Website Auditor Review: A Full-Featured On-Page Optimization Tool

Dec 28th
posted in

website-auditor-enter-url

Website Auditor is one of the 4 tools found in Link-Assistant's SEO Power Suite. Website Auditor is Link-Assistant's on-page optimization tool.

We recently reviewed 2 of their other tools, SEO Spyglass and Rank Tracker. You can check out the review of SEO Spyglass here and Rank Tracker here.

Update: Please note that in spite of us doing free non-affiliate reviews of their software, someone spammed the crap out of our blog promoting this company's tools, which is at best uninspiring.

What Does Website Auditor Do?

Website Auditor crawls your entire site (or any site you want to research) and gives you a variety of on-page SEO data points to help you analyze the site you are researching.

We are reviewing the Enterprise version here, some options may not be available if you are using the Professional version.

In order to give you a thorough overview of a tool we think it's best to look at all the options available. You can compare versions here.

Getting Started with Website Auditor

To get started, just enter the URL of the site you want to research:

website-auditor-enter-url

I always like to enable the expert options so I can see everything available to me. Next step is to select the "page ranking factors:

wa-select-page-factors

Here, you have the ability to get the following data points from the tool on a per-page basis:

  • HTTP status codes
  • Page titles, meta descriptions, meta keywords
  • Total links on the page
  • Links on the page to external sites
  • Robots.Txt instructions
  • W3C validation errors
  • CSS validation errors
  • Any canonical URL's associated with the page
  • HTML Code Size
  • Links on the page with the no-follow attribute

Your next option is to select the crawl depth. For deep analysis you can certainly select no crawl limit and click the option to find unlinked to pages in the index.

wa-step-3

If you want to go nuts with the crawl depth frequently, I'd suggest looking into a VPS to house the application so you can run it remotely. Deep, deep crawls can take quite awhile.

I know HostGator's VPS's as well as a Rackspace Cloud Server can be used with this and I'm sure most VPS hosting options will allow for this as well.

I'm just going to run 2 clicks deep here for demonstration purposes.

Next up is filtering options. Maybe you only want to crawl a certain section or sections of a site. For example, maybe I'm just interested in the auto insurance section of the Geico site for competitive research purposes.

Also, for E-commerce sites you may want to exclude certain parameters in the URL to avoid mucked up results (or any site for that matter). Though there is an option (see below) where you can have Website Auditor treat pages that are similar but might have odd parameters as the same page.

Another option I like to use is pulling up just the blog section of a site to look for popular posts link-wise and social media wise. Whatever you want to do in this respect, you do it here:

wa-step-4-filtering-options

So here, I'm included all the normal file extensions and extension-less files to include in the report and I'm looking for all the stuff under their quote section (as I'm researching the insurance quote market).

The upfront filtering is one of my favorite features because I exclude unnecessary pages from the crawl and only get exactly what I'm looking for, quickly. Now, click next and the report starts:

wa-step-5-searching

Working With the Results

Another thing I like about Link-Assistant Products is the familiar interface between all 4 of their products. If you saw are other reviews, you are familiar with the results pane below.

Before that, Website Auditor will ask you about getting more factors. When I do the initial crawl I do not include stuff that will cause captchas or require proxies, like cache dates and PR. But here, you can update and add more factors if you wish:

wa-more-factors

Once you click that, you are brought to the settings page and give the option to add more factors, I've specifically highlighted the social ones:

wa-social-factors

I'll skip these for now and go back to the initial results section. This displays your initial results and I've also highlighted all the available options with colored arrows:

wa-results-pane-large

Your arrow legend is as follows:)

  • Orange - You can save the current project or all projects, start a new project, close the project, or open another project
  • Green - you can build an white-labeled Optimization report (with crawl, domain, link, and popularity metrics plugged in), Analyze a single page for on-page optimization, Update a workspace or selected pages or the entire project for selected factors, Rebuild the report with the same pages but different factors, or create an XML sitemap for selected webpages.
  • Yellow - Search for specific words inside the report (I use this for narrowing down to a topic)
  • Red - Create and update Workspaces to customize the results view
  • Purple - Flip between the results pane, the white-label report, or with specific webpages for metric updates

Workspaces for Customizing Results

The Workspaces tab allows you to edit current Workspaces (add/remove metrics) or create new ones that you can rename whatever you want and which will show up in the Workspaces drop-down:

wa-workspaces

Simply click on the Workspaces icon to get to the Workspaces preference option:

wa-workspaces-options

You can create new workspaces, edit or remove old ones, and also set specific filtering conditions relative to the metrics available to you:

wa-eric-workspace

Spending some time upfront playing around with the Workspace options can save you loads of time on the backend with respect to drilling down to either specific page types, specific metrics, or a combination of both.

Analyzing a Page

When you go to export a Website Auditor file (you can also just control/command + a to select everything in the results pane and copy/paste to a spreadsheet) you'll see 2 options:

  • Page Ranking Factors (the data in the results pane)
  • Page Content Data

You can analyze a page's content (or multiple pages at once) for on-page optimization factors relative to a keyword you select.

There are 2 ways you can do this. You can highlight a page in the Workspace, right click and select analyze page content. Or, you can click on the Webpages button above the filter box then click the Analyze button in the upper left. Here is the dialog box for the second option:

wa-analyze-page-content

The items with the red X's next to them denote which pages can be analyzed (the pages just need to have content, often you see duplicates for /page and /page/)

So I want to see how the boat page looks, highlight it and click next to get to the area where you can enter your keywords:

wa-keywords-content-analysis

Enter the keywords you want to evaluate the page against (I entered boat insurance and boat insurance quotes) then select what engine you want to evaluate the page against (this pulls competition data in from the selected engine).

wa-choose-engines

The results pane here shows you a variety of options related to the keywords you entered and the page you selected:

wa-analysis-results

You have the option to view the results by a single keyword (insurance) or multi-word keywords (boat insurance) or both. Usually I'm looking at multi-word keyphrases so that's what I typically select and the report tells you the percentage the keyword makes up of a specific on-page factor.

The on-page factors are:

  • Total page copy
  • Body
  • Title tag, meta description, and meta keywords
  • H1 and H2-H6 (H2-H6 are grouped)
  • Link anchor text
  • % in bold and in italics
  • Image text

Website Auditor takes all that to spit out a custom Score metric which is mean to illustrate what keyword is most prominent, on average, across the board.

You can create a white-label report off of this as well, in addition to being able to export the data the same way as the Page Factor data described above (CSV, HTML, XML, SQL, Cut and Paste).

Custom Settings and Reports

You have the option to set both global and per project preferences inside of Website Auditor.

Per Project Preferences:

  • Customer information for the reports
  • Search filters (extensions, words/characters in the URL, etc)
  • Customizing Workspace defaults for the Website reports and the Web page report
  • Setting up custom tags
  • Selecting default Page Ranking Factors
  • Setting up Domain factors (which appear on the report) like social metrics, traffic metrics from Compete and Alexa, age and ip, and factors similar to the Page Factors but for the domain)
  • XML publishing information

Your Global preferences cover all the application specific stuff like:

  • Proxy settings
  • Emulation settings and Captcha settings
  • Company information for reports
  • Preferred search engines and API keys
  • Scheduling
  • Publishing options (ftp, email, html, etc)

Website Auditor also offers detailed reporting options (all of which can be customized in the Preferences area of the application). You can get customized reports for both Page Factor metrics and Page Content Metrics.

I would like to see them improve the reporting access a bit. The reports look nice and are helpful but customizing the text, or inputting your own narratives is accessed via a somewhat arcane dialog blog, where it makes it hard to fix if you screw up the code.

Give Website Auditor a Try

There are other desktop on-page/crawling tools on the market and some of them are quite good. I like some of the features inside of Website Auditor (report outputting, custom crawl parameters, social aspects) enough to continue using it in 2012.

I've asked for clarification on this but I believe their Live Plan (which you get free for the first 6 months) must be renewed in order for the application to interact with a search engine.

I do hope they consider changing that. I understand that some features won't work once a search engine changes something, and that is worthy of a charge, but tasks like pulling a ranking report or executing a site crawl shouldn't be lumped in with that.

Nonetheless, I would still recommend the product as it's a good product and the support is solid but I think it's important to understand the pricing upfront. You can find pricing details here for both their product fees and their Live Plan fees.

SEO Lemons

Dec 28th

Sharing is caring!

Please share :)

Embed code is here.

SEO Market for Lemons.

You can embed the above graphic on your website here.

Have feedback? Please contribute in the comments.

Thanks to John Andrews for highlighting the above industry trend.

SEO Spyglass Review: A Brand New Link Source

Dec 22nd

SEO Spyglass is one of the 4 tools Link-Assistant sells (individually) and as a part of their SEO Power Suite.

We did a review of their Rank Tracker application a few months ago and we plan to review their other 2 tools in upcoming blog posts.

Update: Please note that in spite of us doing free non-affiliate reviews of their software, someone spammed the crap out of our blog promoting this company's tools, which is at best uninspiring.

Key Features of SEO Spyglass

The core features of SEO Spyglass are:

  • Link Research
  • White Label Reporting
  • Historical Link Tracking

As with most software tools there are features you can and cannot access, or limits you'll hit, depending on the version you choose. You can see the comparison here.

Perhaps the biggest feature is their newest feature. They recently launched their own link database, a couple of months early in beta, as the tool had been largely dependent on the now dead Yahoo! Site Explorer.

The launch of a third or fourth-ish link database (Majestic SEO, Open Site Explorer, A-Href's rounding out the others) is a win for link researchers. It still needs a bit of work, as we'll discuss below, but hopefully they plan on taking the some of the better features of the other tools and incorporating them into their tool.

After all, good artists copy and great artists steal :)

Setting Up a Project for a Specific Keyword

One of my pet peeves with software is feature bloat which in turn creates a rough user experience. Link-Assistant's tools are incredibly easy to use in my experience.

Once you fire up SEO Spyglass you can choose to research links from a competing website or links based off of a keyword.

Most of the time I use the competitor's URL when doing link research but SEO Spyglass doubles as a link prospecting tool as well, so here I'll pick a keyword I might want to target "Seo Training".

The next screen is where you'll choose the search engine that is most relevant to where you want to compete. They have support for a bunch of different countries and search engines and you can see the break down on their site.

So if you are competing in the US you can pull data the top ranking site off of the following engines (only one at a time):

  • Google
  • Google Blog Search
  • Google Groups
  • Google Images
  • Google Mobile
  • YouTube
  • Bing
  • Yahoo! (similar to Bing of course)
  • AOL
  • Alexa
  • Blekko
  • And some other smaller web properties

I'll select Google and the next screen is where you select the sources you want Spyglass to use for grabbing the links of the competing site it will find off of the preceding screen:

So SEO Spyglass will grab the top competitor from your chosen SERP will run multiple link sources off of that site (would love to see some API integration with Majestic and Open Site Explorer here).

This is where you'll see their own Backlink Explorer for the first time.

Next you can choose unlimited backlinks (Enterprise Edition only) or you can limit it by
Project or Search Engine. For the sake of speed I'm going to limit it to 100 links per search engine (that we selected in a previous screen) and exclude duplicates (links found in one engine and another) just to get the most accurate, usable data possible:

When you start pinging engines, specifically Google in this example, you routinely will get captcha's like this:

On this small project I entered about 8 of them and the project found 442 backlinks (here is what you'll see after the project is completed):

One way around captchas is to either pay someone to run this tool for you and manually do it, but for large projects that is not ideal as captcha's will pile up and you could get the IP temporarily banned.

Link-Assistant offers an Anti-Captcha plan to combat this issue, you can see the pricing here.

Given the size of the results pane it is hard to see everything but you are initially returned with:

  • an icon of what search engine the link was found in
  • the backlinking page
  • the backlinking domain

Spyglass will then ask you if you want to update the factors associated with these links.

Your options by default are:

  • domain age
  • domain ip
  • domain PR
  • Alexa Rank
  • Dmoz Listing
  • Yahoo! Directory Listing
  • On-page info (title, meta description, meta keywords)
  • Total links to the page
  • External links to other sites from the page
  • Page rank of the page itself

You can add more factors by clicking the Add More button. You're taken to the Spyglass Preferences pane where you can add more factors:

You can add a ton of social media stuff here including popularity on Facebook, Google +, Page-level Twitter mentions and so on.

You can also pick up bookmarking data and various cache dates. Keep in mind that the more you select, especially with stuff like cache date, you are likely to run into captcha's.

SEO Spyglass also offers Search Safety Settings (inside of the preferences pane, middle of the left column in the above screenshot) where you can update human emulation settings and proxies to both speed up the application and to help avoid search engine bans.

I've used Trusted Proxies with Link-Assistant and they have worked quite well.

You can't control the factors globally, you have to do it for each project but you can update Spyglass to only offer you specific backlink sources.

I'm going to deselect PageRank here to speed up the project (you can always update later or use other tools for PageRank scrapes).

Working With the Results

When the data comes back you can do number of things with it. You can:

  • Build a custom report
  • Rebuild it if you want to add link sources or backlink factors
  • Update the saved project later on
  • Analyze the links within the application
  • Update and add custom workspaces

These options are all available within the results screen (again, this application is incredibly easy to use):

I've blurred out the site information as I see little reason to highlight the site here. But you can see where the data has populated for the factors I selected.

In the upper left hand corner of the applications is where you can build the report, analyze the data from within the application, update the project, or rebuild it with new factors:

All the way to the right is where you can filter the data inside the application and create a
new workspace:

Your filtering options are seen to the left of the workspaces here. It's not full blown filtering and sorting but if you are looking for some quick information on specific link queries, it can be helpful.

Each item listed there is a Workspace. You can create your own or edit one of the existing ones. Whatever factors you include in the Workspace is what will show in the results pane as factors

So think of Workspaces as your filtering options. Your available metrics/columns are

  • Domain Name
  • Search Engine (where the link was found)
  • Last Found Date (for updates)
  • Status of Backlink (active, inactive, etc)
  • Country
  • Page Title
  • Links Back (does the link found by the search engine actually link to the site? This is a good way of identifying short term, spammy link bursts)
  • Anchor Text
  • Link Value (essentially based on the original PageRank formula)
  • Notes (notes you've left on the particular link). This is very limited and is essentially a single Excel-type row
  • Domain Age/IP/PR
  • Alexa Rank
  • Dmoz
  • Yahoo! Directory Listing
  • Total Links to page/domain
  • External links
  • Page-level PR

Most of the data is useful. I think the link value is overvalued a bit based on my experience finding links that often had 0 link value in the tool but clearly benefited the site it ended up linking to.

PageRank queries in bulk will cause lots of captcha's and given how out of date PR can be it isn't a metric I typically include on large reports.

Analyzing the Data

When you click on the Analyze tab in the upper left you can analyze in multiple ways:

  • All backlinks found for the project
  • Only backlinks you highlight inside the application
  • Only backlinks in the selected Workspace

The Analyze tab is a separate window overlaying the report:

You can't export from this window but if you just do a control/command-a you can copy and paste to a spreadsheet.

Your options here:

  • Keywords - keywords and ratios of specific keywords in the title and anchor text of backlinks
  • Anchor Text - anchor text distribution of links
  • Anchor URL - pages being linked to on the site and the percentages of link distribution (good for evaluating deep link distribution and pages targeted by the competing site as well as popular pages on the site...content ideas :) )
  • Webpage PR
  • Domain PR
  • Domains linking to the competing site and the percentage
  • TLD - percentage of links coming from .com, net, org, info, uk, and so on
  • IP address - links coming from IP's and the percentages
  • Country breakdown
  • Dmoz- backlinks that are in Dmoz and ones that are not
  • Yahoo! - same as Dmoz
  • Links Back - percentages of links found that actually link to the site in question

Updating and Rebuilding

Updating is pretty self-explanatory. Click the Update tab and select whether or not to update all the links, the selected links, or the Workspace specific links:

(It's the same dialog box as when you actually set up the project)

Rebuilding the report is similar to updating except updating doesn't allow you to change the specified search engine.

When you Rebuild the report you can select a new search engine. This is helpful when comparing what is ranking in Google versus Bing.

Click Rebuild and update the search engine plus add/remove backlink factors.

Reporting

There are 2 ways to get to the reporting data inside of Spyglass

There is a quick SEO Report Tab and the Custom Report Builder:

Much like the Workspaces in the prior example, there are reporting template options on the right side of the navigation:

It functions the same way as Workspaces do in terms of being able to completely customize the report and data. You can access your Company Profile (your company's information and logo), Publishing Profiles (delivery methods like email, FTP, and so on), as well as Report Templates in the settings option:

You can't edit the ones that are there now except for playing around with the code used to generate the report. It's kind of an arcane way to do reporting as you can really hose up the code (below the variables in red is all the HTML):

You can create your own template with the following reporting options:

  • Custom introduction
  • All the stats described earlier on this report as available backlink factors
  • Top 30 anchor URLs
  • Top 30 anchor texts
  • Top 30 links by "link value"
  • Top 30 domains by "link value"
  • Conclusion (where you can add your own text and images)

Overall the reporting options are solid and offer lots of data. It's a little more work to customize the reports but you do have lots of granular customization options and once they are set up you can save them as global preferences.

As with other software tools you can set up scheduled checks and report generation.

Researching a URL

The process for researching a URL is the same as described above, except you already know the URL rather than having SEO Spyglass find the top competing site for it.

You have the same deep reporting and data options as you do with a keyword search. It will be interesting to watch how their database grows because, for now, you can (with the Enterprise version) research an unlimited number of backlinks.

SEO Spyglass in Practice

Overall, I would recommend trying this tool out. If nothing else, it is another source of backlinks which pulls from other search engines as well (Google, Blekko, Bing, etc).

The reporting is good and you have a lot of options with respect to customizing specific link data parameters for your reports.

I would like to see more exclusionary options when researching a domain. Like the ability to filter redirects and sub-domain links. It doesn't do much good if we want a quick, competitive report but a quarter or more of the report is from something like a subdomain of the site you are researching.

SEO Spyglass's pricing is as follows:

  • Purchase a professional option or an enterprise option (comparison)
  • 6 months of their Live Plan for free
  • Purchase of a Live Plan required after 6 months to continue using the tool's link research functionality.
  • Pricing for all editions and Live Plans can be found here

In running a couple of comparisons against Open Site Explorer and Majestic SEO it was clear that Spyglass has a decent database but needs more filtering options (sub-domains mainly). It's not as robust as OSE or Majestic yet, but it's to be expected. I still found a variety of unique links from its database that I did not see on other tools across the board.

You can get a pretty big discount if you purchase their suite of tools as a bundle rather than individually

Buzzstream Review: How Does it Measure Up?

Dec 19th
posted in

Buzzstream recently rolled out a beautiful UI update and I've been impressed with their offering for awhile now.

We like to review products which we ourselves use , as well as products that we feel are impressive. For me, Buzzstream fits both of those characteristics.

Buzzstream is a tool that I am fully adding to my toolset for 2012 and I think you should give it a shot as well.

What is Buzzstream?

Buzzstream has two products:

  • Buzzstream for Link Building
  • Buzzstream for Social Media

We will be focusing on the link building tool in this post. Buzzstream for Link Building focuses solely on link building functionality from soup (prospecting) to nuts (tracking, reporting, relationship management).

One of my favorite aspects of this tool is it's dedicated nature. It focuses on making link building more collaborative, more scalable, and more effective. It does all three quite well and reinforces the belief that sometimes a dedicated tool is the answer.

Why Buzzstream for Link Building?

Link building has come so far in recent years with respect to things like degree of difficulty, requirements of quality, as well as the need to track links and manage relationships.

Link building is such a key piece of an online marketing campaign (not just passing link juice but bringing in targeted, quality traffic and building up brand equity) to the point where I think having a robust tool for it makes a lot of sense; especially when you can use a tool like Buzzstream for it.

Here are some of the key features of Buzzstream that we'll be covering here:

  • Link Prospecting
  • Link Reporting and Tracking
  • Contact Management
  • IMAP Email Integration
  • Buzzmarker - Link Bookmarking Tool

Buzzstream Dashboard

The dashboard gives you a good, high-level overview of your account's history and tasks.

You can filter the history by:

  • Showing complete history (notes, emails, twitter, logged calls, blog comments)
  • One of the above mentioned history fields
  • Show for all projects or a specific project
  • All items for/from a user or for/from a specific user

The filtering capabilities are solid and make project spot checks very easy. For a quick export of your history, in .csv format just click on the folder to the left of the task area (in the right column).

Here is what the dashboard looks like:

To the right of the history pane is the task pane as well as recently viewed link prospects. The task pane also offers some good filtering capabilities:

I like the clean, visual look of the dashboard as well as the quick and helpful filtering capabilities. If you are running multiple campaigns with multiple members involved then I think you'll quickly appreciate the way Buzzstream has structured their dashboard.

Link Prospecting

To begin your link prospecting search, you can go to the Websites link and jump right in.

Then click on the Prospects icon to start your research. Here, you will need to set up a profile and up to 20 keywords and keyphrases for the search. I usually name the search after the main keyword I'm looking for, so in this case we'll rock SEO Tools and I'll throw in a couple more specific keywords for the search function.

In addition to prospecting you can specifically search the following countries:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Mexico
  • Netherlands
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • UK

You also have your choice between website results, news results, and blog results under the Search Type option.

Also, you can have this auto-run daily for new results (which is a great feature!) as well as have notifications sent to a specific person (you or a team member or contractor) when new results arrive.

If you no longer wish to receive results but want to save the search for later, just click the inactive button and reactivate when needed.

Another cool feature here is the blacklist feature. Dump in sites you wish to exclude from your searches on a per project or account-level basis. This is extremely helpful for streamlining new prospecting searches across your entire account. Block out competitors, your other properties, sites you know you'll never get a link from, etc).

Working With Link Prospects

When you open the profile again you are presented with the results.

The results come with default columns but you can click the Columns icon to play with tons and tons of additional, useful options

Click on that and get all these column options:

Buzzstream Data

  • Website
  • Assigned To
  • About
  • Most Recent Activity
  • Primary Contact
  • Job Title
  • Tags
  • Relationship Stage
  • RSS Feed
  • Links
  • Type

Dates

  • Date Added
  • Date Added To Project
  • Last Modified (any project)
  • Last Modified (this project)
  • Last Viewed (any project)
  • Last Viewed (this project)
  • Last Communication Date

Metrics

  • Followers (twitter)
  • Following (twitter)
  • Updates (twitter)
  • PageRank
  • Compete (UV/mo)
  • Inbound Links - SeoMoz
  • MozRank
  • Juice Passing Links
  • Domain Age
  • Overall Rating
  • Domain Authority

Address

  • Address Type
  • Address Line1
  • Address Line2
  • City
    State
    Zip
  • Country

Social Networks

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Plus

Contact Info

  • Preferred Contact Method
  • Email
  • Phone
  • "Contact Us" URL
  • Suggested Profile Info

Prospecting Metrics (for keywords in your search)

  • Highest SERP Position
  • Average SERP Position
  • SERP Count - Top 10
  • SERP Count - Top 20

Buzzstream does a good job here of giving you control over so many different options. The other nice thing here is you can add a bunch of metrics or customize whatever you want, do a quick export, and set everything back to normal if you don't want or need all these metrics every time.

Here's a snippet of what the results look like with no filtering:

From here you can do all sorts of filtering with just about all of the options I outlined above. You can also click on a specific link and manage it at any point:

From here you can do just about anything:

  • Add a task, tag or note
  • Assign it to someone
  • Update the relationship stage
  • Rate the link
  • Put your own custom field in there
  • Copy or move it to another project (love this feature)
  • Remove it from the project
  • Check the WhoIS information
  • Approve it for the project
  • Add to your block list

Also, you can see the Twitter, FB, email, and phone icons next to each link. Buzzstream will pull those in when available. You can also add a site yourself but clicking the Add Site button where you can add as much or as little info as you have or want:

What I like to do is update the search with all the SEO related metrics and then filter (not looking for addresses or anything at this point, just SEO metrics).

Here are the filtering options:

The options pretty much cover everything you can add as a metric to their prospect results page. You can also create a specific filter and save it for future use (a big time saver for ongoing prospect research).

Once you are done filtering out the junk you can begin to work the prospect list by:

  • Assigning it to an employee or contractor or yourself :)
  • Updating the contact history by adding notes about contact history
  • Update the relationship stage

Once the link is secured you can simply add it to the tracking and reporting component by clicking on the link and selecting "approve".

There are so many filtering options and editing options, as mentioned above, that I really encourage you to get in there and play around with it. You can customize it to fit your specific link building needs (big or small) which is a really nice feature to have (a tool that can scale up or down with you and your business).

Link Reporting and Tracking

I went ahead and approved the link-assistant.com domain as being a link I recently secured. To work with approved links you just need to move on over to the Links tab:

Again, you have a ton of filtering options here:

Buzzstream, via the Column tab, gives you lots of helpful data on a per link basis to help with overall link management and reporting:

You can also import all your links by clicking the import tab (Buzzstream gives you a template to use for this right from the import dialog box)

From here the next logical step is to set up link tracking to automatically notify you of any changes to links you are tracking.

Link Tracking

Buzzstream offers automated and manual link tracking. Buzzstream will let you track the following link data types via their automated backlink checker (this runs every 2 weeks) and manual link checker:

  • Newly verified links
  • Links that have changed (anchor text, no-follow, and so on)
  • Links that have been removed
  • Previous linking pages that are 404's
  • Cache Date

You can select who receives this report, and the manual report via email. Manual reports can be completed by going to the links tab and clicking on the Run Backlink Checker Icon:

The report is then delivered to the specified email address (can be changed in project settings) in short order (longer for bigger checks of course).

I would recommend targeting the more important links here. There is a lot of churn on the web and link tracking tools, that are cloud based, do have tracking limits (Buzzstream comes in at 500 links for the basic plan, 25,000 for their Plus, and 100,000 for their Premium Plan). They also have a solo plan for 1 user and up to 1,500 tracked links.

They offer custom plans as well.

Link Reporting

The link reporting is good and is one area where I think they can use some improvement (ability to spit out anchor text distribution reports, upload logos,
automated report emailing, etc).

To generate a report you click on the pie (mmmmm pie) icon on the Links page:

Once you click there you get 2 options:

Link Report - reporting on link opportunities and completed links

Spend Report - reporting on the cost of links that cost money

Here is the dialog box for the Links Report:

Export options are PDF, HTML, and XML for Word and Excel.

The Spend Report is clean and simple to read, here is the dialog box for that:

The reports are quick to generate and clean. I think if they add some more customization options it will be a homerun; it's still better than most reporting options out there.

Keeping Up with Contacts

You can store, add, and access key contacts and their contact information within the People tab

Buzzstream People Tab

As with their other options there is a wide variety of filtering and column customization capability to help you slice, dice, and keep track of key contacts within a specific project (or through an entire account).

You can add in pertinent contact info like their name, numbers, associated websites, social network information, and so on. You can also keep a history of calls, notes, and emails (more on emails in a minute) right inside the contact's information center:

Buzzstream Contact Dialgo

IMAP Email Integration for Conversation Tracking

This is one of my favorite features. You can configure Buzzstream to automatically populate contact history on your link outreach campaigns:

Buzzstream Email Feature

If you are managing a team, or just your own link campaign really, this is a great feature to have. In addition to the other contact management features I mentioned above, this feature adds another layer of helpful contact management. Having CRM functionality inside of a link building tool is quite helpful when we talk about things like scaling link building campaigns and managing teams

When you add your email account you can also send email from Buzzstream. You can select any number of "People" or contacts that you want and work through them one by one by creating an email template (see below) and quickly customizing it to the specific person you are targeting

Using canned responses in Gmail is similar but the difference here is the integration with Buzzstream and the ease of going right through a selected list of contacts (and having it saved in their contact history automatically).

Buzzstream Outreach

Lots of people use BuzzStream as a database of all their prospects/partners and then slice and dice them for campaigns. So, for example, suppose you are trying to secure guest posts. You go to All Contacts (contacts for your whole account, not just one project) and select everything tagged "finance" that's a "guest post" type and that's linked to you in the past.

After that, you take those contacts of known finance guest post opportunities, copy them to a new project and then work that list. You cover a lot of this in your filter descriptions. Essentially, use the tagging and filtering system to build your own database for rinse and repeat solutions.

You can also track Twitter stuff (which can get out of hand quickly in terms of back and forth contact, real time) and works the same way as Buzzstream's IMAP integration.

For the Twitter tracking you can basically import a bunch of twitter lists into BuzzStream, start retweeting their content and then filter to find everyone you've retweeted three days ago (filter by: Communication History=tweet, contact modified=3 days ago).

Save this filter and you have a list of people to follow up with on a regular basis. You can then send a template-based email that refers to the retweet and use that as a quick in to perhaps securing a link opportunity.

The Buzzmarker

Buzzstreams' Buzzmarker gives you the ability to save a prospect's information from any browser. To set up the Buzzmarker you just go into your settings and drag the bookmarklet to your toolbar :D

Buzzstream Outreach

Here is a snippet of the Buzzmarker dialog box:

Buzzstream Outreach

Anytime you come across news stories, blog posts, and Twitter feeds that you want to store for future work inside of Buzzstream all you do is click on the Buzzmarker

The Buzzmarker pulls in lots of information and gives you options to do a variety of things like:

  • Add a task for the clipping
  • The ability to gather and note link information like acquistion method and link type, also checks to see if the site is linking to you already
  • Add contact info and social media profiles
  • Links through to contact info search in Google, Pipl, as well as Twitter and Linkedin Profile search via Google, Twellow, and Linkedin

Give Buzzstream a Shot

If you are looking for a strong link building tool which incorporates any of the features below, you should give Buzzstream a try:

  • Built in Link Prospecting
  • CRM Functionality
  • Scalability
  • Ease of Use
  • Permission and Access Control for Teams
  • Link Tracking and Reporting

Buzzstream is a quality link building and link management tool that is certainly worth trying out if you are engaged in link building activity. The reporting is stronger than most other options out there but I think they can do even better with it after seeing what they've done on the inside. If you do try them out let us know what you think in the comments!

Take it for spin, they have free trials available over at Buzzstream.Com.

The Decline of Organic Links Infographic

Dec 9th

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How Google Hit Organic Links.

For many years it was true that SEO = links, but due to the rise of rel=nofollow, fearmongering & social media, organic links have lost much of their relative importance in many verticals.

Links are still valuable in some areas of course, but where the search results are full of listings from Google.com, pushed below the fold from larger AdWords ads and/or heavily skewed by things like brand bias there is much less value in link building in numerous big money markets. After all, few care who ranks #1 if #1 is below the fold!

Google Admits 'Organic Results' Are Filler To Pump Deceptive Ads at Consumers

Dec 8th

Some of Google's new search results look quite alarming in terms of every single link above the fold is either a paid ad, or links to yet another Google page wrapped in ads.

I have a huge monitor & it is impossible for me to click *anywhere* above the fold on some search results without going through Google's toll booth or clicking off to yet another Google ad wrapped page.


(click on the image for the full sized view)

Some people have given Google the benefit of the doubt "well this is just vertical search" and "this is just for the consumer" but we see that in many cases it harms consumers by limiting choice:

Charlie Leocha, the director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, says Google Flight Search is “limiting consumers’ knowledge.” He explains, “this is a situation where Google is trusted as a ‘search engine’ that goes across the whole Web, but it is only going to a small select group of airlines and including them in Flight Search.”

The bottom line?

According to Leocha, “Google and the airlines have a sweetheart deal with each other, and the consumers are getting screwed.”

Those who coddled Google & gave Google the benefit of the doubt now have egg on their face, and the industry as a whole is poorer for their poor judgement & lack of stewardship.

As absurd as the above behavior is, it gets worse. When Google acquired DoubleClick, Larry Page wanted to keep Performics (an SEO/SEM company). But since it would have been a flagrant violation of law for him to run an SEO company, they now decide that nobody should run an SEO company...telling consumers to simply forget about SEO even when they specifically search out information about SEO!

Google recently ran AdWords ads with the following copy when consumers searched Google for SEO information:

“Forget about SEO. To be visible in Google today, try Adwords”

You know Google's slogan: "maybe the best ads are just answers." And sometimes they are misdirection or scams that quite literally kill people.

You can't be 100% certain which is which until long AFTER you click. And by then Google's cash register has already rang & it is off to dupe the next person.

Comments turned off, as this is a conversation that NEEDS TO SPREAD. If you run a blog about SEO, you owe it to your readers & your industry to cover this topic. If this topic doesn't get broad coverage then pretty soon your career might be over & you will deserve it too.

Google Biz Dev Beats the Google Engineers Again

Dec 7th

Since Panda has happened I (and others) have highlighted how brands have ranked doorway pages, ranked scraped 3rd party content, padded out crap "content farm" content to suck in search traffic, took their market leading position & used it to deliver inferior experiences, bought out bankrupt competitors & redirected the PageRank, engaged in off-topic affiliate extension (Barnes & Noble, Overstock, Overstock AND Barnes & Noble), etc etc etc

At the same time, independent webmasters face greater uncertainty than ever (legal, personal property rights, and from alleged "quality" algorithms like Panda & editorial crackdowns from Google engineers).

If you are not operating at scale, you are an inefficiency which must be expunged from the marketplace.

I have maintained that Panda was a joke & a diversion to re-frame the quality debate as Google dialed up on inserting their own vertical results in the search results, allowing them to monetize the "organic" search results.

Such a view may have been seen as cynical, but it is something that more people are realizing as true. Read this great article from Tom Foremski on ZDNet.

Google's percent of downstream traffic to YouTube has more than doubled since Panda.

You know how John Stewart or George Carlin have to present reality as a joke to express it? Well watch the above video & then read this article:

“Every single leading company is waiting for user-generated content or is licensing content” in order to reach advertisers, Rosenblatt said. “YouTube was tired of waiting. They told us that they needed a home and garden channel, a pets channel and a health/Livestrong channel. They are paying us up front, plus a rev share. This is the beginning of them funding professional content creators.”

I have mentioned Demand Media's video "efforts" before.

But my opinion doesn't matter.

As a monopoly, only Google's does.

And they decided to subsidize Demand Media while torching your site.






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