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The truth behind Ontolo’s awesomesauce

Gold Mining and the Land of Links

I met my Grandfather only once. I was about 9 or 10 years old. He was a retired gold miner and had a little gold nugget he kept in his pocket. I kept asking him to take it out so I could inspect it over and over again. “That little piece of gold your holding came at a price” he would say.” Men have risked their lives and some have even died for it ” he said in a scratchy voice.

On average, 6 tons of ore are mined in order to produce 1 oz of gold. Twelve thousands pounds of earth has to be dug up, hauled up and out, then processed and refined for one ounce.

Just about everyone understands that gold is deposited in veins or small cracks in rock. After listening to his stories of hard labor and near misses, I asked him why they didn’t they just send tiny little drills down along the veins and suck out the gold with some vacuum. He carefully paused. I could tell he was searching for the right words until he just smiled and put the nugget back in his pocket and artfully changed the subject.
Ontolo Link Building Tools


Data Mining

Fast forward 30 years. Link mining can be one of the least favorite tasks in the industry. We all know that links are and most likely always will be one of the largest (if not the primary) determinate in establishing credibility and authority with the search engines.

To find the good ones, the golden ones you have got to sift through tons and tons of virtual dirt. One of the process that is time consuming is first to determine if they are relevant to your objectives and second is how.

There is a modern day gold rush of sorts. More and more people staking their claim online. This is polluting the online environment everyday by adding more and more garbage. Which means the gold is just getting buried deeper.

The New Gold Standard

Enter Ontolo and their link building tools. Ontolo had the same idea I did 30 years ago, except rather than rock, they drill down through data and suck out the really good stuff saving valuable time and labor leaving the precious links right on the surface.

golden links


What is Ontolo?

Ontolo is a web based Link Building Toolset with a very clean and intuitive UI (User Interface) that has the ability to find very specific kinds of link opportunities with accuracy and in very efficient manner.

  • First, each link prospect is discovered through their our own market research, not from analyzing your competitor’s backlinks.
  • Second, they provide the ability to search on the full text of each link prospect. This allows you to specifically target not only link prospects that are highly-relevant to your SEO efforts, but also to target link prospects that are highly-relevant to your campaign.
  • Third, your link prospect database are customized and tailored to your link building campaign, you aren’t sharing a link prospect database with every other SEO.

Ontolo Features and Functions

  • Daily Discovery of 300-500+ New Link Prospects added to your link prospect database.
  • Customized Link Prospects based on your targeted SEO keywords and link types.
  • Your own, Customized Link Prospect Database with hundreds of new link prospects added every day.
  • Link Prospect Crawler and Indexer that analyzes each link prospect for relevance, value, links, etc.
  • Aggregation of 3rd-Party API data for every link prospect including Google PageRank, SEOMoz URL data, and Alexa data.
  • Fully Searchable Link Prospect Text Database, allowing you to find very specific link prospects. Ie: Prospects with Keyword X in the title, Keyword Y in the body text, but not Keyword Z.
  • Link Prospect Type Classification to quickly and easily distinguish Guest Posts from Paid Link from Web Directories from Links Pages from Blogrolls from Blogs and more.
  • Over two dozen Link Prospect Search Forms to quickly find specific kinds of link prospects, from Guest Posts to Gov and EDU links to Paid Links and more.
  • Export Link Prospects to CSV, Excel, the clipboard or to your printer.

Who is Ontolo built for?

Ontolo is not for every SEO out there. In fact they are pretty up front about that. Ontolo’s tools have been created for power users, search and link geeks that are serious about saving time and delivering refined results, which gives you more time to enjoy Search Engine Central </ plug>.

However for those SEO and agency professionals who have labor costs involved in mining and harvesting link data this is a no brainer. For about 1/5th or 1/10th the cost of one employee or subcontractor you can hire Ontolo to work quietly in the back 24 hours a day, seven days a week without any headaches. No worries that you will invest in training them just to have them go out and compete against you. No calling in sick and no insurance benefits to pay.


What are some of Ontolo’s drawbacks?

One of the drawbacks to Ontolo is that at this time they are only offering single version accounts. In the near future they will be releasing enterprise versions for SEO agencies etc.

It is important to note: The number of client subscribers is limited in Version 2, which opened up 10/12/10, to the first 250 clients. So hurry on over and take a look. They are expecting Version 3 (enterprise edition) in the near future, but I would not wait till then.

Will the links start flooding in overnight?

The Ontolo Link Building Toolset is not a get-links-quick tool. It enables motivated, dedicated link builders to dramatically reduce their prospecting and qualification time dramatically, and concentrate on building high value link relationships.
Ontolo is ideal for you and your company if:

    • You make a weekly/monthly link building commitment
    • You or your team spends 20 hours a month on link building related tasks (NOT including content creation)
    • You have invested in backlink data from SEOMoz or MajesticSEO competitors
    • You have a content and social media/content strategy as a core aspect of your marketing
    • You actively acquire more than 10 new links per month
    • You have a baseline price of $80 per link or more for link buys.

That being said lets dig in a little.


Where does Ontolo really shine?

It’s incredibly flexible and useful across multiple types of link building campaigns. For example you could be working diligently through your directory submission prospects and get a nugget of company news sent down for you to promote. Just select the Blogs search filter, type in your keyword, select the email address report and you’ve got an instant list of relevant blogs and their contact information.

Simply put, it’s the most useful, actionable link building tool on the market today period.

I had the opportunity to speak with Garrett French, Ontolo’s CMO. Garrett is really excited how well Ontolo has been received within the search industry. He said they will continually innovate based on link building opportunities and techniques they discover, by adding new data points for analysis and continuing to listen to their customers’ needs! He says they see a roll up of sorts coming in the link prospecting and link building relationship management tool space.


What makes Ontolo different than other link building tools?

Part of why they built the Ontolo Link Building Toolset is because they found the task of analyzing competitor backlinks to not only be painfully tedious, but they also found that just because a URL linked to a competitor did not make it a relevant link prospect. They find other factors such as keyword relevance in the title and body text, the number of outbound links to other sites, and other factors such as if it is a Guest Post, Blogroll, Links Page, Web Directory, etc, to be much more significant indicating factors for a URL to be a highly-relevant and likely link prospect.

Second, Ontolo provides the ability to search on the full text of each link prospect. This allows you to specifically target not only link prospects that are highly-relevant to your SEO efforts, but also to target link prospects that are highly-relevant to your campaign. For example, if you have excellent writers who can consistently produce Guest Posts, Ontolo help you to quickly and easily websites that have published guest posts that are relevant to your business…all with the click of a button.

Third, your link prospect database is customized and tailored to your link building campaign, you aren’t sharing a link prospect database with every other SEO in the world and Ontolo isn’t trying to download the entire internet for you…just the most relevant and valuable link prospects for you and your campaign.

Fourth, when Ontolo finds contact information for prospects they provide it, drastically reducing time spent searching for an email address or contact page.

Additional Resources from Ontolo

Ontolo has a great link building blog, many free, web-based link building tools, and an incredible ebook “The Link Builder’s Guide to Better, Faster, Stronger Link Building Campaigns“.

Getting started and how Ontolo works

After you have set up your account, you start off as expected with entering your keywords. This is a unique process in that Ontolo begins going out and pulling in links. Depending on the subscription package you choose this can be up to 10,000 links. This is obviously a far cry from the standard 1,000 you are limited to by Yahoo if you are doing it manually and also a number of link tools have this same cap. It is important to note that it does take time to import that many links, but when finished they are indexed into their system for fast delivery.

After the links are imported, then you apply the filters. You can narrow the results even further with query refinement. Their query syntax kind of reminds me of Blekko’s slash feature.

Advanced Boolean Search

Example Query Refinement Process

Query 1: Broad & General

  • Title: [empty]
  • Body: car* auto* truck* motorcycle*
  • What it does: This query will look for any link prospect that mentions car/cars/ auto/autos/ automobile/automobiles/ truck/trucks/ motorcycle/motorcycles in the body text. You might use this if you wanted to get a feel for how many pages are about this kind of content.


Query 2: Begin Narrowing

  • Title: insurance
  • Body: car* auto* truck* motorcycle*
  • What it does: This query will look for any link prospect that mentions car/cars/ auto/autos/ automobile/automobiles/ truck/trucks/ motorcycle/motorcycles in the body text. It also makes sure that it says “insurance” in the title tag, narrowing the result set significantly. This will ensure that you’re finding content that directly relates to insurance in the market of automobiles.


Query 3: Highly-Targeted

  • Title: +(insure insurance policy policies) +(blog* news* article*)
  • Body: +(car* auto* truck* motorcycle*) -(rv* boat*) +(“guest post” “guest author” “guest writer”)
  • What it does: If you take a moment to really dig into understanding this query, it demonstrates all of the major components to formulating highly-precise link prospects, which will significantly reduce your time spent prospecting and qualifying links. Mastering this kind of query is one of the keys to doubling your link building productivity.


Campaign set up

Content type panel

PageRank view

Find contact info

Relevant linksURL linking out already

PageRank value

MozRank valuations

MozRank trust value

Authority score

backlink URL


The gold standard in link building tools

We have come a long ways from shovels and pick axes. We have come a long ways from the days of “allintitle” manual backlink analysis, but then again Ontolo is not backlink analysis. They have raised the bar with a new level of campaign-specific link building… little tiny drills that go right into the vein so you can suck the good stuff right out of there…..all while you sleep without the headaches and costs associated with employees.

My overall opinion is that Ontolo is a great tool has value. The Ontolo group is as passionate about providing great customer support as they are about links. All that being said, I expect to see Ontolo become the gold standard for link tools.
More Ontolo Stuff;

(Ontolo’s) Garret French on SEO Dojo Radio
Ontolo Link Building Tools website
Review by Hugo Guzman



  1. Dave October 26, 2010

    Great stuff there Corey. I had been meaning to dig in and write a proper review for Garrett ages ago. Thanks for taking this one on; great job!

  2. Don K. January 6, 2011

    I agree, its a very valuable tool. I just finished the 14 day trial and was blown away by the results. Having said that, the tool is way too expensive for the average small business owner. At close to $300/month it just not affordable!

Comments are closed.

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