Building a portfolio of high-quality links is one of the most important - and time-consuming - tasks for any Web professional. And with Google's changes to its algorithm last week aimed at rewarding quality content, linking your content with others takes on an even greater role in the success of your website.
But defining "quality" can be a tricky thing, and "better" links also leaves room for debate.
There are, however, several tools and services designed specifically to help you in the research, analysis, monitoring and management of links. As we've written many times before, in link building there is no substitute for hard work - and it is hard work. But below are five tools that can aid you in the arduous process of finding and selecting the "best" links for your portfolio.
Developed by Majestic 12, this is a backlink analysis tool with a current index of 3,281,502,845,650 total URLs. Majestic regularly adds new URLs to its index, which is now larger than Yahoo's. In fact, Majestic launched its own Site Explorer just last week that provides deeper and more elaborate data than Yahoo, giving users all of the top-level backlink information necessary to make a final assessment of a potential site. Most services are free with some additional premium services available to subscribers.
This link analysis service from AdGooroo helps you find high-value opportunities and then grades potential links in four main categories using a TrustSignal, SpamSignal, SocialSignal and GeoSignal. The new Domain Strength feature reflects a site's current search engine rankings and the Domain Discount feature can customize the manner in which users handle multiple links from the same site. Licenses for Link Insight start at $399 per month, which grants access to the reports and data collection for one primary domain plus those of nine competitors.
Features of BuzzStream for Link Building include Link Prospect Research, Outreach, List Building, Project and Task Management, Relationship Management and Backlink Tracking and Reporting, all designed to help users with the tedium of research and analysis so they can focus more on building new relationships. Some of the tools are free and others are premium, and plans range from $29 per month to more than $300 per month. BuzzStream also offers a free trial for 14 days on all accounts.
Raven Tools provides a number of comprehensive Web marketing services, including its comprehensive management and database tool, Link Manager. Users add links to the database, assign status, type, owner, tags and more, and then receive automatic status updates whenever something has changed. Link Manager is just one of the tools offered by Raven, and plans range from a $19-per-month package that includes 1,000 managed links to the $249-per-month plan that also includes 150,000 managed links.
Free tools from Ontolo include those for prospecting and qualifying links, such as the Backlink Monitor, Query Generator and URL Reviewer. The more comprehensive commercial link-building toolset packages start at $297 for one campaign and up to 5,000 prospects found, analyzed and scored per month, and go up to $1,247 for 10 campaigns and up to 30,000 links per month. The toolsets, however, offer considerably more than backlink analysis to help users build and manage long-term link-building campaigns.