Home » Blog » Office Hours » When should you pay for a link-building tool?
Link-building tools are important to scale up, but when should you start using them?
David: So, Tim, you wanted to talk about link building as a concept. And Youssef and I’ve been playing around with it. It’s not a new link-building idea. But we’ve dipped our toes, so to speak, into a new tactic that we’ve talked about, but Youssef and I are just starting to do it, and that is broken/skyscraper link building. Are you familiar with what this kind of link building is?
Tim: Just recently, but I’m not sure that could define it. But yeah, brief me on it.
David: Yeah. So, the idea here is that we find something that already has attracted links. Now, that could be something that’s really cool and out of date. Or it could be something that is no longer live on the web and used to have a lot of links but no longer has a lot of links. But because it has proven to attract links, if we can replicate it on our website, we might be able to attract links organically to our website. Youssef, does that sound like a good definition to you?
Youssef: Yeah, absolutely. You just need to mention that you kind of need a tool for it. That’s something that I can’t do without a tool.
David: Right, a backlink tool.
Youssef: Yeah, it’s an advanced tactic. So, maybe if you are just starting with link building, you would do something easier that doesn’t require a tool, and if you don’t find too much luck with that, then maybe you can go to the advanced stuff.
David: Yeah, the problem with backlink tools is they’re very expensive, and there are no good free ones. But even if you had like, you know how much I hate SEMrush, that’s better than nothing. Or Moz has a fairly decent backlink tool. But if you really want to do these advanced tactics, having something with much more data like Majestic, which we like, or Ahrefs, which is really good as well. So, that’s the first thing to find something that has backlinks, and you need a backlink tool to check that.
Tim: What do you do, just out of curiosity, use the backlink tool to search a topic, and then it shows broken links or something?
David: Well, that’s one of the tricks, it’s hard to go by topic through backing tools, but you can search websites with backlink tools. So, without mentioning the name of the website because it’s proven to be a treasure trove for us…
David: Yeah, yeah, we keep finding more and more. We found a really large website. It’s a website that you might not know of, but if you heard us mention them, you’re like, oh yeah. And we take the backlink tool, and we look at the website, and the backlink tool tells us, here are pages that have 404 errors. And of the pages with 404 errors, here’s how many backlinks are pointing to that page. You could also do the same thing and look at a website and say here are the pages with the most backlinks. Are they linking to something that is two or three or four years old that could be updated and better, even if it’s still alive? So, you might be able to do this without a backlink tool, but it would involve a lot more hard work. For instance, let’s say you found something on a website that was really good but just out of date. Or let’s say you encountered, by accident, a 404 error on something that was really good. You could then improve it and write it on your site. And it might just organically attract links. But the way this process really works is when you reach out to everybody who is linking to the old thing. You say, “Hey, you’re linking to an out-of-date resource,” or, “Hey, the page your link into doesn’t exist anymore, but we rebuilt it. Don’t worry. In fact, it’s even more useful. Would this help your readers to share it on your site?” Maybe another way to do it without a backlink resource; let’s say you found something like The Definitive Guide to Widgets in 2015. And let’s say someone wrote this really super comprehensive guide to understanding widgets, how to build widgets, what to look for when you purchase a widget, how to tell a good widget from a bad widget. I mean, it’s a great resource, but it’s from 2015, and because you are in the business of widgets, you know that information is way out of date. I mean, the world has changed in six years; widgets are not built that way anymore. No, now it’s this way. So, what you could do is you could build a new resource on your website that’s up to date. And then do a Google search for the title of the page in quotes. And see if you can find who’s talking about it, which they might also mention it. And then reach out to those people. So, you wouldn’t know who’s linking; you had to go about it in a round and round sort of way. You can also do something like the key topic in quotes and then a space and then resources as if you’re looking for a series of resources about that topic. You might not find people who are linking to that, but you might find people with the page for resources about that. And with that, pardon me for a moment.
Tricia: So, Tim, do you have any backlink tool that you’re thinking about? Or are you just looking at doing more backlink stuff?
Tim: Yeah, I just need to be active about doing that, and you know, I haven’t. I mean, I’m only really studying it right now. So, actually doing it is what I need to wrap my head around more. So, the discussion about all this is cool.
Tim: And the really good point about not going the tool route until you need the tool route. You know, I like this approach much better and working on the other techniques rather than relying on the tool out of the gate.
Tricia: Yeah, but that’s like a lot of things. You can spend a ton of money on tools and have tools that you’re paying for before you’re ready to use them.
Tim: Yeah, right. I might have one or two of those.
Tricia: I’m sure I do too.
David: Around Black Friday, we all buy the app SUMA and are like, I’m totally going to use this, and we forget that we have it.
Tim: I didn’t buy anything last year because I bought too many things the previous year.
Youssef: Can I add something, please? So, if you remember correctly, David gave me access to the tools. We use Majestic, but I didn’t use it at the beginning until I think three months, because I was like, I can’t use this. I’m not really that in-depth into link-building yet. So, even though I had access to it, I didn’t find it useful for me. But when I started getting, you know, the hang of it, of the basic stuff with link-building and I started thinking, what can I do next? And then I felt like Majestic was more useful to me, and now I can’t work without it.
David: Youssef took some time to research because our Majestic subscription was going to expire, so he took some time and compared Majestic with Ahrefs, which is frankly, the only other resource I would consider, and he made the decision that Majestic was just kind of the better solution for what we needed.
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