Posted by willcritchlow
We recently gathered up a list of all the link building tools and resources we turn to daily across the company at Distilled. In the "TAGFEE" spirit of generosity, we thought it might be useful to others and we thought we'd share it here.
Link building is on our minds a lot of the time anyway, but even more so at this time of year in the run up to our Linklove link building conferences in London and Boston (it's in less than a month and yes, there's a discount for SEOmoz PRO members in the discount store, see below for more details or check out the trailer and a testimonial).
We have a variety of people helping our clients get more links in different ways and in different roles at Distilled. We have:
- SEO consulting focussed on strategic changes
- SEO execution and creative focussed on content creation and relationship building
- Digital PR
We also just have an ever-increasing number of people spread across three offices and eight timezones!
It's therefore inevitable that people will do things differently and use different resources. Over the years we've talked about a wide range of tools and resources in blog posts, at conferences and in client work – but the ones below are the ones that seem to have stuck around (or that we're trialling at the moment) and that came out in the canvassing of the team. In that spirit, I hope you'll find something of use here.
When we recently got our whole company together in London for the first time since Rob moved to Seattle to open our first US office in early 2010, part of the objective was to improve our processes and share knowledge across the company about how different consultants work. On one of the days we ran a (cheesily-named) ship-a-thon where we each aimed to "ship" things in a single day to improve Distilled. To give credit where it's due, Hannah decided to collate this list – I've just added some of the commentary and formatting. Thanks Hannah!
So, without further ado, here is the list of link building tools people in Distilled are using right now:
Data, Analysis and Research
I'm sure you're all familiar with the Raven toolkit – it's great for reporting and analysis as well as having a bunch of tools to make your actual link building efforts more effective.
Yep. The big X. You'd be amazed how many link building problems still need Excel.
Open Site Explorer [Paid & Free Versions]
Another tool that needs no introduction. Personally, between this and the moz toolbar, I cover off the majority of my day-to-day link data needs.
Ontolo [Paid & Free Versions]
I love what the Ontolo guys are doing with their toolset. This is one we are actively looking into to work out how we can get more out of it.
Majestic [Paid & Free Versions]
Just like you should always read two newspapers, you should always have two sources of link data. Majestic complements the SEOmoz data nicely. I most often find myself turning to Majestic data when I want to spot unnatural spikes in link growth, lower quality links (Majestic discards less of its crawl) or link growth comparisons over time.
It's funny how little hacked-together tools can make it into your core toolset and especially in the competitive analysis (or pre-sales) phases, it's great to get a quick gut-check about a link profile.
Citation Labs [Paid & Free Versions]
There are a bunch of useful tools here – go and have a poke around if you haven't already.
Link Diagnosis [Free]
Depending on how you're looking to slice and dice a link profile, linkdiagnosis gives you another view over the data.
Link Builder from Wordtracker [Paid & Free Versions]
When you're analysing link target data, there are a bunch of things you'd ideally like to automate and Wordtracker's tool makes a bunch of those manual steps easy.
My Blog Guest [Free]
Depending on the level of client and content available, we take a variety of approaches to finding guest post targets. My Blog Guest has a genuine community element to it and is definitely worth a look.
Blogger Link Up [Free]
Similar to My Blog Guest is another source for guest posts and guest post targets.
Although its effectiveness has declined as its popularity increased, HARO is still a good source for breaking into the PR game. Pro-tip: follow them on twitter to jump on breaking opportunities. Pro-pro-tip: build your own list of journalists on twitter to really take this to the next level.
Email and Outreach
Boomerang [Paid & Free Versions]
John wrote a post recently about gmail tools for outreachers that spells out in more detail why we love Boomerang and Rapportive (below).
The link building benefits of Rapportive are outlined above, but even if you're not building links day to day, if your job involves building relationships (and whose doesn't?) I strongly recommend using Rapportive. I'm great with faces and terrible with names, so it's good to see people's photo alongside their emails if nothing else.
Quick-n-dirty in-browser scraping
Multi Links for Firefox [Free]
Lets you open, copy or bookmark multiple links at the same time rather than having to do them all individually.
Chrome Web Scraper [Free]
Scraper is a Google Chrome extension for getting data out of web pages and into spreadsheets. For all those times when it's not worth building a dedicated tool, but you need to grab a bunch of data off a page.
Chrome Link Clump [Free]
Lets you open, copy or bookmark multiple links at the same time in Chrome. Choose your browser, choose your poison.
It sounds stupidly basic, but we're increasingly seeing the social networks as link building tools. The power of private twitter lists in particular shouldn't be underestimated! I'm also a big fan of hacking around with the streaming API both to gauge "demand" (i.e. the number of people talking about different topics) but also for building quick monitoring and response tools.
With the novelty of G+ and its high penetration in the world of webmasters and web marketers, it's a great way of building relationships with the "linkerati" at the moment.
LinkedIn [Paid & Free Versions]
Pro-tip with LinkedIn – get your executives and sales guys (or anyone in your organisation with a well-connected account) to trawl their account for the contacts you need. Bonus points if they'll let you work through it with them.
Although of course links from Facebook are rarely even scraped / republished elsewhere (unlike Twitter), we've seen people increasingly using it for work (presumably as they get slightly more comfortable with the privacy options that G+ seems to have provoked). Relationship building and outreach can be surprisingly effective through Facebook with certain demographics.
CRM and contact databases
We are currently building our entire outreach CRM into Buzzstream. It's the most effective tool we've found for collaborating on shared contacts and keeping track of the links they give you.
Along with more PR-oriented solutions like Gorkana and Meltwater, it's sometimes nice to have access to blog data sources as well.
Advanced Search Operators [Free]
It's an old one, but still totally relevant (apart from the search engine naming!). Don't forget about the basics!
Google Docs Import XML [Free]
As we try out new search queries or ad-hoc tactics for clients, we need agile tools to go with them. Google Docs gives us one of the easiest platforms we've found for that kind of thing.
Followerwonk [Paid & Free Versions]
Mmmmm. Followerwonk. You've no doubt heard about it from all kinds of sources, but if you haven't checked it out yet, you should do that right now.
We Follow [Free]
WeFollow is a directory of Twitter users organized by interest. It's probably not rocket science to work out how to use that…
Blog Dash [Paid]
A permission-based blogger database. You get a different kind of opportunity out of this kind of directory, but you can also promote things in a different way when expectations have already been set.
Zemanta suggests your content to relevant bloggers. We've made no secret of loving the concept and rating the service. We recently ran a meet-up in NYC in partnership with the Zemanta guys. For certain kinds of content and in the right niche, it's very effective.
Seeded Buzz [Paid & Free Versions]
Seeded Buzz allows you to promote your content to relevant bloggers.
The more we work on creative content, the more inspiration we need. Pinterest is great for this. When sharing internally, we use a combination of G+ (private) and Tumblr (public, great visual archive pages).
Creative Review [Free]
When I spoke to our creative team about where they get their inspiration from, the first two answers were CR and ffffound (I never know how many "f"s to put in that!).
A great combination of on and offline inspiration.
Up and coming candidates
We're always trying out new tools and evaluating existing ones. Our current evaluation backlog (not all of which are for link building) looks like this:
- Niels Bosma's SEO tools for Excel
- A variety of outreach / PR monitoring tools
What did we forget?
I'm sure there are both obvious tools that we should be using that we aren't and tools that we are using that we forgot to include in our list. Got some favourites? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.
If you'd like to learn more about how we (and other link building experts) go about things, we'd love to see you at Linklove.
We're running our dedicated link building conference in London on Friday 30th March (costing £449 – or £349 with the SEOmoz PRO discount) and in Boston on Monday 2nd April (costing $699 – or $549 with the SEOmoz PRO discount). You can check out the speakers and schedule here.
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