This week’s tool review focuses on the Link Builder toolset from Wordtracker. Wordtracker has been around since 1998 and is most widely known as a keyword research tool.
In 2010, they added Link Builder in response to consumer demand and to help their keyword customers with their link building efforts. Based in London, the Wordtracker staff is an international bunch, hailing from England, France, Italy, India, Australia and Ireland. To prove this, CMO Ken McGaffin jokingly pointed out:
I’m an Irishman, living in Scotland, working in London for an English company that does most of its business in the US.
In addition to its tools, Wordtracker has a popular SEO blog and a number of free instructional videos. Let’s take a look at some of the key elements behind Link Builder.
If you’ve read my previous link building tool reviews, you’ll know I am a stickler for detailed “how-to” instructions. I think it’s important these resources be well written and available in multiple formats so webmasters spend minimal time learning and more time linking.
In this regard, Wordtracker gets an A+. The video and written tutorials are the best I’ve seen so far and do an outstanding job explaining how each part of the tool works. I spent a total of 30 minutes watching the videos and reading tutorials, I found I only had to refer back to them one time during my test run, they are very well done.
Another plus for Wordtracker is the way it returns everything in real-time. You don’t have to wait days for data to accumulate or set up a profile manager, results come back almost immediately and in great depth. You have multiple choices in the way you can filter and categorize the data and there is a spreadsheet export function.
Like all linking tools I’ve reviewed, the key to this tool’s success is in the number and scope of keywords and competitive URL’s you use. The more, the better — so don’t skimp or overlook any of your keyword terms.
Start With A Keyword
You can begin your data collection by asking the tool to search on keywords or the URL’s of competitors. I picked the keywords “memory foam mattress” to begin my project.
I inserted my keyword phrase (1.) “memory foam mattress”, selected the country I wanted to target my results from (2.), added the name of my site so the report would show who was linking to my domain (3.) and set up a new file (4.)
Here’s what came back after a 90 second wait:
Over 20,000 results were returned as potential prospects, what you see highlighted in pink are links using the nofollow attribute. The results were seperated by “Strategies” (left column) or link type, this helps categorize the large amount of information returned and allows for further filtering.
I decided to select “News media” since it had the largest number of potential prospects (2774) and is one of my favorite categories to work in. I set the Filter option to return links using the term “mattress” in the anchor so I’d have a more focused set of results to work with.
In the first ten results returned for “News Media”, only one was a news outlet reporting on mattresses. Eight of the results were directories (see image above) and one result was comment spam using the term “mattresses” as a username.
The downside here is a lack of true media results, but on the other hand, I knew there were some solid directory leads returned in the run.
Still, I wasn’t thrilled with the listings and wondered if this was more a result of my keyword term being “non-newsy” or if the tool had a bug. So I ran a second phrase, “political candidates” which is definitely a more news worthy term and let the tool go.
I was right, the mattress term just doesn’t generate media mentions while the second politcal term does.
While the features and operations of this tool are solid, the fact it can only run a single term at a time makes it time consuming to use. If you’re running hundreds of terms or have multiple sites, I’m not sure this tool is for you.
On the other hand, if you’re a small business or have a dedicated linking staff and break your terms and/or sites out by single phrase, only being able to run one term at a time might not be an issue. The laser focus this tool forces you to have will help you run a targeted linking campaign and become well aquainted with your search engine results.
Hands down, the best feature in this toolset is the Contacts View option, it pulls contact information off a webpage and organizes it in one spot.
After you’ve run your keywords and collected a list of prospects, save them to a “Targeted” list and engage the “Find contact data” option for each link.
The Link Builder tool then spiders each of the saved prospects by visiting the “About Us” and “Contact” pages on each site and pulling email, telephone, plus any Twitter and Facebook links it finds.
Once you’ve made contact with the site, you can record your actions in the Status box and have a record of what you’ve done and how the webmaster has responded.
If for some reason the Wordtracker spider can’t pull information off the About and Contact pages, there are live links in the account box you can click and pull the information from.
There is a little quirk with this option I would not have known about had I not read the tutorials. The Contact View option takes some time, while it runs you see a busy signal as the data loads. If it goes on too long, refresh the page and the results will display.
Again, if I hadn’t read the help section I could have become frustrated and wasted time contacting Support about this issue. Even worse, if I was using the tool in the trial or first 30 days, I may have cancelled my subscription thinking the tool had a bug. Take the time to read the tutorials carefully before you begin, they really do help.
Link Builder offers a detailed written outline of tactics you can consider using, they correspond with the Strategy categories the tool pulls data to:
The strategy guide offers step-by-step instructions how to use the tool’s special features to build links. If you’re stumped for tactics or just want to venture into a new area to build links, this guide will help you get there. In addition to the Strategy guide, Link Builder has a library of link building articles you can peruse for ideas and insights.
Like a lot of link building tools, Link Builder has its pluses and minuses. I like how the tool automatically highlights links using the nofollow attribute and I love the organization and functionality of Contacts View.
Link Builder is aesthetically pleasing, easy to use and has links to the help section on every page.
For many, this simple tool would be all they need to build links, a contact database and monitor competitors. While the simplicity is good for some, I can see the lack of programming, social media information and analyzing factors a hindrance for others.
The tool does not analyze quality, display PageRank or any other type of authority measure outside of ranking. Granted, knowing where a page ranks is the ultimate authority measure but having additional factors to look at is helpful. Ditto for having social media signals included, with these signals (supposedly) being written into the algorithms this SEO information is crucial for all webmasters large and small.
Link Builder does not offer the option to search on a term and utility phrase because of the way it sorts data.
For example, if I wanted to build a list of sites using the term “running shoes” and “add URL”, I would need to purchase a seperate tool as this function is not included in Link Builder. Having pages returned hosting the term “running shoes” is good, and separating those pages by topical category is helpful, but I still have to wade through thousands of results to determine how I can use them. If I know a page has a submission area on it, my search time is cut in half.
Another drawback as I see it pertains to its lack of programmability. Each time you want to use Link Builder you have to manually run it, there are no scheduling options or presets. Having instant results is great, but being able to generate a list of prospects in my sleep would be better.
If time is not an issue, you are new to SEO or you are a single site/small business owner with minimal social media interactions, Link Builder is an affordable tool option. I recommend signing up for the seven day trial and using all the features before buying a membership.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.