Archive for the ‘seo tools’ Category

6 Power Tools for Content-Driven Link Development

Content-based link building is hard.

You have to pick the right topics, make great (and I really mean great) content, and reach out to all the right people.

Here are some tools we’ve found make it not only easier to do content-based link development, but to scale it and reap hundreds of links.

Social Crawlytics

Successful content-based outreach begins with creating content that will get shared and attracts links. You can remove guesswork and improve your success rate by doing competitive analysis on other sites in your industry. Analyze both what forms and what topics of content become popular, and mix and match those to achieve content success.

Enter Social Crawlytics. This tool crawls websites, and then runs the URLs through a variety of social APIs. Now you can easily identify your competitors’ most popular content, and find out what resonates with your audience.

It reports the data back in a variety of pretty and actionable graphs:

Social Crawlytics screenshot


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BuzzStream Product Update: Starred Items and Improved Multi-Select

BuzzStream Product Update

We’ve added two features that should help you with activities like list building and activity tracking.

Starred Items

If you’re a gmail user, you may have noticed that the familiar “starred items” has been added to BuzzStream.

Starred contacts

Starred items give you a way to quickly mark a record as one that needs follow-up, merits attention, etc.  So, for example, if you’re going through your master database and evaluating contacts’ relevance to a campaign you’re planning, you could star them as you qualify them and then continue evaluating your contacts.  Once you’re done, simply click ‘Filters’ and click ‘Starred’

filtering starred contacts

Then select all items and copy them to a new project, add tags, etc.



Product Update: Prospecting Tools, Twitter Tracking Enhancements

The dev team has been “en fuego” since our last product update post, so we have a lot to talk about.  Lots of powerful new features, including a slew of things to help with prospecting and research.  Without further adieu…

Tools for Researching Influencers and Link Prospects

We’ve added a number of tools for finding influencers and link opportunities, researching contact/social profile information, and determining relevance.

Prospecting Query Tool

This tool is currently only available in BuzzStream for Link Building, but it will soon be available in both products.  By automating much of the manual data collection required for effective link prospecting research, it allows you to significantly reduce the amount of time required to identify good link prospects.  Here’s how it works:

  • Enter prospecting queries into BuzzStream (just like you would in Google), BuzzStream pulls the results back, de-duplicates them and converts them into “Link Prospects”

BuzzStream for Link Building - prospecting searches

  • Once collected, BuzzStream automatically collects metrics, contact info, social profile info and the RSS feed.  In addition to site-level metrics, you can see how well the site performs for the searches in the profile (e.g., how many times it shows up in the top ten across all searches, the highest position, etc.)

Link Prospect research list

  • Because these results are saved as contacts in BuzzStream, you can do anything to the links and the contacts that you can do with normal links/contacts in BuzzStream.  This includes documenting/tracking the links you want, adding tasks, adding notes, collaboration, etc.
  • Results are retrieved daily, giving you a steady stream of new opportunities

Right now, the toolset is designed for advanced link builders, but we’ll extend it over the next few weeks with tools for intermediate and beginning users.

For more information, check out the FAQ or check out the video tutorial.

Automated Discovery of Contact Information and Social Profile Information

With the Buzzmarker, BuzzStream customers have always had tools for discovering contact information and social profile information. With this release, the same discovery capabilities are available for contacts you’ve added via an import or a manual add.  So if you import a set of contacts or manually add a contact, BuzzStream automatically begins looking for profile information, including email address, phone number, twitter ID, facebook, LinkedIn, and street address. And, to help keep your contacts current, BuzzStream looks for this information on an ongoing basis.

To see how this works, first click on the ‘Columns’ button in the toolbar and select ‘Suggested Profile Info’

Find Contact Information - select column

In the column, you’ll see all of the information that BuzzStream found for that contact. You can add a single piece of information or click ‘Add All’.  To see where BuzzStream found the information, click the ‘source’.

Discovered contact info and social profile info

Additionally, we’ve also enhanced the discovery capabilities to make it faster and to pull from more sources.


RSS Feed Collection

You can now view a contact’s most recent content by adding the RSS column to your list view.  This will give you a sense for the topics that a blog is interested in without leaving your BuzzStream account.

View RSS feed in BuzzStream


Whois Enhancements

We’ve made major improvements to the way that our whois lookup tool works.  In the past, we’d built our own software for looking up contact information in the whois record.  This was unreliable and hard to support because there are so many whois providers and no standard format for whois data.  We’ve switched to a third party service, which has dramatically improved performance.  Results are retrieved both faster and more reliably.

We’ve also made it possible to look up whois information for more than one contact at a time.  To do this, just select a set of contacts (by marking the checkbox in the far left column), click on ‘Research’ and select ‘Search whois Contact Info’.  The results will be populated in the ‘Suggested Profile Info’ column.

Look up contact info from whois


Improved Twitter Conversation Monitoring

Two major changes to how we keep track of your twitter conversations with influencers:

  • By default, direct messages between you and your contacts are marked as ‘private.’  and are only visible to the BuzzStream user who’s connected to that twitter account.  So, if you send a DM to one of your contacts, only you’ll see it in the History.   If you’d like these conversations to be available to everyone on your team, just click on ‘Settings’, go to the ‘My Info’ tab, and change the setting in the ‘Twitter Information’ section.

BuzzStream settings for twitter tracking

  • You can now add multiple twitter IDs to a single contact.  Right now, this can only be done for twitter IDs that are in the ‘Suggested Profile Info’ section, but we’ll make this available throughout the app soon.

Private Notes

You can now mark a Note as ‘private’, which will make it visible only to you.

Minor Features and Bug Fixes

  • Outreach – you can now select a different template while you’re conducting outreach
  • You can now select a different mail server for each project you’re working on
  • “Domain age” bug – the wayback machine changed their html format, which broke our site age lookup
  • Custom field values and Notes weren’t showing up in exports
  • Deleting a sub-task was deleting the entire task
  • Problem deleting projects and users
  • Custom field values entered from the buzzmarker weren’t being saved in some cases

Next on the plate:

  • Enhancements to the prospecting toolkit
  • Easier tracking of email conversations with your contacts
  • Tighter integration of BuzzStream for PR and Social with BuzzStream for Link Building

Free Tool: Build Outreach Lists from Blogrolls

We just made another free tool available on our link building tools page to help you build outreach lists.  Pretty simple tool to use…just plug in a set of URLs and this tool will look for any blogrolls on the pages you’ve entered.  Here’s how you use it…

Paste in a set of blog URLs that are related to the category you’re focused on:

Blogroll list building tool - enter blog URLs

Click “Go” and the tool will populate a table to the right:

blogroll outreach list tool - results

You can also save it to a CSV file by clicking the link below the table…one thing to keep in mind is that the link is visible while the list is still getting built, so make sure that the full list has been generated before clicking the link.

I’ll write a follow-on post that walks through how I’ve been using this tool to help me find the most influential blogs when I’m researching a community that I’m not yet familiar with.

If you have any questions or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!

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New Free Link Building Tools!

We’re happy to announce the release of a collection of free link building tools.  Over the last three years, we’ve built a number of tools that we use internally, some to help with customer implementations and some as prototypes for tools we’ve added to the product.  It’s great that these tools have helped our customers, but we haven’t been happy that they’re mostly only available to us.  So, we’re cleaning them up and rolling them out to everyone.  The first four of these are available today and we’ll continue to clean up tools and add them to the collection at a pretty steady pace.

Here’s a quick summary of the first tools we’re rolling out:

Email Research Tool

Last week we announced the release of an email research tool for BuzzStream subscribers that’s designed to reduce the time spent researching email addresses. You just select a list of contacts and BuzzStream automatically conducts 23 different searches for each contact.  The free tool for researching email addresses works in a similar way (although only for one contact at a time). For a closer look at both tools, check out this video.

Oh yeah, one thing before you watch the video…sorry in advance for the audio quality.  It’s bad.  Real bad.  I didn’t have access to our good recording equipment, so now, there are all sorts of fun pops, clicks and ridiculously bad audio edits (all layered over the nasally voice that just drives the ladies crazy :)).

Link Building Query Generator

Enter in some information about your brand, your competition and your keywords and the link building query generator will generate Google and Bing queries to help you find influencers and link opportunities.  What’s really nice is the tool lets you save the Bing searches as an OPML file so you can easily add them to a feed reader or dashboard app (i.e., iGoogle, pageflakes, etc.).

Domain Name Extraction Tool

Great tool to use if you have a list of URLs and you want to extract the domain.  Paste the URLs into the domain name extraction tool and it kicks out a CSV file with the original URLs and the domains.

URL “Theme” Extraction Tool

The idea for this tool came from an Excel for SEOs post that Mike Pantoliano wrote.  One of the things Mike showed in the post was how you can use excel formulas to take a URL and strip out the theme section (e.g.,  turn a URL like” into “snowboarding”).  We’d already built a lot of tools for URL manipulation, so extending them to do this was easy.  Now, to extract the theme from a set of URLs, rather than writing excel formulas to extract them, just paste in the URLs and you’ll get back a CSV with the “theme” section of the URL.

One last thing.  Big thanks to Jeremy BenckenAnn Smarty and Garrett French for inspiring many of the searches in the link building query generator.  Jeremy started the design of a query generator tool for BuzzStream two years ago and many of the original queries are in the tool.  One of the first collections of queries we found was in a post Ann wrote two and a half years ago.  It was still one of our most valuable resources when putting the tool together.  Garrett has taken things to a whole new level with his link building query posts on the ontolo blog.  And if you haven’t checked out the ontolo query generator, you’re missing out.

We’re just getting started with these, so keep your eyes peeled…lots more tools on the way.



Major Product Update: Outreach Module and more!

Outreach White Board


Lots of new BuzzStream features to talk about.  The addition we’re most excited about is the Outreach Module, which we think has the potential to significantly improve the quality and speed of your outreach efforts…if BuzzStream were an 80’s teen sitcom, then this would most certainly be our “very special holiday episode.”  Some might even say that it’s the most shocking episode of BuzzStream yet.

Now that you’re done rolling your eyes, let’s take a look at the new stuff.

New Feature: The Outreach Module

The Outreach Module gives you a way to conduct broad-based outreach, but without sacrificing personalization.  You’ve told us that the way you often conduct outreach is to create a list, select a template and then customize it for each person to make it relevant to them (based on their interests, your relationship with them, their location, etc.).  You’ve also told us that the process is time-consuming and not as effective as it could be because: a) you don’t have a quick and easy way to segment your list and apply a template to them, b) you’re bouncing between your email client and all of your sources of info for each person, and c) it can be hard to keep track of the status of the outreach efforts (e.g., who still needs to be contacted, who requires follow-up, etc.).

To address this, the Outreach Module makes it easy to segment your contacts into a list, apply a template to your contacts and then view the relationship info needed to personalize your emails without ever leaving the email. It also ties into BuzzStream’s task management and contact filtering capabilities to help you keep track of the contacts that require follow-up.

The Outreach Module is pretty simple…there are three steps to it:

1) Segment your contacts into an outreach list using BuzzStream’s filtering capabilities

filters for outreach blog post


2) Create an email template, which will serve as a starting point for each email you send

Create a BuzzStream outreach template


3) Personalize each email and send

BuzzStream email outreach personalization


The personalization step is where the fun begins.   For each contact in your list, BuzzStream provides you with the contact record information on the same screen as the email you’re writing to them (populated with the template).  All of the information about the contact is on the left-hand side and the email is on the right-hand side.  You can hover over any articles, links, notes, etc to see all of the info.  By putting this all in one screen, there’s no need to click back and forth searching for emails you’ve sent them in the past, blog posts they’ve written that are relevant to you, notes about them, etc.  And once you’ve personalized the email, just click “Send and go to next contact” and you’ll be taken through your list.

For a full walk-through of the Outreach Module, check out this tutorial.

Thank You!

We took a very different approach to the design of this feature and we owe a big debt of gratitude to all of the people who contributed to the “Help us design the new outreach module” post on GetSatisfaction.  This is the first time we’ve designed a feature in such a public way and I wasn’t sure how effective this approach would be.  The results completely exceeded my expectations. Not only did the feedback have a major impact on the current release, it also gave us outstanding ideas for the next version.  Special thanks to Adria Saracino, Blake Bookstaff,  Jeremy Bencken, Margaret Conway, Jeff Novak, Christine Sadler, and Jools Weller.  You guys rock!

New Feature: Improved Support for Team Discussions

Let’s say you’ve added a contact into BuzzStream and you need to ask a team member if the contact should be added to a campaign.  BuzzStream now better supports contact-specific collaboration by letting you notify people when you add a note.  Just click “notify team members” when you’re adding a note and select the people you want to notify:

Team notification in BuzzStream

They’ll receive an email notifying them that the note has been added and they can access the contact record with one click.

New Feature: Notifications for New Contacts and Overdue Tasks

We’ve added two new email notifications to help you make sure that the activities that are most important to you are getting done.  First, if a task that you assigned to a  team members is due or overdue, you’ll receive notification.  You’ll also receive notification when someone assigns a contact to you.

New Feature: Add a Task to More than One Contact

Suppose you need someone on your team to research a list of contacts to find their email addresses.  Rather than creating a task for each one, you can now associate the task with multiple contacts.  To do this in BuzzStream, I might start by sorting by “email address” to find contacts that don’t have an email address and select these contacts:

Sort BuzzStream contacts

Click ‘Edit’ and select “New Task”

Bulk tasks in BuzzStream

If you assign the task to a team member, they’ll receive one email with a link that takes them to the full list of contacts.

New Feature: Bulk Notes

Similar to bulk tasks, we’ve also added the ability to add a note to multiple contacts.  To do this, just select the contacts, click “Edit” and click “Add Note.”

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Tutorial: The BuzzStream Outreach Module

The Outreach Module gives you a way to conduct broad-based outreach, but without sacrificing personalization.  It makes it easy to segment your contacts into a list, apply a template to your contacts and then view the relationship information needed to personalize your emails without ever leaving the email. It also ties into BuzzStream’s task management and contact filtering capabilities to help you keep track of the contacts that require follow-up.  The Outreach Module is available in both BuzzStream for PR and Social Media and BuzzStream for Link Management.

There are four steps to using the Outreach Module:

  1. Add your outgoing mail settings in the Settings section
  2. Segment your contacts into an outreach list
  3. Create an email template, which will serve as a starting point for each email you send
  4. Personalize each email and send

Let’s use an example to give you a better sense of how it works.  Suppose I’m working on behalf of a real estate website that’s developed a tool that shows real estate pricing trends by city.  Other sites can plug this tool into their own site to make it more engaging to their readers.  To promote this, one segment I’m going to reach out to is a group I consider “high value, low hanging fruit.”   This group includes local real estate bloggers who:

  • we’ve rated as high influence
  • have linked to us or written about us in the past, and
  • we’ve had conversations with them

The outreach approach will be to:

  • send an initial email to everyone in the list
  • follow up three days later with anyone who hasn’t responded.

Here are the steps…

Step 1: Add your mail server into the Settings section

BuzzStream sends mail through your mail server (i.e., the same way that you connect to a smartphone), so you first need to enter your outgoing mail server settings..  This can only be done by BuzzStream administrators or someone who is assigned a role that’s been given access to this permission.  To enter your settings, just click on the ‘Settings’ link in the top right-hand corner of the application and go to the ‘Mail Server’ tab.  To see the typical email settings for common cloud-based email services (like Gmail), check out the FAQ.

Step 2: Segment your contacts into lists

To create my first segment, I’ll click on ‘Filters’ and select all contacts with the tag “Real Estate”, with an overall rating of ‘High’ or ‘Very High’, Link Status of ‘Yes’, and a Communication History of ‘Any’.

filters for outreach blog post


I’ll then click the ‘Save Filter’ link and name it “Low Hanging Fruit – not started”

Saved Filter for BuzzStream Outreach Module


I’ll also save a filter for the follow-up email…i.e. “show me everyone in this original group whose contact was modified three days ago.”

BuzzStream filters - date modified


Step 3: Select the contacts and apply an email template to the segment

I’ll select the contacts that I want to include in this outreach effort and then I’ll click “Email Outreach (click on the image to enlarge).

Select BuzzStream outreach template


In this case, I need to create a new template (click on the image to enlarge).

Create a BuzzStream outreach template


Note that I can use merge fields for some basic personalization (e.g., first name, city, etc.).  You can use your custom fields as merge fields as well.

Once I’ve completed the template, I’ll click “Save and Continue to start personalizing my emails.

Step 4: Personalize emails and send them

Here’s where the fun begins.   For each contact in your list, BuzzStream provides you with the contact record information on the same screen as the email you’ll send them (populated with the template).

BuzzStream email outreach personalization


All of the information about the contact is on the left-hand side and the email is on the right-hand side.  You can hover over any articles, links, notes, etc to see all of the info.  By putting this all in one screen, there’s no need to click back and forth searching for emails you’ve sent them in the past, blog posts they’ve written that are relevant to you, notes about them, etc.

Once you’ve personalized the email, just click “Send and go to next contact” and you’ll be taken through your list.

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The Problem with Influence Scoring

Jeremy Porter has a post on Journalistics today about influence scoring and the challenges associated with it.  Jeremy’s post does a nice job of pointing out some of the challenges with trying to use influence scores like Klout, PageRank, etc..  Most notably, when looked at them by themselves, they’re not particularly useful because, unlike a search engine that includes both relevance and influence/trust in its algorithm, there’s no contextual relevance.  So Justin Bieber may have a Klout score of 95, but if I’m selling fly fishing equipment,  the guy with a klout score of 20 who only writes about fly fishing and who is very active in a number of fly fishing community sites is much more important to me.

I don’t think this problem is unique to klout…this is a very difficult problem to solve.  Frankly though, given the changed face of media, I’m not convinced it’s even a good idea to rely on fine-grained scores like this at all.  Knowing that one influencer has a score of 64 while another has a score of 78 might be useful in a world where a relatively small set of traditional outlets have significant reach (and you’re going to be extremely high touch with a small number of outlets), but when you have a completely fragmented landscape, you just don’t need to be this fine-grained.  It’s a bit of a dirty word, but frankly in a world where everyone is an influencer and where links and social mentions drive search performance, the biggest issue is scale – like it or not, you have to build a lot of relationships in order to move the needle for the business and spammy approaches just don’t work.  So the challenge is this – how do I build REAL relationships with LOTS of people without hiring an army of people to do it?  When you rely on these fine-grained scores, inevitably you get caught in the discussion of  “is this person really more influential than this person in my niche.”  It’s a total time suck and it really shouldn’t impact how you engage.

Given that you need to engage with a lot of people in order to have an impact, I think you’re better off thinking in terms of broad groupings – i.e., a person’s level of influence is either high, medium, or low.  Then you can focus your efforts on the thing that really matters – developing the processes and tools that will allow you to engage with more people (in a real, relationship-oriented manner).  Specifically, you need to reduce the time required to: 1) find out when influencers are talking about the topics you care about (so you can engage), 2) keep track of the conversations you’re having with influencers (so your conversations are more meaningful and relevant), and 3) engage with more people in less time without sacrificing personalization and relevance.

So, given this, you’re still left with the challenge of developing a methodology for classifying people into the “high/medium/low” influence categories as a starting point.   I think the details for this are probably best covered in another post, but at a high-level I think there are three things you look at:

  • Are they relevant?  (using tools like listorious, alltop, google searches, monitoring, etc)
  • What percentile do they fall into for some of the key engagement and reach metrics? (e.g., average comments, uniques, retweets)
  • Who’s in their network (i.e., do they have relationships with some of the known influencers in the space)?

All of this info is available, the key is developing a way to quickly aggregate it and leverage it to classify people.  I’ll cover this in a follow-up post.

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