Search engine optimization (SEO) is probably the most erratic and uncertain area of Internet marketing.
However, while relatively new Web practices such as social media may be impacting search engine
results pages (SERPs), there are a few conventions that will always remain pertinent. Acquiring authoritative, relevant links to improve your site’s rankings is definitely one of those vital practices.
Anyone who has any experience in SEO can attest to
the fact that the amount and quality of outside websites
linking to yours is one of the most important factors in
deciding where your site will be positioned on SERPs.
But that’s not all that links do. One of the misconceptions
that some SEOs have is that links are used exclusively
for higher rankings, but there is another very
Good links — citations in the form of product reviews
or announcements on other sites — also drive
traffic. In this respect, mentally shifting your focus will
change how you build links and improve your search
rankings in a natural or “organic” way.
Fortunately for those just starting out, or those who
may need a little extra help acquiring links, there are a
number of tools on the Web to help you do just that.
Let’s set out and explore the vast world of link-building
tools to find some of the very best the Web has to offer.
Perfect for beginners and seasoned pros alike, Ontolo
offers enough functionality to complement any linkbuilding
initiative. One useful feature is Ontolo’s Link
Building Query Generator tool that helps find the best
possible prospects for link-building campaigns.
Using a simple search feature, users can enter keywords,
the asset type they are promoting (events,
deals/promotions, job openings, etc.), the kind of opportunity
they want to find (review links, guest posts,
etc.) and style of content they want to promote (blogs,
feed lists, review aggregators, etc.). The narrowly defined
results will help uncover the best options for users
to pursue in their link-building efforts.
And since Ontolo crawls and analyzes approximately
15,000 URLs per month for users, you know it
has a pretty substantial database from which to pull.
Boasting the “largest index of its kind publicly available,”
Majestic SEO is one of the most accomplished
and acclaimed link-building tools on the market. Majestic
lets site owners/operators see their top-referring
domains — those websites that drive the most traffic to
the user’s site; as well as their link velocity – the speed
or time it takes to increase backlinks for a site, for the
last month, and top links and/or the best pages that link
to their websites.
Overall, this tool gives SEO workers a very complete
view of the performance of their site’s backlinks
thanks to a slew of assorted testing tools and its massive
database of information. Majestic SEO comes in both
free and various premium packages.
Raven is arguably the best tool on the market for link
management. Simply put, link management is all
about managing link prospects, and this solution does
that by letting users assign statuses to links (such as
“Requested”), identify the type of link, set the team
member or “owner” managing that particular link
and tag it for future reference, among many other
means of classification.
Over time, users can go back and update a
link’s information, which will help uncover which
ones need attention. The tool will even let users
choose certain links and specify intervals at which
Raven will check the status of all of the active selected
links and report back any changes.
Open Site Explorer
SEO software provider SEOmoz has one product totally
dedicated to the art of link building: Open Site Explorer.
This solution lets users search for any website and retrieve
information about the total number of both backlinks
for the page and linking domains, which are the
main addresses of sites that have at least one page linking
to the user’s website.
It helps identify the domains on which the user’s site
already has links and picks out new prospects from
which to obtain links. The query will even reveal the
page’s link anchor text. For premium users, there is no
limit on the number of backlinks they can see, for both
their own site and the sites of their competitors.
Open Site Explorer will also reveal data about a
user’s top pages, their authority and the number of links
to that particular page.
BuzzStream is another tool largely designed for the
management, cataloging and tracking of links, although
it offers a variety of services such as list building, relationship
management and link prospect research. Users
will all be able to access BuzzStream’s free tools, which
include an email research tool, the ability to extract
links with anchor text from HTML, a link-building
query generator and much more.
For subscribers, BuzzStream also offers a list builder,
influence-evaluation tool that imports a list of domains
and studies their key metrics,
and a social-influencer research tool
that finds out how many people are discussing
the user’s brand on Twitter, blogs and social bookmarking
sites, as well as collecting keyword metrics
from these sites.
The newest link building tool on the list, Ahrefs approaches
link building in much the same way as
Majestic and Open Site Explorer. For example, this solution
offers a domain search query option that lets
users view information about a site or page’s external,
new or lost backlinks, anchor text links, crawled pages
and referring domains.
In addition, by consistently updating its index every
half hour, Ahrefs is able to keep and supply users with
incredibly accurate data about backlinks.
Link building is undoubtedly necessary if you want
to have any success in your SEO efforts, and like most
things on the Web, no one expects you to do it alone.
Highlighted here are six of the best link-building tools
that cover a variety of needs in the field.
They are not the only options, of course, but they
certainly present a great place for webmasters and SEO
workers to start looking.