Backlinks are one of the main Google ranking factors… That’s the fact that we’ve all known for so long. I think we all realize how important it is to have high-quality incoming links from strong and non-spam domains. But how to conduct proper analysis and research of backlinks so that your link building strategy is absolutely top-notch and, what’s even more important, effective? Luckily, there are several SEO tools to help you with that. In this article, I present the best, in my opinion, link building tools I use in my daily work. So let’s get down to business!
This list could not exist without by far the best link building tool recognized by marketers around the world. What makes Ahrefs so special and effective in backlink analysis? This tool has billions of websites in its database (and this database is still being expanded!), so you can quickly check all backlinks for almost any website. How to do it right? You have two fantastic features offered by Ahrefs that will give you really great backlink prospects: Site Explorer and Content Explorer. I will briefly describe both of them.
The amount of data on both your website and your competitors that you can gather through Ahrefs’ Site Explorer is really impressive! What you have to do is enter the URL of a domain you want to analyze and Ahrefs will do the rest.
The tool will generate a report with such basic data:
You can already see how many backlinks a website has and from how many unique domains they come. What’s more, Site Explorer will also show you a chart with the number of referring domains and pages over time.
But now let’s move on to the most important part for which it is really worth having Ahrefs. Choosing the Backlinks option, you will be able to analyze all referring pages. You can find it here:
You will see a report with a list of all the backlinks, which can be sorted by Domain Rating (DR), URL Rating (UR), traffic, referring domains, linked domains, external backlinks, or keywords. What’s more, Site Explorer also offers an option of applying various filters. So you can analyze your backlinks by language, platforms (blogs, e-commerce, CMS, etc.), or link type (dofollow, UGC, Sponsored, redirect, etc.).
Content Explorer is the second, but slightly less popular, feature offered by Ahrefs, which can give you quite good backlink prospects. However, maybe at first, you think that Content Explorer is not dedicated to backlink analysis, it can really show you great sites where you can, for example, find mentions to turn them into links.
Why can Content Explorer turn out to be a great link building tool? For example, you can contact website owners and ask them to add a link to your website or to write a guest article for them. Alternatively, you can see on which pages your brand is mentioned. So many possibilities to get great links!
Another great SEO tool, without which I absolutely can’t imagine backlink research is SEMrush. This tool is well-known primarily for competition analysis or keyword research but provides many other cool features, including Link Building Tool. Would you like to see in which domains your strongest competitors have backlinks? In this case, this tool will be just perfect for you! Once you enter the URL of your website and your competitors, SEMrush generates such a report:
Backlink Analytics, another SEMrush’s feature, works in a similar way to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Shows data and metrics such as:
- the number of backlinks and referring domains,
- categories of referring domains,
- backlink types (text, image, form, frame),
- link attributes (follow, nofollow, sponsored, UGC),
- pages with the biggest number of referring domains,
- top anchors,
- countries from which the backlinks come from.
3. Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool is usually used for technical SEO analysis as this great tool can quickly scan a website and show all the data related to various elements: title, meta description, images, headings, etc. However, some features may be useful in link building. I recommend especially URL Profiler, which enables you to connect to your Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Ahrefs, Majestic or Moz accounts, and important data. This way, you will have easy access to various backlink prospects.
4. Moz Link Explorer
Moz Link Explorer is by far the most popular feature offered by Moz. Many SEO experts evaluate domain quality based on Moz’s metric. I guess this is enough recommendation to include Moz Link Explorer for creating link building strategies. How does this tool work? Just enter your competitor’s URL and the search bar:
And then Moz will generate for you a list of all backlinks with key data such as Page Authority (PA), Domain Authority (DA), the number of linking domains, anchor text, and spam score. This is enough information to tell if it is worthwhile to get a link from a given domain.
Moz is really great for backlink research, but it has a much smaller database than Ahrefs, which is why it will give you much fewer backlink prospects.
5. Majestic SEO
If you are looking for an SEO tool similar to Ahrefs and Moz, then Majestic SEO will be a great choice (especially for those looking for slightly cheaper tools).
Majestic SEO, just like other competing tools, has developed its own metrics to determine the quality of domains, these are:
- Trust Flow – the quality of backlinks of particular pages or websites, the higher Trust Flow, the better the quality of links,
- Citation Flow – the quantity of backlinks of particular pages or websites, Citation Flow focuses only on the number of backlinks not paying attention to their quality,
- Visibility Flow – used to find awesome editorial-style links on pages with high Trust Flow,
- Topical Trust Flow – determines the topical relevance of a website compared to other websites from the same category.
6. Disavow links
You cannot always fully control all links pointing to your site. Especially since it happens that malicious competitors sometimes use black hat SEO methods and create lots of low-quality spam links (this practice is known as Google Bowling ) to lower your rankings.
How to deal with it? Fortunately, there is a great proven way! You can disavow unnatural links and ask Google not to take them into account and remove them from the search engine index.
A few steps on how to effectively disavow backlinks:
1. Create a list of backlinks you would like to disavow.
- one URL per line,
- to disavow all the links from a given domain add the prefix “domain:”,
- the file should be in .txt format,
- the text should be encoded in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII,
- you can add comments to the file, they should start with a new line with #, then these comments will be ignored by Google.
2. Upload the list with backlinks to disavow.
Google created a really great tool Disavow links. This is where you should post a list with all the low-quality links that may harm your rankings. However, remember to use this tool with caution, if you make a mistake you may harm the visibility of your site in Google’s search results.
If you are planning a great link building campaign, one of the things you need to take into account is whether you get a dofollow or nofollow link. I personally recommend NoFollow, a simple browser extension that will show you all the nofollow, UGC, and sponsored links once you launch it.
How to recognize nofollow links? It is so simple! Each link with this attribute will have a frame.
A great tool very useful not only for backlink research but also during on-site optimization. If you would like to discover other great Chrome extensions for SEO, check out my article where I present 15 of my favorites.
BuzzSumo is an extremely popular tool for content marketing. But who said it can’t be used also in planning SEO activities, including link building. After all, BuzzSumo shows us popular topics that attract users’ attention, increase their engagement, and, as a result, boost the number of natural backlinks (if you want to learn more about it, read Ola’s entry about link baiting).
BuzzSumo is a great way to see what’s going on right now, but also to check brand mentions – take a look at who mentioned your company in the content, but didn’t add an external link to your site.
8. Google Alerts
Google Alerts is another great tool that will inform you every time someone publishes content on topics of interest. This tool will also be very useful when someone mentions your brand or publishes a review of your products but doesn’t add links to your website. With Google Alerts you will always stay tuned and nothing will be missed. You will simply get an email notification each time fresh content matching the alert you set up appears.
If you don’t have access to any paid SEO tools, you still have Google! Use different operators and perform more advanced and detailed searches.
Which search operators can prove useful for you during backlink research?
- site: – limits results to a specific domain,
- filetype: – shows the results only for the indicated file formats, e.g. PDF, DOCX, TXT,
- “brackets” – if you insert some words or even an entire sentence in brackets, then you will get exact-match search results
- intitle: – searches for words in title tags,
- inposttitle: – searches for words that appear in blog post titles,
- inanchor: – this operator shows all pages that are being linked to the indicated anchor text,
- inpostauthor: – If you are interested in content created by a particular author, this operator will show you all blog posts,
- and many others…
As you can see, sometimes you don’t even need specialized paid SEO tools to conduct successful backlink research. However, I have to admit that this method is much more time consuming and complicated.
10. Link Centaur
A good link must always be indexed! Otherwise, all your work is worth nothing. There are many backlinks indexers to choose from, but personally, I would recommend Link Centaur. This user-friendly tool is really effective! So what do you have to do to index the backlinks you have built? Create an account and set up a campaign, then add links. In the free of charge version, you can add 20 backlinks a day.
Without the right link building campaign, you will not achieve any success in Google. Your links should be, above all, natural, non-spam, and coming from high-quality domains. So if you want your strategy to be well-planned and effective, you can’t do much without great link building tools. In this article, I presented 10 of them, mostly paid, which I use for backlink research and analysis.
If you are looking for a professional SEO agency that will plan your long-term link building campaign using the best tools, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help you!
And which of these link building tools do you recommend? Or maybe you know others that you use on a daily basis? Let me know in your comments!