We’ve been in the link-building industry for almost a decade. So, we know that finding backlink opportunities without using tools is virtually impossible.
But with so many options on the market, you probably don’t know which link-building tool to choose. That’s why we made this guide for you.
We’ll walk you through 10 paid and free link-building tools that are our personal favorites, in no particular order.
Please note that we’re not affiliated with any of these link-building tools.
According to Aira’s report, Ahrefs is the most popular link-building tool among SEOs for (at least) the second year in a row.
Most SEOs (51%) agreed they would choose Ahrefs if they had to choose only ONE link-building tool:
But Ahrefs isn’t just a link-building tool. You can use it for a variety of SEO purposes.
In fact, it’s packed with so many features that we can’t go into all of them here.
So, here are a few features that we consider vital for link-building:
You can use Ahrefs’ Content Explorer for multiple purposes. But we’ll focus on these two:
No matter which of the two you’re trying to achieve, start by entering a topic related to your niche:
For example, we could add “link building” here because that’s our core service. But other, less obvious topics would work too — such as “content marketing,” “SEO,” “blogging”... you get the gist.
When we enter our topic, Ahrefs will automatically find pages that discuss that topic for us. We can assume all of those pages would be interested in hosting our guest posts.
But, honestly, we don’t want to waste time publishing on low-quality sites.
We want to find sites with high authority because they have the most link juice.
To find authority sites — i.e., sites with high domain rating (DR) — click on “Add Filter” and enter your chosen domain rating range:
Click “Apply,” and Ahrefs will only show you sites with high DR. You’ve just found your ideal guest posting opportunities!
Now, let’s also find broken links you could replace with your own.
To find pages with broken links, click on “Live & broken” and select “Only broken”:
Ahrefs will then show you a list of pages that:
All that’s left to do is ask the site webmasters to replace broken links with ones to your site!
You watch this video for more information on how to use Ahrefs’ Content Explorer:
SEMRush is yet another all-in-one SEO tool (and probably Ahrefs’ main competitor).
You can see all of its many features here:
We’ll only mention two features we found especially useful:
SEMRush Link Building Tool doesn’t just help you build links but also track your progress. Basically, it helps you create and manage your link-building campaign.
But let’s dive in to show you how this tool works in action.
To get started, add up to ten keywords you want to target:
Next, you’ll need to add your competitors. SEMRush will use their profiles to find you suitable link-building opportunities. (Btw, that’s how most link-building tools work.)
You’ll be able to add up to 10 competitors, so choose wisely:
Hit “Start link building” and wait for a few seconds until your report is ready.
You should then see something like this:
SEMRush found us 1,287 prospects!
That’s a lot, so let’s narrow down that list to only the ideal candidates.
To do so, we’ll click on the ratings of the domains we’re interested in.
If you look at the above photo, you’ll see we clicked on the rating for monitorbacklinks.com. We’re now able to see it has over 44K backlinks and is expected to get 75K+ users in the following month.
That tells us that building links on that domain could be lucrative.
But let’s say you want to find sites with even higher domain authority.
In that case, all you’d have to do is click “AS” (Authority Score), and Ahrefs will sort your results from high to low domain authority:
As you can see, you can also select an outreach strategy for each domain and move it to “In progress.”
You’ll then be able to see all the domains that are in progress in one place, as well as the outreach strategies you’ve selected:
That already makes managing your outreach campaigns a ton easier.
But SEMRush has even more features that speed up the process:
Check out the options for yourself:
All in all, you’ll love SEMRush if you’re doing a lot of blogger outreach but still need more in-depth SEO insights.
As the name suggests, Moz Pro is a must-have tool for link-building pros.
It’s equipped with dozens of powerful features that can meet all your link-building needs, from keyword research to site audits.
Again, we can’t go into all of those features here. So, we’ll mention just a few we use every day ourselves:
FYI, Moz is not a free link-building tool, but you can use some of its features for free (as long as you don’t exceed the monthly limit).
Need to quickly assess a site’s quality? Use Moz Spam Score tool:
The spam score tells you how likely it is that Google will ban or penalize a site you’re researching.
(Moz calculates this score by cross-referencing common features of websites that have already been banned or penalized.)
Using this tool, we can further investigate the backlinks that have been flagged as spammy:
But here’s a disclaimer. Just because a backlink has been flagged as spammy doesn’t necessarily mean you need to disavow it.
The spam score doesn’t tell you the whole story.
So, you shouldn’t think of it as the final verdict on your backlinks. Think of it more as a starting point for further investigation.
Overall, we love using this tool whenever we need to quickly research the quality of our prospect websites.
Most people don’t think of SurferSEO as a link-building tool, perhaps because it’s mainly used for content optimization.
But we think it has tremendous potential. And since we’re doing a 2022 update, it had to make it to the list.
Some of Surfer’s features don’t have much to do with link-building, but all of them are useful for overall site optimization:
SurferSEO’s Audit feature lets you audit pages and websites at a glance.
To get started, you’ll need to enter a URL you’d like to inspect and your target keyword for that URL:
Below, you’ll see the entire report that SurferSEO created for us.
It contains a ton of useful info on how we can improve our page's rankings, visibility, and backlink profile:
All this is useful. But the key info in terms of link building is whether you’re missing the so-called common backlinks.
Common backlinks are domains linking to at least three of your competitors from the top 20:
These are your real “low-hanging fruit” link opportunities. Let me explain why.
Many SEOs tell you to identify sites linking to your competitors because such sites are, allegedly, likelier to link to you.
The thing is, that’s not entirely true. Such sites often have insider deals with your competitors.
So, by targeting them, you could be finding the opposite of low-hanging fruit — sites that will never, ever link to you.
BUT if a site is linking to two or more of your competitors, it’s likelier that no insider deals are going on behind the scenes.
And these are the sites that will want to link to you, too. That’s why Surfer focuses only on domains that are linking to at least 3 of your competitors.
It basically does all the heavy lifting for you.
All that’s left for you to do is assess your competitors’ content and see if you should improve yours to steal their backlinks (or at least get placements on the same domains).
That’s it! You’ll have a done-for-you link-building strategy in a matter of minutes.
BuzzStream is a tool that helps you handle your outreach campaigns from start to finish. It can essentially help you manage your entire link-building process, from link prospecting to blogger outreach.
Much like SEMRush, it lets you send emails right from your dashboard and track all your outreach projects at a glance.
But what makes BuzzStream different from SEMRush is that it’s specifically designed for building links via outreach. So, it’s not an all-in-one SEO tool. That can be a plus or a minus, depending on your needs.
Here are some of the most useful BuzzStream features:
Remember we talked about how SEMRush lets you prepare and save email templates? And how that can save you a ton of time?
Well, you get the same benefits with BuzzStream and something extra.
Take a peek at an email template we created to see what we mean:
You’ve probably noticed the template includes dynamic fields like [Greeting] and [Website Name].
These fields are hands-down our favorite BuzzStream feature because they make personalization oh-so-easy.
When you add dynamic fields to your email, BuzzStream automatically replaces them with custom details on each prospect.
Just make sure the info you have on your prospects is correct in the first place. (You can do that during the “research” phase.)
Hunter is one of our favorite link-building tools… despite it lacking some standard link-building features, such as link monitoring.
Hunter lacks those features because it’s primarily an outreach tool, much like BuzzStream.
But you can always combine it with a more specialized link-building tool to get all the data you need. The point is: don’t give up on Hunter. Give it a go and thank us later.
Here’s what you can do with it:
In the previous section, we told you to verify the contact info you get with BuzzStream.
That’s because that info can be off. You may end up sending your pitch to an invalid email address. Or you may not be able to send your pitch at all since BuzzStream often can’t find any contact info on prospects.
The reason for that is that BuzzStream collects data solely from the websites you add to your Research List. It doesn’t “investigate” other sources.
That’s where Hunter comes in.
Hunter pulls data from several sources instead of just a single website.
Consider how many sources it researched to find and confirm a single email address:
Thanks to that, Hunter gives you the contact info you can’t always get with BuzzStream.
What’s more, Hunter automatically verifies email addresses for you. If an address is valid, you’ll see a checkmark next to it. (Like in the photo above.)
But you’ll also know if Hunter wasn’t able to verify an email address and the chances of it being correct:
In a nutshell, this means you don’t have to waste time sending your pitches to the wrong people or email addresses that are no longer in use.
Linkody is one of the cheapest link-building tools on the market and even offers a free 30-day trial.
With that said, you shouldn’t expect Linkody to have as much data as Ahrefs or SEMRush. BUT you can connect Linkody with Ahrefs to get more reliable reports.
Also, Linkody doesn’t have as many features as some of the tools we’ve reviewed so far. It’s a straightforward link-building tool, so it’s not meant to help you with things like keyword research or SERP analysis.
But it’s got all you need if you’ll focus solely on building links:
Take a peek at Linkody’s dashboard and see what’s possible for yourself:
SE Ranking is a relatively new link-building tool not many people know of. But it has a ton of potential, especially when you consider its low pricing. You can also try it for free for 14 days.
We’re impressed with how much value you get for the money, considering that SE Ranking is an all-in-one SEO tool.
On top of that, it also lets you manage your social media accounts, which is quite a unique feature in the world of SEO tools. You’ll be able to post and track analytics of your Twitter and Facebook accounts right from the dashboard.
SE Ranking is obviously equipped with a ton of features, and we’ll only mention a few we particularly liked:
Overall, SE Ranking is an awesome tool that we’ll surely hear more about in the upcoming years.
We love how many options you get with it. You can pretty much build your entire digital marketing strategy using this one tool. And we found its SEO suggestions to be spot-on.
Looking for a cheap but effective way to find link-building opportunities? Use Google Search Operators (GSO).
Search operators are special characters and sequences you can add to your query to get targeted search results.
We mentioned this in our article on getting .edu backlinks. There, we advised using commands like these to find .edu sites that could host your links:
Here’s an example of what search results you could get using these query strings:
You can alter these commands according to your needs.
Or you can use completely different query strings:
If you want to use other query strings, check out this article on GSO.
Admittedly, Google Alerts isn’t exactly a link-building tool — but it can 100% be used as one.
When you set up Alerts, Google will notify you whenever someone mentions:
…in their content.
This allows you to find potential link-building opportunities but also monitor what others say about you and your competitors.
You can set up Google Alerts in a matter of seconds:
Alerts can be delivered to your RSS feed or your email.
We particularly like that you can choose the sources you want to monitor:
The only downside is that getting these alerts nonstop gets annoying (and can clog your inbox!) fast.
Also, you may get many low-value alerts.
For example, if we set up an alert for “link building,” we’d get notified every time our competitors use that keyword in their content. Since it’s not very likely that we could get a link from our competitors, such alerts would be useless to us.
With that said, using Google Alerts is a cool option if you’re just starting out or don’t want to invest in paid link-building tools.
We went over what we consider the best link-building tools for both pros and beginners. But there are a ton of alternatives to each and every one!
Here are a few worth mentioning:
Yes, link building is still effective in 2022.
Backlinks are important for Google rankings because they’re one of the main signals Google uses to determine where to position you on the SERPs. The rule of the thumb is the more backlinks you have, the better you’ll rank because backlinks represent a “vote of confidence” from one site to another.
Getting backlinks is a strenuous process, even when you’re using the best link-building tools.
Admittedly, tools can make link prospecting and outreach a ton easier. But they can’t do the actual work for you. You’ll still have to create and send pitches and interpret and act on your SEO reports.
Whether you’re an agency or a website owner, our company can help.
With over 8 years of experience in link building, we can land you high-quality links relevant to your industry. Reach out today and book a consultation with our outreach specialists.
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Talk to our link building team to see how we can help.