Linkbuilding is an important and tedious part of search engine optimization. Aside from keyword selections, meta data, and content optimizations, which are all solely under your control, search engines also factor in the number and quality of inbound links to your site. Each time a site links to yours, search engines basically sees it as a vote of authority. By linking to a page on your site, other sites are giving you votes, or link juice as we like to call it, which tells search engines, as well as their readers, that they believe that you have interesting and valid content pertaining to their interests.
Sure, linkbuilding is partially under your control but let’s face it: it takes two. Linkbuilding is all about building a relationship and, as in every other twosome, no one will agree to a relationship unless it benefits both parties. These tools will help you find sites that will benefit your site. Plus, if you do your research correctly, these sites will be within your niche and could possibly even benefit from hosting your link. If you have to, get creative, find a way that the other site would profit from linking to your site, that’s the only way they are going to consider it. Oh, and make it believable.
Take it back to the basics. Search for your most popular keywords and see what the top results are. This is the position you’re shooting for, right? Aside from being optimized well (might as well peak around at their optimization tactics, while you’re there), the top results likely have a lot of ‘link juice’, so that’s always a good place to start. Of course, you’ll have to browse through a few sites in order to find some that might be willing to link to you. (Your competitors are no more likely to link to you than you are to link to them.) Specifically check for blogs, (hint: use Google’s blog SERP) because it’s their job to come up with new and interesting content, apps, and SAAS to share with their readers.
Competitive Link Finders
Think about the terms that you are targeting and consider comparing yourself to other sites competing for the same term. You can use several tools to determine which sites are ranking to the competing sites. Chances are, if the site is linking to one or more of your competitors, they may consider linking to your site as well! There are a few good tools to analyze your competition: specifically, one of my favorites from SEOmoz, Competitive Link Research tool, will tell you which sites are linking to more than one of your competitors plus whether or not you’ve acquired a link or not. Other good tools include The Langreiter Tool or GoogeGuy.de, and Opensite Explorer, which are great for directly comparing your sites inbound links against your competitors.
Backlink finders are good for multiple reasons. Backlink finders are good for determining which sites are already linking to you and they are also handy for competitive research, as previously discussed. After finding the sites already linking to yours, you can use the information to check the anchor text as well as the information surrounding it to ensure that it is up to date and the anchor text, optimized. If not, send a friendly email asking for an update. You can also use this information to brainstorm similar sites that might consider linking.
Backlink Analyzer handles almost all of your dirty work for you, using data taken from both MSN and Google, which contains anchor text analysis as well as ooutbound link information. It should be noted that it requires an API key for Google results.
Linkscape is a simple tool, which analyzes your inbound links based on page authority and page rank. You can also use it to look into your anchor text.
Xenu Link Sleuth is a downloadable software that makes it quick and simple to find broken links on your site. Link Valet does the same but doesn’t require download. Both are very fast and run an easy to read report.
Potential Link Finders
These tools can be used to find sites that may consider linking to yours based on information that you submit, which generally includes your URL and top keywords, among other things.
BackLink Builder looks for sites that are currently ranking well for the keywords you’ve defined and also looks for phrases such as “submit site” and “add link”. Both SoloSEO and Backlink Builder return themed directories and forums. These tools make it much easier to find relevant sites to add your links to without too much elbow grease.
Juicy Link Finder is a great tool for finding a large amount of links that are considered an authority for the terms you’re interested in targeting. Type in keywords and it will spit out up to 200 potential link opportunities. Prepare to sift through the results, though. Just because these pages are ranked for the terms doesn’t mean they’ll be interested in outbound linking.
With Link Acquisition Assistant, you’ll fill out your website, brand, topic, industry, and location and it will return potential sites that it deems relative.
Determining Page Rank and Authority
Historical Pagerank Checker contains pagerank information as far back as 2007. Remember, high quality links are going to give you the best results so focus on the links with the highest pagerank.
Bad Neighborhood Tool is great for checking out the sites that you are linking to. Remember, you are guilty by association. Make sure that your outbound links, if you must have any, should be directed at high quality, authority sites. Use this tool to make sure that you are doing just so.
I think most search engine optimization specialists would agree that linkbuilding tools are really only good for the research phase. Attempting to automate the linkbuilding process is most likely going to result in faulty attempts to mass-request links and of course a lack of personalization in said requests. Since most everyone is looking to receive inbound links without giving outbound links, you will only receive a small percentage of the links that you request, so my advice is to come up with a huge list of potentials and create a spreadsheet documenting the exact URL you requested a link from, contact information, the anchor text you suggested, and the date you last contacted them. From there, you can document the response and if you don’t receive a response, check back in a few weeks! For more detailed information, check out Jessica and Jenny’s posts on improving your link building techniques including linkbuilding tools and other suggestions.
Amy is an Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.