Every day it seems that there’s a new tool out there to monitor, measure, track, and suggest what we should be doing. Many of these are free or offer free trials, which I love, but finding the time to test out a new tool in order to see if it suits you isn’t always easy.
My objective in using these tools is, of course, building links, so I’ll go over the tools that I use and show you how I’d use them. And hey, they’re all free!!
For the record, I’m not interested in competitive analysis, analyzing sites, using social media (with one notable exception, and my exclusion here is only because that topic has been well covered both on this site and elsewhere) or examining existing backlinks. I’m interested in using these tools to help with finding new link sources and creating new content.
Also note, we don’t automate anything that we do. I know that we could (and probably should) but these are all tools that we use having that mindset. When we send out link requests, they’re usually pretty targeted so we spend lots of time upfront finding those sites. We aren’t interested in copying anyone’s link profile.
Our main timesuck is definitely discovery so any time I can find a cool tool to help with that, I love it. If you’re lucky enough to get things done through lots of automation, then I’m jealous, but if not, hopefully some of these tools can help you a bit.
For Link Outreach Generation
As much as I would love to totally streamline how we build contacts, I have not yet found a method that works for my link builders due to the way that we build links (it’s a bit old-school.) However, Buzzstream’s Blogroll List Builder is the closest thing I’ve found to being something that will work well for us.
It’s a very cool little tool that accepts a list of blog URLs and returns a downloadable list of blogroll links on those sites. If you have a good, relevant list of blogs to start with, this could definitely lead you to some cool sites and save time.
You still have to do your homework or you’ll be inundated with irrelevant sites, but this one is seriously promising.
For Search Term Discovery & Content Ideas
We have multiple clients and around 20 link builders/content team members so when it comes to discovery, we use many different methods. Some link builders prefer to just crawl around in the SERPs. Some like to sit down with a group and brainstorm.
However, the following tools are ones that we have found to be very useful in triggering new ideas for Google searches, anchor texts, guest posts, and new content for the sites we work on.
I’ve been using Wordtracker for a decade it seems. The Keyword Questions tool is really nice because once you enter your search phrase, it gives you a list of the questions people are asking about that topic and tells you how many times the questions were asked. This is great for helping you figure out what people want to know so that you can write about it.
After you do one search, you are asked to register but hey, it’s for a free account! You get 20 searches for the month so choose them carefully.
The Solo SEO Link Search Tool remains one of my favorites, as when you’re building links all day and you’re just dead tired, this tool makes more searches so easy. Just enter a phrase and it generates a list of more advanced search terms that link straight to the results in the engine that you select.
Pinterest: yes, it’s the latest fad and it can be a massive time waster, but if you use it correctly, you can get tons of great ideas for content. For those of us who like visuals, this has serious potential. If you choose to see what Everyone is pinning, you can drill down into more relevant categories.
Let’s say that I’m building links for a gardening site, so I’ll see what’s being pinned in Gardening. I see a ton of pins about seed bombs, which have interested me for awhile but we haven’t (theoretically) yet written about them on this imaginary gardening blog. Since 5 pins are different seed bomb photos that I see above the fold, this is a pretty good bet for me for my next post that will hopefully generate some links. I might also do some discovery for seed bombs to see if I can find good link targets.
Uber Suggest is powered by Google Suggest. You can select the language you want, whether you want to search the Web, news, or products, and get a downloadable text file. If you click on a result, you get deeper results and it’s all nicely alphabetized. This is great for discovery ideas for both pursuing link targets and generating ideas for guest posts and content.
Touch Graph allows you to visualize related topics. You put in a topic and it returns all kinds of related data such as phrases used for related searches and domains that are related. I think it’s especially good for tangential relevance (where something is related to something else in an indirect manner.) You can click on a graphed result and get related information for it, so the potential for drilling down here is fantastic.
Google’s BlogSearch can be particularly good for finding blogs so you can keep an eye on the homepage in case a new and relevant post pops up where you could get a link. If you’re using Google alerts, you might even set some up for the blogs that you see there.
Google Adwords Keyword Tool is great for finding new keywords to use in search. I always come back to this one because I also do a bit of PPC for a client.
Soovle is getting a lot of attention and it should. You can get search results from Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, Yahoo, Youtube, and Bing. Each result is linkable to the original source.
There’s also a link to the top daily internet keywords that’s alphabetized. This is fantastic for giving you ideas for popular searches you can use for discovery or writing content. There are also some “secrets” that are too numerous to include here but if you use this, check them out and see if they help. You can also choose different engines/sites to use for your search and customize this tool further for your needs, which is really nice.
In order to not rehash all I’ve said about free alerts I’ll suggest that you read an earlier post about that as it’s something that I highly recommend for keeping abreast on new potential link targets. It’s also a great way to see what your competitors are doing in case you’re missing a great opportunity.
Just for the record, this is a very small list of tools (that we’ve tested and like) that could work for you (for a bigger one look here). If you have something that you love that is free and useful for discovery, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.