By: Anne Haynes
The last two weeks I’ve been testing the BuzzStream offsite search engine optimization (SEO) link building management application that is currently in private beta. I feel very privileged to have this opportunity because I know first and second hand how painful link building outreach programs can be when implementing offsite SEO campaigns.
This blog post is designed to educate website owners and agency management how labor intensive SEO outreach programs can be and why using the BuzzStream application will cut cost dramatically. I implement offsite SEO as a website owner and an internet marketing manager at a hosting company, so I have a unique perspective for both readers. In my professional opinion, BuzzStream is becoming the CRM solution for the SEO industry.
Understand that I’m skeptical about finding the easy button to link building and I know how labor intensive link building can be when you obey the White Hat rules of SEO. Many SEO firms created in-house proprietary applications to manage offsite SEO campaigns, but BuzzStream has the ability to plug into any SEO firm, agency or in-house operation.
Six months ago I was researching ranking report software and link management software. I asked the Linkedin SEO group for some help and while I received a ton of answers for ranking report software, there was nothing for link management software. For those people implementing offsite SEO campaigns, you understand my pain. But for those of you that don’t know the interworkings of offsite outreach programs let me spell it out:
First, you have to find websites that compliment your website by querying the search engines with [“list * keyword sites ”] here is a list of search engine queries for link building.
Once you locate a website that looks good you need to make sure the website lives in a good neighborhood; no porn, no excessive advertising, no gambling etc. Each URL you find is entered into the bad neighborhood link building tool and if the site passes the test, it can be added to the offsite optimization spreadsheet. Understand that you could spend anywhere from 20-30 minutes trying to locate “1” good link. But when you find one you feel pretty good the URL made it to the spreadsheet.
This is not your average spreadsheet; following are a few example column headings:
1. Site URL – Easy find cut and paste into spreadsheet and make sure it’s a hyperlink
2. Site Page Rank – You need a toolbar or a web-based tool to gather PR info
3. Site Alexa/Compete Ranking – Enter URL into Alexa.com and cut and past the score into spreadsheet
4. Submission Location – Surf the website to find proper page for the website to be listed
5. Site Owner Name – It could be on the site or you have to go to Whois to find this information if it’s public
6. Site Owner Email – Same as #5
7. Site Owner Phone – same as #5
8. Contact Us URL – Locate this on the site or #5-#7 work instead
9. Date Submitted – This is the date you actually email your request
10. Keyword Meta Variation – Select a different keyword link variation depending on SEO campaign
11. Date Live – You need to check and recheck
12. Date Last Checked – You need to recheck and then check again
As a SEO Specialist working at an agency you’re responsible to collect all the information about the site needed to contact the website owner or webmaster and request a link to the website being optimized. Understand that even if you email a webmaster or owner, there are no guarantee the webmaster will make time for you and add your website. Moreover you’re luck y if you even receive an email back. In my professional opinion a combination of email and phone works best. But again there are no guarantees.
While Google has updated their algorithm to look more at quality links and not quantity, sites that rank really well still have thousands of inbound links. Yes thousands! Now repeat this process over and over, check and recheck to make sure your links have gone live and pray it doesn’t go down without you knowing.
Now let’s say you own a website and you’ve hired an agency to conduct your onsite SEO and offsite SEO. You’re happy with the results, but you’ve decided to bring the SEO in-house, so you request your list of links from the agency. Ok, I’ve worked at agencies and managed search marketing departments; we rarely gave clients the list we built. Many times I’ve seen instructions on how to find your links through emails. Bottom-line, if you search on Google or use Yahoo! Site Explorer you will find your offsite optimization activities. Clients “don’t know what they don’t know” and are pointed to marketleap.com and the search engines to find their offsite SEO activities.
Imagine all of the information above not being given to you. It’s more common than not, so if you outsource your offsite SEO work to an agency make sure you have it “in your contract” that you own the link building “contact” data.
I’m going to continue on this agency theme for a minute. Now let’s say that you manage a search marketing team and you have 40 clients’ offsite optimization strategies distributed among 4 SEO Specialist. One day you come into the office and one of your employees gives two weeks notice. You check over his/her offsite optimization spreadsheet and there is no contact information. You request the information be updated. The employee has to go through his/her email inbox to collect all the information and itemize contact information on a per URL level. With a spreadsheet running at over a thousand rows it will take more than two weeks just to populate the information correctly.
The employee leaves a mess and you assign a seasoned SEO Specialist to take over the work. You ask IT to forward the emails to the new SEO Specialist in charge of the account. The new specialist on the account receives emails from site owners with no context because they didn’t start the relationship in the beginning. The SEO Specialist explains the situation and the cycle starts all over again! Now apply $75 – $125 an hour to that time and put this in your overhead.
For those of you that don’t know this, offsite optimization is one of the most important aspects when ranking in the search engines. Now imagine how many hours this process takes to implement and track. There are many early adopter SEO firms that built in-house applications to improve offsite SEO efficiencies, but BuzzStream is the first application I’ve seen to cover both agency and in-house offsite SEO markets.
I’m grateful to Paul May and the BuzzStream team for building a system to manage these relationships and remove the spreadsheet hell out of offsite optimization. I’ve been using the software for a few weeks and as of today I feel BuzzStream has the ability to be a CRM for offsite SEO.
If you’re insterested in getting you hands on BuzzStream, Follow me on Twitter shout at me to follow and I’ll DM you with a private beta link.