ve published.
Content that is Appreciated
In order for people to link to your website, it must contain content people WANT to link to.
Google intends to reward content that is of high quality, AND Google provides a very detailed definition of what High Quality means. It’s in a document titled the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.
To learn more about it, click the link in the prior paragraph. In the very briefest of summaries, content that is of high quality contains a high degree of what Google calls E-A-T, which is short for Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
Why do People Search Online (per Google)?
In the latest version of the Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines document, Google has stated we perform searches with one of the following intentions:
- We want to know something
- We want to do something
- We’re looking for a specific website
- We’re looking for a location (visit in person)
For general (not local) SEO purposes, the “know” and “do” intentions are most important.
Why do You Want Your Website to be Found?
At the risk of overstating the obvious, you want to attract visitors and convert visitors into leads. You want to sell stuff.
What Should You Publish?
- Answers questions
- Explains how to do things
For that last one, please understand there IS a place in content marketing for cat videos. Just don’t get carried away, unless what you’re selling is advertising, then, by all means, get carried away.
In Terms of Quality, How Good is Good Enough?
When you’re thinking of a topic, Google for articles on the topic that have already been published. Strive for your stuff to be better than any of the existing first page results.
This is not easy. This takes effort. But, in order for people to want to link to your stuff, it has to be good.
Knowing Your Current Link Profile
Your current “link profile” is the set of backlinks to your site. Every link from every page on every site that links back to yours. The aggregate of that is a large factor determining how well your site ranks. The tools that show this are marketed to SEO and advertising agencies who provide reports to their clients. They must show improvement to the client over time. Doing this requires them to compare the current link profile to link profiles in the past.
However, knowing your link profile does not cause your ranking to improve. For that, you need to obtain more, preferably better, backlinks.
I personally believe businesses who are looking to improve their ranking should prioritize tools that help you obtain new links, over tools that report your link profile. If you’ve got a large content marketing budget, fine. For smaller business who have to occasionally rob Peter to pay Paul, spend money on tools that enable action, rather than tools that enable measurement.
Google Search Console is a free tool that gives a “good enough” capability to companies who are careful with their cash.
Types of Backlink Prospecting
While a backlink is a backlink, when it comes to prospecting for backlinks, there are three primary methods. The way you prospect differs depending on the method you’re pursuing. Bear in mind you SHOULD be pursuing all three, but they’re different so the way you prospect for links differs between them. The methods are defined below.
This is when you’ve published an excellent post on your website and you invite others to link to it.
This is when you look for opportunities to publish original posts on other websites, and in the blog post, you link back to a webpage on your website.
This is when you look for websites with broken outbound links. A broken link is one that points to a webpage that (generally) no longer exists. Attempts to load the page generate a 404 error (Page not found). You bring the broken link to the attention of the web site manager and provide a web page on your website as a substitute.
One of the beauties of prospecting for broken links is once you find that Site A has a broken link to web page X, you can find out other sites that also link to web page X and solicit them to also link to the page on your site.
Process of Backlink Prospecting
Conceptually, it’s pretty straightforward.
Build Lists of Prospects
The list you build for Content Promotion will be different from your list for Guest Posting, which will, in turn, be different from your list for Broken Links.
Create Outreach Messages
What you say in your outreach messages is also different, depending on the type of you’re sending it to.
Do Outreach / Send Messages
Pretty straightforward. The most common means for sending messages is email, although I suspect in the future the software tools that do this will support the use of social media messages and the use of Contact Us forms on websites.
Monitor Responses, Manage Next Tasks
Again, pretty straightforward. If someone does not respond, do you send them a 2nd message? When someone does respond, what step do you take next?
What do Existing Tools Do?
Before we get into specific tools, we will first categorize what the tools do. The abbreviations below are not industry standard. I made them up so I could fit the table below into this article. To make the columns thin enough, I had to abbreviate the tool functions.
The reason this matters, is some tools perform only one function, while others perform several. The table below indicates which tools provide which functions.
The abbreviations are defined below.
LPA: Link Profile Analysis
These tools produce reports that show the link profile of a website (in extreme detail), and changes to that link profile over time.
LPC: Link Profile Comparison
These software tools compare the link profiles of two (or more) websites. This is useful when you’re working to “close the gap” with a competitor.
SMM: Social Media Management
These are standard social media tools like Hootsuite and BuzzStream which allow you to send out a steady stream of social media updates. I refer to this as Content Promotion as a background activity, as compared to the much more targeted content promotion of a specific blog post to a specific set of websites and contacts.
PLCP: Prospect List: Content Promotion
These software tools make it easy to create a list of website and contacts to whom you plan to promote a specific page on your website.
PLGP: Prospect List: Guest Posting
Similar to Prospect List Content Promotion, except rather than building a list of sites and contacts to pitch a blog post to, you’re creating a list to pitch a guest post to.
PLBL: Prospect List: Broken Links
Again, conceptually similar to a Prospect List for Content Promotion or Guest Posting, but you’re building a list of sites (and contacts) with broken links where you’ve got content you’re asking them to link to instead.
OMM: Outreach Management and Monitoring
These software tools take the lists generated earlier and are used to perform the actual outreach and monitoring of responses.
I do not claim this list of link building tools is all-inclusive. There may be tools I don’t yet know of (although I’ve looked).
I have not personally used all these tools. For some tools, the description is based on what I am able to glean from their website and from demonstration videos I’ve found. I state which tools I have and have not personally used
The List of Link Building Tools
The column “Entry Cost” provides the lowest cost for the use of the tool in question. Descriptions of the various tools (sorted in alphabetical order) appear below this table.
|Advanced Link Manager||Y||$99||one time|
|Broken Link Builder||Y||$67||month|
|Domain Hunter Plus||Y||Free|
|Found SEO Audit Tool||Y|
|Google Advanced Search||Y||Y||Free|
|Google Reverse Image Search||Y||Y||Free|
|Google Search Console||Y||Free|
|Link Assistant||Y||Y||Y||$125||one time|
|Link Research Tools||Y||Y||Y||$329||month|
|Open Site Explorer||Y||Y||Y||Y||$99||month|
|SEO PowerSuite||Y||$299||one time|
|SEO Report Card||Y||Y||Free|
|SEO SpyGlass||Y||$125||one time|
Advanced Link Manager runs on your desktop or laptop system (WIndows, Mac OS X, and Linux). The website copy states this tool reports on the link profile of your website, but no mention is made of doing site comparisons.
I have not personally used this tool.
I was not able to find one, which I take as a bad sign.
There are four price levels. You pay one time, not monthly. One year of support is included in the initial purchase. Additional years of support can be purchased.
The standard plan is for businesses who do not need to generate reports. Agencies which need to provide clients with reports need at least the professional plan.
|Plan||Purchase||Year of Support|
Based on the promotional video on their website, the name of this product is very well chosen. This software tool reports on a wide array of analytics for various aspects of digital marketing: SEO, PPC, Social Media, etc. This product is definitely targeted to agencies, rather than businesses managing their own SEO. Having said that, they do have a pricing tier called Freelancer which is $49 a month. For link building, the video contains a brief mention of the ability to track backlinks to your site.
I have not personally used this tool.
The closest thing I found is a video on YouTube that compares Ahrefs to Agency Analytics. It clearly positions this product as a direct competitor to Ahrefs. The demonstration of Agency Analytics starts at 11:20. The person conducting the demonstration states the backlink reporting in Agency Analytics is not as robust as Ahrefs and that if you’re really concerned about backlinks, he recommends Ahrefs.
Ahrefs is one of the better-known SEO analytics tools. Like Agency Analytics it is marketed to agencies that provide reports to their clients. They too have a less expensive plan which would be suitable for a business monitoring their own SEO. For backlinks, Ahrefs provides both a detailed analysis of the backlink profile of a website and has the ability to do what I call a “gap analysis” of your website against another.
I have not personally used this tool.
Ahrefs has an extensive collection of videos on their YouTube channel, each one of which is short. As of this writing, they have 57 tutorial videos and 12,507 subscribers. The most recent video is one month old.
A number of them are specifically about backlinks:
- Why You Need to Keep Track Of Your New & Lost Backlinks
- How To Find High Quality Backlink Opportunities with Ahrefs
- How To Find Low Quality Links With Ahrefs
- How To Get New Backlink Opportunities on Autopilot (backlink alerts & content alerts)
- How to discover and replicate the best backlinks of your competition
On the main website, there is a collection of video tutorials known as Ahrefs Academy, in which some of the YouTube videos are organized into a structured course of study. For example, lesson number 7 is the last of the YouTube videos I list above.
There is a concept of a Login to Ahrefs Academy, and when I attempt this I am prompted to sign up for the Standard plan at $179 a month. However, I saw no restriction on my ability to watch any of their videos without logging in or signing up.
At first glance, this is a useless tool. You enter a URL and the tool identifies the backlinks. It did a terrible job. For a site that Google Search Console reports 362 backlinks to, this tool reports 56. The purpose of the tool is to encourage you to buy backlinks via the ads they present.
Since the tool is free, no demo is needed. Simply load the page, enter your URL, and prepare to be underwhelmed.
This tool is free and is supported by advertising (A LOT of advertising).
Broken Link Builder is from Citation Labs and is focused on finding broken links that are relevant to the topic of your website. While I have not (yet) used this tool, Citation Labs has a good reputation.
The demonstration video on their website looks good.
As with all Citation Labs products, every query/report you run costs “credits” which you’ve purchased. Each report you run costs 1 or more credits.They have 3 monthly subscription plans, the differences being the number of credits per month. To see their pricing, load their website homepage and scroll way down.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||Credits per month|
Buffer is a social media management tool that makes it easy to schedule social media updates in advance. I DO personally use this tool. I choose it over Hootsuite because I find it easier to use. In addition to the tools user interface, there is a Chrome extension that makes it easy to schedule whatever webpage you’re currently browsing. It is also easy to schedule a specific social media update to be sent multiple times (such as every 3 days for the next 21 days).
Buffer has a YouTube channel. It’s cluttered with fluffy videos with titles like “How to Start ROCKING Your Instagram Marketing Game”, and “Top 5 Marketing Books All Entrepreneurs and Marketers Should Have in Their Library”. I did find some good videos on that channel, I just had to search for them.
There are three price levels. The biggest difference between them is the number of social media “profiles” you can specify, and how many scheduled posts can be queued up. A profile is an account, a page, etc.
|Plan||Monthly cost||# of Profiles||# of scheduled posts|
BuzzStream is for managing link building outreach. I did once use BuzzStream but felt it wasn’t good enough to justify the then $19 a month cost. After 3 months I reverted to storing my email templates as Gmail templates and tracking my outreach efforts in Excel.
BuzzStream seems to be the only tool on the market that manages the outreach portion of link building. By outreach, I mean the sending of messages to prospects and the tracking of responses.
- Create message templates which you reuse
- Track details about communications to lots of contacts at lots of websites.
- Create a prospect list. To compensate for the fact that the strength of BuzzStream is managing outreach rather than building prospect lists, prospect lists built with other tools can be imported into BuzzStream.
BuzzStream has a YouTube channel, which contains a series of tutorial videos that look useful. I like that they’ve created a large number of short videos.It’s easy to find a video to help with whatever specific task you need to learn about.
The single user level that cost $19 a month is not listed on their website pricing page, so I sent a message to the company through their website. I was told the single user version of BuzzStream exists and is now $24 a month.
BuzzSumo claims to help you create better content, where better is determined by what existing content gets the most engagement. BuzzSumo helps you identify the influencers who are helping to amplify your content. It does this by showing you analytics on several social media platforms.
In terms of backlinks, you can view the links pointing to any domain or page (yours or a competitor) and view social shares.
Integral to how the product works and is priced is the concept of Alerts and Mentions, neither of which have anything to do with backlinks.
A Mention is when an article mentions your keyword, when your competitor publishes a breakout post, or when a specific author publishes an article.
An Alert is where you define the criteria for what is a mention.
I have not personally used this tool.
The BuzzSumo YouTube channel seems to have good tutorial videos in it, but for some reason, they have an incredibly small number of subscribers (848 as of 1 Oct 2017).
Having said that, they have one video titled BuzzSumo Practical Tips for Backlinks, which is EXCELLENT. It’s 26 minutes long, but do yourself a favor and watch it. It does a good job of explaining why certain strategies are effective and provides a little information on how you do them.
CognitiveSEO seems to be a well-designed tool, with the main focus on Content Social Visibility and Link Analysis. In terms of Link Analysis, their dashboard looks well designed and they provide the ability to directly compare two domains.
I have not personally used this tool, but expect I probably will later.
While CognitiveSEO has a YouTube channel, with only 2 videos and 12 subscribers. However, there are dozens of demonstration videos posted by various SEO consultants, which I consider to be a good sign.
A video titled cognitiveSEO Review Backlinks Analysis Software, speaks highly of CognitiveSEO.
|Plan||Monthly cost||Sites||Backlinks per site|
|Build Your Plan||$999+||No limit||Millions|
Dibz is a Link Prospecting tools, which means it makes the job of finding people to pitch to easier. While I have not personally used this tool, I have to say that based on the demo video on their homepage, it looks good. It is built for SEO agencies, but there is no reason a business can’t use it for themselves.
There is one thing I really like and one thing I really dislike about this product.
I really like that in addition to other website quality metrics such as Domain Authority and # of Referring Domains, they calculate a SPAM score for a website, and they provide clues as to what increases the SPAM score.
I REALLY dislike that they provide no obvious way to contact them to ask questions.
For example….. Their pricing is based on the number of results returned and the results depth, but they never define what those terms mean. Results per query? Results per month? And what does Results Depth mean at all?
They do provide a link to their Facebook Page, so I sent them a query via Facebook Messenger.
And the good news is, they responded to my query early on the first business day after I submitted it. You need to think of the results returned by Dibz as analogous to a Google Search Engine Result page, except that with Dibz, some results are filtered out by the criteria you specify.
Result: One query response (analogous to one Google Search).
Result Depth: How many SERP pages are searched through to provide results. For their lowest priced tier they provide a result depth of 50, which means your search criteria will return 50 search results, to which your defined filters will then be applied.
Check out the demo video on their homepage.
|Plan||Monthly cost||Results||Result Depth|
Domain Hunter Plus is a free Chrome extension that makes it easy to find broken outbound links on the webpage you’re currently browsing. One nice feature is it’s easy to export the list of broken links.
Email Hunter is a tool that provides email addresses in response to you entering a domain name. They claim their product will find email addresses and/or verify that specified email addresses are deliverable.
For link building, this fulfills part of the puzzle of prospecting.
There is also a Chrome extension so you can find email addresses as you browse websites.
I had not used this tool before but installed the Chrome extension a few minutes ago.
I found a good demo of using the Email Hunter Chrome extension.
Surprisingly (to me at least) there are 5 tiers of pricing:
Found is a UK based digital marketing agency, who provides a free SEO audit tool on their website, presumably as a way to generate leads. It seems to audit only the home page of the website, which is common with free SEO audit tools.
I did test drive this free tool.
Since it’s free, simply click the link in the section title and give it a go.
Google Advanced Search is a way of performing much more precise Google searches. It allows you to search via very narrow search criteria.
There are two ways to do this:
Perhaps unknown to you, some of the software tools listed in this article use the Google Advanced Search command line arguments when they perform searches for websites, but of course we have no way of knowing which ones.
I do use this on occasion.
Google Reverse Image Search is the ability to perform a Google search where what you start with is an image. This is very useful when your topic is very visual, such as architecture, jewelry, food, pets, etc.
When you do this, you either provide the URL of the image, or you upload the image.
I use this tool a lot when I have a licensed image and I’m looking for one that is similar but licensed for reuse.
Just try it. Once the screen loads, select the camera icon within the search bar.
Google Search Console is a tool I use very often. It gives you a Google Eye view of your website. It is useful for knowing if Google is seeing crawl errors (which you need to deal with), or has issues reading your sitemap.xml file.
Before you can use Google Search Console, you need to add your website, then prove you own the site. They allow 5 different ways you can verify you own the site.
In terms of backlinks, it allows you to see all backlinks to your site (that Google knows about, which is about as much as can be known).
To find the backlinks to your site, login to Google Search Console, then from the menu on the left side of the screen, select Search Traffic -> Links to Your Site.
You can download all the links into a Google Docs or CSV file, and when you do so periodically you can compare files to learn what changes have occurred over time.
As with other free Google tools, just try it and play around a little.
Hootsuite is a social media management tool like Buffer. Some people I’ve met prefer Hootsuite over buffer as they have a superior dashboard in which you monitor your accounts and see what’s going on.
Hootsuite has 3 price plans. The differences are the number of social profiles (such as a LinkedIn account, a LinkedIn Business Page, a Google+ account, a Facebook account, a Facebook Business Page, etc), and the number of users.
|Plan||Monthly cost||Max Social Profiles||Max Users|
Kerboo is the closest thing to an all in one solution I’ve seen, but it doesn’t do everything well. It allows you to analyze your link profile in detail and makes some tasks associated with managing large sites easier (such as creating a batch disavow file to submit to Google), but the bit that allows you to compare your link profile to another site is “just OK”. The demo video on the website makes references to creating lists of link building prospects, but what they show in the demo looks weak. They seem to have a good ability to manage outreach at scale, by which I mean the sending of outreach messages.
This product is made for agencies, or for very very large businesses.
I have not personally used it.
The demo video on their homepage looks really good.
Kerboo has 4 pricing levels. There are too many differences to fit into a table below, so for the full set of differences, select the link in the prior sentence. A summary is below. They’re a British company, so all prices are in UK Pounds.
|Plan||Monthly cost||Team Members||Projects|
|Large Agency or Brand||£999||25||250|
LinkAssistant runs on your system (Windows, MacOS, or Linux). You buy it once and own it.
The following claims are made on the Link Assistant website: 1) Hundreds of link opportunities at one click, via guest posting, commenting, forums, directories, etc. 2) Sorting prospects by Domain Authority. 3) Easy outreach from inside the app 4) Link verification. And 5) Customized reports (most useful for agencies).
I have not personally used this product.
LinkAssistant has a YouTube channel, but they have only 1,169 subscribers on a channel that’s been around for 3 years. To me, it illustrates the product is not popular.
I found one demo video on YouTube. The video is 5 years old and has only 466 views.
|Plan||One time cost|
Link Detox is specifically designed to help you recover from Google Penguin and Manual Actions.
Their website copy claims their tool performs an audit of all the inbound links to your site, then provides detailed quality ratings of each, allowing you to easily disavow the ones you need to disavow.
I have not personally used this product.
There is what looks like an excellent demonstration video at the bottom of their homepage
Link Detox is a subset of the full tool, which is Link Research Tools. Link Detox is not priced separately. For pricing, refer to the Link Research Tools section below.
Link Prospector is a tool from Citation Labs that does nothing but identify prospects to reach out to. It does not do the outreach, but it saves you time in compiling your prospect list. While the demo video on their website looks lame, the product itself looks promising.
I have not personally used this product, but expect I will, even if only at their pay as you go pricing in order to check it out myself.
The demo video on their home page looks good, and I found what looks like a very good demo video on YouTube. Having said that, this video has been up for 5 years and has only 13,300 views. The official Citation Labs YouTube channel has only 206 subscribers and 28 videos. The most recent video was published a year ago.
When you run queries/reports in Link Prospectors, you spend “credits” which you’ve previously purchased. Most queries cost one credit, but if you want to exceed certain predefined thresholds or run reports that are not predefined, you will need to spend more than one credit.
|Plan||One time cost||Credits per Month|
Link Research Tools is the full set of tools this company provides, whereas Link Detox (described above) is one of their specialized tools that exist within their tool suite.
Their website makes really big claims about their software tools. Too many to fully list here.
Via the link in the next section, you’ll find videos on using their tools to do the following:
- Backlink Analysis
- Link Audit and Penalty Recovery (which includes Link Detox)
- Link Quality Checks
- Competitor Analysis
- Backlink Monitoring
- Link Prospecting
- Browser Extensions
A series of brief sales and demo videos on their website seems to give an excellent overview of their tools.
When I wrote the Link Detox section above, I failed to realize that pricing included a fuller suite of tools and not one specific tool focused on finding and eliminating toxic links. As such, the pricing described below is identical to that described for Link Detox.
There are Four pricing tiers. The differences between them are the number of domains and links you can manage.
|Plan||One time cost||Domains||Links per Domain|
Linkody is a backlink monitoring tools that informs you when you site gains or loses backlinks, and when your competitors gain backlinks. It comes with a disavow tool.
I found only one demonstration video. It’s in French and as I’m writing for an English speaking audience, I did not link to it. There are screenshots on their website they identify as their tour.
There are five levels of pricing, and the differences are the number of domains, monitored links, and users.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||Domains||Monitored Links||Users|
Majestic is a very full service SEO tool that does backlink analysis and much more. Their website claims they have the planet’s largest link index database, which is immediately a bit suspicious, as I’m pretty sure that honor belongs to Google.
This tool does A LOT:
Site Explorer allows you to deep dive into the SEO analysis of a site in extreme detail.
Backlink History Checker does what the name implies. It allows you to know the backlink profile of a site, as well as know details about the history of those backlink profiles.
There are effectively 4 pricing tiers where one criterion is how often you pay, monthly or quarterly. The other difference is something they call “analysis units”, but I found no definition of what the term means.
|Name||Monthly Cost||Payment Plan||Analysis Units|
MeetEdgar is really cool. I have not yet used it, but when the time comes I will. The basic idea behind MeetEdgar is as you post stuff to social media you categorize it. You then configure MeetEdgar to post from category X on (for example) the 1st Tue of every month at 11:15 am.
Once you’ve laid out your schedule of what post category publishes when, MeetEdgar runs on autopilot, keeping your pipeline of social media updates full. Then as you create more content, you simply add it to a category and MeetEdgar adds it to the queue for that category.
When the queue for any given category is exhausted, it starts over. The only negative I saw is MeetEdgar doesn’t yet work with GooglePlus.
I found a video that shows how MeetEdgar works and also explains why you might prefer it over HootSuite or Buffer.
There is only one “plan” for Edgar, $49 per month.
The demonstration video (link below) shows what looks like a useful product, which I have not yet used. This tool allows you to monitor your backlinks, and get alerted when new ones appear and old ones disappear. You can also be alerted when a competitor website gains a new backlink.
What seems to set this product apart from Majestic SEO and Moz is it provides much LESS detail, which (if done right) is a good thing. Those other tools provide much more detail than is needed.
There are 3 plans, the differences being the number of your domains you want to monitor, competitor domains you want to monitor, referring domains, and keywords.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||Domains||Competitors||Referring Domains||Keywords|
MoonSearch is a free “website valuation” service that at first glance seems useless. One of the things it purports to provide is information about backlinks, but for our website, it provided nothing.
Since it’s free, just head over and submit your URL. I’m interested if you get any useful information. I didn’t.
MozBar is a free Chrome extension that provides you with details about the webpage (and website) you’re currently browsing, OR the pages you’re viewing in a Search Engine Result Page (which is where you can see a link analysis). I’ve been a fan of MozBar for 18 to 24 months now.
Moz maintains the own index of website detail (including links) and (as with everyone) it’s not as comprehensive as the index maintained by Google. If your site is new, or small, Moz may not have details about your links as they may have never crawled your site. There is no way to manually submit a website to Moz, so patience is required.
Moz provides an article that shows you what to expect.
Like Majestic SEO, MozPro is a full-featured SEO analytics platform which provides enormous (perhaps even too much) detail about the SEO of your website. Among the details provided is a detailed link analysis of your site, as well as the ability to compare the link profile of your site to that of another site (such as a competitor).
Moz has an active YouTube channel (34,000+ subscribers, hundreds of videos going back years) and some of the videos provide demonstrations of MozPro. For example, this link is to a short video on how to use Link Intersect, and this link is to a video describing how to use Social Media to build backlinks.
Additionally, on the Moz website, there is the Moz Learning Center, which contains a wealth of information on how to do SEO.
There are four plans. The main differences are the number of campaigns that can be run, keywords whose ranking is being tracked, and pages that will be crawled per week.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||Campaigns||Tracked Keywords||Crawled Pages / Week|
Ninja Outreach is a tool that helps you find and contact social media influencers. Finding influencers is based on keywords, and this product contains it’s own CRM which is used to track outreach activity. Their “getting started” video (link below) claims they have the ability to send automated emails in batch.
I have not personally used this tool.
Ninja Outreach has a YouTube channel. It contains only 20 videos and has only 118 subscribers. However, the videos look good. Here is a link to their overview video titled Getting started with Ninja Outreach.
There are four tiers. The main differences are the numbers of users and contacts that can be stored.
Oktopost describes themselves as The B2B Social Media Management Platform. They claim to provide the following capabilities:
- Social Publishing
- Social Analytics
- Content Curation
- Social Listening
- Social Advocacy
- Social Management
The product seems full featured.I have not personally used it.
Oktopost has a YouTube channel It has all of 17 videos and 164 subscribers. The oldest video is 3 years old, while the newest is one week old. Weird that they have so few subscribers.
However, on a YouTube channel named A Modern Professional, I found the following Oktopost tutorial videos that look EXCELLENT:
- Oktopost Review – Social Media Scheduling, Posting, Curation and Engagement
- Oktopost Tutorial – Setting up your Profiles in Oktopost
- Oktopost Tutorial 2 Campaigns
- Oktopost Tutorial 3 – Scheduling Posts
- Oktopost Tutorial 4 – Using the Autoposter
- Oktopost Tutorial 5 – Curation and Calendar
- Oktopost Tutorial 6 – Engagement with Streams
- Oktopost Tutorial 7 – Using Reports
Their pricing is so complex, they don’t list it on their website. The text below was copied directly from their website.
Oktopost’s cloud-based SaaS pricing is determined by your company’s organization structure (number of marketing teams), user seats, social advocates, and social profiles. You can also purchase additional features like Marketing Automation integration and Twitter Insights. Our trained experts will consult with you to configure the right package for your business.
Ontolo is a prospecting tool that makes it easier to create lists of prospects for content promotion and guest posting (and more).
Their website claims Ontolo prospects from more than 80 sources and provides prospect data and insights available nowhere else. Based on their website copy it looks like this tool builds lists of contacts, but does not manage outreach.
I have not personally used this tool.
Ontolo has a YouTube channel. It has only 7 videos, the most recent of which is 7 years old. There are 29 subscribers. One of the videos is titled First Look: Ontolo Link Building Query Application.
There are 2 levels, the main differences being the number of URLs in your index and the number that can be processed per day.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||# of URLs||# of URLs / day|
Open Site Explorer is a full-featured SEO auditing tool from Moz. It’s conceptually similar to Ahrefs in terms of the capabilities. It pulls data from its own index, which it builds by crawling the Internet.
In terms of link building, the tool can analyze the link profile of your website, compare it to other sites, and help you identify link building opportunities.
Identifying link building opportunities consists of finding unlinked mentions of your company or products and finding broken links you can possibly steer to content on your site. The tool obtains contact information for the website when it’s available. Additionally, the tool can identify fresh content on the Internet that is relevant to the topics of your website, making it possible to reach out for backlinks while those articles are brand new.
I have not personally used this tool.
Moz maintains an online learning center on their website. It contains lessons on various SEO topics, including lessons on link building.
The pricing below is for Moz Pro. There are 4 tiers, the main differences being the number of campaigns, keywords being tracked, and pages crawled per week.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||# of Campaigns||# of Keywords||Pages Crawled / Week|
Open Link Profiler is a free tool that generates a report of the backlinks to any URL. The report, however, is very incomplete. For a site that Google Webmasters Tools report 1,493 links, Open Link Profiler reports 65. Having said that, some of the nofollow links Open Link Explorer identified were really strange. Links to comments on sites that are about completely unrelated topics.
I have tested this tool. I was not impressed.
Since it’s free, click the link above and give it a try.
PitchBox is software for building lists of prospects based on search terms, and managing outreach to those prospects. It looks very sophisticated and easy to use.
I have not personally used this.
PitchBox has a YouTube channel. It has only 5 videos and 29 subscribers. One of the videos gives a good overview. There is a very good demo video on YouTube titled How We Use Pitchbox for Link Outreach, by a company named Webris.
PitchBox has 4 levels. The differences are the number of workspaces (an SEO agency needs one workspace per client), outreach emails per month, and users.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||Workspaces||Outreach Emails||Users|
RankSignals is another free backlink checking tool. You enter a URL and are presented with a report. The report is skimpy and useless. On the page where see your results, there is an ad to Start Building Your Links Now!, starting at $49.
I gave the tool a test drive.
Ravens Tools is primarily a reporting tool, which includes reporting about backlinks. For backlink building, it provides tools for identifying link building prospecting, as well as link building outreach.
I have not personally used this tool.
Raven Tools has a YouTube channel, with 37 videos. One of their videos is a replay of a Link Building webinar. It is mostly “lecture” about how to do Link Building, but does show some tool demonstration. It’s 25 minutes long.
There are two levels, one focused on businesses working on their own SEO, the other focused on Agencies.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||Monthly Page Crawl Limit|
SE Ranking describes themselves as an all include SEO monitoring tool (similar to Ahrefs and Moz Pro). They have a module devoted to monitoring backlinks. Their backlink monitoring module is different from most. You export a report of your backlinks from Google Search Console, then import that list into SE Ranking. SE Ranking will tell you if any of those backlinks went away. In a way, this tool is less Link Building, than mitigating the loss of existing links (which has value). I have not personally used this tool.
SE Ranking has a YouTube channel, but (like many of these tool vendors) it’s small. 6 videos and 176 subscribers. None of the videos relate to Link Building and I found no videos on the Internet at all related to link building with SE Ranker.
SE Ranking has an interesting pricing model. First, they’re relatively inexpensive compared to Moz Pro and Ahrefs. Second, they provide discounts based on how often things are checked. For daily checking, there is no discount. When you accept updates every 3 days, your discount is 20%. When you accept weekly updates, your discount is 40%. I’ve seen no other tool provide this pricing model.
Beyond this discount structure, there are four tiers. Prices below are undiscounted.
|Plan||Monthly Cost||Max Keywords||Max Pages||Max Backlinks|
Based on the web page where they describe their link building capabilities, this tool is focused on identifying and removing toxic links, rather than obtaining new links.
They promote their product allows you to easily:
- Discover toxic links
- Ask to remove bad links
- Disavow remaining bad links
- Upload data to Search Console
They claim they maintain a database of 2.4+ trillion links across 262+ million domains.
Based on how they describe their tool, it’s not so much link building (add new quality links) but bad link purging.
I have not personally used this tool.
SEM Rush has a very active YouTube channel. 14,000+ subscribers and 881 videos. The most recent video was uploaded 4 days ago. Their tutorial of Mastering Link Building with SEM Rush is just over an hour long (it’s a replay of a live webinar). It was really good, but I watched only the first 20 minutes. As mentioned above, the focus of this tutorial video is identifying and getting purging toxic links.
There are 3 tiers, the main differences are results per a report, reports per day, and pages to crawl.
|Plan||Monthly Price||Results / Report||Report / Day||Pages to Crawl|
SEO PowerSuite runs on your desktop (or laptop). It runs on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. You make a one-time payment, not a monthly payment.
As regards link building, their website makes the following claims:
- Largest backlink index on the web
- 50+ backlink factors analyzed
- Finds new link building opportunities
- Allows reverse engineering of competitor backlinks (up to 5 of them)
- Penguin and Panda proof link audits (probably refers to finding toxic links)
I have not personally used this tool.
Matthew Woodward, a fairly big name in SEO training, provides a fairly in-depth demo. It is three years old, and I know (as I subscribe to email from Matthew) that he now promotes a link building course that doesn’t use this tool, but nonetheless, his 3-year-old video is still the best I found.
There are 3 tiers. Differences are not about how many URLs can be scanned etc, but rather stuff like can data be exported, etc. Professional is marketed to businesses whereas Enterprise is marketed to really big businesses and SEO agencies.
|Edition||Cost (one time, not monthly)|
Up City is is a referral service for digital marketing services. They provide a free SEO Audit Tool (via the link within the section heading above). It’s lightweight and to get the report you need to tell them your name, email address, phone number, etc. To them, this free SEO Audit is a lead generator, and sure enough, I got a call and an email 2 business days after submitting their form.
Part of their report is a list of backlinks to your site, which you can compare to a competitors website.
I gave it a test drive. It tests only the home page of a site.
If you don’t mind them sending you emails and calling you, click the link above and try it.
SEO SpyGlass is from Link Assistant, who has a tool named Link Assistant that is described earlier in this document.
SEO SpyGlass seems to be nothing more than a different name for the same product, so to learn about this product, read the Link Assistant section above.
Social Flow presents themselves as a very high-end social media management platform. They claim to solve social monetization for publishers. Their website provides very little information and every “Learn more” type link takes you to a sales form.
I have not personally used this tool.
SocialFlow has a YouTube channel with 109 videos and an unspecified number of subscribers. While there are current videos, there don’t seem to be any demo videos. Their videos tend to be short and to explain some aspect of social media, but not how to use their tool.
For what it’s worth, SocialFlow is the only Social Media Management company I’ve seen show up in news articles, such as this one from Reuters talking about the spread of the #Occupy movement of 2011.
SocialFlow pricing is available only upon request.
SocialOomph is another social media management tool. From the demonstration video I watched (the link is below), this tool appears to have been built by engineers with very little input from marketing people. I say this because it looks to be incredibly easy to use, and from a marketing perspective, their website copy is terrible.
From their website, you would think this is standard social media management tool but based on the demo video I watched (link below), it is REALLY easy to queue up social media updates and to specify that you want some to repeat after a specified number of hours.
The user interface is not fancy, but it seems to be much easier to use than competitive products (with the possible exception of MeetEdgar).
The only drawback I see is they do not appear to support GooglePlus.
I have not personally used this tool.
Socialoomph does not seem to have a YouTube channel, but they seem to have plenty of fans. A search of “socialoomph” on YouTube provided several demonstration videos done by others. I stopped counting at 35, but there were plenty more.
I like one titled How To Use SocialOomph For Marketing.
They have a limited version available for free, a Twitter only version which costs $7 every two weeks, and a full version which costs $18 every two weeks. To see their pricing, load their homepage and scroll to the bottom.
After watching two demonstration videos created by people who use the tool. It looks like fairly standard social media management software, with some features of Hootsuite (an easy view of all your social media “inboxes”) and some features of Buffer (an easy way to schedule social media updates).
Some things I like:
- The ability to easily schedule one social media update to go out at multiple days and times.
- The ability to define each social media channel as a “queue” into which you “drop” posts. Let’s say your Facebook company page is one queue and you’ve set it so an update goes out every day at 11 am. From there, you merely identify that a post is in that queue, and updates go out on schedule.
I have not personally used this tool.
SproutSocial has a YouTube channel with 58 videos and almost 2,000 subscribers, but the videos are mostly marketing, and very few are “How To” and “Demonstration” videos. Having said that, I found a good demo video titled How To Use Social Sprout.
SproutSocial is priced like a premium tool and has 3 tiers. They don’t differentiate their pricing tiers by numbers of things (users, social media accounts, etc) but rather by sets of features. To get a full picture review their pricing page via the link in the first sentence of this paragraph.
|Level||Cost per User per Month|
Seriously? Twitter for link building? Yes. This is real. People use twitter. You can engage people via twitter much more easily than you can via email.
Per Rand Fiskin of Moz, there are 8 ways:
- The serendipitous connection
- The “Top X List”
- The “Let me Build/Do/Find that for you”
- The “Story Teller”
- The “Link Suggestion”
- The “Content to Answer Your Query”
- The “Must-Have Testimonial”
- The “Biz Dev Deal”
Play the video linked to in the section below for details.
WhoLinks2Me is a rather poor web page that claims to be able to identify the links to a site but does a very poor job of it. The page runs one ad, which advertises backlinks from DA70+ sites for only $5 a month.
For my site, it reported a number of backlinks, with no specifics. Per Google Search Console, the number is way off.
Click the link in the section heading and enter your URL. Prepare to be underwhelmed.