Buzzstream Review

 

This review is part of the SEO tools comparison report. View the entire report here.

Introducing the tool

buzzstream

Unlike Raven Tools & Moz Analytics, BuzzStream is designed specifically to aid the link building process. It may be a little unfair to put it head to head with the other tools we look at in our comparison report which encompass other parts of the SEO process but as any SEO will tell you, links are the most important bit of SEO so if you get that right, you’ve got the hardest part of the job done!

Unlike Raven, BuzzStream has continued down the path of being a very specialist tool which is going to be most useful for SEO’s who are engaged in large scale link building campaigns which involve a lot of research, direct approaches to webmasters and purchasing of links. They released some new features and a new interface in 2013 which we’ll look at in this review.

Setup & interface

One of our biggest criticisms of the first version of Buzzstream we reviewed was the interface. Thankfully with the most recent version of the tool the interface is clean, fast and good looking (an important point if you’re expecting your link building team to spend all day inside a tool!)

First time setup is simple and takes a few minutes. The most important and potentially tricky part of the setup is the integration with your email provider to allow you to send and receive email within the system. Actually for me this was pretty easy because I use Google for mail but if you have an IT department and an exchange server I think it might be a bit more complex but from speaking with BuzzStream’s founder Paul May I got the sense if you had an issue, his team would work with you to resolve it.

You can also configure the tool to suit the type of link building you and your team are doing by setting up custom link types and importing your outreach email templates. Spend a bit of time getting the tool properly setup and learning all its features and you’ll find you get much more from it.

Rank checking

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 a bookmark to your toolbar which allows you to add new link prospects to your BuzzStream database in a pop up window. This is a pretty 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 system quicker and easier.

The link bookmark opens a popup window like this which is pre-filled with information from the page you're on

The link bookmark opens a popup window like this which is pre-filled with information from the page you’re on

The contact finding works faster than the equivalent feature in Raven and also grabs info like Twitter ID’s and Facebook pages in a flash to help you build up your link building database.

One of the best features of BuzzStream’s link management and a feature which is much improved since we originally looked at the tool 2 years ago 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 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.

Link building outreach in Buzzstream, the only tool we looked at with this feature

Link building outreach in Buzzstream, the only tool we looked at with this feature

More recently BuzzStream have launched a much improved interface and added a host of new features. The tool now scans your prospect lists to automatically find things like contact details (emails, Twitter accounts, Facebook pages etc) to make outreach a bit easier. This is a feature which many a tool has tried to get right and in my opinion, frankly, they all 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 I’ve seen.

They’ve also built in tools for link prospecting directly from search results pages.

The Buzzbar

buzzbar in buzzstream

Buzzbar in Buzzstream

The “Buzzbar” feature released with one of the most recent BuzzStream upgrades is in my opinion one of the best features of any of the tools we’ve looked at in this report. When conducting outreach to prospects in your lists you can use the Buzzbar 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.

Price

BuzzStream starts from $19 29/ month with plans ranging through to $249/ month- the size of plan you need will mostly be dictated by the number of projects you want to manage and users you want to access the system so agencies will likely be looking at one of the larger plans. (See plans) Bear in mind with BuzzStream this is just going to handle your link management so you may find yourself needing additional tools for reporting, rank checking etc.

Conclusions

BuzzStream is an excellent tool for link management and for large scale link acquisition campaigns it’s the best thing around, however as a stanadalone 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 team work in isolation or you have a large number of link builders working on a project or across campaigns it can be very useful.

I was really impressed with the new interface and features of the tool and I can see more and more agencies and big teams taking it up as Google continues to clamp down on low quality link building and forces 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 support team at BuzzStream are excellent and I’m sure will be more than happy to spend the time making sure you and your team are getting the most from the tool.

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