When it comes to evaluating and generating backlinks, simple tools such as the Google Search Console are of little help, as they lack all kinds of information provided by special SEO tools. But even with these mostly paid tools, there is no tool that masters all functions perfectly.
For this reason, I have compiled what I consider to be the best backlink tools as well as similar but free alternatives in this article. Never lose track of your backlinks again, optimize your link building and know exactly who your competitors are!
Ahrefs is the leading tool for SEOs who want to use as many functions as possible combined in one software package. However, Ahrefs started out as a backlink tool - hence the name derived from the HTML tag <a href…> is derived.
This makes it clear why I consider Ahrefs to be the leading SEO tool for monitoring and generating new backlinks. The huge link database and the frequency with which domains are crawled and new links are added to the database is currently unrivaled. This in turn leads to accurate data in relation to the metrics DR (Domain Rating) and UR (URL Rating).
I would like to highlight one feature that is particularly helpful for link building: Link Intersect.
Link Intersect finds links from sources that do not link to your site, but to the competition.
This allows you to create a list of domains that link to the competition, but not to your (or any) site. Ahrefs also displays the domain rating of the linking domain, which provides information on how strong the domain is from an SEO perspective, as it receives many links from domains that Google trusts.
These domains would probably also link to your site if you can draw positive attention to yourself or build up a friendly relationship. After all, your competitors are websites with similar content.
In addition to this feature, Ahrefs also includes the ability to check up to 400 domains or URLs simultaneously. This makes it one of the most powerful bulk backlink checkers.
Best alternatives: Moz Pro, SemRush, Cognitive SEO, SE Ranking, Sistrix, Serpstat
Free alternative: Ubersuggest
Majestic is often listed as an alternative to Ahrefs. However, it is more of a specialist for everything to do with backlinks, as it simply does away with tools for keyword research, audits, content etc.. Instead, Majestic is just right for anyone who can do without these functions and only wants to evaluate backlinks.
For this purpose, Majestic has not only introduced two metrics, Trust Flow and Citation Flow, but even calculates the TF value for all categories of websites individually! This is what the Majestic user interface looks like:
Majestic not only displays data such as backlinks, referring domains, IPs or subnets for the domain NFL.com, but also calculates the Trust Flow and Citation Flow as the decisive metrics and also displays these as a graph.
The Trust Flow is a value that reflects the quality of the links. Majestic assigns websites to a category and measures the TF independently for each category.
Example: Your website receives a link from the Stuttgarter Zeitung, which increases the TF in the News category to a value above 0. However, your website does not have a link from a website in the Art category and therefore has a TF value of 0.
This allows you to check the possible sources for quality in relation to your niche when link building. Links from websites that have a good reputation in your niche are more useful than links from websites that are not relevant in your niche.
Furthermore, the link graph provides a visual overview of your backlinks and the relationship between the link sources across several levels.
If you want to evaluate the quality of a website in terms of off-page SEO at a glance, all you have to do is look at the link profile. Here, all referring domains are displayed as dots, with the X-axis representing the CF (strength of the links) and the Y-axis the TF (quality). Ideally, the majority of the dots should be to the left and above the diagonal.
Best alternatives: LinkMiner
Free alternative: Ahrefs Free Backlink Checker
While tools such as Ahrefs are suitable for monitoring links, there are other tools that do this more cheaply and undoubtedly better. The two most popular tools for this purpose are Monitor Backlinks and Linkody.
Monitor Backlinks obtains data from both MOZ and Majestic and can therefore display metrics from both tools at a glance. In addition to the values known from Majestic, such as TF and CF, the spam score, the Moz rank and the domain authority of the link source are also displayed.
Monitor Backlinks shows the important date, link source, link target and various SEO values at a glance.
In addition to this core functionality, Monitor Backlinks can also display competitor links and perform keyword tracking. The spam score provided by Moz lets you filter out backlinks that could harm your site and export them to create a disavow list. Email notifications can be set up for events such as the loss or gain of links.
Best alternatives: Linkody, Nightwatch
Free Alternative: Ubersuggest
If you do link outreach on a large scale, there is no getting around tools. The choice is particularly large. With Pitchbox, NinjaOutreach, BuzzStream and many other tools, you are spoiled for choice. But I prefer Pitchbox!
With Pitchbox you can find sources for backlinks, such as bloggers, and implement outreach campaigns.
Pitchbox is an influencer outreach & content marketing platform that is very well suited for SEO. The tool takes care of everything from monitoring your campaigns to creating emails. Unlike many other outreach tools, you can enter the SEO data from Ahrefs, SemRush etc. here - this gives you an overview of the quality of the links you can receive from individual bloggers or websites.
Pitchbox also offers the e-mail sequence function. This allows you to prepare several e-mails that are sent at the desired time when a certain trigger occurs. A contact can then be excluded from a sequence at any time and the individual contact can be initiated. The software can be connected to Gmail or Office 365.
Best alternatives: NinjaOutreach, BuzzStream, GroupHigh, BuzzSumo, Respona, Klear
Free alternative: SalesHandy
Hunter.io automatically scans websites for emails. This can be particularly useful if you have created a list of potential link sources using a tool such as Ahrefs. After all, you need to find out the contact details and if you have to do this for hundreds of websites, you should automate this process.
With Hunter.io, you can enter a list of domains and the program will search its database for contact details, including name, position and email address. Hunter also offers an e-mail verification function. This means that you can be relatively certain that the address data is incorrect.
Hunter not only displays the e-mail addresses, but also shows the sources of the information.
To use this tool for link building, you can integrate your Gmail account and implement outreach campaigns including email sequences and monitoring directly from here. In some cases, the use of a tool like Pitchbox can be avoided.
Best alternatives: Snov.io, VoilaNorbert
Free alternative: AeroLeads
Premium backlink tools vs free backlink tools
Many of the premium tools presented here can be tested free of charge. However, the scope of use is often limited. So if you want to use such tools regularly, you have to fall back on free alternatives.
In most cases, these are either fully developed, have only a few features or are simply a slimmed-down version of the paid version. For example, with Ubersuggest You can do many things with this tool, such as checking backlinks, conducting keyword research or performing simple audits. The tool can be used free of charge, but then only displays a small selection of links or keywords and is therefore of little use for professional applications. Nevertheless, it is the best free SEO tool for many applications.
Also useful are the free Backlink Tool from Ahrefs or the free version of SemRush, which is limited to 10 actions per day.