Hardly any task can be done with just one tool.
Anyone who has ever put their hands to manual work knows that multiple tools are needed to complete a job in the best way possible.
However, having too many tools can also be a problem.
What a good worker needs is a toolbox that’s full of only the most essential tools, the ones they use every day and that fit perfectly into the job at hand.
As content marketers, it’s easy to get carried away and have a toolbox that’s overflowing.
Beyond that, the times are constantly changing and the tools that fit the job last year may not be the same as the best tools for today.
So, how can you make sure your toolbox has exactly what you need for success right now?
Today, we’re going to explore the answer to that question with two reasons, four key link building tasks and six essential tools.
2 Reasons Why Modern Day Link Building is More Complicated than It Used to Be
We all know that backlinking used to be incredibly easy.
You could pay $5 and have someone build 1,000 backlinks to your site in a day. Or, you could place backlinks in blog comments and forums and see fast results.
Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.
1. Google Updates
With the Google Penguin update, spammy backlinks were targeted and many sites received severe penalties.
The quality of backlinks was suddenly deemed more important than the quantity.
So all of the spammy backlinks that people had worked so hard to build up were now useless—even harmful—to their websites.
In 2016, the team at Backlinko researched over 1 million Google search results and found a new pattern for quality backlinks.
Obviously, backlinks from websites with high authority and relevance are important.
But in addition, diversity is now an essential part of link building, too.
The study found that the websites that ranked highest had not just a lot of good backlinks, but those good backlinks also came from many different websites.
Basically, if your website has 100 quality backlinks from 10 sites, but your competition has 100 quality backlinks from 100 sites, the competition is going to rank better.
What this means for you: Not only do you have to find a high-authority site that’s related to your website and convince them to link to you.
Now, you need to do this hundreds of times over.
2. People’s Attitudes
More and more people have started to realize how important it is to get backlinks from many different websites.
This means a greater number of people are now in the process of begging for backlinks from all of the best websites.
And you know how those web owners feel as they’re continually pelted with requests for backlinks?
They feel less and less like giving out backlinks to strangers.
That’s why, today, link building has become a much more complicated task.
Now, on top of all the research that you already had to do in order to find the right websites to get backlinks from, you also need to woo those website owners, build relationships and then convince them to link to you.
So, what exactly are the steps you need to take? And which tools can help you accomplish each task more efficiently?
4 Key Facets of Link Building Your Tools Need to Cover
Link building isn’t a one-time, one-job sort of thing. If you’re serious about committing to a link building strategy, you need to be prepared for a lot of steps and a lot of ongoing tasks.
But luckily, tools can help a lot with these tasks—especially the four jobs that are key to building (and seeing through) a successful campaign.
1. Competitor Analysis
Before all else, you must identify your competition.
You probably already know a few of your top competitors, but you’ll also want to check who’s currently ranking for your top keywords.
Once you do that, it’s time to get to work.
You need to know exactly what they’re doing to rank well.
You need to get the nitty-gritty on their backlinks, finding out exactly who’s linking to them, what anchor text they’re using and which of their posts are getting the best backlinks.
Once you know the methods your competition is using, it’s time to improve on them.
You want to dig deep and find the best websites for your link building strategies.
Who are the top influencers in your niche? Which relevant websites accept guest posts? Who are the people in charge of the websites with high Domain Authority and relevance? What posts or articles are hot right now?
Finding out essential information like this is a very large part of link building, and is probably the part that takes the most time.
You need to make sure that you find the best opportunities for link building within your niche, and with websites that will help your overall SERP ranking.
3. Outreach Management
The next facet of link building is actually getting in contact with the people who run the websites you’ve discovered while prospecting.
This aspect of link building is probably the one that has changed the most in the past few years, making it one of the more difficult tasks to manage when building links.
First, your chosen link building tools will need to be able to search through these websites in order to find the humans that run them, and their contact information.
Next, you need to get in contact with these people.
Crafting compelling link building emails is not an easy task. As we said above, as more and more people are going with this route in order to generate new backlinks, website owners are continually tiring of these types of emails.
That’s why your outreach emails need to be special, standing out as different from the crowd.
Finally, once you’ve contacted multiple website owners and have started to get responses, it’s imperative that you and your team stay on top of these conversations.
That’s why a good outreach management tool is essential to your link building toolbox.
4. Link Analysis on Your Own Site
Once you’ve accomplished all of the above steps, your website will mostly likely be getting lots of new backlinks.
But which of your outreach methods is bringing you the best results? And are you sure all the new links are helping your website?
Another absolutely vital part of link building is the constant analyzing of your own website and the links that are coming in.
You want to be able to see exact metrics like how many links you’re getting, where those links come from, the Domain Authority and Page Authority of the referral page, whether these links are nofollow or dofollow, etc.
So which link building tools are your perfect combination for success?
Link Building in Numbers: The 6 Best Link Building Tools for the 4 Biggest Tasks
Best Tools for Competitor Analysis
Open Site Explorer
If you’re looking for a quick overview of what your competition is up to, Open Site Explorer from Moz is a great tool.
Plus, it’s free!
The free version is by no means comprehensive, however you’ll be able to see the Domain Authority and Page Authority of your competitors, as well as how many backlinks are coming in to their site and who those backlinks are coming from.
The first five of the backlinks list also show you the link anchor text, Domain Authority and Page Authority of referring pages, as well as a spam indicator.
Unfortunately, the free version just doesn’t give you the full view that you need. And since you’ll need to pay for the entire Moz Pro package in order to get a fuller version, this might not be the best option for all teams.
However, the free version is good for getting a quick view of the kind of backlinks your competition is getting.
This comprehensive link building tool is going to show up several times during our discussion today. It’s a fantastic asset to get you ahead of your competition and achieve better backlinks.
In order to check out your competition, you can actually input competitors directly into the dashboard.
Or, if you’d like help to discover your strongest competitors, use Monitor Backlinks to search for related websites that are ranking well for your keywords.
Once you add those competitors into your Monitor Backlinks dashboard, you can keep track of exactly what’s going on with their backlinks.
You’ll see a list of all of their backlinks, complete with exact metrics such as anchor text, exact URLs and more!
You’ll also see which keywords your competitors are ranking better with, and the exact content that’s making that happen. This gives you insights on how to improve your own content.
Another popular link building tool, Ahrefs actually has quite a few features for content marketing teams. It features a huge index of websites and backlinks, giving you the ability to see links that are live now.
For competition analysis, Ahrefs has what it calls a link intersect analysis.
What this feature does is search for specific domains that are currently linking to your competition, but that aren’t linking to you (yet!).
Using this information, you can compare backlink profiles with your competition and search for new backlinking opportunities.
Best Tools for Prospecting
Alright, so you’ve seen which backlinks your competition is getting that you’re missing, and you’re ready to start compiling a list of people to contact.
But, how can it help you prospect for relevant, high-authority websites?
Well, the search feature on Ninja Outreach is actually quite comprehensive. Using your industry keywords, you can search with specific goals in mind, such as promotion opportunities, social influencers, finding new leads, etc.
After that, you can filter your search for specific results. Do you want to find companies, influencers or journalists? You can even set a certain amount of social followers for the results.
In the list of results, you’ll see useful metrics such as Domain Authority, shares per post, average visitors, etc.
Once you’ve found your best results, you can easily save them in customized lists for the next steps.
Using Monitor Backlinks in conjunction with Ninja Outreach is actually very useful for your link building strategy.
Prospecting for new leads with Ninja Outreach allows you to find websites within your niche, and gives you a good amount of metrics.
But do you want to see what’s going on behind the scenes?
Use Monitor Backlinks to see the full story behind these websites, with insights into their links and authority.
You can also use this tool to see if these websites are linking to any of your competitors already, and see which content pieces are being linked to.
Monitor Backlinks gives you all the specific metrics you need to truly learn about these prospects.
Best Tools for Outreach Management
So, you’re ready to get in contact with someone and start building relationships with the goal of generating new backlinks.
But how can you get in contact if you don’t have the right contact information?
Hunter is a tool that allows you to find anyone’s email address within seconds.
Best of all, there’s a free version which gives you 100 searches per month, and even comes as an add-on to Firefox. This means you can quickly find emails while you’re online, without even having to switch to another tool.
This large-scale email management tool also gives you the ability find people’s email addresses while browsing the web.
Along with that, Tout allows you to create email templates and quickly contact new prospects.
Since it’s built for a larger scale operation, it includes features like integrated email and calendar options so your whole team stays on the same page.
You’ll also see analytics for each of your campaigns, being able to watch exactly what works and what doesn’t. Each email you send out gets tracked, and you’ll see open rates and other metrics that help you adjust for success.
Unfortunately, the biggest drawback to this tool is its price. At $49 per month per user, Tout is pretty steep for a content marketing team.
Another drawback is that the platform is more geared towards sales than link building.
Once again, we return to this great outreach and CRM tool. We mentioned above how you could use this to prospect for new leads, and add them into lists in order to contact them.
So, how can Ninja Outreach help you make a success of outreach?
Once you’re ready to start sending out emails, this tool is ready to help. After you integrate your email, everything can be done directly from inside Ninja Outreach.
First, it provides you with some fantastic templates to work with, many of which are specifically geared towards link building and guest posting.
Most of the hard work is already done for you, as the subject lines and content of these emails are truly unique and prepared to grab the attention of the recipient.
Really, all you have to do is fill in the blanks and send off the emails! This makes emailing prospects a lot faster, but helps you still maintain a personal touch.
Once your emails are sent out, Ninja Outreach also allows you to keep track of each individual relationship.
Within your contact profiles, you’ll see their website metrics along with your own personal notes, your relationship status with that person and all of the emails that you’ve exchanged.
In this way, no contact gets left behind. You and your team will be able to keep track of relationships and build towards the goal of better link building.
Best Tools for Link Analysis on Your Own Site
Once again, Monitor Backlinks shows up as one of the best link building tools on the list.
Link analysis on your own website is extremely important when you’re trying to build new links, as we mentioned above. To maintain a healthy backlink profile, you need to make sure you’re seeing every single detail of the links that are coming in to your website.
For this reason, Monitor Backlinks is the perfect companion for healthy link building.
Within seconds, you can see a full analysis of your website. With easy-to-understand charts and graphs, the dashboard gives you an overview of what’s going on with your links, as well as your progress.
For example, at a glance you can see improvements in your average keyword position, new backlinks and the organic traffic you’re receiving from search engines.
Along with that, you can see an in-depth view of each and every link coming in to your website.
In this list, you’ll see exact metrics such as anchor text, MozRank, server country, link status (no-follow, 302 redirect, etc.), external link count and more.
You can also get deeper insights into the diversity of your anchor text and see how it’s affecting your website’s overall SEO.
This powerful tool gives you both an easy overview and a deeper analysis of what’s going on with your website’s backlinks.
More than that, you can stay up to date with customized updates sent right to your inbox!
Ahrefs also gives you a very good view of what’s going on with your backlink profile. You’ll see all of the metrics that you need for a backlink analysis, including what we mentioned above for Monitor Backlinks.
Ahrefs also gives you an overall view of your progress, whether from last month or last year.
You can easily see how many do-follow or no-follow links you have coming in, what kind of domains are referring to you, how many .gov and .edu domains are linking to you, and so much more!
To purchase the complete tool with all of its many features (including other SEO features not discussed in this article), it’ll cost from $99 to $999 per month, depending on the amount of data that you need.
The downside of Ahrefs (aside from the steep pricing) is the fact that it’s less user-friendly than Monitor Backlinks. Although it does feature charts and graphs, the sheer amount of information is a bit overwhelming at first glance.
Verdict: And the Best Link Building Tools Are…
To have a truly comprehensive link building toolbox, you’ll need more than just one tool. However, at the very least, I would highly recommend using these two tools:
Monitor Backlinks will fit all of your needs for competitor analysis, link prospecting and link analysis.
Pricing for Monitor Backlinks ranges from $24.90 to $89.91 per month at the most expensive. The recommended plan for a mid-sized content marketing team would be the Plus plan. At $47.41 per month, you’ll be able to monitor two different domains, as well as four competitor domains.
If you need a customized plan for your specific needs, simply get in contact and they’ll be able to adjust your monthly plan to suit your team.
No matter which way you’d like to go, you can try Monitor Backlinks with its 30-day free trial.
The other essential tool is Ninja Outreach, providing exactly what you need to find contact information, prospect for new leads and manage outreach.
The best plan for most mid-sized content marketing teams is the Small Agency plan. At $99 per month, you’ll be able to store 5,000 contacts, have access to unlimited emails and searches, plus activate automated email broadcasts and follow-ups.
Are you ready for link building success?
These tools are your golden ticket to the perfect link building campaign!