I have to admit that I tried out SEOlytics because of the cute lizard that popped up in an ad while I was doing research on something else entirely. This was of course why they included a cute lizard in their ad. But the tool is not cute — it’s a pretty serious suite of tools for traditional linkbuilding efforts.
By “traditional” I don’t mean fast, cheap, and spammy. SEOlytics lets you check your keyword rankings (take it with a grain of salt), identify good domains to ask for links from, and then track whether you received the links.
Let’s back up for a minute, for those who are unfamiliar with the process. Let’s say that I want my website to show up when people look for “content creation services.” My first step of course is on-site SEO — making sure that my website talks about content creation services in a useful way and offers answers to the questions people in my target market have on the subject of content creation services.
Then I look around for other websites that might help me spread the word. Here are some examples:
- Curata has a list of content creation services, and I can ask them to include my company.
- I check the backlinks of a competitor in the space and see that they have links from the speaking engagements they’ve had, so I can ask the places where Team Haden has spoken to include links to our website on their websites.
- I see that the Content Marketing Institute accepts articles, and I can use their editorial guidelines to create an article to offer them.
Having made my list of linkbuilding opportunities, I set to work and see if I can get those links. I need to keep a list of the links I’ve requested and pay attention to whether I actually get those links, and I might need to try more than once in order to get the links I want. I should notice the anchor text those links use, and I can ask to have the anchor text changed if I’ve done a good job of building relationships with the webmasters I’ve requested links from.
Then, as the number of relevant links grows, I can watch my rankings for the keyword phrase I chose and see whether those rankings improve.
That’s a traditional method.
SEOlytics supports efforts in this area by tracking your rankings, giving you space to track your linkbuilding campaigns, and suggesting domains to approach for links. It helps you through the process with video tutorials if you need them.
When SEOlytics offers you a domain, you can refine the URL to show the page where you’re requesting a link and the page you’re asking the webmaster to link to. You can include the anchor text you’re requesting, or leave it open if you’re not planning to specify. Then SEOlytics will monitor the site for you and let you know when and if the webmaster gets around to adding the link.
SEOlytics also offers you a variety of reports so you can determine what effect your linkbuilding efforts are having. In the screenshot below, you can see the new links SEOlytics found for Haden Interactive in the past month. There are lots of options for reports — more than we can list here, actually, but it’s worth your time to explore the reports and see how they connect with your business goals.
The free version lets you work with one domain, 10 keywords, and 20 link requests. As of this writing, there is a $99/month plan that allows you to monitor two domains, 50 keywords, and 500 link requests, and a $399/month plan that lets you work with five domains. The priciest tier is therefore the only one that would allow you to track a useful number of competitors.
SEOlytics could certainly speed up the work of a skilled linkbuilder. In order to be a skilled linkbuilder, you have to be able to identify the most appropriate domains to reach out to, not just the highest-ranking ones. You have to be able to produce persuasive requests, build relationships with other webmasters, create link-worthy content, and track your work effectively. SEOlytics helps with only the last of these elements.
“As a business owner,” says Rosie, “I can tell that it would take me a lot of time to learn how to use it, and it seems too narrow in focus to be worth the time. Keyword rankings don’t align with my business goals strongly enough for me to be able to justify the cost, either. I see the value for our linkbuilders, but a max of five domains isn’t enough to provide the ROI I want to see for the price.”
Rank-tracking software that you download and keep on your desktop can get you in trouble with Google, so if you want to use it in spite of its limitations, you’re better off with a cloud-based service like SEOlytics. However, you know it will generally be inaccurate, and you can track your own domain pretty accurately with Webmaster Tools. Is it worth hundreds of dollars to be able to track competitors (inaccurately) as well? Firelink might be a better option, since it allows more domains for the same price. A Moz subscription (also the same price) probably gives more all-around value.
As for the free version, it’s too limited for us, but might be beneficial for others. “I can see this being useful for a mom and pop business where they want to do everything themselves and don’t know how,” Rosie says.
I’m not so sure. I definitely like the ability to monitor to see whether your links have been posted, and I like the idea of organizing a campaign within a tool that allows that kind of reporting. When I did a lot of linkbuilding myself, I used similar software and found it handy.
But it will still require a significant investment in time and learning. If you have someone on staff who seems like a good choice for the work, point them to this tool. Otherwise, the cuteness of the lizard isn’t enough of a reason to use it.