Our link building tool review series continues today with Link Prospector by Citation Labs. A joint venture between Garrett French and Darren Shaw, Link Prospector is headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina and has been online since February 2012. Garrett and Darren continue to add features to the tool, foreign-language support and an API are scheduled to be added in the near future.

Let’s take an overall look at Link Prospector plus a couple of cool tips I found when using it and finish with a review of pros and cons.

General Overview

Link Prospector is a link building research tool designed to find and return lists of potential partner sites. Built for speed, the tool can return a huge amount of data link builders can sift through to find link building opportunities. The tool has a clean and simple interface and has the ability to export what it finds.

There are two help videos on the site as well. Before you launch the tool you will need a complete list of keywords and an idea of the type of sites you want to prospect for.

Getting Started Running The Tool

After selecting a name for my campaign, I picked the type of sites I wanted the tool to search for. There are 14 categories to choose from:

Guest Posting

Content Promoters Giveaways

Commenting

Directories

Topical Blogs

Research:  Content

Links Pages

Reviews

Donations

Expert Interviews

Forums

Professional Organizations Custom

I wanted to find pages to host link embedded content and find new directories so I set my search for:  Directories, Reviews, Topical Blogs and Guest Posting.  Each campaign took about 20-30 minutes to generate.

When it was done, my panel looked like this:

As you can see, the tool returned over 2100 URL prospects for me to review under Guest Posting, each page hosts the term “memory foam mattress” and “guest posting” or similar terms. With each test returning at least 2000 results, Link Prospector gives you a lot of link building possibilities to sift through.

You can use the Excluded Domains feature and eliminate certain URL’s from being returned if you feel there is no chance to secure links from these sites or feel they won’t provide any competitive review advantage.

Keywords

Once you pick the type of sites you want to prospect for, the next step is adding the keyword.

For each report generated, I selected up to five keywords and had the option to narrow my search field through additional perimeters such as geographical regions and date range:

 

In this test (which is Test #2) I looked for UK specific sites hosting the word ”payday” and its variations and asked the tool to search on the first 1000 results. In hindsight, asking the tool to go that deep on a term like “payday” wasn’t an effective use of time, the results were poor past the 150 mark.

This is not a reflection of the tool but of the SERPS for that particular term. In general, after running all my tests I found asking the tool to return 100 – 200 results yielded the best pages.

Cool tip:  I discovered using the tilde character (~) in front of a single term would increase the amount and variety of data returned. I recommend you use this advance search operator with your primary keyword when running terms. In some cases, it returned pages and sites I had never heard of which means there’s a good chance your competitors haven’t either.

When your reports are ready (it takes about 30 minutes for each to run) you are taken to a list of prospects. By default, they are sorted by LTS (Link Target Score) which is a metric created by Link Prospector to help discover pages that give you a “higher likelihood of being a converting prospect”.

You can also sort the pages by PageRank and TLD’s:

Next to each result is a number in parenthesis (I’ve circled it in red in the image above), this represents the number of pages on the domain hosting my keywords.

You can click on the number and drill down to see each page:

 

Being able to see the pages hosting your terms is extremely helpful; it allows you to see how the sites are using and promoting content. The campaign manager also allows you to export your data to an Excel file which can be saved to your computer and used or downloaded into Buzzstream.

This drill-down option is why I don’t like to exclude domains in the research stage. Even knowing I won’t get a link from a site returned in the report doesn’t mean there is a marketing angle to ignore, because someone already got a link from them or the page wouldn’t be listed!

This does add to your review time so again, if you know for a fact there is nothing to be gained from certain sites, exclude them and save yourself some time.

Cool tip:  In every search I ran, Link Prospector returned YouTube pages hosting my keywords. With video being a huge part of Universal Search results on both Bing and Google, having an instant library of topical videos is helpful.

Bookmark the videos returned and start running a competitive analysis on them. Who’s linking to them? Who’s commenting on them? Where else are they being shown? Here is where searching on the top 150 results can be helpful, you’ll get the cream of the crop video’s in one handy location.

Education & Help

There is a seven minute video on the homepage of Link Prospector that takes you through each step of the tool. There is also a four minute video on the keyword selection page that is a must watch before listing your terms.

You have to listen closely to pick up the tips but basically, Link Prospector recommends you list single keywords in additional to multi-keyword strings for maximum results.

Pick your keywords well and the tool will bring back a lot of good results.  If after watching the video you still have questions, Garrett recommends emailing him directly for support:  garrett AT citationlabs.com.

Pros & Cons

When it comes to link building, there are many ways to acquire links. No matter what you do or which vertical you’re in, in order to rank well you need quality pages hosting your links.

That’s where using a tool like Link Prospector can help, it will research and analyze a large amount of data before listing potential link partners. It cuts your search time down considerably.

While it cuts your search time down, it does little for your review time and you need to know up front you’ll spend a lot of time picking through the results for sites to link with. If you run a lot of terms and go deep, you’ll have a tremendous amount of content to wade through, just look how many prospects came back in my sample tests.

Results past the 150 mark were so-so to lousy, I wouldn’t go deeper but it’s up to you. Again, Link Prospector is not at fault for what is being returned, it brings back what it finds when searching. If the engines have garbage results, so does the tool. If a webpage uses a term conversationally and out of context, it doesn’t “understand” that and returns the page anyway.

You’ll have the same results if you search by hand, it will just take hours longer and won’t come in a neat and exportable package. Here is where using the best keywords and the tilde (~) will help tremendously by returning a wider array of results. Sadly, I had to stumble on this little tidbit to try it out, it was not included in the main help video.

The main help video, which is over seven minutes long and done in one shot, should come with a timed tabled of contents and a transcription accessible from every page and point in the campaign. For now it doesn’t, so if you want to review the main help video while working, you have to log out to see it or pull up a second tab and start over.

The site lacks a FAQ section (this would help with specific points) or a section explaining advanced search operators. It also lacks a detailed explanation for the LTS (Link Target Score), there is one but I had to email Garrett for the information.

Understanding what LTS is and knowing how to use it would be a big help when reviewing results. Even though LTS analyzes pages based on criteria set by Link Prospector, having this information and knowing how sites are scored would go a long way to helping qualify pages during the review process.

Link Prospector is a good research tool for the serious link builder, you will definitely find a lot of potential link partners when using it. Take advantage of the free trial before you begin, it will help you get used to the large amounts of data the tool produces and help you plan a way to use it. I recommend you play both videos several times before launching your first campaign and have Garrett’s email handy as you work.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Building: General | Link Week Column

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About The Author: of LinkSpiel.com and Alliance-Link is based in Fairfax Station Virginia and offers link marketing consultations and content partner services.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://twitter.com/peterelmhirst Peter Elmhirst

    Neat idea for a product, thanks for the review. I’m a little surprised that mcgill.ca, a Canadian university would come up for payday keywords. It might be a little off, or Canadian students are hurting worse than I thought :)

  • Adam Thompson

     Or possibly the site got hacked and payday content was inserted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2008307 David Suarez

    hey debra, thanks for the post, I wanted to know if you had any thoughts on SEO Powersuite as a tool, they have their own link building feature ans well as a rank tracking tool and Back link checker. I also use semoz’s OSE but the two are showing very different results ( at least in terms of quantity) 

  • http://twitter.com/debramastaler debra mastaler

    Actually, the McGill result came up under the insurance run, looks like I switched screen shots for some reason (oops my bad).  Clicking the (+27) links next to the URL I found broken links, will have to ask Garrett to look at that one and come in here and explain the glitch. I can guess (cough) based on what I’m seeing  ;)- but he’ll know for sure.   Keep in mind the tool scans content on the page and in the HTML so it’s bringing back what’s out there.  Thanks for the commen Peter!

  • http://twitter.com/debramastaler debra mastaler

    Perhaps.  But take a look at this: https://www.google.com/search?q=public+new+site:mje.mcgill.ca

  • http://twitter.com/debramastaler debra mastaler

    You’re welcome David.  There are a lot of tools on the market like Link Assistant, which is the link tool within the SEO PowerSuite set.  It pulls information from the SERPS and categorizes by things like PageRank, Yahoo popularity and Alexa.  It has an email client and creates links pages based on the information it farms.  It also claims to be able to give you a link popularity update which I find interesting, to be able to do that means they have access to the Google and Bing algorithm.  I’m pretty sure that is a mis-use of term link popularity and what they provide is a link number count.

    Personally I think the tool is outdated in the options it offers and I don’t see a social media integration.  I do like the email scraping tool it has and the fact it is a single license but I also don’t like the idea it is a single license because that means I’m running the tool and not the tool company.

  • http://twitter.com/GarrettFrench GarrettFrench

    It looks like some of our brethren found a backdoor on that domain for unregulated publishing… Possibly a wiki or something, or a CMS on a subdomain that was left with no security and allowed anyone to sign up in some fit of web2.0 goodwill. The pages are gone from the site now as far as I can tell but still indexed in Google.

    NOTE also that when looking for blogs to engage with to promote payday loan content I’d select prospecting phrases relevant to the audiences of the blogs I’m looking for. HUH? So if you have a payday loan infographic to promote you should be looking for “personal finance” blogs, not necessarily payday loan blogs. I wrote extensively about selecting productive research phrases here:
    http://citationlabs.com/finding-highly-productive-research-phrases-link-prospector-mastery/ 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2008307 David Suarez

    thanks for the feedback debra, i also wanted to know your thoughts on the other tools like spyglass, if you had any experience on it or thoughts. All the blogs i read never mention it, ( like ever) so I wanted to know if I should even use it or not. 

  • http://twitter.com/debramastaler debra mastaler

    I have never taken the time to look at the rest of them, did glance at the Spyglass but when I heard (thru the help video) they were using Yahoo! Site Explorer for backlinks and called Bing MSN, didn’t go too much deeper.

    If you want general reporting tools, I would strongly recommend you sign up for the free trials all the tools offer (SEOBook, Raven, Majestic, etc) and try them out until you find one you like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/troyredington Troy Redington

    Thanks for the review. I tried out the tool today and passed it’s output on to my team. From the first glance of the data it looked promising!

  • http://twitter.com/debramastaler debra mastaler

    You’re welcome Troy, thanks for commenting.  Your team will definitely get a lot of leads from the tool :)

  • http://twitter.com/GarrettFrench GarrettFrench

    Hi Troy – if you have any questions or need a couple extra credits for testing please let me know (garrett at citationlabs dot com)

  • http://www.seomasterexpert.com SEO

    I just registered here & set a new campaign. I am understanding here how this run. Would you provide any materials to understand how work link prospector

  • http://twitter.com/GarrettFrench GarrettFrench

    Hello SEO – here’s the help guide: 
    http://citationlabs.com/the-link-prospector-help-and-faq-page/ it has everything you should need to get started!

  • http://twitter.com/Lab41_ Alex

    Interesting tool. I will check it out now. 

  • Seo Spark

    Hello friend i want a list of web-master  or link builder, Can any one help me please

    Subrat

    seotiger06@gmail.com

 

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