Link building is the process of acquiring backlinks to your content. Backlinks are a ranking signal to Google, indicating that the linked pages offer great content, so the more backlinks a page has, the higher its authority is in the eyes of Google. Apart from that, it works like a snowball: the more high-quality backlinks you get, the more traffic comes to your pages.
The truth about link-building is that over the decade the process has changed a lot. And so have link-building tools. The good old link schemes, link exchanges, and trading links on Web 2.0 might bring your pages to nowhere with Google’s Penguin algorithm sanctions. Modern link-building is not about earning links per se, but rather about bringing value to users and establishing business relations.
No matter how good your content is, you must be proactive and promote it. Most sites once started from nowhere. Besides, there is always harsh competition on top of the SERPs, so you need to have a consistent link-building strategy to build up your site's authority.
Gnerally, the whole link-building process unfolds in these four steps:
Doing all these steps manually will require years to attain tangible results. That's why site owners dump decent sums of money on link-building tools and services. If you decided not to outsource link-building and do it all yourselves, here is our list of best link-building tools, available in both free and paid versions, that will help you scale the process.
For convenience, here is a comparison table of all tools covered in the article, marked with all steps they cover in the link-building workflow.
|Tools||Backlinks Checking||Influencer Research||Contact Lookup||Email Outreach||Link Tracking|
To be more precise over the data in the chart:
Pricing: free - $16.6/mo, 7-day free trial
Good for: SEO link-building, email research, link tracking
LinkAssistant is link-building software designed specifically for link-builder outreach. Currently, it combines a bunch of link prospecting tools, keyword research, a backlink analysis tool; an in-bult email client (with a possibility to integrate external email clients), and a backlink tracker to verify that all built links are live.
The tool includes all popular methods for link-building campaigns. You can find your prospects by various search options, such as finding guest post sites, forums, blogs, review platforms, business directories relevant to your niche, comment threads, etc.
With a powerful backlink analysis tool, LinkAssistant lets you conduct link building by backlink check methods, such as discovering backlink gaps, competitors’ intersecting backlinks, or a site’s fresh backlinks over a defined time term. This way LinkAssistant ensures that your link building becomes better targeted. Likewise, you can find top-ranking pages by your selected keywords or find similar websites operating in your niche.
You can set quality thresholds for Domain InLink Rank (its unique metric), Alexa Rank, etc to filter out rubbish from the results yet before your research starts. Also, you can define the location where you want to find the link prospects which is especially helpful for local SEO link-building.
Being an outreach tool, LinkAssistant by default scrapes contact information from the pages you are researching. You may as well add your prospects manually from another backlink checker, select the rows, and hit Update contact info. The email scraper software will collect emails from the pages. There are a bunch of technical tools for safe search, human emulation delays, resolving CAPTCHA, and proxy rotation for bulk scraping.
LinkAssistant contains an outreach tool that allows sending bulk emails to prospects right from the in-built email assistant.
LinkAssistant contains several ready-made templates that you can customize according to your needs and scale your link-building outreach while staying personal. The email outreach tool contains several labels to flag the status of the emails (from Send request to Site links back).
There’s a reporting tool in enterprise versions to show how many backlinks have been built over a month, their statuses, the domain authority, etc.
The tool uses color labels next to a link, allows setting up a link exchange pair, verifies anchors, dofollow or nofollow tags, etc.
In all, it’s been conceived as a special tool for link-builders. There is an option to receive link-builder reports to emails and send PDF white-labeled reports to SEO clients.
Pricing: €13.90/mo - €138.90/mo
Good for: backlink checking, link tracking
Linkody is among the top specialized link building tools that let you check backlinks pointing to your domain, compare link profiles of the competitors, and pick the right link building strategy.
The tool provides top SEO metrics from external backlink checkers like Moz, Majestic, etc. Linkody keeps track and reports on all link-building efforts.
The dashboards show new and lost backlinks, statuses of built links, top anchors, broken or unfollowed backlinks, and tons more of information. A link visualizer shows where the link is located on a page. There is the disavow file generator tool for hiding spammy links from Google. You can receive reports and alerts to emails, and there is an option of whitelabel PDF reports for link-builder agencies.
Pricing: $19.99/mo - $149/mo, 7-day free trial
Good for: link-building outreach
Linkio is a cold outreach tool combining rank tracking and off-page SEO.
Linkio takes your major keywords, pulls the backlinks for your ranking page, and analyzes them to form the foundation of your research. Then the tool grabs the top 10 on Google’s SERP for the keyword, all their backlink data, and comes up with a custom link-building gameplan.
For link-building campaigns, Linkio contains the bulk email finder tool, and tons of email templates for cold outreach that can be easily personalized. A nice feature for link-builders is anchor text suggestion tool and anchor text planner.
Besides, for cold outreach, there is the schedule and human sending mode for higher deliverability of emails. The software turns-off reminders once the addressee replies back. On top of that, Linkio is said to be team-friendly, allowing unlimited number of users and multiple email accounts for inbox rotation.
Pricing: $119.95/mo - $449.95/mo, free signup, 7-day free trial
Good for: SEO link-building, digital marketing and PR
SEMrush is one of industry leaders positioning itself as an all-in-one SEO toolkit for SEO agencies and professionals. The tool allows keeping track of all your link-building activities from beginning to end in a convenient workflow.
The tool focuses on prospect search with the Backlink Gap Tool to analyze links of your competitors and bid on highly-promising link-building opportunities. The SEO site analysis lets you identify weak or strong prospects, likewise you may want to find unique or shared backlink sources of your competitors.
Besides purely SEO link-building, SEMrush runs the Brand Monitoring Tool and the Lead Generation Tool which help companies run marketing campaigns and expand brand coverage.
The SEMrush Link Building Tool is great to manage link outreach campaigns. It has Authority Score, its unique SEO metric to estimate domains and pages that you’re prospecting. The tool lets you add or remove link prospects, find contact emails, and track email correspondence. Link-builders have a convenient option to sort out prospects immediately by the type of link-building strategies and build emails from several default templates, such as requesting a product review, a guest post, a linked mention, recovering lost backlinks, etc.
There are several parameters for tracking built links: the backlinks are verified if they are in place and have the needed tag attribute. The progress stats can be exported in a CSV file or sent as a report to an email.
The SEMrush link building tool is really great to quickly build fresh backlinks and keep track of your outreach success.
Pricing: upon request
Good for: SEO link building, digital marketing and PR
Pitchbox is one more powerful outreach tool praised by many SEOs for its well-meditated pipeline that boosts productivity.
The tool provides ready-made search modes for various link prospecting campaigns, like doing blogger outreach, finding competitor backlinks, requesting link removal, etc. The tool powers a bunch of SEO metrics from other backlink sources, like Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs, etc.
A link-builder formulates the search, sives through the results rights in the internal browser view, adds the prospect to the mailing list, and then hits the addressee with a personalized email template. The tool automatically declutters the inbox from irrelevant mail. There is a possibility to set up automated follow-ups to those contacts who have not replied yet. Before replying, you can view an influencer’s profile and even react with social signals right from the tool.
The Aging Report shows the success of the email campaign, the reports are shown in comprehensible graphs and diagrams.
Thanks to the automation and reporting features, the tool is perfect for SEO agencies, doing link-building, PR and content promotion. Integrates with a bunch of SEO tools and Google Data Studio, Zapier, Slack, etc.
Pricing: free - $16.6/mo, 7-day free trial
Good for: link prospecting, off-page SEO
SEO SpyGlass is desktop software from SEO PowerSuite aimed for checking a website’s link profile. It lets you overview your competitors, discover backlink opportunities, inspect HTTP requests and do broken link building, inspect anchor texts, check link penalty risks, and compile disavow files.
The tool contains its unique metrics InLink Rank and Domain InLink Rank based on the number of backlinks referring to the page and the domain.
There is a penalty risk tool that shows spammy backlinks that you may want to take down or disavow, the special disavow file generator is available for free.
The Historical Data tool lets you inspect new and lost backlinks. A very handy module is Bulk Analysis for checking domain authority and InLink Rank of prospects at scale.
Alternatively, there is an online backlink checker from SEO PowerSuite. To analyze the link profile of any page, just enter the URL, and the tool will quickly show all the referring domains. The company also offers their Backlink API, claimed to be one of the most extensive in the market with around 3 trillion newest backlinks.
Pricing: $99/mo - $999/mo, discount at yearly billing, 7-day trial
Good for: SEO, link prospecting, link monitoring
One more tool for outreach with link prospecting functions is Ahrefs. It lets SEOs analyze competitors' link profiles with the Site Explorer. By using filters, you can find the resource pages by the type of backlinks you need, for example, high-quality links or broken backlinks. There is a featured Broken Link Checker tool, by the way.
To spot relevant sites referring to multiple competitors but not yours, there is the Ahrefs’ Link Intersect tool.
Ahref’s Batch Analysis tool lets you check domains in bulk, allowing up to 200 pages to be analyzed at a time.
The tool has its own metrics for calculating domain authority called Domain Rating (DR) with the range from zero to 100. You can filter pages by DR, organic traffic, number of linking domains; word count length in the article, publication date, languages, social media popularity.
There is also an Alert feature similar to Google Alerts where you can get an email delivered for your keywords, or even backlinks built to some page.
Pricing: $99/mo - $599/mo, discount at yearly billing, 1 month free trial
Good for: backlink analysis, link prospecting, link tracking
Moz SEO tools also offer domain analysis tools and metrics that can be helpful for link prospecting.
Moz has developed its own metric Domain Authority to measure a website’s strength and its ability to rank in the search results. An analogical metric for a web page is the Page Authority; both SEO metrics are available in the free plan of the tool.
The tool creators also offer free SEO tools that can be used in link-building. For example, the Free Domain SEO Analysis Tool, MozBar, a browser extension, and the MozScape API that can be integrated into other SEO tools.
The Free Domain Analysis Tool lets you quickly analyze a domain's ranking pages, top linking domains, give a historic outline to new and lost backlinks, and see the spam score. In addition to that, the tool sets out major search competitors and top keywords for which the website ranks. Such domain analysis can be helpful to see your organic competition at large as well as to reverse-engineer your competitors’ link-building strategies.
Pricing: free signup, $49.99/mo - $399.99/mo
Good for: backlink monitoring, link prospecting
Majestic SEO is a powerful link checker tool with its own SEO metrics that are popular with link-builders. Majestic offers the Site Explorer Tool for competitive intelligence from its extensive database of crawled web pages. There are two indexes: Fresh Index (built over the last four months) and Historic Index of web pages (that appeared over five years).
Majestic lets you find your best-performing competitors, check their top backlinks, compare top-level metrics for sites and individual web pages, spot more link-building opportunities by discovering link intersection between several competitor websites.
The tool has unique metrics like Citation Flow (CF, the number of backlinks) and Trust Flow (TF, the quality of links), both metrics are available after free signup.
Majestic offers a great visual Link Graph tool to easily see tight networks and tiers building around a website.
Good for: on-page SEO, backlink checks, link prospecting
Sometimes you don’t need a whole set of link building tools, but rather a minor tool to do a small SEO task, like checking links on an individual page. That’s where Chrome extensions for link-builders can be real timesavers.
SEOquake is a plugin checking a bunch of useful SEO metrics right in your browser. It immediately checks site metrics, such as Alexa Rank, whois, Google index, traffic, and more. It shows keywords on the page and their density, and all that can be exported in a CSV list. For in-depth on-page diagnosis, it opens a separate tab. It will require access to a free SEMrush account to check backlinks.
Pricing: free - $578/mo
Good for: email lookup, cold outreach and leads generation
Snovio is an outreach platform that lets you create drip campaigns and scale outreach manyfold. The tool combines cold outreach tools and a customer management system, helping sales managers find relevant prospects and convert them into leads.
After signing up, you will need to add two extensions for finding emails (anywhere on the web except LinkedIn) and the prospect finder tool. The core functionality is setting up an email drip campaign with automated follow-ups. It integrates with Pipedrive and Zapier for sales management, and with Calendly for scheduling events with prospects.
Snovio’s remarkable feature is an email verifier with over 90 verified emails in the database. The tool lets you upload an email list and verify them, or use the email verification API as well.
Pricing: free - $199/mo individual plans, enterprise plan upon request
Good for: contact search
RocketReach is a nice platform to find email contacts at scale. You can try their email lookup services done on a website, via a Chrome extension, or with the help of API. RocketReach enables bulk email search, contact verification, advanced search filters. In enterprise versions, it allows integrations with Zapier and Salesforce, share contacts and history with your team, and report on team productivity.
Pricing: free - $399/mo
Good for: contact search, cold email outreach
FindThatLead is another contact research tool providing quick and accurate data. Operates as an online platform and as an extension as well. In addition to email lookup services, it offers automated prospecting tools for better targeted advertising campaigns. It finds leads from local businesses, and searches contact info from social media channels, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Besides, there is a bulk email sender tool for cold outreach. FindThatLead integrates with Zapier.
Pricing: $59/mo - $99/mo, 30-day money-back guarantee
Good for: email outreach campaigns
Mailshake is email outreach and sales engagement software with intuitive dashboards and user-friendly interface. To set up a campaign, you either add your prospects’ email addresses manually or import them from a spreadsheet. Importing allows classifying contacts automatically while mapping your columns to merge fields.
The tool sends bulk email requests built from default popular templates, such as link building, guest posting, PR pitches, content promotion, and other networking opportunities. Templates are easily managed and customized, there is A/B testing as well. The tool lets link-builders scale their email outreach while staying personal, track replies, measure the campaign efficiency, spot leads, and many more.
Mailshake integrates with tons of other instruments from sales’ tech stack, including SalesForce, Hubspot, GoogleSheets, Facebook, LinkedIn, Outlook, and the like.
Pricing: $29/mo - $299/mo, discount if billed yearly, free trial available
Good for: influencer research, digital marketing & PR
The popular link-building method is to find linkless mentions and reclaim your links. You can do this by using social listening tools like Awario. It is a web-based application that collects mentions across the web, forums, news, and social media. You can apply the Boolean filter to collect unlinked mentions: in the extended search settings enter your target keyword plus the search operators AND NOT + link to find linkless mentions.
After that, you will be able to reach out to the authors of the mentions by email or on social media. It will be easy to convince them to insert a backlink because they have already written something about you.
The tool provides an info card about the influencer, with contact information (if available on the web page), influence rank, top SEO keyword.
The prospect management tool lets you mark prospects as important, delete them from your list, label or ban.
The sentiment analysis module lets you manage your PR and marketing campaign success, segment and analyze your audience. The beta tool Leads detects mentions with purchase intent that can be easily turned into hot leads. The Reports module lets you compile your stats in convenient dashboards, download them and send them to your team members or clients.
Pricing: Free - $299/mo, discount at yearly billing, 30-days free trial
Good for: influencer research, digital PR and outreach
Buzzsumo is a great tool for finding top journalists and pitching them for your great stores. I like it for its great visual layout of content research results. It shows what top headlines are currently ranking and have the most engagement on social media.
You can view influencers and their top stories, as well as see who links to their articles with Buzzsumo’s backlink analysis tools. This is helpful for your content marketing strategy in general because you’ll be able to see trends in the news, what content has larger potential to rank, and improve your content so as to add more E-A-T (Expertise - Authority - Trustworthiness) to your content. The backlink research tool can help you implement the skyscraper technique, find top ranking pages and their linking sources. Besides, you can set up alerts and monitor your competitors’ domain, their backlinks and social content performance.
Buzzsumo also offers a Chrome plugin and an API to integrate into other SEO and reporting tools.
Pricing: free - $149/mo
Good for: pitching for media coverage
HARO is a platform where journalists and sources meet to discover a common ground for a topic coverage. The platform can hardly be used in a traditional sense of link-building, however, it may help you pitch high-quality mentions in the press. HARO (abbreviation of Help A Reporter Out) works as simple as that: you get daily alerts about your keyword topic, and you can post an answer and get a quote in the upcoming article in case the journalist finds your answer useful.
Unlike another Cision’s platform PRNewsWire, that serves rather to press-release distribution and content syndication, HARO is more about connecting two sides of story-making: you receive the feed relevant to your topic, monitor source requests, and contact the reporter with your pitch.
Pricing: provided upon request
Good for: PR & influencer research
Muck Rack is another PR platform connecting sources to journalists that operates slightly differently from the above. While HARO is more like a newsletter with alerts, Muck Rack lets you review reporters and their articles. Sources can follow updates in journalists’ statuses to know what they’re up to. Users get access to the media database where they dynamically sort lists of journalists and publishers, get their contacts, check out social media profiles, and send pitches to them. And users can compile coverage reports and infographics to report on the impact of the campaign, see shares and retweets of the article link.
Pricing: $99/mo - $399/mo, discount with yearly billing, 14-day free trial
Good for: influencer research, pitching journalists, broken link building
JustReachOut is a useful tool to launch PR campaigns and pitch journalists, podcasters, or bloggers. It helps companies to get featured in the press by doing their own PR outreach. The platform does not let you access the database of journalists and media, but rather creates a workflow for researching the right contacts, and provides guidance for pitching them the right way.
Link-builders will like a special in-built report for broken link building. The tool crawls Google starting page 1 for your selected keyword, checks all the content, and finds broken links in every result. You’ll be able to review your broken link report and send the request to replace the broken link with a link to your content.
Other must-have functionalities include email scheduling, pitch analytics, and team management.
Pricing: $24/mo to $999/mo, 14-day free trial
Good for: influencer outreach
BuzzStream is the industry-leading outreach tool for link-building and digital PR. The platform helps marketers find influencers in relevant niches, reach out to web publishers, and track all communications history. Thus, Buzzstream conveniently combines outreach and CRM functionalities. Buzzstream makes it easy to pitch a story, especially offering linkable assets, such as infographics, research and whitepapers.
A bunch of SEO and social media metrics simplifies prospect research and evaluation. The tool contains several templates for data import from other link checkers and CRMs, including Majestic, Citation Labs, or SalesForce. The prospect list can be easily split into segments, filtered, and updated. Navigation through the boards is pretty intuitive.
Besides, the platform offers the Buzzstream Buzzmarker, an extension for Chrome to add prospects along the way you browse the web. The plugin will work with your Buzzstream account only.
Buzzstream lets outreachers maintain all relations history: track email opens and clicks, send reminders and follow‐ups automatically, keep record of replies, tweets, and reactions. An undoubted timesaver is the possibility to sync email accounts and share communications history with your team. The reporting feature provides insights into email success, best-performing subject lines, and other stats crucial for email marketing.
Pricing: $145/mo - $299/mo, 30-day money-back guarantee
Good for: influencer outreach
Respona claims to be the most contemporary and comprehensive tool for PR and blogger outreach. In fact it offers all the routine steps in setting up an outreach process: finding leads and estimating prospects with a bunch of SEO metrics (domain authority, stats from Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz, etc., engagement on social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit), email contact lookup services, automated email setup with toggling off the follow-up sending after receiving the reply, and reports into your outreach efforts’ success.
The tool stands out by its live search into ranking content such as news, podcasts, trending content. The tool helps companies streamline link-building strategies by pitching great stories and authors. It offers automated integration with HARO to identify relevant journalists and bloggers. Besides Respona’s AI responsible for clearing data, users access a vast database of over 400 million contacts (email addresses, Linkedin profiles, etc).
There is an AI-powered email personalization assistant to help you customize templates. And a pitch quality analyzer that will remove all spam and improve the tone of voice. All in all, the tool creators guarantee a seamless link-building workflow with no hassle.
Pricing: $299/mo - $499/mo, 14-day free trial
Good for: influencer research, link-building, PR
NinjaOutreach combines influencer and link-building software. It finds leads and popular blogger profiles from Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
It lets you create templates with custom fields and send bulk personalized messages to your contacts. The templates are crafted specifically for white-hat link-building, such as making inquiries for guest posts, interview and podcasts opportunities, offering infographics, etc. The analytics tool shows the templates with the highest open rates, most replies and CTRs. It notifies once a prospect replies, and tracks further lead interaction.
There are built-in CRM features for team management, such as leaving notes, labels, and tags, and of course, lead import or export.
These are only a few of the dozens of tools for SEO link-building in the market. Do you happen to use some of these? Do you have some favorite link prospecting and outreach tools that you think are great? You are welcome to share your experience in the comments!