In the world of SEO, one hears a lot of talk about “backlinks.” If you’re a blogger or a business owner with a website, you’ll want to pay attention to the backlinks coming to and from your site’s pages. A backlink is any link, from another webpage, that links back to your site. When you search a keyword on Google, or any of the other major search engines, the top results will always be sites with strong backlink profiles.
Backlink data is one of the defining factors of whether your website will be seen by its intended audience. In the past, backlink numbers alone would get your site a high spot in the search engine ratings. These days, while volume of links do still matter a good bit, it’s all about context. You want your backlinks to come from high quality, relevant websites and web 2.0 profiles, editorial posts and social media, and everywhere in between.
The first step in managing your site’s backlink profile is to perform a proper backlink analysis. Understanding your link profile will help you know what steps to take next to optimize your site’s searchability. These backlink research tools have another purpose than simply allowing you to analyze your site. They’ll allow you to view your competitors’ backlink profiles as well! This is one of the best SEO strategies you can use. Let your competitors do all the work, analyze their backlinks, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Let’s assume you’re ready to do some backlink work. Which research tool do you use? There are so many to choose from, it can be difficult to decide. Here are the top four backlink research tools I’ve found that will help you scope out the competition and boost your site’s rankings.
4. Majestic SEO
Majestic is one of the most used tools on the market for search engine optimization. It has been trusted by professionals in the industry for almost a decade. Majestic is one of the top performers in terms of found links as well. Their site has a curated list dubbed the Majestic Million, which shows the ranking top million websites based on criteria like site backlinks.
The basic advantage of Majestic is the free tool. Getting started with a free search is simple, simply type the URL of a site into the search bar and the SEO tool does the rest. You’ll receive a list of numbers referring to external backlinks, referring domains, referring IPs, and referring subnets. This data will help you better understand your site’s link profile.
Besides the free version, Majestic offers three different pricing plans. These range from $49.99/month for the starter version, to $399.99/month for the API plan.
Serpstat is a total package platform for SEO, pay-per-click advertising research, and content marketing. The software contains 5 tools:
- Keyword research
- Rank tracking
- Competitive analysis
- Site audit
- Backlink analysis
Our focus for now is the last tool, which allows you to analyze your site’s backlink profile, research competitors’ backlink profiles, monitor new and lost backlinks, and explore anchors.
To start analyzing your backlink profile, go to the Serpstat homepage, type in your site’s URL, open backlink analysis, and choose the backlink dashboard tab. There, you’ll see the number of referring domains, pages, IPs, subnets, number of indexed pages, domain zones, page rank, trust rank, frequently used anchors and the numbers for each.
The free version of Serpstat gives you 10 queries per day and 20 results per report. Upgrading to their basic plan, priced reasonably at only $19/month, gives you 100 queries per day with 100 results per report. There are four paid plans in total. The most expensive will run you $299/month and will give you 1,600 backlink queries per day, with 50,000 results per report.
When it comes to SEO tools, SEMRush is one of the best on the market. Previously known for specializing in organic and ad keyword analysis, they’ve recently added a backlink check feature that makes SEMRush a truly all-in-one SEO tool. Simply go to the SEMRush homepage and enter the URL you want to analyze.
If you’re looking to compare domain names, there is a corresponding tab in the left corner. You’ll be able to get a detailed list of referring domains, referring IPs, links from .gov and .edu sites, as well as other TLDs. You can export the data as a PDF by clicking on the PDF button on the right top side of the page.
The free version of SEMRush is probably fine for bloggers or small site owners. However, they offer three different payment plans if you’re looking for the total SEMRush package. There are a couple of ways to pay for each plan. Annual plans will save you a lot of money compared to the monthly payments.
- The Pro plan, good for those on a budget, is $99.95/month, or $999.40/year.
- The high price is the Business plan, their most comprehensive offer. This one is a hefty $399.95/month, or $3999.40 annually.
Remember that you’re getting the whole SEMRush SEO package. They also offer a custom plan to fit the marketing needs of your business, with custom keyword databases, custom limits, unlimited crawling of large websites, on-site training, and other add-on features upon request.
If you asked 100 online market professionals for their favorite backlink research software, odds are that most of them would say Ahrefs. Ahrefs is generally agreed among SEO experts to be the best tool for backlink analysis for any site, be it yours or your competitors. In fact, they’re the world’s largest index of live backlinks. They’ll break down the data in every way you can imagine, with reliable quality, and in stellar detail.
The free version shows a decent amount of detail, but you’ll only be able to see the top 10 backlinks of each report. The paid version ranges in price from $99/month for a basic plan to $999/month for the most advanced. Paying for the upgraded version will allow you to view unlimited backlinks and export the searched results into a .csv file. There’s currently a 7-day free trial going on, so you should try it out to see if it suits your SEO needs.