Top 10 Best Link Building Tools For 2018: Build Links to Improve Your Rankings
Increasing your site’s ranking depends on a lot of factors both onsite and offsite. And if you are into the SEO game, you probably know that off page SEO matters as much as the on-page optimization.
I have previously written a lot about blogging tools and SEO tools so in this post, I’ll focus more on the best link building tools available online that will help you build scalable links to your site.
From amongst the 200 SEO factors involving in ranking a page, backlink building is probably the most popular. The importance of backlink building can be demonstrated from this survey result (
conducted by Moz) which shows that backlinks constitute nearly 23% of all ranking factors because it is what tells search engines about how your site is perceived by other websites. Link building clearly shows how valuable your page is and the more the number of backlinks (both inbound and outbound) pointing towards your website, the more is its trust and authority.
In this post, I’ll show you:
- Top free (and premium) link building tools
- The pros and cons (if any) of these tools
- How to use link building tools to create backlinks
- How to keep things in control without going overboard
Table of Contents
- So let’s continue with the top list of free and paid link generating tools:
- Other essential link building tools and browser extensions:
- How to use these link building tools to create backlinks?
- How to keep your link building campaign in control?
1) SEMrush: The all-in-one SEO tool:
One of the best tools for SEO link building is SEMrush. I have been using SEMrush since quite a time and it’s been the favorite white-hat link building tool of many professional bloggers.
SEMrush allows you to check your competitor’s backlink profile and then strategize your own link prospecting steps to get similar links.
This is very useful to bloggers who don’t know where to start and how to build links that work. You only need to type the domain of your competitor and then click on the backlink option on the left side panel.
To show you the power of SEMrush as an example, I took BloggingWizard.com blog and plugged it on SEMrush. You get the option to check backlinks for the entire blog, any sub domain or a specific URL (helpful if you are spying a very popular page on your competitor’s site).
Then SEMrush will bring you the detailed backlink report of your competitor website along with demographic of linking sites, anchor text used for the backlinks and even the format of links (aka text, images or iframes).
After this you get the whole database of backlinks your competitor blog has. You know what type of sites link to it, what posts get more links and even the anchor texts they use. You can further filter the backlinks based on follow type, referring domains, referring IPs if you have them etc.
Now I know I have to get in front of sites like NeilPatel.com or similar sites if I want to get backlinks or mentions.
You can also get the details of the referring domains so that you can use the data for outreach to those bloggers. SEMrush helps you track and compare your link building results with your competitors so that you know what is working and what is not.
Pros of SEMrush:
- SEMrush provides detailed data about backlinks, their index times, anchor text used etc.
- You also get various site audits, keyword research facility and more to boost your content strategy that can bring more organic links.
- Read this post for more details about how SEMrush can help you.
Cons of SEMrush:
- SEMrush is a paid tool which may not favor many newbie bloggers (but you can grab this link to get 30 days of FREE trial of SEMrush and download heck loads of competitor backlink data).
- SEMrush doesn’t have advanced broken link analyzing techniques (yet) like Ahrefs does.
2) Majestic SEO:
Majestic SEO is the world’s biggest backlink index database which means it knows everything about links better than any other link building tool online. It has 875 Billion links in its backlink database (called historical index). Majestic has a game changing feature in which it analyzes links of sites on a daily basis. This backlink data is called Fresh Index. You can get daily reports on new backlink gains for your site and that of your competitors.
Majestic’s free version is good enough to help you track and audit backlink profile of your own site. This is very essential because it helps you know how people see your site outside and what type of content works the best. You can further build relationship with the linking sites to grow and get more links.
Here is how you can use it to compare two different sites and their authority.
You can even get reports on negative SEO or unnatural growth of backlinks over a period of time so that you can stay cautious. Majestic allows you to get details about shared neighborhood which means you can check for domains with most backlinks on any given IP or domain name and see other websites using the same hosting and their backlink structure.
Here is what I did checking a random IP address and Majestic got me the number of sites hosted along with their link data.
Pros of Majestic SEO:
- Using Majestic as a link analysis tool helps you to get information from the largest resource of backlink data, which is accurate.
- The link profile fight (essentially link comparison model) helps you to compare two different websites and get a graphical illustration of the result which is personally more appealing to me.
- The browser extension of Majestic simplifies things even more and gives the website metrics on any site we visit.
Cons of Majestic as a link building tool:
- Majestic works well at what it does, backlink analysis and comparison. I can find a hundred demerits of it if this was a SEO tool list post, but as per our criteria now, majestic is perfect.
- Majestic offers no data on top pages by keywords or social shares which might be helpful in more detailed analysis.
Ahrefs is by far the best SEO tool for all round optimization. Ahrefs does well in keyword ideas generation, competitor analysis, site audit and much more.
As for the link generating process that we are talking about, Ahrefs allows you to see your competitors’ top pages by links, top pages by link growth (the pages that have recently gained the most backlinks for your competitor), broken link analysis etc.
You can also see the outbound links of a site, the anchor text they have used and broken links of the entire site. Taking it a step further, you can see sites who have linked to those broken pages. Here is what I got after analyzing the backlinks of a web design firm OrbitMedia.com. I quickly found some broken links on their site that has been linked by authority sites.
I use this feature to find new post ideas around popular posts (of my competitors) that now show a 404 page. After this, I write detailed posts on those topics using the skyscraper technique. Then, I outreach the people who have linked to those broken pages and ask them to replace the 404 pages by my article.
This has a great success rate in getting backlinks by broken link method.
The best pages by links’ growth option of Ahref is another killer feature that makes it a desirable backlink building software. This option displays the top pages that have gained the most backlinks in the last 30 days. An awesome way to gather trending post ideas!
Pros of Ahrefs as a tool:
- Ahrefs is very useful and gives you all you can want to know your competitor’s backlink profile.
- It shows you how your blog has performed over the years, the top performing content as far as backlinks and social shares are concerned.
- Easy to use interface
Cons of Ahrefs:
- Ahrefs is a bit pricey (base plan starts at $99) which is not affordable by most bloggers.
Open Site Explorer or OSE is another popular and most used tool. OSE is pretty straightforward in it’s link analysis features. It helps in researching backlinks (both of competitors and own sites), hunt backlink building opportunities and identify any manual or automated link spam that might invoke a Google penalty.
You can also check for spam score (a metric developed by OSE folks) which shows about the type of links pointing to a site. Here is a screenshot of how I use it to gather link information of target blogs on the go. Since it is a freemium link building tool, I recommend you to use it to the fullest.
One feature I like about Moz is, it gives you a clear information about the title (headline) of the page that links to you along with the URL and the anchor text used. This is not a very important feature, but can help you identify the type and topic of the page that links to you. This is a free link building tool and can be upgraded to premium if need be.
Pros of Moz Open Site Explorer:
- It is very easy to use and handles link analysis perfectly.
- It provides domain authority metrics which is a good way to rank sites based on the authority they have.
- Free users (only opt in required) can use it for simple backlink data easily.
Cons of Moz Open Site Explorer:
- Moz is a great concept and was once the undisputed king in the block. Now, Majestic SEO has almost 8 times the backlink data that Moz has, hence the latter is more accurate and resourceful.
- Moz does not crawl sites daily as is with Majestic which means it can lack in new data metrics until another crawl next month.
Raven tools are one more suite of awesome link building tools that specialize in competitor research and outreach management. It has extensive competitive analysis which will help you know what keywords your competitors are ranking for.
Raven SEO tools also has other marketing tools which are beyond the scope of this post. Ontolo another link building automation tool and is a perfect alternative for raven tools.
Pros of Raven SEO tools:
- Easy link queuing feature that allows you to do outreach for link building.
- Offers many more SEO tools which enables you do different things on one platform.
Cons of Raven SEO tools:
- Raven relies on link data by OSE and majestic. This means why pay for any other tool when you can directly use Majestic or OSE as per your choice for less price.
- The user-interface is too overwhelming for first time users.
SEOquake is by far the best browser extension for all SEO analyzers. It gives you quick access to tons of valuable data of all websites you visit like social signals of a page, keyword difficulty of a query and full report on internal links and external links of a site. The best thing is whenever you search a topic on Google, the extension sits on the browser and tells you details about your competitor site ranking for it.
Pros of SEOquake:
- It is a handy browser extension that is just set and forget.
- Provides loads of data on every page we visit (good to get a idea of authority of a page we are targeting).
Cons of SEOquake:
- The browser extension is sometimes annoying as it pops up on every page load.
- Provides basic site information but no information detailed backlink data.
You can also use this for checking worthy blogs when searching for guest posting blogs.
With these, we come to our next session of whitehat link building tools and browser extensions that should stay in your SEO arsenal.
Buzzstream is a powerful link generation tool which helps you research your prospects, send personalized messages for outreach and track those projects. You can use Buzzstream to track your outreach campaign campaigns, forward it your teammates for easy collaboration.
It enables to send personalized messages directly from the tool and lets you set reminders to send, track and respond on outreach campaigns.
While alexa isn’t actively used by bloggers and marketers, it is still a great free tool to do free competitor analysis. Just plug your site or your competitor site and it will pull out nifty data like the audience demographic, what the site looked like in the past. Which sites visitors browsed before entering your site.
It also provides audience engagement reports like on-site time spent by the visitors, pages viewed per session and bounce rate of a site. It is also available as browser extension.
3) SEO Spyglass:
This is a part of the very popular link-assistant suite of tools. SEO Spyglass helps you track backlinks of any site, audit the site, and even check for harmful links pointing to your site that might invoke a penalty.
Spyglass has it’s own inbuilt disavow file generator that helps you neutralize spammy backlinks. It is used by users like Microsoft, Amazon and Nestle.
Check my links is a great free chrome extension that lets you check for every broken link on a page. This is the best way for a fast and free broken link building campaign. Check my links has also helped me to get broken links to sites that no longer exist and is great for those looking for quick expired domain acquisitions.
5) Link Miner:
It is a free tool by my fellow blogger and SEO expert Jon Cooper. Link Miner gives you a good feature of Ahrefs (checking the links pointing to a broken link) which takes what Check My Links did, a step further. You can even check for the number of outbound links a site has (directly from the SERPs) so that you can target your link analysis goals only to pages that have a lot of outbound links.
While using each of these backlink generating or building tools can call for separate dedicated guides for themselves, I will quickly jot down the steps I use as a guideline to get the most of these tools.
- Almost all of these tools help in analyzing the strength of your website (and that of your competitor) so use these to see how you perform against your fellow sites and try to work on the weak points.
- Get broken links of your competitors and try to build content around it or pitch directly to the sites that point to the broken link to increase your link power.
- You can use popular content from the sites by looking at their best content with link growth (ahrefs has this feature) to create similar content because what works for them is sure to work for you as long as you have the same audience.
With these tools unleashing the power to zero in much more link building opportunities and new arenas of automating your link outreach strategies, I would say keeping things to a bare minimum is the key to stay safe.
- Don’t go for all of the tools mentioned here, select the ones that help you in what you want for your campaign. If you want broken link building for this month or quarter you can go with the Link Miner extension or even better Ahrefs to get more access.
- If you want detailed competitor analysis and something that gives you control over your competitor’s content strategy, SEMrush is what I recommend.
- Do not automate link building and rather focus on earning links.
- Most of these tools are for showing the the scope of link building by providing better content to search engines than your competitors.
When you are considering serious link building process, I prefer a tool that gives me all round access rather than only the backlink data. Link building isn’t only about getting the backlink data, it is knowing your competitors’ detailed strategy so that you can work better than them.
Having their top performing content, most linked pages, top keywords that they rank for and even knowing the competitors of your competitors all are essential part of the same link building campaign.
While Moz and Majestic like tools give you complete and best backlink data of any website, I prefer tools like Ahrefs or SEMrush to power my link building process.
If you want an all-in-one tool that mines you the golden keywords your competitor is ranking for, get backlink data, see their competitors and their strategies I would recommend SEMrush. I have been using that and it works as it promises.
So, What’s your favorite link building tool? If you use any of the tools mentioned above, I’d love to hear what features you use the most? And, if I missed any tool you use, leave the details in the comments so that I give them a try!