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

Social Crawlytics Screenshot 2

Social Crawlytics is currently free, but you may have to tweet on their behalf to get more credits.


Once you know what kind of content gets shared and enjoyed, you can make some of your own.

The web is becoming more dependent on pictures – look at the rise of Pinterest and Tumblr – so high-quality images make your content more linkable and more likely to be shared.

I’m not much of a designer, so I turn to infographic generators to create some high quality visuals for my blog posts. One of my favorites is Easel.ly, which has a variety of templates that lets you make cool graphics:

Make Infographics with Easel.ly

(Most of these aren’t strong enough to be stand-alone infographics, but they can improve blog posts.)

Easel.ly is currently in beta and free. They have not yet announced pricing.


In some verticals, the audience of linkers is left-brained and isn’t impressed with top ten lists or LOLcats. In areas like this, it’s time to turn to data visualization. What used to be a complex technical task has become simple with the growth of tools automatic data viz tools.

ManyEyes is an IBM tool that automatically creates interactive visualizations from data sets. If you find a relevant public data set, you can add interactive data visualizations to your content:

Many Eyes Visualization

Note: Any embeds are placed into an iframe, and not all blog platforms support that. Additionally, ManyEyes makes your data set public, so don’t use this one on private information.

ManyEyes is currently free.

Citation Labs Link Prospector

After you’ve created your content, you’re ready to promote it. While there are many tools and techniques to discover websites that might be interested in sharing your content, Citation Labs Link Prospector is one of the best tools for scaling link prospecting.

Find Prospects - Link Prospector

Citation Labs Link Prospector allows marketers to pick an opportunity type – such as Resource Pages, Guest Posts, or Interviews – and prospect for them around their keywords at scale. It’s great for scaling link prospecting across teams.

Link Prospector is a paid tool with a free trial. Subscriptions start at $27/month or $2.00 per credit.


Sometimes, you have long arduous tasks that can’t be automated. Tasks like categorizing thousands of keywords, getting unscrapeable data into a spreadsheet, or finding contact information for hundreds of sites.

For tasks like these, you can waste your time, or you can recruit a small army to do it for you. While historically recruiting armies has been difficult, with the magic of modern technology you can do it instantaneously.

SmartSheet is a spreadsheet that integrates with Mechanical Turk, Amazon’s army of unskilled task labor. Now, instead of performing repetitive tasks yourself, you can farm this work out to Amazon Mechanical Turk’s on-demand labor pool.

SmartSheet - Mechanical Turk in Spreadsheets

Simply choose the fields you’d like filled, and give workers either selections boxes or open fields. Then SmartSheet creates tasks on Mechanical Turk or other crowdsourcing sites, and your task gets done before your eyes.

SmartSheet - Labor Pools in Spreadsheets

SmartSheet starts at $15.95/month. Individual tasks typically cost an additional 5 to 10 cents each.


When you’re working on content-based outreach, it can be very useful to find which sites have linked to similar content and engage with them. That’s where link graph data comes in – you can find exactly which sites have linked to other content similar to yours, and reach out to them and suggest they link to your content as well.
AHrefs is one of the newest entrants in the link graph intelligence space. They have a very strong offering and one of the best for finding fresh, recently placed links. (When you’re doing content-oriented outreach, knowledge of a link placed 2 years ago is far less useful than knowing about a link placed 2 weeks ago.)

Ahrefs - link graph intelligence

AHrefs also finds new links and dropped links, so it’s an excellent tool to scout the effectiveness of competitor’s content marketing.

AHrefs starts at $49 per month.

If you like these, you might also like BuzzStream’s free link building tools, including a blogroll list builder and a link building query generator.

What are your favorite content-based outreach tools?

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