Influence Finder is a new link analysis tool that aims to make link research more targeted and less time-consuming while producing better results.
Despite how SEO has evolved over the years one aspect remains crucial to the success of any SEO campaign, links. So just about any tool that claims to make the process faster, smarter, and better quality is worth taking a look at.
Influence Finder is a web-based tool which has a clean interface and is pretty easy to use. When you log in the first thing you’ll see is the project dashboard, where all your current projects are located.
The projects you see there are some templates they provide, however you are free to choose a custom project and name it whatever you’d like. The project options are:
It’s important to note that the report creation interface is exactly the same whether you choose Competitor Profiling, Vertical Media, or Custom. These initial report types are just there to give the user an idea of what they might want to cover in their research.
We ran through a report as if we were running a “Brand” report so you can see how the system works.
Let’s say we work for Waste Management, a leading provider of trash removal and recycling services here in the US. So we selected the first project type in the image above and clicked “go to step 2″.
The interface is simple to work with. You can do the following in this screen:
Once you move on to step 3 you are presented with some more options. Here you can add keywords manually or via the anchor text they found when crawling the targeted URL’s. They will look for occurrences of these keywords in the following places:
You can choose whether they are brand or non-brand keywords. As of this writing actual anchor text is not available, however I have been told that this will be an enhancement in version 2.
So basically if you choose “trash removal” as a non-brand keyword and “recycling” as a non-brand keyword, then they will be grouped under the “non-brand” keyword data point in the results section.
The second place you can add them is via the keywords found during the initial crawl by Influence Finder’s bots (over Majestic SEO’s data). They are sorted by frequency.
When they are looking for these keywords they are looking based on phrase match and not exact match. The idea here is that you are looking for link opportunities around a keyword or phrase rather than for specific data about an exact match keyword. So if you have a site about auto insurance you’ll get results that will show linking opportunities based on auto insurance, online auto insurance, dirt cheap auto insurance, and so on.
It is based on phrase match and I think the addition of the actual anchor text will be helpful in making this tool both a link opportunity research tool as well as a competitive research tool with respect to competitor backlink profiles.
When you are ready to begin the full index simply click “create index”. Above the “create index” tab you can show more keywords from the initial crawl if you want. This can take anywhere from a hour to a few hours depending on the size of the backlink profile.
So here is the results pane for this report. There are 2 panes, the left pane which is for Link Sources and the right pane which are Page Level details related to the domain you highlight in Link Sources (we’ll get to the numerous data points in just a moment):
Here is the right pane. When you highlight a source in the left column (Link Sources), the right pane (Page Level) contains the pages within that site that reference either the brand or non-brand keyword (note, these are sites that do and do not have links to the current domain which can be filtered as discussed later on in this review):
When you highlight a page you can see a screenshot and open it in a new tab, as shown above.
For the left-side pane, Link Sources, you have the following data points available:
You have the same options within the Page Level area in the right pane. Both sets of options are available from the Change Filters -> Link Source or Page Level Filters options within the tool.
The left pane (Link Sources) of the application is where your results are populated, where the right pane is domain or page specific information (Page Level) based upon what is highlighted on the left (more on that in a moment). The left side has the following options, as shown below:
They also have a flagging system, which is purely optional:
Flags are color coded, with the following colors available. Use them for whatever system you devise :
In addition to the data points mentioned earlier (Max Authority, Heartbeat, Affiliate relationships, etc) The custom sorting feature gives you these additional options which you can include in the dropdown referenced above, but in case you missed it here it is again
(click the more button to add additional sorting options)
The additional options include:
Clearly lots and lots of options here. Just one usage example could be that you wanted to see sites that are currently not linking to you, but talk about your brand on their site (in key areas like title tags). These could be good link prospects. First thing to do is change the link display option to “no target links found”.
The next thing is to change the sorting options to have the Brand keyword in the H1 and the Body, these should be good link targets. They do not link to us, they have our brand keyword in the H1 and/or Body copy.
To show those columns you have to go to “Change Filters” as shown below, so they will show those columns in the Link Sources (Left Pane) if you click the checkboxes on the right as we did with Brand keyword in H1 and Brand keyword in Body:
And here you can see the new columns, noted with red dots:
We can see that Earthtimes.org appears to be a worth link prospect with a Max Authority of 12, possibly being a blog (guest post), has a strong heartbeat, and not only has pages with our brand name in an H1 tag but also has it within the body copy.
When we highlight a domain in the Link Sources area, the right pane populates the Page Level data like so:
What’s great here is that now you have pages that are targeted to your content which (most) use your brand keyword in the H1 tag and Body copy. Remember too that there are many, many other filters available as mentioned above. This is just one example of what you can do. It certainly is a pretty targeted way of building links. Now, you know the following:
You have a whole host of other filters available as well, but this makes for a fairly targeted link prospect.
In order to get custom columns, like we did with Link Sources, you have to go into Advanced Page Filters on the right to select those custom columns (Brand keyword in H1 and Body in this example):
We have discussed some of these already as it is used in the normal flow of how you would use Influence Finder. There are an enormous amount of data points available to you within this tool and it’s likely that you will not use all of them on every report you run.
The interface for this part of the tool looks like this:
You have 4 options here:
These are essential tools for slicing and dicing the data to suit your report needs (link research, competitive research, link prospecting, and so on).
Influence Finder has a lot of features. Chances are you have a link tool or two already. As more and more tools enter the online marketing space it’s important to consider the overlap and unique features of the tool you are considering and the tool(s) you might already have.
Influence Finder, as we have outlined for you, has a seemingly endless array of filters you can use to target link prospects. The 3 bigger players in the link research and/or management space are typically thought to be:
When comparing tools in the same space it’s important to make sure they are designed to do the same things, in this case Influence Finder is unique in its stated purpose. Influence Finder is much more about finding worthwhile link prospects in a very targeted manner.
These other tools are much more about pure backlink research (like Open Site Explorer and Majestic) or backlink management, tracking, and workflow (like Raven, which also has Majestic functionality baked into their research features).
Influence Finder runs off of Majestic’s data. When you run a report in Influence Finder, their bots re-crawl the Majestic data to make it a bit more fresh and to customize it to your chosen parameters. The key points of differentiation on Majestic’s side are
Open Site Explorer is a solid link research tool from SeoMoz. It doesn’t quite have the size that Majestic does but it’s certainly big enough to be a worthy link research tool. The UI is top notch and it is very easy to use. Some of the cool things you can do with Open Site Explorer:
So much like Majestic, Open Site Explorer is more of a link research tool/competitive analysis tool. Though, with either, you can certainly find worthwhile linking partners off of a competing site and you can look up sites of “influence” and check backlinks that way too.
Influence Finder’s core benefits are finding linking partners which are relevant to your brand and non-brand keywords so they are naturally much stronger in this area than Open Site Explorer and Majestic. Conversely, Open Site Explorer and Majestic are much stronger in the area of competitive link research.
We recently reviewed Raven and Raven certainly sets the standard for link workflow, management, and reporting at the moment. Raven uses Majestic’s data in their link research feature set.
Raven is kind of in the middle here. They have Majestic built in so they are part competitive research plus part link management plus part link building workflow.
While Influence Finder is planning on introducing reporting and workflow into an upcoming version, their current tool combined with Raven’s link building and monitoring tools make for a powerful link building toolset. So with Raven:
With just about anything you buy, generally you’ll get features you either don’t need or are just a bit beyond what you need them for in terms of depth. The nice thing with Raven is you get access to a bunch of tools in one spot for a fair price.
Do they have all the features? Nope but do you really need every single option on every single tool? There’s something to be said for managing most aspects of a campaign in one spot.
So if you take Influence Finder’s unique core features and combine it with Raven for reporting, workflow, and research and/or with another link research tool like Open Site Explorer then you’ll have a really strong set of tools.
The point is, none of these tools do everything the other does so it’s a good idea to take a look at each of them and weight the features, benefits, and costs against what you “need” for your campaigns.
Lots of data here, so we’ll outline how it all ties together.
You can use this tool for many different purposes and they even give you some guides as to what you might want to use the reports for. I just want to stress that those reports are only exclusive of each other in naming only, the functionality of the tool after you select the report “type” is the same irrespective of which report you choose or if you just go with custom.
We talked about left pane and right pane a lot, here’s a condensed screenshot of the interface:
The left pane also houses the Custom Sort data when selected while the right pane houses the Change Filters options as mentioned eariler.
So this was an example of a report on your domain for one core keyword and some brand related keywords. This is a pretty powerful tool and if they add the actual anchor text where a link exists as well as some stronger work flow (assignments, notes, etc) and reporting features then I think this will be a tool well worth a look for you or your company.
They did tell me the features I mentioned above will be a part of version 2 which they are working on as we speak. When that comes out, we will certainly take a look and post that new information as well as our thoughts. As it stands now this is a really comprehensive tool for link prospecting and link building.
You can find out more at InfluenceFinder.Com.SEO Book.com – Learn. Rank. Dominate.