SEO

Link Building Tools I Wish Someone Would Build

By now most of us know that any sort of automated link building (or buying) service isn’t going to go out and build awesome links in bulk. Theoretically it may provide some ROI, but it’ll likely be short-lived, and either way it wouldn’t be safe to build a whole strategy around the tactic.

Conversely, manual link building is a time-consuming process involving planning, research, content creation, outreach, and more. With a successful campaign the ROI can be tremendous despite all that time invested. Fortunately, we have some tools that provide assistance in this otherwise difficult task from SEOmoz, SEO Book, Raven, MajesticSEO and others.

But I’ve found there are still some small holes in the link builders’ toolkit, whether that be in research, monitoring, outreach, etc. The following are some of the processes that I would love to have automated by a tool, but are either too difficult to build on my own or are really just impossible. Nevertheless, I hope I can spark some conversation at the very least. Without further adieu:

Instant Alert for Citation Mentions

Will Critchlow of Distilled built a rough draft of this very tool in his post on SEOmoz. The tool monitors the web via Google Alerts, and at the first sign of an unlinked mention of a company, the tool alerts the SEO, providing a quick target for outreach.

mention monitor example Link Building Tools I Wish Someone Would Build

“Hi there, I’m writing from Company X. We’re doing a bit of outreach to build company awareness, and I stumbled upon your blog post/article that mentions us. I was wondering if you’d consider linking to us where you’ve mentioned my company…”

Ideally, the tool works fast, as the author is much more likely to make a quick edit for a recent post. As an added bonus, this tool would provide the Twitter handle or email address of the post’s author, as described in a later ‘dream’ tool.

Competitor Link Monitoring 404 Follower

A brilliant link building tactic that has been discussed in the past is doing competitive research to determine where links to your competitions’ domains send a 404. Again, this provides an awesome outreach target:

“Hi. I noticed your link to Company X’s website is no longer working. I thought you might find this page a suitable replacement: URL…”

competitor 404 monitor Link Building Tools I Wish Someone Would Build

A tool to continuously monitor your competitors’ backlinks and alert you in the event of a 404 would be fantastic. Once again, bonus points if the tool could provide contact information to the linking site with the alert.

Successful Linkbait Campaign Finder

Working at a web marketing agency I’m faced with the task of getting a grasp on a niche relatively quick. New clients would love to hit the ground running with link building campaigns, and I can’t blame them. But their niche could very well be uncharted territory for me or anyone in the office. It’d be foolish to say I knew what the influencers in this niche love to share without doing some research.

That’s where this tool that locates the past successful linkbait campaigns in the niche would be invaluable. Hypothetically, the SEO could provide this tool with a seed list of domains in the niche, the tool would expand to include more within this broad ‘neighborhood’, and would return the linkbait most often shared.

An alternative approach would be a search mashup that when queried with a niche would return the blog posts, videos, infographics, and other embeds that have received the most links and shares. In other words, a modern search engine without on-page or domain level off-page signals. A bit more difficult, but I’d imagine popular bookmarking services like Delicious could provide context for URLs and domains with collective users’ tags.

Guest Post Opportunity Finder

Here’s a tool idea that is really just a mashup of a related sites or ‘neighborhood’ finder tool and a set of advanced search queries.

Provide a niche, or a seed set of related domains, and this tool returns related domains that have allowed guest posts in the past (using a simple “guest post” OR “guest author” OR, etc. query). Bonus points, yet again, for contact details of target blogs.

Widget/Embed Finder

Ever since the demise of the effectiveness of Yahoo’s Site Explorer, I’ve bemoaned the inability to query a set of backlinks’ on-page content. I most often did this to get a feel for a company or their competitors’ link building successes with widget or other embeddable content. Oh, “linkdomain:domain.com ‘embed footprint’” query, how I miss thee.

My coworker Justin Briggs blogged about an alternative, which involved creating a Google custom search engine. This approach is brilliant, but is time-consuming and has some limitations.

My hypothetical tool wouldn’t have to be too different from the functionality that Site Explorer used to have. Provide the tool with a domain, which returns links to that domain, then allows the SEO to query the page content of those linking URLs.

An enhancement would be a tool that detects similar text surrounding a set of backlinks, so the SEOs query could be just a domain or URL, and the tool returns backlinks that may be from embeddable content.

A True Social Shares / Link Building Mashup

With an ever-growing importance on social signals, I think its time to start including this data in our backlink reports. Of course, easier said than done. But a tool that returns a top pages report for a domain, a la Open Site Explorer, combined with the number of tweets, FB shares, upvotes, Stumbles, etc., would be fantastic.

social link mashup Link Building Tools I Wish Someone Would Build

Contact Details Retriever

I’ve referenced this hypothetical tool more than once with good reason; it’s a time consuming and arduous task. I’ve also included it last on my list because not only would it be incredibly useful, but it’s probably impossible to build to return reliable results (and maybe illegal?). Shame.

But, in theory, we’d provide this tool with a set of outreach target URLs or domains, and it would return Twitter handles and email addresses on the page. Technically, not an impossible task, but how would we know we’re receiving THE contact details?

In Conclusion

Automated link building isn’t the greatest way to build links, but automating pieces of link building with some of the above hypothetical tools would decrease the necessary investment, and allow SEOs to focus more on being creative and providing greater return.

If you’re looking for some more link building discussion, the Distilled guys are running two link building conferences – in New Orleans on 25th March (book here) and in London on 18th March (book here). The focus is on actionable tips and tricks so if you need more links, these events are the places to be.

37819b14e9f8440c571092cc45fff481 64 Link Building Tools I Wish Someone Would Build

Mike Pantoliano

Mike Pantoliano is an SEO consultant in Seattle with Distilled. He contributes regularly on the Distilled and SEOmoz blogs with a focus on link building, site architecture, and web analytics.
37819b14e9f8440c571092cc45fff481 64 Link Building Tools I Wish Someone Would Build

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23 thoughts on “Link Building Tools I Wish Someone Would Build

  1. Using Google Alerts to keep an eye on unlinked mentions is a great idea. If you can reach out to someone and convince them to just add the link where they have already talked about you, you are not only increasing your one-way links, you are also building a relationship with that person. Depending on the popularity of your brand, there might be a lot of potential links waiting to be made.

  2. Excellent post – I’m seem to get a lot out of applications with a strong visual interface design. I’ve been dreaming of a tool similar to touchgraph that would show all incoming links to a site and all links coming in to those sites as well … of course with all the pertinent, beneficial link value data … I

  3. Would have made things so much easier “sigh”…Rob if they exist maybe you should write about a few? And maybe “mainstream” circles would be enlightened to use them .:)

  4. Nice one. If I had to pick one of these I’d go with the Successful Linkbait Campaign finder. Having that information would really help for any new target niches. As for the contact details retriever I know that Buzzstream (also pulls twitter usernames) and Raven linkbuilding tools both have that capability. Though I do wish they could recognize email address patterns since spam has caused many people to not hyperlink their email address and instead they’ll display it like “amandaatdomaindotcom” and the contact retriever tools don’t detect this text pattern as an email address.

  5. Guest post opportunity finder can be done manually; its almost same along the lines of finding niche websites that allow link add or exchange and that was priceless few years ago! Social shares tool would be great to develop for “mainstream” or private use

  6. Nice post, i would first use the ‘Instant Alert for Citation Mentions’ strategy. Its easy to approach someone who has already use our brand name and asking them to possibily link to the relevant topic or homepage of our site.

  7. I agree that these would make our lives easier. But the thrill will be taken for granted. I think if there is someone able to do these tools, I will definitely pay some price.

  8. Sebastian, I think you guys have some valuable tools but your prices are astronomic. Why are you keeping it this high? Euro is almost $1.38 so you are charging $2150 annual basis. Isn’t this crazy for a tool that you will never own?

  9. Sebastian, I think you guys have some valuable tools but your prices are astronomic. Why are you keeping it this high? Euro is almost $1.38 so you are charging $2150 annual basis. Isn’t this crazy for a tool that you will never own?

    1. Hi Matt,

      If you consider how much time you would spend doing this analysis by hand, the tools aren’t that expensive anymore. If you’re using them a lot, you’ll save hours every day or at least every week.

      By the way: We offer rebates of up to 19% to customers committing to at least 6 months of service in advance.

    2. HI Matt,

      I understand well that the strong EUR makes prices really crazy for US guys – these economic problems (we live in Europe, pay salaries in EUR etc) aren’t easy to tackle…

      Given that ONE average size webserver costs us $7200 PER YEAR and we also never own it is another number almost 4 times bigger… and the web server does NOTHING for us, no time saving, no insights, just plain hosting of results we create – but you have to spend money to make money, right?

      Another question:
      - would you commit for a year? (we currntly only have 6 months plans)
      - what would the full suite be worth to you?
      - are you aware that the link alerts alone come for much less?

      best, christoph

      1. Christoph, I agree with you that you guys have to pay salary in EUR currency. However, we don’t and if you want to stay ahead of the competition, you have to find a way to pass this barrier and I’m not saying this myself but market pushes us to that point including everybody else who are trying to strive and be competitive in this economy. It is frustrating and sad but true…

        As far as $7200 cost, it is really a bit too much. I paid $2200 for a very high standard Dell server and I pay only $80 ($960 / annual) to put it into datacenter which creates revenue for my business but I see your point that “what else we don’t pay for every month, why not pay this much for a valuable/time saver toolset” and I totally agree with you on the time saving part and that’s why your tool shines instantly. But $2150 annual for an e-commerce company who is doing on site SEO with 1 employee just a bit too much.

        Answer to your questions;
        -I would commit to a year service after 14 days trial period. It takes around 1-2 days to start working on the tool. Takes about a day to figure out what’s going on and start receiving emails from your system and analyzing what your tool is really doing will take some time but answer to your question is Yes. I would commit to it as long as it can prove itself to be the right tool.

        -I am currently using Seo SpyGlass for some of the stuff that you guys are doing (granted, not automated or email alerts etc.) like backlink research, links that are missing, juice calculation, domain/server backlink distribution etc. but it cost me only $250 one time fee. So it is pretty affordable and one time fee and not limited with couple of sites, you can analyze as many websites as you want (unless blocked by yahoo/google/blekko temporarily).

        I would say (without knowing your economics), if you could lower your price to $99 levels (similar to Raven Tools, SEOmoz etc) or at least have a price level that has $99 price tag, it could be very reasonable for people like me (not making money from SEO, just benefitting myself and my company) would make a huge difference.

        -I wasn’t aware that you had seperate pricing for several parts of your solution. I would be interested in knowing that one as well.

    3. HI Matt,

      I understand well that the strong EUR makes prices really crazy for US guys – these economic problems (we live in Europe, pay salaries in EUR etc) aren’t easy to tackle…

      Given that ONE average size webserver costs us $7200 PER YEAR and we also never own it is another number almost 4 times bigger… and the web server does NOTHING for us, no time saving, no insights, just plain hosting of results we create – but you have to spend money to make money, right?

      Another question:
      - would you commit for a year? (we currntly only have 6 months plans)
      - what would the full suite be worth to you?
      - are you aware that the link alerts alone come for much less?

      best, christoph

  10. Raven Tools has a feature that can find contact emails on a site. It doesn’t always work, but it does work in most cases it seems. Saves a ton of time.

    The Ontolo Tool Set can also find contact details, including Twitter profiles.