Introducing the tool
Unlike Raven Tools & Moz Analytics, BuzzStream is designed specifically to aid the link building process. As such, it may be a little unfair to compare it head to head with the other tools we look at in our comparison report, which encompass other parts of the SEO process. However, as any search marketer will tell you, links are one of the most important parts of SEO, so if you get that right, you’ve got the hardest part of the job done! Buzzstream’s link building software could definitely give you an egde.
BuzzStream has continued down the path of being a very specialist tool which is going to be most useful for SEOs who are engaged in large scale link building campaigns, involving prospecting for opportunities, communicating with webmasters and placing content. Some new features were added to BuzzStream’s prospect research functionality in January 2019, so we’ll take a look at those in our review.
BuzzStream Features and Interface
BuzzStream’s interface is clean, fast and good looking – which is going to be crucially important if you’re going to expect your link building team to spend a lot of time using it.
First-time setup is simple and takes a few minutes. The most important and potentially tricky part is the integration with your email provider, to allow you to send and receive email within the BuzzStream Interface. If you use Gmail, Office365 or Exchange, this should be fairly straightforward, but those of you who have an IT department and an exchange server may find the process a bit more complex. Based on our conversations with BuzzStream’s founder Paul May, we get the sense that if you had an issue, his team would work with you to resolve it.
While it’s possible to set BuzzStream up super-quick, you’ll get more out of the tool if you spend plenty of time with it and learn all its features. We especially recommend importing your existing contacts via CSV, and connecting BuzzStream to Twitter so you can manage your Twitter outreach alongside email within the interface. The service provides some excellent bite-sized welcome and set up emails with some really informative videos that walk you through key features and how to get started. They also provide a dedicated learning website – ‘The Buzzstream University‘ with even more step by step training articles and videos to support you as you learn Buzzstream. They also offer one on one support through Webinars designed to personalize BuzzStream to fit your specific goals and workflows with a live BuzzStream expert if you wish to use them. Its always refreshing to see a tool provider going the extra mile to support users on the steep learning curve every new tool demands you tackle. Buzzstream really have gone the extra mile to do this and we would encourage more tool providers to take a look at how they are going about this and take note.
BuzzStream has no rank checking functionality.
Link management/ analysis
Links have historically been, and will likely continue to be for the foreseeable future the biggest part of most SEO campaigns, so having a robust tool to manage and monitor your link building activity is pretty essential.
This is where BuzzStream comes into the mix. Managing links and link prospects is what it does. The tool works as a CRM for link building activity and helps you to keep track of your contacts and conversations with potential link partners. This is particularly useful for agencies as link data can be reused across campaigns to reduce the number of new contacts which need to be made to get links. Or if you’ve got an in-house SEO team having all your data in a well maintained CRM like BuzzStream will pay dividends when one of your team leaves, taking their link relationships with them.
When you setup BuzzStream you add an extension to your browser which allows you to add new link prospects to your BuzzStream database directly from your browser. This is a powerful feature as it automatically scans the site to try and grab contact details off the page like an email address, phone number or contact form, this pre-populates fields in your CRM entry making the process of adding sites to other systems quicker and easier.
The contact finding also grabs info like Twitter ID’s and Facebook pages in a flash to help you build up your link building database. A lot fewer blogs and websites still expose their email addresses than when we first reviewed this tool but when the information is there it is useful. If an email address isn’t available the tool will still find links to contact us forms which enable you to reach out and start a conversation in the absence of an email address. A word of caution- check the email address if it picks one up. The tool can sometimes pick up email addresses for blog plugin makers as we found when updating this review.
One of the best features of BuzzStream’s link management and a feature which is much improved since we originally looked at it is the email management facility. To save an email conversation in BuzzStream you used to have to BCC a copy of it to a BuzzStream email address – that was fine, but a bit messy. Nowadays BuzzStream is fully integrated with your email account so your entire message history (or that of your team) is recorded against a contact in BuzzStream’s contact database. If you’re having 50 conversation streams at once while doing link outreach, having this message history in one place without searching your inbox is an absolutely massive timesaver. Clever stuff. In fact BuzzStream’s system is quite intuitive when it comes to link building workflow so actions like a link changing to active will also change the contact status – from a management point of view this means you can always be on top of where link building projects are at, and for link builders it gives you a task list of link prospects which still need attention.
Since we first reviewed BuzzStream they’ve introduced a number of nice new features including an ‘outreach’ module which helps you craft link building template emails to link prospects or partners using mail merge style features. For anyone who remembers the early link building tools which let you mass mail hundreds of link exchange requests that’s not really the idea of this system, its best used by researching and adding quality link prospects to the database first and then using the outreach to introduce yourself and your proposition, then following up replies with a personal response. You can even schedule the follow-ups to happen automatically.
BuzzStream does a tremendous amount to make aspects of outreach easier. For instance, the tool can scan a prospect list to automatically find things like contact details (email addresses, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, etc.) Being able to do this research automatically in bulk from a spreadsheet of potential influencers is great. You get the sense that everything is just being lined up for you to do the doing. This is a feature which many a tool has tried to get right, but most fall well short of the mark, saving you a couple of seconds over finding contact info manually but costing you a couple of seconds in cleansing and checking false positives. Anyway, BuzzStream’s implementation of contact finding is better than most we’ve seen.
Email functionality also extends to adding open and click through tracking to your link building templates which is a great addition for anyone used to conducting manually managed outreach efforts from their standard email program. We are quite used to seeing this kind of functionality within Email service providers like MailChimp within your campaign activity reports but in Buzzstream its used much more to determine one on one interactions. All email activity for each contact is then stored within that contacts record, giving you a view of what each contact has opened, and which links in the emails you have sent them they have clicked. You also get data added for Last opened and Last clicked. As your contacts can then be filtered on email activity this simple addition to the database really will help you to determine which of your leads is with following up with. The ability to filter your contacts by their email activity to quickly review those who have engaged in specific actions is just such a great feature.
And a research features update in January 2019 saw BuzzStream add yet more efficiency to the processes of prospecting and outreach. A new web search research facility enables users to create lists of contacts directly from SERPs, simply by clicking the BuzzMarker in their browser. You can then review the sites individually, or “Add to project” to add everything into BuzzStream in bulk. The then finds metrics and contact details of the prospects, thus automating some of the potentially fiddly aspects of the research process. Adding in bulk doesn’t necessarily mean lowering your standards, as you can filter the prospects added by metrics such as domain authority in BuzzStream.
Another new feature is the provision to add research links to prospects, which helps create a record of why you found a certain site. This should help make extensive contact lists more useful for long periods of time.
A manual review is still needed to tell a quality site from a spammy one – an essential long-term consideration for SEO – and this is catered for by BuzzStream’s review workflow. This feature allows you to take a list of research prospects and work through them one-by-one, or jump to any particular prospect from a menu.
The “BuzzMarker” feature is in our opinion one of the best features of any of the tools we’ve looked at in this SEO tools report. When conducting outreach to prospects in your lists, you can use the BuzzMarker to open a bunch of sites at once in a browser style window with key contact information and other details all on one screen. From this view you can look around the site, remind yourself of why you’re contacting this site owner and send an outreach email from a template, all without leaving the screen. This really speeds up the link prospecting process and makes things simple, even for junior staff.
BuzzStream starts from $ 24.99/ month, with plans ranging through to $299/ (or higher still for very large link building teams). The level of plan you need will mostly be dictated by the numbers of projects you want to manage and users you want to access the system, so agencies will likely be looking at one of the costlier plans. (See plans) Bear in mind that BuzzStream’s sole purpose is to handle your link management, so you may find yourself needing additional tools for reporting, rank checking, etc.
As we hope this BuzzStream review shows, Buzzstream is an excellent tool for link management, and for large scale link acquisition campaigns it’s the best thing around. However, as a standalone tool your link data is always going to be siloed on one system and you’ll need additional tools to manage other aspects of your SEO like your rank checking and analytics. If your link building teamwork in isolation or you have a large number of link builders working on a project or across campaigns, it can be very useful.
We’ve been really impressed with the ongoing development of BuzzStream’s interface and features, and we can see more and more agencies and big teams taking it up as Google continues to clamp down on low-quality link building, forcing link builders to do things properly. Of course, any CRM is only as good as the data you put into it, so if you choose to use this for your link building spend some time training your team up on the system and make sure they’re using it properly by regularly auditing your data. The online learning content is of a high quality and the support team at BuzzStream are excellent and we’re sure they will be more than happy to spend the time making sure you and your team are getting the most from the tool.
Go back to SEO tools comparison report.