As the link profile of WordStream.com continues to grow and grow, we realized it was time to purchase software that would assist us in managing our ballooning link database. Up until now, we'd been tracking all of our link acquisitions and link outreach efforts in Excel. But Excel has serious limitations, due in part because it's not built for link management. As active link builders, our goal was to find a product that was designed specifically for our link management needs. And as Garret French espoused in Link Building Trends for 2010: "2010 will be the year of “link relationship management” software, and more and more link building firms will shift away from spreadsheets." I wholeheartedly agree.
Why do you need a link management tool?
If you're serious about link building and link intelligence for your website or client websites, you need a powerful link management tool to:
- House all your historical link data in one dashboard - Working in one, centralized, link management database is critical for link organization, as well as comprehensive, efficient and effective link analysis
- Track link outreach and link marketing efforts - Who did you reach out to? What's the history of your outreach efforts with a link target? Were your outreach efforts successful? Did you acquire a link? Bottom line, if you practice link outreach, you NEED to have answers to these questions.
- Track link acquisitions - Okay, so you got new links? Are you documenting the sources? Where did they come from? Which pages on your website are they linking to? What's the anchor text? If you're asking "why does this matter?" then you've got some learnin' to do.
- Track "link life" - Did you purchase link? Is that link about to expire? Do you have link partnerships in place? Do you know if the partner is still holding up their end of the bargain? Point is, links can be transient. As your link profile grows it's impossible to monitor every link for links that may have vanished.
- Keep track of link outreach efforts across multiple users - Do you work with other link builders on the same projects? Do you all have access to the same link data? Disjointed link building and link outreach efforts can result in confusion, duplication, inefficiencies, etc. Also, repeatedly reaching out to the same targets (because of a lack of historical link outreach data) will only serve to piss people off...not the results you're seeking.
- Dump your spreadsheets - As we preach at WordStream, Excel wasn't built for keyword research or keyword management. And as I mentioned above, neither was Excel built for serious link management. Copying and pasting from multiple sources across various platforms is a big waste of my time (and yours).
So in my pursuit of a link management tool, I trialed a number of different products. I'm not going to name names, but most just fell short. In the end, I chose Buzzstream for three reasons:
- It came highly recommended from some trusted sources
- After testing numerous products, I felt it was the preeminent link intelligence tool on the market
- It meets my needs
For the record, this isn't a paid review and I have no affiliate partnership with Buzzstream. I'm a big fan of their tool, their product roadmap and their people, and wanted to give them some more exposure. So this review is 100% genuine and sincere. That said, let's take a detailed look at some of the software's slick features and delve more into why I chose Buzzstream.
Buzzstream - Link Management Software
So what is Buzzstream? Well, to quote the website, "BuzzStream gives you automated tools that allow you to focus on what matters: building quality relationships with link partners." My take on Buzzstream is that far and away it's the best link management system on the market for link tracking, monitoring link relationships and overall link building intelligence. Also, it just makes link building easier. Everybody hates manual link building. Discovering potential link targets, reaching out to them and tracking engagement is a big pain point but absolutely critical to compete in most verticals. Of all the tools I tried, BuzzStream is the one that really streamlined the process and brought efficiency to a cumbersome process.
How does Buzzstream do all this better than the rest?
Buzzstream's Link Buzzmarker
The Link Buzzmarker is my favorite feature in Buzzstream because it takes the drudgery and time intensive grunt work out of researching link opportunities.
- Link Research: The tool scans a website and collects information about the potential link partner so you can evaluate whether or not to add that information to your link contacts. You're then able to designate what stage you're at with link acquisition and choose to own the link target yourself or assign it to one of your coworkers or interns. You can evaluate a link opportunity based on a series of site metrics, like:
- Toolbar PageRank
- Number of inbound links
- Domain age
- Link Documentation: The Link Buzzmarker also collects the link data for sites already linking to your site. The tool scans the link partner page capturing a lot of valuable data, like:
- Website name
- Toolbar PageRank
- Anchor text
- Nofollow status
- Website rating
- Link Outreach: In my experience, the key to effective link outreach is personalization. Buzzmarker helps to inform and manage your link outreach. The tool is a fantastic spying tool and eliminates much of the time I used to waste hunting the Web for key contact information by scouring a site and collecting:
- Contact name
- Presence of web contact forms
- Whois lookup
- Social networking data: such as LinkedIn and Twitter profiles
More on Link Outreach with Buzzstream
Also as part of the link outreach technology, Buzzstream automatically keeps track of all my touches with a potential link opportunity, which is fantastic for my own historical intelligence and for other link building contributors. Any interactions I have in Twitter are automatically recorded in the contact records and all my email outreach attempts are also recorded by BCC-ing my Buzzstream email address in the email correspondence.
Buzzstream also met my link auditing needs with their comprehensive Backlink Checker. The Backlink Checker automatically checks all my link data, which ensures that all my links are still intact and lets me know if link prospects convert to link relationships. It also crawls and audits all my link profile for any link DNA fluctuations, like changes to anchor text, nofollow tags and outbound link data. However, I do think there could be some improvements made here (more on this below).
For more: watch the video.
Criticisms of Buzzstream
So this isn't a total rump swabbing pom-pom piece on Buzzstream, I do have a few criticisms of Buzzstream, which I hope will be viewed by the gang over there as "constructive."
- Link reporting: The link reporting methods have some deficiencies. As part of my job, I need to pull monthly link reports. With my first go around in Buzzstream, I was unable to pull a report that showed ONLY links acquired in December. The filter capability allowed me to show only links acquired on a certain day, but not links within a date range. I assume this is easy enough to incorporate, and given the newness of the tool, I'm sure they guys at Buzzstream (who are super responsive, BTW, and constantly making updates based on user feedback) have this function or something like it in the works. If not, I'm officially requesting it here.
- Email updates: When I run The Backlink Checker to observe if any changes have occurred in my link profile (link DNA change, link opportunity changing from requested to acquired, link removed, etc), Buzzstream sends me an email alert once the backlink check is complete. This is fantastic. However, the email is vague, and only confirms that links have been updated and how many links have changed. What it doesn't tell me is which links have been updated and how they've changed, which is what I really want to know. To find that information, I need to revisit my account and filter through my link data and drill down into each link partner profile to hunt for changes, which isn't efficient. To me, incorporating this data and ease of use into the email reporting feature is a no brainer, and will only make what is a strong tool that much stronger.
Buzzstream Final Thoughts
In sum, Buzzstream rocks! Despite my minor critiques, the software does an incredible job of streamlining the link request process and of automating link tracking and data capturing. It's evident after using the software on a daily basis that Buzzstream is a link management tool built by link builders for link builders. The price points for Buzzstream are comparable to other tools and pretty affordable. Now that I use Buzzstream for my link management, I really couldn't imagine having to return to the Stone Age days of manually wrestling with Excel speadsheets across multiple databases. So if you're searching for a comprehensive link management tool, I strongly suggest you check out Buzzstream.
Seriously WTF are you waiting for? Give Buzzstream a try.