The following article was written by Chelsey Heil. Chelsey is the CEO of Creatives by chelsey, a full service marketing firm dedicated to creative marketing solutions for all business types based in California.
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SEO is an ever changing science. What worked a few years ago to make you millions could get you penalized and ruin your rankings today.
But one thing has remained consistent as a ranking factor with Google – backlinks…
Having backlinks to your domain is a key indicator to Google that your brand is trustworthy and people have a good experience with your company. But how do you get backlinks at scale? It’s a time consuming process if the proper tools aren’t used which is why we’re making this post – to show you what to use to skyrocket your rankings and organic traffic. Let’s dive in…
How SEO Plays Into Your Brand Experience
Before you start writing posts or reaching out for backlinks, you need to understand the relationship you want with your customers.
Creating a digital brand experience is the process of designing everything from the look of your website to the style and tone of writing – and keeping it consistent. This consistent look and feel creates a trustworthy relationship with your readers and encourages them to maintain this relationship with you.
When they see an article out of the corner of their eye in the Facebook feed, they’ll instantly recognize it’s you and click into it – IF you’ve done a good job with your branding. Over time this adds up to true fans and regular readers that buy your products and services without hesitation.
SEO and brand experience are tied together like siamese twins at birth because SEO hinges heavily on your content. Keeping your brand experience consistent with your articles means more likes and shares, more trust, longer time on page, and ultimately more backlinks and positive indicators to Google.
Alright, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get into the tools you need to blow up your blog traffic.
The Best Tools For SEO & Link Building
When I started blogging and made my first *sad* efforts in SEO, I tried to bootstrap everything. Then one day I looked up and realized I had just worked 40 hours to save a few hundred bucks. Even if my time’s only worth $5/hour, I would have saved money by getting the right tools to begin with. I tell that in hopes you’ll glean the lesson – invest in your business upfront because you’ll get better results, faster.
With that said, the tools I’ve listed below (and use every day at my agency) are almost all paid tools. Sorry not sorry. I want you to have the best experience and get real results for your content marketing. Plus, I would be a hypocrite for recommending tools I’m not using and that’s just not how I roll…
I’m separating the list of tools into three categories:
- Tools for research
- Tools for outreach
- Tools for tracking
These are the three phases of link building and SEO so this has everything you need to perform full SEO at scale and keep your brand experience consistent.
Top Tools For Research
The first phase of SEO includes some moderately in-depth research. This means finding topics to write about based on low competition, finding competing domains and reverse engineering what they do, finding clusters of keywords to write about and of course, finding who’s linking to those domains so you can then reach out to those same websites for links to your site.
With that said, below are the tools we use for these processes…
Ahrefs is our go-to tool for almost everything. Subscriptions start at $99 / month but they do have a $7 trial that gives you access for 7 days. If you know what you’re doing, you can get a lot done in that week and may not need to renew for a few months.
We use Ahrefs to find keywords to write about since they currently have one of the most accurate keyword difficulty metrics. Meaning that when we find low competition keywords with Ahrefs, we can be pretty sure it really is low competition and we’re not wasting our time writing about that topic.
Once we’ve written the article, we then use Ahrefs Chrome Extension to figure out how many people are linking to our competition. We take the competing articles with more than 10 linking root domains, paste their article URL into Ahrefs and get a list of everyone linking to them. From there, we can export the list and reach out to those people with our new and updated article.
Ahrefs is also a tool we use for:
- Broken link building
- Finding popular articles with high social shares
- Estimating the traffic on competing sites
- And a whole lot more…
And before we go any further, we don’t have a steak in these tools. They’re just the best tools right now and we’re big fans…
I know I said not to bootstrap…but hear me out…
Ubersuggest was recently purchased by Neil Patel who’s been rapidly adding features to this tool. So, it’s a freemium option that’s good for anyone on a budget. While, at the time of this writing, it won’t show you backlinks or do anything like Ahrefs but it will help you find keywords with low competition that you can write about.
With Ubersuggest, you can enter a seed keyword to get a long list of ideas and you can see how hard they are to rank for. In addition to those features, there’s a few other handy options:
- Add filters for max difficulty
- Filter by search volume
- Include and exclude keywords from the results
- Get a percentage that shows how likely you are to rank for that keyword
- See the serp results with the top 100 pages ranking for that keyword
Best Tools For Cold Email Outreach
Outreach is the most time consuming part of link building. It consists of finding the emails to outreach to and then sending outreach and follow up emails to those people. Any edge you can get from a tool here will pay you back in spades so it’s something you definitely don’t want to skimp on. With that said, below are the tools we use for outreaching…
Now that you have the list of who’s linking to your competition, how do you find the emails for those blog owners? Well, you could sift through each individual blog to find their contact page and then fill out the form…
Or you could install the hunter chrome extension and immediately find the emails with no searching or filling out contact forms. Here’s how it works, you go to the website that’s linking to your competitor and the Hunter extension will either turn orange or stay grey. If it’s orange, then Hunter found emails. If it’s grey, there’s no email and you can move on.
Now you copy the email and put it into your spreadsheet so you can reach out to them in mass with the tools listed below…
2. Find That Lead
Another option we use for finding emails is Find That Lead. Like Hunter, there’s a Find That Lead chrome extension. While it doesn’t light up like Hunter, you can just click the extension and it will either return a list of emails or it won’t find any. Either way, you can find the emails within seconds rather than minutes which massively accelerates your outreach capabilities.
Now that you have a list of emails and competing domains, you need to reach out to these blog owners to present them with your article and ask for links back to your site. Doing this on an individual basis and following up one-by-one would quickly consume you entire day. However, using Mailshake helps you automate 90% of the process.
With mailshake, you can create templates for outreach that populate with the data from your spreadsheet. In other words, you can write an email that’s brand consistent and use it for everyone.
Mailshake will populate the emails with personalized data like the name, email, linking article, etc. so that you don’t have to write emails one at a time. You can also schedule follow-up emails for people that don’t reply. This removes so much work it’s not even funny.
After the initial work of creating the campaigns it’s hands off until someone replies to you. At that point you’re emailing them personally to communicate about your article and whether or not they are going to link to you.
There are other tools for reaching out via email and we’ve tried a few but Mailshake’s the one we use daily so it’s our top recommendation at this time.
Tools For Tracking
Tracking for us consists of Google Drive and Google Sheets. We use Google Drive to create folders for keeping everything organized. For example, I’ll create a folder with the title of a new article that I plan on doing outreach for. Within that folder I’ll create another folder for lists I’ve already reached out to. Now, I import my spreadsheets into the article folder and once I reach out to a list, I drag that into the “already outreached” folder to keep me from double working. It’s simple and any way of organizing folders will work. That’s just the method we’ve found works best for us.
Google Sheets is Google’s version of Microsoft Excel. We use sheets for…everything… When we get our list of the people who link to our competition, we put that list into Google Sheets. Conveniently, all of the tools we listed above integrate with Google Sheets as well. Both Hunter and Find That Lead work within Sheets for finding emails in bulk. And Mailshake can pull data from sheets which quickens our outreach process. And it’s free so you can’t go wrong there.
Keeping a consistent brand experience through content marketing and SEO isn’t as hard as it seems – if you’re willing to put in the effort. By keeping yourself organized in Google Sheets, finding keywords and backlinks with Ahrefs, and leveraging Mailshake to send emails in bulk, you’ll have an efficient content marketing machine with the potential to bring you recurring clients organically and consistently.
Second To None empowers customer-centric brands to deliver consistent, intentional and authentic consumer experiences.
We adeptly design and manage mystery shopping, compliance, engagement and voice of customer solutions grounded in strategic relevance, program integrity and actionable insights. Our solutions are developed on the basis of solid research and statistical science. We achieve success through a relentless focus on quality and innovation, consultative relationships and a talented team of professional associates.