Product Review - LinkExplore
by Christine Churchill - March 2005
My newsletter partner, Mike Grehan, knows I'm a "tool junkie" so it wasn't too surprising when he recently asked me to go "play" with LinkExplore, a link tool from Sumantra Roy and write a review. If you aren't already familiar with Sumantra, he's widely recognized as one of today's search optimization experts and is the brains behind the Keyword Effectiveness Index (KEI) used in WordTracker. Sumantra originally developed LinkExplore for his own work and found it so handy he decided to license it commercially.
Price: $49.95 per month
Where to Buy: www.linkexplore.com
Purpose of Product: Find reciprocal link partners for link building
If you've been spending hours hunting the web for reciprocal link partners, stop! Here's a tool that can save you labor and time. LinkExplore pulls all the data you need to evaluate web sites as potential link partners and even provides you with contact information for the web site owners. If you were to manually gather the same information from all the different sources that LinkExplore provides, it might take you several mind-numbing hours. LinkExplore delivers results in seconds.
Automating a process you're doing anyway frees you up to deal with more important tasks associated with your core business. You might even use the saved time to pick up the phone (remember those?) and talk to someone with whom you'd like to build a business relationship.
Link Research Tool
The original intent of LinkExplore was to find reciprocal linking partners and automate sending out emails to solicit links. Personally, I would use LinkExplore more as a research tool than as a link building instrument. Of course, I'm one of those squeaky clean white hat types.
Using the tool, I saw a lot of value in the list of potential business partners it delivered. I would even contact some of the companies listed to discuss potential business relationships, but I'm not a fan of mass emailing. In fact, the whole time I was testing the product I was paranoid I was going to accidentally hit the wrong button and send out dozens of link request emails. Horrors! Fortunately, the tool requires you to set up the mailings, so my fears were unwarranted.
I recommend that if you use the email feature, follow the software's advice and make sure that you do sufficient research on the prospect's site and company to allow you to mention specific details of their site when customizing the email.
Intelligence Gathering for Competitive Review
I can also see the intelligence gathering benefits of the tool when you're doing competitive research. It pulls some of the same information I collect manually when I'm doing a competitive review including a site's Google PageRank, Alexa ranking, and current ranking on a selected keyword phrase.
No Easy Data Export Feature
While I liked the information it pulled, I didn't see an easy way to export the data to a spreadsheet or text document on my hard drive. I wrote Sumantra and suggested that option, and he indicated that this feature may be added to a later release, depending on customer demand.
Data Pull May Violate Search Engines Terms
LinkExplore pulls information from two sources: its large database of link partners (5,000+) and directly from search engines. I had concerns that the engine queries might be violating the terms of service with the search engines. I suggested that Sumantra make a version that runs through the API. He was open to this idea as well.
Documentation and Ease of Use
Here LinkExplore gets a gold star. It is very intuitive and straight forward to use. I was able to install and run the product without opening the help text. I later did go back and review the documentation when I thought I had encountered a bug. Turns out it was a conflict with my dual monitor arrangement. That problem vanished when I reloaded the product on a separate machine with a single monitor. (Slight digression here...if you haven't tried using dual monitors, I highly recommend it. It's the next best thing to sliced bread!) I encountered one additional problem with my firewall, but I was able to work around it too.
After Market Customer Support
The customer support I received was exceptional. In the course of testing I had several questions that were all answered promptly.
No Beta Bugs
LinkExplore has been out awhile (over a year) so the usual beta or version 1.0 bugs have long been worked out. Having been bitten by more than one beta bug, my general policy these days is to only test beta versions of any software on a special test machine (which I can re-format later). I highly recommend testing that way-better safe than sorry.
Who Should Use It?
Link builders, SEOs, and even squeaky clean white hat SEMs can benefit.
In The Final Analysis
If you're interested in link building or finding potential business relationships, LinkExplore can lighten your work load and save you time. It comes with an unconditional 120 day money back guarantee so it's risk free. I'd recommend you give it a try today. Let Sumantra know what you think!
© Christine Churchill 2005
Editor: Mike Grehan. Search
engine marketing consultant, speaker and author.
Associate Editor: Christine
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