Link Building Tools

A Look at Advanced Web Ranking

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January 8  |  Link Building Tools  |   Geoff

I can’t remember why I even chose to download it again – it might have been Aaron Wall’s face looking at me telling me to do it – but I found myself downloading a trial copy of advanced web ranking and setting up a new project with it.

Search Engine Ranking
Reliable Data
Link Building

First Impressions

I definitely did get a little bit overwhelmed when I opened it; probably the same reason I hadn’t fully committed to using the software up until this point. Walkthroughs are nice and everything but if you’re not in the right mood when you first see the “hey welcome to our software, let us walk you through this jungle” popup, it might be the last time you open it. Muscle through and read everything there; it shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes to feel completely comfortable with where everything is and what it does.

Advanced Web Ranking LogoSimilarly, Java is great and all – I love having support in all OS’ – but when it messes with the window management and how a program works, it might get to my obsessive compulsive brain. The first really unforgivable problem I ran into was not being able to display the entire window. On my 1440×900 pixel display, the bottom bit of the actual application window was, and still is, utterly unseeable. The green maximize button brought the application to the full width of the screen but wouldn’t adjust the height to fit my screen. Even Cinch, an app that sizes windows appropriately, was unable to change the size of the window, I assume because of the Java issue. Granted, this didn’t pose much of a problem – I missed out on a few keywords and update notifications that were below the cut – but it still struck me as unpolished for a ten year old piece of software expressly developed for this platform.

But I digress. We need to talk about what the software was built to do – track your web rankings.


I was initially really attracted to the pricing model of the software. Being a risk averse person, I would much rather pay a lump sum than a recurring monthly payment. A lifetime license at AWR is $399. You get updates for twelve months, should you like updates after those twelve months, you pay ~$120. Similarly, if you’re going to be tracking links, that isn’t free. AWR gets its link info from SEOMoz on their link credit system. Read more about link credits here and don’t let this scare you off; they’re totally reasonable if you need them.

AWR Pricing

You can track all the keywords you want on as many projects as you want for as long and as often as you want. Previously, we had been using a few rank tracking apps, but RavenTools was what I most used and trusted due to its wealth of information and reasonable price at $99 a month. Still, at $99 a month, I could have bought 3 AWR licenses for a year of Raven. They are different products, don’t get me wrong, but in the light of Raven and SEOMoz losing all their rank tracking abilities this month, if you’re looking for rank tracking software, your options are becoming fewer.

If you’re going to be using it for the next year, I don’t think there’s anything out there than can hold a candle to the price you pay for this software.


Keyword Rank Chart
As I tend to, I jammed in way too many keywords to track. Focus is important but the prospect of tracking as many keywords as I wanted got the best of me. The allowed use of Proxy servers around the globe will assure that the rankings you collect are the same rankings that your clients see. Importing data from whatever rank tracking software you have used in the past is totally reasonable. Simply tailor a csv file and import it to have access to whatever history you have. Tracking the competition has never been easier, either. Because of the unlimited keyword searches, feel free to track your competitors and see what their strategies are, how they rank compared to your site and what they’re doing to get there.

The searches are all done from your computer so it needs to be on to collect data. As mentioned above, you can set up proxies if you want to keep your IP clean for any reason, but I can assure you that after a month of searches, I haven’t seen a single captcha before a SERP in my browser.

Keyword Rank Chart

Arguably, the best feature of the software is the ability to keep our clients updated on how their rankings are performing. Every week we have the application automatically generate a report and subsequently upload that report to our server so that the client can, at any time, come to our site and see how their rankings have changed in the last week with some pretty fancy white label flavour. The data looks good, it’s easy to navigate and it makes us look awesome.

Other Features

AWR will also keep track of a few things aside from a website’s rankings. Integrate analytics, get a little more info in the reports and fill out the site’s profile within the app. Why go to google when it’s open here? It will also keep track of what’s happening across a couple social networks. Twitter and Facebook also integrate nicely into the application to show you and your clients what’s been happening on those social networks as well as tracking social shares automatically. The research tools are a nice addition as well. While I tend to optimize a site naturally first, I still find it nice to use simple little tools to determine what the competition is like, which keywords might make more money than others and what can be tightened up on page. AWR has a surprisingly round set of tools for research considering it is meant to be a web ranking tracker first and foremost.

Of all the big names tracking keywords in the SERPs, I don’t think you can do better for your money than Advanced Web Ranking. After you’re in (and as long as your screen is tall enough) using the software is easy, pretty and totally usable. There are programs that integrate better with your OS, but beggars can’t be choosers and I appreciate that it had to be built on Java for accommodation’s sake. Still, you should use this software if web rankings are valuable to you or your clients. Consolidate all your ranking data into this one, ten year old, very comprehensive application built expressly for tracking the SERPs.


To deal with the issues of the window not fitting my monitor, all you have to do is go to settings, click on application settings and change the sidebar menu size to small. The sidebar was too long and pushed the window beyond my screen’s capabilities. I honestly think the small sidebar looks better anyway!

CognitiveSEO Gets Put To Work At Linkbuildr

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October 24  |  Link Building Tools  |   Ryan Clark

My apologies to the staff, and mostly to Razvan who gave our team some hardcore use of their seriously well thought out tool suite. We played around with the old version and now their freshly updated toolbox of digital delights and loved it so much we stuck half of our clients on the platform. I will mention first and foremost that I was in no way paid to write about the tool, and Razvan told me to be as critical as possible.

When it comes to tools, we prefer them being straight to the point and this is what I love the most about CognitiveSEO. I get my easy-to-read yet crazy-in-depth backlink analysis. Secondly, the rank tracking tool is second to none, in my opinion. That’s all I really care about, and perhaps one day we’ll see Google Analytics pulled into the dashboard, but really that’s not necessary.

I’m someone who does a lot of backlink analysis, and chances are if you read my ramblings that you do as well. I’ve tried most of the tools out there and don’t have anything bad to say about any of them, but CognitiveSEO really reels me in with their reports. The ease of reading and understanding is there, but I absolutely love the flow of the reports.

What our customers are saying:

Since testing the software out, we made the decision to get 10 of our clients on their platform as we usually don’t offer extensive reporting from our end. Most of our clients are medium-to-large brands, and they’ve brought on our team to just help out with the link attraction and guidance side of things. By now, most companies that are online have some sort of tool suite in their company infrastructure and shouldn’t be too intimidated with something like CognitiveSEO.

With that being said, so far we’ve had a lot of good feedback, especially for the managers we report to who have to deliver a weekly or monthly report. The majority of our clients using the system found the reports to be straight forward enough that I didn’t have to sit on the phone with them going through each little tid bit. We’ll take a look at a sample report below, and I’ll also provide a PDF download link so that you can view our entire link profile in depth.

[nggallery id=1]
Download The Link Reports: Download Link .CSV and Download The PDF.

Doesn’t get any more straightforward than that, and it gives you pretty much all you’d want to know… Especially if you’re just doing a weekly or monthly peek. When I’m doing an audit to determine what’s causing a site to rank over my competitor in a competitive vertical, most of this data is what I need and I can get a good picture of what’s going on real fast.

Link Management Made Easy

This part of the tool suite is REALLY handy dandy. In this day and age, everyone should be monitoring their link losses/gains quite closely, as it can reveal a lot of valuable information. There are not many tools out there that cover this specific link monitoring aspect, and when something bad or good happens, you’ll know just about every detail.

Now I don’t use any tools to monitor links for our website simply because I don’t care at all about them… Weird to hear coming from someone who’s job is to attract/build/buy them for a living. I would have shown this off but I cannot expose any of our clients’ data here, but from the image to your right you can get a look at a weekly snapshot of what’s going on. Notice that CognitiveSEO reports on broken links too, which is in my opinion one of the best features of the whole package.

Geoff loves to monitor our clients’ competitors heavily and wait for a broken link to pop up and snag their links right out from underneath them… So sneaky and devious, I LOVE it. Watching your links by the daily or weekly during content marketing and link bait campaigns is also a breeze. This definitely helps us respond quickly to mentions and get involved in the social conversation and complete the branding part of our job.

It doesn’t stop there, either… Took me nearly 2 weeks when I first started using CognitiveSEO to notice that I could scroll to the right and get even more data on the links coming into our client’s profile. If the link coming in is from a partner/contact, you can manage those details and see them on your monitored links. Besides seeing the AC Rank – and I LOVE this – is that it tells you what part of the page the link is on, ie body/footer etc. I will admit we also haven’t used the “Link Partners” aspect of the tool yet, as we mostly just do link attraction here, but it’s straightforward and yet another reason to start using this platform.

Rank Tracking Made Easy (And Pretty)

Knowing where you rank is not only important information to know, it’s yet another addicting statistic that I like to check on a daily basis. It’s pretty straightforward to use and review reports with CognitiveSEO, although the best feature is most likely the rank tracking compared to your competitors. This will alert you to their mega movements or losses, as well as allow you to report to clients or the boss about how you’re doing that day/week/month/year.

Pricing and Contact

I’d like to thank the whole team over at CognitiveSEO and Razvan for being so patient with me and giving me access to the tools for testing and feedback. You can click on the button to the right and try it yourself free for 14 days, and this is not an affiliate link or anything from me, just straight-up free goodies for your to try out. If you’re already on one of other other platforms then I highly recommend playing around with this, because it might just surprise you.

Contact Razvan

Twitter: @CognitiveSEO
Facebook: /CognitiveSEO

“With over 7 years experience in affiliate marketing and search engine optimization and 12 years in programming and web development, he has gone from Web Developer to Super Affiliate for large international networks.”

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Broken Link Finder Tool From Citation Labs

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October 11  |  Link Building Tools  |   Ryan Clark

Garrett French seems to have 48 hours in his day, seriously. He runs the well known firm and software company Citation Labs, manages to write tons of great content and here we are with another really helpful tool. The Broken Link Finder ( is a comprehensive and time saving tool to tackle one of the best link building methods publicly known.

“There is a gold mine of 404s out there ready to be prospected. Let the 404 Gold Rush Begin!
I know a lot of inbound marketers still don’t take advantage of this strategy as often as they should, so hopefully this kicks your ass into gear. It’s especially beneficial if you’re doing a lot of content marketing because this way you can amass tons of link targets before you craft your content. The success rates for us are through the roof and hopefully Garrett will come pipe up about it here on the comments.

//Tech Specs

For each keyword you add to the Broken Link Finder…
280 Unique Search Queries Yielding… 
28,000 Linking Pages, Yielding on Average… 
300,000 Potential Link Targets… 
Filtered Down to Strong Broken Link Building Opportunities… 
Which You Can Sort by Link Popularity and Relevance!

For those that do this from time to time you’ll know how time consuming it is….so stop that and literally save hundreds of hours. I’m going to be utilizing this tool starting next week so feel free to contact me with any questions, or hit up Garrett French via Twitter, Email or via Phone 919.480.8522


5 Twitter Chats for Link Builders

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July 23  |  Link Building Tools, Social Media Sites  |   annsmarty

Although I’ve known her for a few years now, I don’t think Ann Smarty has ever written a guest post, something she seems particularly fond of, for Linkbuildr. In our last correspondence I told her that she’s always welcome to post on the site and she whipped something up for us right away. Believe it or not, this is that guest post! I know, right?

Twitter Chats have really reached a new level of popularity lately. You basically set a time and date, as well as a topic (if you choose) and invite people to come. Then, you start off the conversation with a tweet using a specific #hashtag. That tag is then placed on all responses as people communicate with one another in real time by following hashtag updates.

Bloggers are utilizing this perhaps more than any other group right now. But that doesn’t mean they are the only ones who can benefit. Link builders can find great opportunities to learn some tips, tricks or just build links through a conversation. Think of it as the ultimate in 160-character networking.

Here are five Twitter Chats that link builders might want to check out.

1. SEO Chat


If you have questions about SEO or just want a good discussion on the topic, you will love this weekly Twitter chat. Every Thursday at 7PM Mountain the admin posts a question, then following questions every ten minutes for an interviewee that has been chosen beforehand. You can ask follow up questions, time permitting, using the hashtag #seochat.

2. MyBlogGuest


At 11 AM EST every Thursday, MyBlogGuest opens up their experts to a conversation with users and guest bloggers all over the web. They suggest TweetDeck as a good tool to keep up, but other people use TwitterChat or equivalents. The hashtag is #myblogguest.

3. JournChat


This is a recap done of the week’s best user posts on both sides of various issues, such as social media, SEO and blogging. They do their best to present different views to the best of their ability. You can communicate with the site using #JournChat.

4. PR Web


Every other Thursday at 2:00 PM EST, PR Web opens up the floor to a discussion with users and experts alike, speaking to the most influential online figures in the industry. This is an excellent chance to get some great tips and answers. The problem is that it is usually pretty busy so you might not get your issue addressed. See more at #prwebchat.

5. CommentHour


A great way to generate traffic, you fill out a form by Wednesday morning every week with a link to your blog and your Twitter username. Then, they select 25 people and feature them over the course of an hour with a link to the blog and Twitter profile. Those watching the #commenthour hashtag go to the link and leave a comment. It is a quick means of bringing some visibility to your Twitter account and blog. The hashtag is #CommentHour.

Of course, one of the best ways to use Twitter Chat is through starting your own. All you need is a date, a time and a hashtag and you are good to go. Try starting one today!

Ann Smarty is blogger and guest blogger running My Blog Guest, the free community of guest bloggers that preaches high-quality approach to guest blogging.

A Review of Link Prospector

March 20  |  Link Building Tools  |   Andrew Breen

Andrew Breen runs Outshine Online – a Halifax SEO company that is an Adwords Certified Partner. Connect with him on Twitter @breenandrew.

When I saw Darren Shaw of Whitespark was involved with a newly-released link building tool, Link Prospector, I knew I had to give it a shot. If you don’t know Darren, he’s a super nice guy and a whiz at local SEO.

Plus he’s a fellow Canadian SEO, and I love a good Canadian success story. Now that I think of it, the Linkbuildr blog is Canadian too. I guess there is advantages to the long, cold winters we have here – it’s easier to spend more time inside grinding away at link building.

Anyways, Link Prospector is a joint venture from Whitespark and Citation Labs. If you work in SEO have never read their blog you’re doing yourself a disservice. It’s got a ton of killer link building content.


Well, true to its name, Link Prospector helps you find new link opportunities. It’s essentially an automated way to do all those search operators you do now to find links (like “recommended sites” keyword or keyword guest blogger wanted).

Link Prospector uses preset searches to go out and find potential sources of links for your client. What those exact searches consist of is part of their “secret sauce.”

You can use up to 5 keywords per report, and designate specific regions, search depth, TLDs, date ranges or search scopes.

Once you’ve given Link Prospector the parameters, it scrapes the web and pulls together a report. Reports can take a few hours, but you’re emailed when it’s ready.


Log in and create your first campaign. You can try it out for free, so take a whirl and sign up now.

Once you’ve created the campaign, select the type of link report you want to run. There are a whopping 13 preselected reports to run, or you can choose your own research phrases and run a custom report. The reports you can choose from are:

Guest Posting – Discover blogs who allow guest posts and offer your writing services.
Links Pages – Find the resource and links pages that will add a link to your site.
Content Promoters – Find writers who are likely to cover your story, or repost your infographics and articles.
Reviews – Look for people who review products or services in your space.
Giveaways – Offer goods and services in exchange for coverage.
Donations – Be charitable and earn links through sponsorship opportunities.
Commenting – Find the posts relevant to your key phrases. Join the conversation, and link to your site.
Expert Interviews – Identify domain experts you can interview, or pitch your own expertise.
Directories – Identify quality directories to help you get your site listed quickly.
Forums – Add value to the conversation and build brand equity.
Topical Blogs – Pinpoint the blogs that cover your industry, and are likely to post about your site.
Professional Organizations – Locate trades and professional organizations you can join.
Research: Content – Find top tips for writing great content.
Custom – Use any amount of research phrases you like.

I ran an Expert Interview report and hit submit. About 30 minutes later I got an email notification that the report was ready.

I log in and see the report has given me 4267 paths from 1769 domains. I choose to export the paths, instead of just the domains. I like to analyse specific pages instead of domains when looking at link opportunities – I feel like the metrics of the page where your link may end up is far more important than the homepage metrics.

The export opens an Excel document with the URL, TLD, and Link Target Score (LTS) of the link. I grab the URL list and dump it into ScrapeBox so I can get the Page Rank values of the pages.

Why do I grab PageRank to judge the value of the links instead of using LTS – Link Prospector’s proprietary link scoring measure? A few reasons:

  • When you’re evaluating links across different tools and prospect sources, it’s nice to have a consistent score you’re using. PageRank isn’t perfect but it’s easy to get for any site, and most people understand it.
  • I don’t know much about LTS.

Check out the LTS scores for some sites the tool found for one of my clients:

URL LTS PageRank Page MozRank













If I’m going to make decisions on what links to pursue and what to skip over based on a score, I have to be confident that the measure I’m using is accurate. And you can see that at this point, the LTS doesn’t seem to jive with PageRank or MozRank.

That said, the tool is super new and I suspect the LTS is a work in progress. And frankly, the appeal of Link Prospector is in the link finding itself, not the link scoring.


Link Prospector kicks ass. Why? Because it helps you automate one more step in your link building process. The more automated your link building process becomes, the more scalable and repeatable it becomes.

For me, it saves having to train someone to use different search queries to find link opportunities. Plus, it’s a more user-friendly alternative to using ScrapeBox for link prospecting.

If you do a lot of link building, you own it to yourself to check out this tool. It’s super easy to use, cheap, and can unearth some awesome link opportunities you missed.

One thing I’d love to see in Link Prospector is a local citations report. Darren Shaw, who I mentioned earlier as one of the developers of Link Prospector, has a local citation finding tool already. It would be awesome to see him integrate it into this project. Is Handy Dandy!

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September 2  |  Link Building Tools  |   Ryan Clark

I’ve been meaning to write about and I finally remembered after using it again this morning. This will be a quick and easy post because this tool has one feature, and it’s handy one. If you quickly need to compare link numbers of multiple sites to get an idea of what numbers the competition has, then this is the tool for you! The tool is powered by OpenSiteExplorer’s API so you know you’re getting some good numbers to go by. So that’s it really, go ahead and start using it because it’s almost a daily tool for us here at Linkbuildr.

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Link Research Tools Review Part 1: Backlink Analysis

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August 12  |  Link Building Tools  |   Ryan Clark

This is the first in a series of posts covering the little awesome tools that make up the LRT in its entirety. Chris Cemper and his team (Christine big thanks) were gracious enough to let me test these tools out for months now. I’ve been using them on a daily basis and at this point they’ve sunk in as an extension of my link building subconscious.

We’ll be looking at the backlink analysis tool first up because it’s what we’re all here for, the rest is just a mind blowing concoction of tools for link ninjas(and we’ll be getting to those shortly). The first thing I’ll mention are the reports that come out. Why? Well, if you’re like me and read a lot of link data you like something easy on the eyes. The spreadsheets that you can download are really one of my favorite aspects as I don’t need to dink around with anything. This is especially great for clients because I can just fire it off and they can understand what’s going on.

Starting A Campaign:

As you can see from the picture beow, you have a few options from domain, page and analysis internal page backlinks. For this post I’ve ran LRT on our Twitter profile to see what links to it. We’ve built a lot of links to it through online apps, business profiles and other random places that it just gets picked up. Do this to some of the most followed accounts and you’ll really see some interesting things.

This is where you can plug in your OSE API key and get that data juicing in. So again, for the download data link coming up we went with analyse page backlinks because I don’t have 2 hours to wait around for it to accidentally run the domain….oh my that would be a doozy. As you can also see, you have an option to upload your own backlinks from other sources in a few different formats which is really handy. So the link below is the report of our Twitter account, so check it out

Click Here To Download The Backlink analysis

Metrics You Can Run:

In this social day and age, you’re going to want social metrics as well right? No problem for LRT! You have just about everything covered here so you can quickly get the data you need and please yourself, or your client. The only downside to running these with every backlink report is it can slow down the process. If you have a big site it can reall take its time, but you can set it and forget it which makes it no big deal really.

Check it out;

That’s all there is to this part of the LRT and I’ll be covering another aspect of the tool again here this week. If you have any questions about the program, feel free to drop them in the comments below. I know I got access to this for free, but if I had to pick one negative feature it would be the price. I think it’s a little steep but then again there is API access fees, CPU/server/bandwidth costs so it can add up for them on their end. It’s definitely more for a team/company/brand to utilise and it’s something I’d highly consider. The day pass is a great way to check it all out though.

LRT Product Tour:

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Yahoo Site Explorer Is Shutting Down

July 12  |  Link Building Tools  |   Ryan Clark

Well the sad news of the day is that the beloved Yahoo Site Explorer will be closed to and users will be shoved on over to Bing Webmater Tools. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with their backlink reporting, and I can say truly that it will be missed! I imagine tools like Link Diagnosis, SEO Quake and others will have to start learning the Bing API and see if some magic can happen. Link analysis has evolved a lot in the past couple of years, and we’ll still have Majestic SEO data, Open Site Explorer to power other tools for our needs.

The other features of site exploer will remain for a while longer as well including sitemap submissions and other features for people outside of the US. Eventually Yahoo’s search results will be fully powered by Bing anyway, so I’d get familiar with their webmaster tools sooner than later! I’d love to hear from other link builders out there if they’re still using the link reporting here a lot, or have you all moved onto strictly using the big boy tools?

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