Link building tools
There are many tools available to help you become a more efficient link builder. The one thing to bear in mind is that you can’t build genuinely good links 100 percent with a tool. There needs to be some form of human interaction at some point, to ensure that the right level of quality control is met.
Also, I’ve struggled to find a single tool that does everything I want when it comes to link building. I tend to use a combination of small tools to speed up a few parts of the link building process.
I’m also a bit of a believer in doing stuff manually first. I like SEOs who know how to build links without using any kind of tools. I feel that this helps develop your instinct much more and lets you use your gut feeling when building links. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use tools if they can help speed things up or make you more efficient, but at least be aware of the process behind a tool so that you know exactly what is going on in the background.
What it does: Ahrefs is an all-round suite for link analysis and has a range of other features. It updates once a day and seems to provide pretty good, fresh link data. It is also pretty quick when diving deeper into some of the numbers. It isn’t as pretty as Link Explorer but the data makes up for this.
Cost: Try it for $7, then paid accounts start at $99 a month
What it does: In terms of outreach, Boomerang has a couple of nice features. First, it allows you to schedule emails to be sent at a specified time, which can be really useful if you’re doing outreach to people in a different time zone to yours.
The other nice feature it has is the ability to remind you if someone hasn’t replied to one of your emails. You can tell Boomerang to email you if someone hasn’t replied within a certain time frame; you can then follow up with that person.
Cost: Free for Basic Plan, then starting from $4.99 per month
Broken Link Builder by Citation Labs
What it does: Broken link building is a tactic we’ve talked about in this book. This tool automates a lot of the process and makes it a lot easier to find link opportunities and do outreach. It will take a core keyword from you and run Google searches based on this, it will then return link opportunities, which you can sort and filter.
Cost: Packages start at $67 a month
What it does: BuzzStream is best described as a CRM tool for link building. It allows you to manage your outreach by keeping track of who you’ve contacted, the emails you’ve sent, and the links you’ve built. It can also help with link prospecting and is very good for pulling in a range of metrics quickly (e.g., Domain Authority, IP address). One feature I also really like is that BuzzStream will automatically try to find contact details for a list of websites that I give it. This can be a real time saver.
Cost: Free trial, with accounts starting at $24 a month
BuzzStream Chrome extension
What it does: This extension ties in with the core BuzzStream tool, which is a link building CRM and research tool. The extension itself allows you to prospect for link opportunities, add information about them to your BuzzStream database, and see which prospects are already in your database.
Cost: Part of the BuzzStream tool cost
BuzzStream blogroll checker
What it does: This tool lets you paste in a list of URLs and it will go and find if those pages have blogrolls. If they do, then the tool will return a list of the URLs in those blogrolls. This can be great for expanding your outreach list quickly.
Check my links
What it does: This Google Chrome extension will check all links on a page and find which ones are broken. It will then highlight them in red so you can easily scan the page and find broken links. For link building purposes, this can help with broken link building as well as finding broken external links on your own website.
What it does: This tool is similar to Boomerang in many aspects. It allows you to create email reminders for yourself to make sure that you follow up on your outreach. You simply bcc pre-defined email addresses into your email, and that is it. For example you could bcc in email@example.com and you’ll get a reminder in one week.
Cost: Starts at $18 per month
Google Cache bookmarklet
What it does: This lightweight bookmarklet will check if the page you’re currently on is cached by Google. This helps you in a number of ways because, if a page isn’t cached, it may indicate a problem (unless the page is very new and hasn’t been discovered by Google yet).
What it does: Followerwonk is primarily a Twitter analytics tool, but it has one nice little feature that allows you to find people on Twitter who have websites, influence, and are relevant to you. It is the Search Bios feature which we have looked at already.
Cost: Free version with monthly plans starting at $29
Google Search Console
What it does: Link analysis is just one section of Google Search Console. This large toolset shows you a sample of the links they have in their link graph pointing at your website. Over time, Google seems to have increased this sample and are showing more links than ever before. They actually seem to provide the most comprehensive list of incoming links now, compared to the other link analysis tools above.
What it does: Gorkana is a tool mainly designed for the PR industry and it has a range of features, one of which is the ability to find contact details for bloggers and journalists based on publication or industry. It also has a feature where you can be alerted to new opportunities to get coverage for your clients.
Cost: Varies by usage.
HARO – Help a Reporter Out
What it does: HARO is a service that alerts you when reporters and writers are looking for news sources. These are generally high-level writers, so you’ll always need to provide legitimate, quality sources. In return, you could get good mentions and links from high-quality websites.
Cost: Free basic subscription, with monthly plans starting at $19
What it does: Kerboo allows you to pull all link data into one place and their algorithms will assess all links and classify each one based on how risky it is. You can then drill deeper into the risky ones and use this as a starting point to start link cleanup and removal. There are other uses such as outreach too which can be helpful because Kerboo has a large database of contact details to pull from.
Cost: Monthly subscription starts at £249
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
What it does: LinkedIn Sales Navigator has two nice features for link building. It can help you create more customized outreach emails because it will show you more information about the person you’re contacting. As soon as you paste their email address into your Gmail, it will look for any information it can find about them such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. This allows you to find out a little bit more and maybe customize your email a bit more.
The other feature is that Sales Navigator can help you find someone’s email address. You can effectively “guess” someone’s address, and, when you have got it right, their social networks and picture will probably appear!
Cost: Free Chrome Extension, then $64.99 for the full suite of tools.
Link Prospector by Citation Labs
What it does: The link prospector allows you to find link targets quickly. You can define the keywords that are related to your website along with the types of link you are looking for, then it will search Google for you. You can then filter through the results to find which ones you want to outreach to.
Cost: Pay as you go at $5 per credit, or choose a monthly plan starting at $47
Local Citation Finder by Whitespark
What it does: Focused primarily on improving local SEO rankings, the local citation finder will help you find places where you can list your business online. You won’t always get a link (hence the word citation), but this can be a great way of finding some easy link opportunities. You start with a local keyword and the tool will look for opportunities for you. You can then use the interface to keep track of your work and where you have listed your business.
Cost: Free for a basic account, paid accounts start at $17 a month
What it does: This is actually a suite of tools, one of which is for link analysis. You can also do other things like link prospecting, competitor analysis, and monitoring links that are live. It pulls in lots of data from different sources, and they appear to crawl links to make sure they are still live before letting you run analysis on them.
Cost: Monthly plans start at $399
What it does: Majestic has its own crawler, which is pretty powerful. In fact, it once had a reputation for being a bit too powerful and sometimes over-reporting on link numbers. However, this has improved greatly and updates once a day and crawls quite deeply.
Cost: Free for a basic account, paid accounts start at $49.99 a month.
Majestic Chrome Extension
What it does: Available in Chrome and Firefox, the Majestic extension lets you quickly access link data for the URL that you’re currently on. It can give you the links to a URL, the anchor text, the history of links and a lot more. It is super nifty for some quick link analysis.
Cost: Free for basic use (still lots of data); if you want details you’ll need a Majestic account, which start at $49.99 a month.
What it does: If you’re an SEO professional and do not know how to use Excel, you’re losing out. Big time. It isn’t just useful for link analysis, there are a wide range of things that you can use it for.
Cost: Free trial, you can buy on its own for $8.25 per month.
Moz Link Explorer
What it does: Link Explorer lets you run link analysis on pretty much any domain. It is powered by the Moz crawler which crawls and indexes backlinks. The data in Link Explorer updates, roughly every 24 hours. I’ve personally found that the Moz crawler tends to crawl lots of domains but will not always crawl deeply within that domain. So if a link is a few levels away from the homepage, then it may not show up in Link Explorer results.
I do really like the interface as it is clear and easy to understand. I also like the metrics that Moz provide within Link Explorer such as Domain Authority and Page Authority.
Cost: Free for limited use, full access requires a paid Moz account starting at $99 a month.
Moz link intersect
What it does: Powered by Mozscape, the link intersect tool will tell you who is linking to your competitors but not to you. This can help you find some easy link opportunities because if a website is linking to several of your competitors, then they may link to you as well.
Cost: Requires a paid Moz account, starting at $99 per month
What it does: The Moz toolbar allows you to run some quick on-page and link analysis on the page you’re currently viewing. For example, you can quickly check the on-page elements of a page such as page title, headers, use of rel=canonical tag, etc. It can also highlight nofollow links for you, which is a pretty useful tool to have switched on. In terms of link analysis, the toolbar can access metrics such as Domain Authority, Page Authority, and the number of links pointing to a domain. One other thing which I love is the SERP overlay, which will show you link data below each URL in a Google search result, so you can quickly compare their link data.
Cost: Free after you register, but requires a paid Moz account ($99 a month) to access all the link data
What it does: Norbert allows you to “guess” someone’s email address by providing a few details such as their name and domain. It will cycle through lots of combinations that they may use for their email and if it finds one that appears to work, it will tell you.
Cost: You can pay as you go for $0.10 per lead or choose packages starting at $39 per month.
What it does: Raven can help you find link opportunities and manage the outreach that you carry out to these websites. It also pulls in data from Majestic, which allows you to run link analysis on any domain.
Cost: Free trial, paid accounts start at $79 per month
What it does: Scrape Similar allows you to quickly scrape text from a webpage. This could be a list of many links and you don’t want to go through each one and copy and paste one by one. So Scrape Similar lets you right-click on one of them and quickly grab other links that are in the same format.
What it does: Screaming Frog is a desktop based web crawler, it’s usually used for technical SEO work rather than link building. However there are ways to use it in the course of your link building work too, in particular when doing link analysis because you can crawl your (or others) backlink profiles to pull out information such as anchor text, linking pages, and HTTP response codes.
Cost: Free for up to 500 URLs, then £149 per year
What it does: SEMrush is a tool that can be used for organic and paid search. It allows you to do a range of things but one of the commonly used features is looking at how well competitors are performing in search results – based on rankings. This is particularly useful when looking at your close competitors and assessing how much traffic they may be getting from target keywords. It is also good for reverse engineering websites that may have been hit by Google algorithm updates.
Cost: Starts at $99.95 a month
What it does: Sistrix is a suite of modules which you can pick and choose from, ranging from SEO which can be used for things like competitor analysis and site crawling, through to link modules which can help uncover link opportunities. One of the most commonly used and useful features is the visibility index which can compare your organic search visibility to your competitors.
Cost: Starts at €100 a month
What it does: URL Opener is a really simple tool that allows you to paste a load of URLs into a box, then, with the click of one button, you can open every one of those URLs in a new tab. This is really useful when working with lots of websites doing link prospecting. Rather than having to open each URL one by one, you can just paste them into this tool and save yourself a lot of time.