Backlinks are a crucial SEO ingredient and key ranking factor. They’re also amongst the more elusive SEO elements to check, prospect, analyze and manage.
Luckily, backlink checkers and tools can really simplify the backlinking management process and will even help you find backlink opportunities.
What Are Backlinks?
The internet is networked together via links.
Links are embedded everywhere, connecting sites to each other as sources, references, or citations.
For example, there are many links in this article, and if you’re creating content for your website, you should be adding links to your articles too.
Links provide evidence of your claims, they bring authority to your site and help direct users to relevant and helpful resources and tools.
Backlinks are one of the most important SEO factors and variables. They mark your website and pages down as useful or relevant to others. In raw terms, the more backlinks you receive, the more authority your site has.
There is somewhat of a hierarchy to backlinks and they’re not all built equally. Backlinks to your site from high-ranking, high-traffic authoritative sites provide the most ‘link juice’ and securing these is one of the best things you can do for your site’s SEO performance.
On the other hand, some backlinks can be detrimental to your site. Backlinks originating from spammy domains or those associated with malware or other harmful activity will damage your SEO and could result in a ‘manual action’ from Google.
A manual action is a declaration that Google will demote your site or even remove it from the SERPs – get one of those and it’s a long way back for your site’s SEO health.
Why You Need Backlinks
Backlinks were the most important ranking factor in Google’s early algorithms.
It makes sense on a practical level – the more authoritative you are, the more mentions you get, the more trust you gain and the more deserved you are of higher ranking.
The backlinking process models the trust of a resource and deems it valuable to expose to others.
Today, backlinking remains a key essential ranking factor.
In 2019, backlink campaigns were cited by SEO professionals as one of the three most important SEO factors.
51% of professional SEO professionals claimed they would see a measurable difference in site traffic just 1 to 3 months after a successful link campaign.
Meanwhile, Backlinko said that backlinks always have been, and still are, a key ranking factor – numerous experiments by top SEO brands back this up with data from high-ranking sites.
To backlink or not to backlink? There is no question!
Backlinking Tools to Aid Growth
Backlinks may seem daunting to SEO novices and beginners. You’ve built a fast site with a smooth interface, excellent UX and built out some valuable content fully-tuned with on-page optimization, but how do you get others to backlink you?
There are many others in your position and backlinking strategies can start small and pick up pace when you produce quality linkable content that is organically locatable in the SERPs.
You should start by running small-scale outreach campaigns to backlink sites for mutual benefit. This often involves emailing others for guest post swaps.
Of course, you’ll probably want to avoid direct competitors but many sites related adjacently to your niche will be willing to backlink you.
- Run a plant and horticulture blog? Contact a garden center website.
- Run a car mechanic shop? Contact a local newspaper or trade publication.
- Sell chocolate brownies? Try a chocolate maker. You get the picture.
It’s also entirely possible for your site to pick up backlinks without you doing anything, even in the early days.
In fact, Neil Patel said that even sites that have only been around for a few months probably have at least some backlinks.
But who are they? And are these backlinks what you want or need? Are they spam? Will they harm your SEO?
To find out, you need to use a backlinking tool! Here are the top 11 backlink checkers and tools:
SemRush Backlink Analytics
SemRush is one of the most prolific names in SEO and their tremendous suite of SEO tools includes the sophisticated Backlink Analytics tool.
SemRush’s backlink checker allows you to perform 3 key functions:
- Check any and all backlinks that you’ve received from other domains
- Analyze the link, including how authoritative it is and what anchor text was used
- Analyze your competitors to view their backlinks
The Backlink Analytics tool lets your drill down into the type, characteristics, and qualities of backlinks.
You can view how authoritative these links are or whether they’re possibly linked to spammy or shady sites. You’ll get alerts when you gain or lose backlinks and will be able to analyze what anchor text used for the links. The domains that link you can also be analyzed for what keywords they rank for, allowing you to assess how relevant they are to your domain.
Competitor analysis is fully-featured here also, so you can check your competitor’s site to view their backlink info too. This allows you to quickly discover new backlinking opportunities, pointing you towards sites you can approach for outreach.
SemRush SEO tools are integrated, so you get access to all of their tools under the same membership package. Prices start at $119.95/mo for the Pro level ranging to $449.95 for the Business level. It might seem steep but this is a professional suite of SEO tools that provides everything from SEO audits to rank tracking and backlink analysis.
- Full SEO suite with 40+ tools
- Analyses backlinks and their various characteristics (e.g. authority, anchor text)
- Monitor and check competitor’s backlinks
- Prospect backlinks from competitor’s sites
- Detox your links with the Backlink Audit Tool
- Receive backlink updates via email
- Discover backlinks to other site media such as images or videos
- Professional suite of tools
- Advanced backlink analysis
- Sophisticated competitor analysis tools
- Bulletproof interface and engine
- Steep pricing for some
Ahrefs Backlink Checker
Ahrefs are another SEO titan and their Backlink Checker is unsurprisingly decked out with advanced link analysis features. They let you get a quick rundown of backlinks to your site for free.
The main tool has in-depth link checking features that help you detect broken links on sites, e.g. that lead to non-existent 404’d pages. You can then contact the site(s) to request they re-link your site to get your backlink running again.
You’ll be able to drill down into the type and quality of backlinks, discovering their anchor text and other characteristics. You’ll also be able to estimate how much organic traffic you gain from your links. If you do find shady or spammy backlinks then you can download a disavow file directly from the tool that can import into Google’s Disavow Link tool.
Competitor analysis is fully featured too, providing a detailed picture of your competitor’s link network. This can aid your own link campaigns, helping you spy opportunities for outreach.
Like SemRush, Ahrefs is a full suite of SEO tools. Prices start at $99/mo for the basic Lite package The Standard package is $179 and the Advanced and Agency packages are $399 and $999 respectively.
- Full SEO suite of tools
- Powerful link analysis tools
- Discover broken links
- Analyse anchor text
- In-depth competitor analysis
- Easily delete bad backlinks
- Export to CSV and PDF
- Full suite of SEO tools
- Comprehensive link research tools
- Sophisticated competitor analysis features
- Multiple projects for different sites
- Like other SEO suites, prices can be steep for SEO novices
Majestic Backlink Checker
Majestic Backlink Checker is purpose-built for backlink checking duties. It’s utilitarian and meticulous, allowing you to check all link characteristics ranging from Nofollows, redirects, and deleted links. You’ll be able to check the domain type of sites backlinking you, e.g. whether they’re governmental or educational institutions.
Majestic also analyses the type of domains and site types that currently hold greater sway over traffic and influence.
It also assesses keywords, providing you information on the keyword profile of sites backlinking you and competitors so you can discover the types of content that are popularly linked.
The Pro version of Majestic Backlink Checker also lets you identify sites that link to a number of similar sites to yours, indicating that they’d likely backlink you also.
The Lite version is just £39.99/mo, allowing you to analyze up to 1 million links. Pro has more features for £79.99. The API version for agencies is £319.99/mo+.
- In-depth analysis tools
- Innovative competitor analysis
- Decent pricing
- Analyze domain trust and authority
- Streamlined tool for backlink analysis only
- Some unique features like trust flow
- Link alerts and historical information
- Keyword generator from link analysis
- Don’t get the benefit of other tools
Link Research Tools
Link Research Tools is an advanced suite of backlink analysis tools that let you survey and analyze backlinks of any and every variety and origin. LTR lets you know how fresh your data is, allowing you to order a re-crawl for updated link analyzes. It actually provides some 150 link metrics covering everything from domain trust scores to link type and anchor text keyword performance.
One innovative feature is the link detox feature that scores the risk posed by your links. Once this approaches the limit, you’ll know to audit your links for spammy or black-marked sites. You can then go about disavowing and delinking those sites.
The Issues window will provide actionable insights on your links, instructing you on what to do if you run into backlinking problems. Competitor analysis is also advanced.
This is probably one of the most advanced link analysis tools available right now and is used by many top European brands and businesses.
Pricing starts at $ 499/mo with $799, $1,999 and $2,999 tiers.
- 25+ tools for SEO and link building
- Unprecedented depth of analysis
- Membership to Smart Club of top SEO pros and link builders
- Advanced link prospecting tools
- Innovative detox feature
- Advanced PDF reports
- Fully comprehensive link analysis tools
- Extremely data-rich with tons of analytics
- Excellent competitor analysis tools
- Suitable for massive domains
- Steep pricing
Moz Pro Link Explorer
Moz Pro is another exquisite set of pro SEO tools.
Their Link Explorer is well-built with a bulletproof interface and an in-depth feature-set that delves down into advanced competitor analysis and link prospecting.
The Link Intersect tool is particularly good for discovering sites that are linking to your competitors but not you. You’ll also be able to research top-performing content for your niche, helping you analyze the content that is currently attracting the most links so you can plan to better it.
Checking the spam score and authority of links is also simple. Moz Pro is a full suite of SEO tools that include Keyword Research, Rank Tracking, Site Crawl, On-Page Optimization, Link Research, and Custom Reports. It’s a superb set of tools for agencies and brands that are looking to seriously improve their SEO performance across the spectrum.
The Standard package is $99/mo. The $149/mo Medium package adds 25 more crawls for a total of 30 each month. The Large and Premium packages cost $249/mo and $599/mo respectively.
- Access to all Moz Pro SEO tools
- Excellent competitor analysis
- Discover content that drives backlinks
- Research link characteristics (e.g. anchor text)
- Find lost and broken links
- Check link spam score
- Swift and slick interface
- Streamlined set of professional tools covering all aspects of SEO
- Quality competitor analysis
- Integrates with other Moz Pro tools
- Steep pricing for some
Monitor Backlinks Backlink Checker
Monitor Backlinks is a minimalist and streamlined simple backlink checking tool. Monitor your own domain and competitors to view their backlink profiles, anchor text, and ranking keywords. Use this info to strategize your own backlinking campaign, quickly sweeping up easy backlinks from sites that have linked your competitors but not you.
There is also an easy-to-use disavow tool to rapidly purge bad backlinks and you can discover broken links that are easily reclaimed. You’ll also be able to import data from Moz, Ahrefs, Majestic, and Google Webmaster Tools.
This is a professional backlink analysis suite. Report generation and advanced alerting ensure that you can keep your team up-to-date with any positive or negative changes in links.
Prices here are reasonable for a streamlined pro backlinking tool. The lowest tier is just $25.00/mo, but is quite limited by letting you check up on just 2 competitors. You’ll have to fork out more like $187.42/mo to analyze 10 competitors across 10 domains. Ultimately, this tool is best for agencies that are managing multiple clients instead of single users.
- Exquisite dashboard
- Email alerts
- Includes keyword ranking tool filterable by area
- Prospect links from competitors
- Analyze link characteristics (e.g. anchor text)
- Generate link reports for clients
- Powerful metrics and analysis tools
- Advanced competitor analysis
- Good pricing for agencies
- Useful report generator (again good for agencies)
- Pricing not great for single-site users
Small SEO Tools Backlink Checker
Time for a totally free tool! It’s refreshing to find totally free tools and Small SEO Tools provide just that. Their nice collection of free SEO tools includes the Backlink Checker.
This backlink tool is actually great and pretty powerful running off Ahrefs’ engine. It offers a number of advanced analytical metrics that help you identify 404’d links, investigate competitor’s links, keywords, and traffic earned via backlinks.
You’ll be able to research performing content and keywords and measure your domain rating and ranking position. It will display over 100 links, which is pretty impressive.
This is a superb option for users with single sites who are just starting out in SEO. If you’ve been put off by some of the pricing of other tools then Small SEO Tools provide a great starting point for SEO beginners and novices.
- Analyze your own links and competitor’s links
- View ranking position and domain data
- Check out backlinked keywords and anchor text
- Gauge traffic gained via backlinks
- Totally free
- Very easy to use
- Impressive features
- Analyze more than 100 links
- You won’t be able to automatically save data and compare results throughout time (unless you keep a manual record)
SE Ranking has a very impressive selection of tools available at some remarkably reasonable prices.
There are 7 tools divided into 3 categories; Get Ready, Drive and Maintain.
Get Ready has keyword research tools and a marketing plan maker, Drive provides on-page optimization tools and site audit and Maintain features the backlink tool.
You can import backlinks from Search Console or gather them using the tool yourself, which is great if you’ve already been working in Search Console. The link analysis features are excellent, providing info on domain popularity, link power and even social media performance.
Locating bad links and disavowing them is straightforward too and everything is easily manageable from a slick interface.
Pricing starts as low as £13.8/mo for weekly updates on 5,000 links for 10 websites, which is very impressive. It’s highly scalable from there and even the Enterprise package is very reasonable at £112/month for daily updates across 75,000 links. You get access to the other tools as well, making this one of the most reasonable SEO suites around.
- Full suite of SEO tools
- Check on when a backlink was last crawled
- Assess link type and content (image, video, etc)
- Check backlink power and authority
- Track and disavow bad links
- Prospect links from competitors
- Superb pricing
- Flexible set of tools
- In-depth link analysis
- Great competitor research
- Possibly slightly limited for ultra-large domains, but barely anything to mention!
RankWatch is yet another superb set of flexible SEO tools that covers the full spectrum of SEO from keyword analysis to site audits and link tracking.
The link tracker itself is excellent and integrates very well with a dedicated competitor analysis tool. It has 14 features for analyzing links, keywords, traffic and anchor text.
Find lost and broken links to quickly discover sites you need to contact to restore your existing backlinks. You’ll even be able to track down the authors of those who created the content that backlinked your site so you can contact them for collaboration.
RankWatch is powerful but also very well priced. The cheapest package, which is £19/mo, allows you to check a mighty 145,000 Backlinks. It scales from there, with the XL package at £294 offering in-depth analysis of over 2,245,000 backlinks.
- Full suite of SEO tools
- All your usual in-depth backlink analysis tools
- Content and author tracking
- Competitor analysis
- Anchor text and backlink keyword tracking
- Excellent pricing
- Report generator
- Automated alert system
- Innovative features for tracking high-traffic content
- Slightly aged dashboard
SEO Review Tools Backlinks Checker
This is a simple, streamlined free backlink checking tool. It’s entirely free and gives you an accurate rundown of your basic backlink profile. You can also input competitors’ URLs to check their link breakdown for ideas on what sites to target for basic outreach.
SEO Review Tools has two separate tools in addition to this; one for checking competitors’ rankings and another for generating content ideas around subjects and industries.
It’s all pretty rudimental, but it’s free and can give single-site users a decent rundown of links, their quality, anchor text, and traffic generation.
- Check anchor text
- Analyze link traffic
- Returns 100 backlinks
- Check follow/nofollow labels
- Check SEMRush domain authority scores
- Totally free
- Provides single-site users a quick way to check basic backlinks
- 100 backlinks isn’t too bad
- Nice to be able to check anchor text and traffic
- Limited in scope
UberSuggest (Neil Patel)
SEO authority Neil Patel’s UberSuggests tools have always been amongst the top-ranks with Ahrefs, Moz, SemRush, etc. The free version of the tool provides you with a good array of data, but only for a handful of backlinks.
The full backlink checker is powerful with all your usual filters and analysis options. Drill down into your competitors to discover their backlinks and prospect your own off the back of their links. You can also analyze anchor text, link type, lost links and traffic generated from links and content types.
UberSuggest is a full suite of SEO tools that includes SEO Analyzer, A/B Testing Calculator, Ubersuggest, Chrome Extension, Backlinks, and Subscribers. Every tool is impeccably made and easy-to-use.
UberSuggest pricing is very reasonable starting at just £29/mo for the Individual package. The Business and Enterprise/Agency packages are just £49 and £99 respectively.
- Full suite of SEO tools
- Excellent competitor analysis
- Full set of link analysis filters
- Traffic analysis
- Filter links by region/area
- Export data to CSV
- Superb interface
- Scalable, generous pricing
- Some innovative tools in the suite
- Suitable for users of every type
There are so many tremendous tools here – choosing will be tricky!
Backlinking is always important for your site, but when you start out, keep your expectations realistic and select a product at a price that suits you.
Of course, this doesn’t apply for agencies of fully-fledged SEO professionals who might need to delve in immediately with advanced analysis of thousands of links.
Whichever way you look at it, there’s something here for everyone and although competition is tight, there’s surely a backlink tool here for you.