I hate to be that guy, but I’ll say it anyway: Homework sucks!
The last thing you want to do at home is bore yourself to death with assignments.
However, homework is a vital part of preparing yourself for the next day in class.
You can’t half-ass school and expect to get flying colors, especially after ignoring your assignments.
In SEO, preparation is key in helping your website rank at the top of organic search results.
And while backlink research is arguably one of the most tedious tasks in link building, it’s also the most important as it’s what helps you find new link building opportunities for your site.
In this post, learn how five of the best backlink research tools can help you build links to your site and rank at the top of SERPs.
5 Backlink Research Tools to Help You Do Your SEO Homework
Originally started as a competitive intelligence tool, Ahrefs is considered to be one of the best all-inclusive SEO tools on the market. Nonetheless, its competitive analysis features remain its bread and butter.
But its backlink research is no slouch, either.
Ahrefs claims to run the world’s largest index of live backlinks. As such, the tool crawls over four billion web pages every 24 hours. Ahrefs also refreshes its data available to users every 15 minutes to ensure that you get the freshest links available.
Aside from the anchor text and backlink, you’ll also see the tool’s proprietary Domain and URL Ratings to gauge the quality of the site and page where you or your competitors have their links.
It also shows valuable data such as referring domains, search traffic and the number of keywords the page is ranking for.
Other key features:
- View new, lost and broken links – See the links that you or your competitors have gained or lost over time. You can try to recover lost links, assuming that the linking site page is authoritative and receives lots of organic traffic. Or if you’re building links, you can take the broken link building approach and try to get relevant broken links replaced with your own.
- Find content with the most backlinks – Organize your site’s link profile by determining which pages have the most links. You can also use this feature to spy on your competitor’s site pages and look for potential link building opportunities.
- View top referring content – Immediately see the best pages that link to your site pages. Analyze the pages based on their respective total social shares and Social Power index.
Monitor Backlinks focuses on helping you track and analyze the backlinks of your site and your competitors’ sites.
Upon creating an account, Monitor Backlinks will automatically detect the backlinks of your site with a click of a button so you can monitor your link profile from the get-go. The ability to see your links in an easy-to-view manner makes your backlink research much easier and more convenient.
The tool organizes each link according to different parameters to help you analyze the quality of the site and understand which among your links are more valuable than others.
You can also monitor your competitors and see the links they’ve built over time, according to date. The tool gives you an overview of their link building activity and lets you identify patterns that you can emulate on your own site.
Other key features:
- View a comprehensive list of link variables – Identify the best backlinks based on quality scores including Majestic’s Flow Metrics, Moz’s Domain and Page Authority, Alexa Ranking, Spam Score and more.
- Conduct backlink research on non-competitor sites – If you want to view the link profile of a site that’s not your competitor, you can use the Free Backlink Checker to view the top 300 backlinks for free, once a week.
- Track ranking on Google SERPs for target keywords – See the results of your SEO and link building efforts by monitoring how much your ranking has increased or decreased for your target keywords.
Majestic maintains that it has “the planet’s largest Link Index database.” Regardless, the tool is certainly one of the most powerful backlink research tools on the market.
One of the most important features of Majestic is its Topical Trust Flow metric. Most backlink research tools analyze links without any regard to context—they merely display the links of a site based on the tool’s available parameters. What they miss is the relevance of the site, measured by topic or category.
This is what Topical Trust Flow shows.
Majestic makes better sense of your link profile by identifying the categories your backlinks are associated with.
For example, tech websites should have the majority of their backlinks from tech-related sites. Links from sites without any relevance to technology are useless, despite how authoritative they are.
Using the data provided here, you can improve your link profile by getting more relevant backlinks, or check out what your competitors are doing and acquire some of their backlinks.
Other key features:
- Gain access to Historic Index – Majestic gives you access to five years’ worth of links from its comprehensive database. Use the data to analyze your competitor’s backlinks on a deeper level.
- Compare strength and stability of domains – Flow Metrics History will show you the progress of sites you want to compare and contrast, based on the tool’s Flow Metrics: Trust and Citation Flow. The higher the scores on both, the better the site is performing.
- Analyze backlink growth – If you’ve built links in the past, Majestic’s Backlink History will show you how much those links have grown over the years and how much more valuable they are to you now.
Moz Link Explorer
Until April this year, Moz users were privy to the tool’s Open Site Explorer. It’s a free tool (as long as you’ve signed up for a Moz account) that shows you the backlinks of a site and the parameters for each.
However, the tool is now replaced by Link Explorer.
With a more comprehensive link index, Link Explorer has a database that’s more than 20 times greater than Open Site Explorer. That means better and more data to sink your teeth into.
The additional functionalities such as link growth, lost/gained links and others give you a clearer overview of a site’s link profile.
Lastly, and more importantly, Link Explorer has improved metrics that allow better correlation between a site’s Domain Authority (DA) and its Google rankings.
DA has long been considered one of the most accurate and reliable metrics to measure a site’s quality and authority in reference to Google ranking factors. Because of the improvements made by Moz in this regard, users can now refer to a site’s DA with confidence.
Other key features:
- Get daily updates – With OSE, you had to wait a week before the DA updated with your latest links. Link Explorer refreshes both the DA and backlinks every 24 hours, giving you more accurate and up-to-date information.
- Loads fast – You can toggle through all the features of Link Explorer without any hitch in loading time. The faster the tool loads, the more time for you to gather and interpret link data.
- Create lists to organize links – If you find a link from your research that you like, you can add that link to a list for your upcoming outreach campaign or to track over time, among other reasons.
If you enjoy any of the backlink research tools mentioned here but don’t have the money to subscribe to all of them or want to consolidate all their data into one place, then LinkResearchTools might be for you.
In a nutshell, LRT harvests data from 25 of the best link sources, including Ahrefs and Majestic, so you get the best of all worlds.
On top of that, the tool lets you analyze your links based on 97 SEO metrics. They’ll help you identify which among your backlinks you should focus on and which ones you should disavow.
Regarding the latter, LRT also helps you speed up the disavowal process to help recover your lost rankings.
Other key features:
- Easily find link building opportunities – The Link Opportunities Review Tool (LORT) makes finding link partners more convenient. Refer to the tool’s LRT Power and LRT Trust metrics to identify the strength and quality of a site, and determine how much impact getting a link from that site will have.
- Predict link growth speed – To get a better idea of how you can match up with your best competitors, LRT’s Competitive Link Velocity Tool (CLV) allows you to compare the growth and performance of their sites based on their linking activity. Use the data here as a reference for how to build your backlinks and the point you have to reach to keep growing your rankings steadily.
- Access to workshops and certifications – No backlink research experience? No problem! LRT offers a host of courses and resources to help acquaint you with the SEO practice.
Which Link Research Tool Should You Choose?
There really is no correct answer when it comes to which tool above is the best for you. Ultimately, your choice will depend on convenience and comfort.
Based on the description of the different tools above, here’s the quick lowdown on each:
- Ahrefs is ideal if you want more juice from your backlink research tool as it also accommodates keyword research, content research, website audits and more.
- Monitor Backlinks is perfect if your sole purpose is to monitor and track backlinks (both yours and your competitors’) at an affordable price.
- Majestic offers comprehensive backlink data and unique quality metrics, making it ideal if you’re very data-focused with your backlink research.
- Moz Link Explorer is fairly new to the game but shows a lot of promise. If you like Ahrefs but not its price tag, then Moz should be right up your alley.
- LinkResearchTools is the answer if you want to take your backlink analysis into overdrive and money is no object.
This should help make your decision much easier when choosing your backlink research tool.
However, it’s better to try each one for yourself to see which one works best for you.