Over a few years, I’ve tried dozens of link building tools. Some that weren’t very good, some that used to be great, and many that continue to be essential.
You don’t need dozens of link building tools to build backlinks to your site. In fact, you only need a handful of tools to reach maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
So if you don’t want to waste your time or money testing a million and one tools, then keep reading because in this article, I’ll show you the 13 essential link building tools, my favorite features in each, and how they fit into the link building process.
Alright, before we get into the tools, it’s important that we briefly discuss the 3 stages of link building because these are the three areas where tools are going to help streamline your processes and make your link building efforts more effective and efficient.
Stages of link building
- vetting, and
- Email outreach.
prospecting is the process of finding people who may be interested in linking to you And this can be for a variety of reasons like they’ve linked to a competing page, they’ve talked about a relevant topic that you’ve created content on, or whatever.
Vetting is the process of evaluating whether prospects are actually people you’d want to get a link from. And beyond manually reviewing pages, you can use various criteria like the quality of the content, SEO metrics like website authority and organic traffic, and content relevance.
Email outreach is the method link builders use to contact prospects to ask for a link. So as we go through the tools, I’ll explain where each tool helps and give you a preview into how it helps.
Alright, let’s get started
13 best Link building tools
1. Google search
Google is one of my favorite prospecting tools because you get to search through the world’s largest index of web pages. But because the index is so large, you’ll need to use my favorite feature which are search operators.
these will help you narrow in on specific subsets of pages. For example, if you wanted to build links from resource pages, you can search for something like “inurl:resources.html and then a topic related to your niche”.
Then you can visit the pages and see if there’s a potential link opportunity for you.
you can go way beyond well-known tactics like resource page link building by identifying footprints.
A footprint is simply a commonality among multiple web pages.
The next tool is Ahrefs.
While Ahrefs is an all-in-one SEO toolset where you can run a competitor analysis, do keyword research, track keyword rankings, and perform site audits, I want to focus on just one thing that helps in the link prospecting and vetting stages and that’s backlink analysis, specifically to your competitors’ pages.
To see the backlinks to a page, just paste it into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and run the search.
Then go to the backlinks report and right away, you’ll see all of the backlinks that point to your target along with SEO metrics for the linking pages.
If you don’t have an Ahrefs account, you can use the free backlink checking tool to see the top 100 backlinks to a target.
Backlink checking is just a way to find link prospects. You have to manually filter through these to find prospects worth contacting because people aren’t going to magically link to you because you have a page on a similar topic.
Your chances of scoring a link increases if you actually have a good reason for contact, which brings us to how Ahrefs Site Explorer can help with vetting prospects without having to actually visit the pages.
If you head over to the anchors report, you’ll see all anchor texts used on backlinks that point to the page.
And there are some generic ones related to the topic, which likely came as a result of brand equity and a consistent high-ranking position.
The next link building tool is Hunter.io
Hunter is an email finding tool that’ll help you find email addresses for your prospects and with a free plan, you can run 25 searches per month.
This tool falls somewhere in between the vetting and outreach stages. But nevertheless, finding emails for your prospects is critical.
So to find a person’s email address go to the finder tool and enter the first and last name of your prospect, as well as their domain name and Run the search.
I have two favorite features in Hunter. The first is their API which helps to scale email finding and the second favorite feature is their Author Finder.
Just paste in the URL where your prospect is the author of the page in hunter author finder, and they’ll search for the author’s name as well as an email address.
And that brings us nicely to the next tool which is Neverbounce.
Neverbounce is an email cleaning and verification tool. And it’s main purpose is to tell you whether email addresses are deliverable or not.
The reason why I recommend using it is because, by sending tons of emails to undeliverable addresses, you’re going to negatively impact your present and future deliverability.
And if your emails aren’t reaching prospects, then you may possibly not get any link. The tool is free to try and then you’ll have to choose a pay as you go option if you want to continue using it.
It’s really simple to use. Just paste in your list of email addresses and Neverbounce will tell you whether the email is valid, invalid, catchall, or unknown. And just like Hunter, my favorite feature in Neverbounce is the API.
5. Google Sheets
Google sheets is any link builders best friend.
While it’s not technically a link building tool in itself, it’s the perfect way to plan and manage your entire workflow. Google Sheets can be used to:
- Analyze web scrapes to help find prospects
- Store prospect lists and track the progress
- Record successfully acquired links
Best of all, it’s the perfect way for multiple different people on your link building team to collaborate, and you’ll only need one sheet per project. One place for collaborating helps streamline your processes, and Google Sheets is both versatile and robust enough for you to build your workflow around.
Scraper helps you to collect data from web pages as a spreadsheet. When it comes to using this as a link building tool, it’s an effective way to scrape the SERPs to find link opportunities or compile data studies for digital PR to help you pull down data.
You can use the tool in a similar way to Scrapebox that we looked at above, but have it as a handy Chrome extension.
To note: You will need to understand how to use XPath to use the Scraper extension.
Every day (well, every weekday, at least), journalists look for quality businesses just like yours to quote in their articles. Publications must back up any comments, statements, or advice that they give with the correct sources.
One of the places that journalists turn for sources is HARO.
HARO is a platform that connects them via a series of emails every weekday. Sign up as a source, and you’ll receive requests from journalists straight into your inbox.
If there’s a request that aligns with your knowledge or expertise, send your response to the email that’s listed, clearly answer all of the questions that have been asked and justify why you (or your client) should be paid attention to as a source.
Just be careful not to pitch for irrelevant topics that don’t properly align with your business and focus your efforts on only responding to topics you’re a true expert in.
Running a backlink gap analysis is one of the best starting points for any link building campaign, given that you’re using competitor insights to identify opportunities based on sites that are openly linking out to others who compete in the same space as you do.
Use the SEMrush Backlink Gap Tool to compare your own link profile with your competitors’ and uncover untapped link building opportunities.
Enter your domain and up to four competitors and hit ‘find prospects,’ and you’ll see opportunities based upon the domains that link to the other sites but not your own.
If your competitors have a stronger link profile than you, one of the most impactful things you can do is work to close the “gap” by pivoting your strategy to acquire links that they haven’t got. However, you can also see what backlinks they share so you can find targets to focus on.
By default, you’ll see the results from the ‘best’ tab, which is those domains that point to all of the competitors you entered, but not to you. You can also view the link gap prospects based upon:
- Weak = Domains that point to you less than competitors
- Strong = Domains that point to you but not any of these competitors
- Shared = Domains that link to all entered domains
- Unique = Domains that only link to one domain
Scrapebox is a tool that can be really powerful when used with specific Google Search Operators.
In the past, this tool was a favorite of black hat SEOs (it was often used to automate blog commenting at scale); it can help you to harvest results from the SERPs in seconds.
Rather than manually compiling a list of prospect URLs, you can use Scrapebox to scrape these results and export them for you. This helps you save valuable time combing through results. You can now spend some of that time you got back reaching out to prospects and convincing them to link to your content.
Moz link explorer is the flagship feature of Moz Pro, which replaces the old Open site explorer.
How does Moz link explorer work?
First, type in the competitor’s domain or specific URL then run a search and you will see all their backlinks an you will also get link metrics, like the site’s Domain Authority.
My favorite feature in this tools is the Anchor Text Analysis.
Moz link explorer is the second link analysis tool in the market. But it’s a distant second to Ahrefs, because Ahrefs’ link database is significantly bigger Moz’s link explorer. That said, a Moz subscription comes with several other tools that can make the monthly investment worthwhile
Ubersuggest is a keyword research tool that provides tons of keyword suggestions and SEO metrics like search volume, CPC (cost per click), and ranking difficulty.
The tool also includes a free backlink checker that shows who links to you and your competitors.
How it Works
Before you start building links, it’s important to conduct a link analysis of sites that are ranking on the first page. This will give you a better idea of what it’ll take to outrank those pages.
Ubersuggests’ backlink checker allows you to conduct a backlink analysis of competing sites and see where they’re getting their links.
Simply search for a keyword you want to rank for. Take note of the sites that are ranking on the first page and enter those URLs into the backroom tool.
Another handy feature is being able to view where your competitors are getting their links.
With this information, you can reach out to those sites and request a link. Improving your link profile will also increase your rankings.
BuzzSumo is a content marketing platform that enables you to discover and research high-performing content.
How it Works
With BuzzSumo, you can gather content insights like Facebook and Twitter shares, engagement scores, and the number of links an article has.
This kind of insight allows you to identify content that others are sharing and linking to. You can also use BuzzSumo to dig deeper and find industry influencers.
With a list of influencers in your industry, you can conduct an outreach campaign and ask them to share or link to your content.
13. Google Alert
When we think about link building tools, it’s probably rare that our minds turn to Google Alerts.
But this free platform is actually a really powerful tool that every link builder should be familiar with, given that it can help you to:
- Be alerted every time someone mentions you online, showcasing opportunities to reach out to try and turn any brand mentions into links.
- See when content that relates to your main keywords is published online, giving you an easy way to find new journalists or bloggers to reach out to and the topics that are trending.
- Know when your competitors are mentioned online, letting you dive deep into who is talking about them and, perhaps more usefully, why.
Google Alerts is extremely simple to set up, too:
You’ll then receive alerts on these straight into your inbox, leaving you to act on these.
Think of Google Alerts as a discovery platform for link opportunities. While it’s not a dedicated link building tool, it’s one that can absolutely help you find new prospects and gain competitor insights by email.
Link-building tools make life easier. So although it’s possible to build links without them, I wouldn’t recommend it because speed and efficiency matter. The longer it takes you to build links, the longer it’ll take to rank.
Link building tools aren’t there to do your job for you; rather, they help you make your workflow more efficient.
Combine the right SEO tools with an ability to write persuading outreach emails, and you’ll put yourself in the perfect position to build links that help you to compete on even the most competitive SERPs.
A quick recap on the link building tools we discussed earlier:
- Google Search
- Google Sheet
- Semrush backlink gap tool
- Moz link explorer
- Google Alert
These are just some of my favorite link building tools and in my opinion, the only ones you need. Let me know in the comments what your go to link building tools are. And if you enjoyed reading this article, then make sure to share, and subscribe for more actionable SEO and digital marketing tutorials.