Links do not supersede technical and on-page SEO, but as part of a well-rounded SEO strategy, they are very influential.
The process required to build high-quality links can be complex and time-consuming.
Today, we take a look at 9 great link building tools that will help you run a more efficient and successful campaign in 2023.
9 Best Link Building Tools
Why there are plenty of tools and link building software on the market, the best tools assist you in automating one or more of your existing processes, thereby eliminating the need to carry out manual and mundane tasks.
We currently use 4 of the link-building tools discussed below (Ahrefs, Pitchbox, Link Research Tools, and Google Sheets) to secure high-quality backlinks. If you want to see how we use them be sure to check out our definitive guide to link building.
Don’t Have the Time or Resources To Do Link Building In House? Check Out Our Link Building Services.
1. Ahrefs (Discover Link Building Prospects)
This link-building tool is a must-have. Yes, you can attempt to build links without it, but that would be an insane mistake.
Ahrefs‘ crawler comes right after Google’s as the second most active.
Their backlink index also features more than 3 trillion live backlinks.
This puts it as one of the most powerful tools for effective backlink research on the planet. And for every pro-link-builder, backlink research is a non-negotiable daily task.
Ahrefs has also received accolades from the SEO professional community as year-after-year Ahrefs is voted as one of the top and most trusted link-building tools.
So what is it that makes this link-building tool stand out? Beyond their mega backlink index, it is the Content Explorer feature.
Ahrefs Content Explorer provides link builders with a searchable database of more than 9 billion pages. It is excellent for content research but also a powerful source for finding link prospects.
Here’s how that works. If you are searching for link prospects for an article titled “10 best Content Marketing tools in 2022” a great source for link prospects would be people that have previously linked to similar but outdated posts.
Most blogs worth their salt wouldn’t want to link to a piece with WordPress plugins that either aren’t available anymore or with outdated facts.
This way you know that your prospect is interested in linking to a post on the subject matter. And you also know the fact their current backlink placement is outdated. So you simply pitch yourself as the solution.
To find posts that satisfy your search in the Content Explorer type “Content Marketing“, change the search mode to ‘In Title‘, and use the filter to show only pages published before 2017. You also have to filter for pages in English and with over 10 referring domains.
The above process will show you pages similar to yours that have outdated backlinks from 2016.
What’s cool is that Ahrefs also offers a tool to help you download the pages’ backlinks – Site Explorer.
In summary, Ahrefs helps you achieve the following for your link building campaign:
- Link building research
- Finding backlink prospects
- Downloading backlinks from outdated content to reach out to them
That said, Ahrefs offers some other features:
- Link Intersect: This feature allows you to discover websites linking back to your competitors and not linking to your website.
- Site Audit: It allows you to identify link-related issues on your website.
- Alerts: The Alert feature is a backlink tracker that informs you about new links for your site.
To research and see other sites’ backlinks (not your own), as well as, use the Content Explorer and Site Explorer, you have to subscribe to Ahrefs at a starting price of $99 monthly. That said, if you just want to see your website’s backlinks it is free.
This can be done with Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT).
Ahrefs offer 4 plans:
- Lite Plan: This plan starts at $99 monthly
- Standard Plan: The Standard Plan starts at $179 monthly
- Advanced Plan: This plan starts at $999 monthly
- Agency Plan: The Agency Plan starts at $999 monthly
The major difference between each plan is the number of seats permitted, the number of days you get, and the number of projects you can run.
Ahrefs also recently introduced various add-ons that you can include in your plan. This offers additional flexibility to users.
2. Pitchbox (Find Influencers and Bloggers)
Link building is time-consuming, especially doing outreach. Pitchbox is a link-building tool that was built to ease the process, particularly for SEO agencies, brands, and publishers.
It has received accolades from dozens of well-known SEO practitioners.
The goal of the tool is to help you find influencers and bloggers, reach out to them, build relationships, as well as, ease your outreach efforts. Pitchbox also provides follow-up features to help users close deals.
Because it has so many features the best way to explain the tool is through a walk-through.
So say you run a mobile development app website and are looking for exposure via bloggers and influencers for your article.
Here’s how you’d do so with Pitchbox.
You would need to create a new campaign on the platform. Then choose Blogger outreach. Next, you’ll target bloggers that talk about mobile productivity apps. This outreach platform provides a drop-down list of keyword suggestions that you can pick from so you don’t have to obsess over getting the right phrases.
After this stage, you’ll be directed to the outreach email template page on Pitchbox. Here you can create personalized outreach email templates that you’ll send to blog opportunities found via your chosen keywords.
You can then create several follow-up emails. Next, you can set up an email sequence by selecting when each follow-up email should be sent. For instance, you can change the date of your follow-up emails to 6 days. So it’ll send your follow-up emails at 6 days intervals.
It’s important to note that Pitchbox uses a Smart-AI function and only sends follow-up emails if you don’t get a response to your initial email.
After this, you’ll see a list of your link-building opportunities. Pitchbox integrates with leading SEO providers like Majestic, SEMRush, Moz, and Link Research Tools. So you’ll be able to see the SEO metrics associated with each opportunity via their integration with those tools.
By tapping on the link of a backlink opportunity, the website opens up within Pitchbox and you can choose to pursue it or delete it. If you decide to go forward with it, Pitchbox automatedly moves to the next option for you to inspect.
After getting your options ready, you’ll be redirected to where you can send them your outreach email. You also have the option of choosing if you want to use the auto-follow-up sequence you set up.
Once you get a response from your email the automated follow-up sequence will stop.
The great thing about this tool is that you can also receive your responses right on the platform. You also get to view details about your outreach contact on Pitchbox as well. For instance, you’ll see their Twitter account activity and can even interact with them from Pitchbox.
That said when responding you can manipulate the opportunity milestone depending on the stage of the pipeline your lead is in. There are also ‘reports and data’ that monitor all your backlink leads and their phase in the pipeline to ensure that no hot lead goes cold.
Pitchbox offers a custom pricing model. This means you’ll need to contact them for a price. But based on personal experience and reports this is one of the more expensive link-building outreach tools in comparison to its competitors.
The Agency package, for example, can cost anywhere from $359 monthly. Buzzstream, another popular outreach tool, has Agency plans at $99 and $299 per month based on your specific needs.
Lastly, Pitchbox has a trial period where they customize the solution to match your Agency and clients. They also attach a dedicated trainer to help you use the platform perfectly. Their trial period usually lasts a month but most times at your request they may add an extension.
3. Link Research Tools (Disavow Harmful Links Fast)
This link-building tool manages nearly all backlinking needs. It collects data from over 24 sources such as Ahrefs, Majestic, and SEMrush to give you a holistic overview of your backlink profile.
From the link data this link-building tool provides, you’ll be able to discover SEO opportunities to capitalize on. They even offer the option of spying on your competitors for an idea of their current link-building strategies, as well as, scooping their top backlinks.
Whenever Link Research Tools discovers a backlink to your website it calculates the potential risk the link can bring to your website. With this feature, you can stop the problem associated with low-quality spammy links fast by avoiding them.
If you do receive a Google Penalty for a bad link, Link Research Tools can help you find the data needed to recover from it.
Now where Link Research Tools stands out is with the amount of data they have available.
Link Research Tools collects data from multiple sources, giving you a more in-depth look at your link profile.
The more sources that deliver information to you, the more insightful and accurate the data will be.
Here are some of its features laid out:
- Backlink Analysis: Link Research Tools allows you to discover your website’s most powerful backlinks via its Quick Backlinks Tool.
- Link Audit and Detox: The Link Audit and Detox functions allow you to determine what backlinks are causing your search rankings to decrease.
- Backlink Profile Reporting: This feature provides a full-blown report of your link profile from varying sources. The difference between this and the aforementioned feature is the ability to cut down the link data using differing metrics.
- Link Detox Boost and Google Penalty Recovery: One of the primary issues with getting links disavowed by Google is the time it requires for the changes to matter. The Link Detox Boost feature will help you speed up the process and ensure that Google receives your disavow quicker.
- Link Opportunities: This Link Research Tools feature doesn’t just discover websites where you can receive backlinks but determines the value you’ll get from those links.
The Link Research Tools offers 1 pricing package called Link Research Tools Full suite with various plans.
The Link Research Tools Full suite has 4 plans within the package. It starts with a $17 trial for 7 days and then renews at $499 per month. Their other plans go for $799, $1999, and $2,999 monthly. This is one of the most expensive link-building tools on this list.
That said, Link Research Tools pricing page has a website analyzer that helps check your site to know the best plan for you.
4. Google Sheets (Organize your Workflow)
Every link builder loves Google Sheets. Though you don’t use it in the proactive backlinking process and you can’t technically call it a link-building tool in itself, Google Sheets is the perfect solution for planning, sorting, and organizing your workflow.
You can use the solution to adequately manipulate your data by analyzing web scrapes to discover prospects, store prospects lists, as well as track the progress, and identify and record successful backlinks.
The coolest aspect is that it’s a great way for your entire team working on the link-building project to collaborate, as you just need a single sheet per project.
A single collaboration location will help you streamline your workflow. This makes the solution robust and versatile enough to create a workflow around.
With regards to its usability, if you know how to use Microsoft Excel then you’d feel right at home with Google sheets. It also allows you to download add-ons and write custom codes.
Google Sheets is free of charge and comes with the Google suite alongside Gmail, Docs, Drive Slides, etc.
Hunter.io (Lightning Fast Email Address Finder)
This link-building tool can find every email associated with a particular person or domain in a couple of seconds. Below is a GIF image test from Ahrefs showing how fast it found an email belonging to a staff member on their team:
As you can see above it is lightning fast and loads the email in under a second.
That said, the Ahrefs study also revealed that Hunter.io isn’t the most accurate email finder service.
Here are the results from the study:
Hunter.io only offers a 58% accurate email discovery. That’s quite low in comparison to Name2Email which finds the right emails 92% of the time.
However, its other feature, the Google Sheets add-on, saves this tool and makes it stand out for link prospecting at scale.
With Name2Email you can’t search for email addresses in bulk and if you’re in the process of link prospecting that’s one feature you can’t do without. This is the reason we’ve chosen Hunter.io instead.
Hunter.io offers something more. After you’ve exported a couple of link prospects from your link-building tool of choice and imported them to Google sheets. You’ll see that the export file will usually include the author’s name depending on the tool used.
The Google Sheets Hunter.io add-on then allows you to find matching email addresses for all the prospects with a single click.
Obviously, from the Ahrefs study we’ve just seen, this won’t discover a matching email address for all prospects but it typically gets emails for a huge chunk of them.
So what this tool lacks in accuracy it makes up for in bulk searches, which is a non-negotiable aspect of link-building prospecting.
Hunter.io starts with a free plan that allows for 25 monthly searches. The first paid plan is the Starter plan and it costs $49 per month for 500 monthly searches. This link-building tool also has 3 other plans; Grow, Pro, and Business, which cost $99, $199, and $399 respectively.
Google (The Biggest Link Prospects Source)
When you think of Google you don’t envision a link-building tool but it’s a powerful way to discover link prospecting. This is primarily due to the search engine king possessing the largest index of web pages in the world and the leading search algorithm.
This means you just need to know how to use it skillfully and you can seamlessly discover thousands of quality link prospects at no cost.
How do you achieve this? Search operators.
These are commands that enable you to filter and sieve search engine results. A couple of the search operators work only on Google but some of them can be used on other platforms like Bing.
That said, the search operators that are not unique to Google are quite powerful, as you can mix them up to get exactly what you require from its vast index.
For instance, you can use a combination of inurl and OR operators to search for relevant resource pages like this:
Your Keyword Here (intitle:resources OR intitle: resource) (inurl:resources OR inurl:resource)
You can even use inurl, intitle, and the – search operator to discover authorship pages for guest bloggers in your field.
Your Keyword intitle:”submit” + inurl:blog.
That said, there’s a major problem with using Google as a link prospecting tool as you cannot download your results. But there’s a workaround that involves using browser add-ons that allow you to download SERP data. A good option for this is Ahrefs’ SEO Toolbar or OsScraper.com
This is an obvious one. Using Google is free.
Moz Link Explorer (Reverse Engineering Competitor Backlinks)
Moz Link Explorer works quite simply. You first have to put your competitors’ domain or particular URL into the link-building tool.
You will then be able to see all their backlinks. The tool will also show you link metrics such as your competitors’ Domain Authority.
The standout feature is the Anchor Text Analysis. It allows you to quickly view the most common anchor text in a website backlink profile.
The tool allows you to dig into your competitor’s link profile and find out why and how it affects their Domain Authority.
Beyond this, Moz Link Explorer features a link-building effort tracker. So you can set goals, analyze and track your link-building process in an organized list.
That said, Moz Link Explorer offers basic functions at best when compared to its competitors. However, if you intend to use it strictly for discovering link equity, it’s a great tool.
The Moz Link Explorer comes as part of the Moz Pro package and this comes in 4 different plans starting at $99 per month and ending at $599 per month.
SEMrush (Backlink Gap Tool)
Backlink gap analysis is one of the most effective starting points for a link-building campaign. This is primarily because you’re using competitor insights to discover opportunities based on websites that are getting backlinks from other websites in your industry.
So you can use the SEMrush backlink gap tool as a comparison solution to see if your link profile matches that of your competitors and to uncover hidden link-building opportunities.
To use the tool, you just have to type in your domain and input up to 4 competitors then tap ‘find prospects‘.
You’ll see domain opportunities that are linking to other websites in your industry but not to you.
The whole idea of the tool is to close the link profile gap between you and your competitors by getting backlinks from the hidden sources that they aren’t using. It organizes the results by:
- Strong: Websites pointing to you and not competitors
- Weak: Websites pointing to your competitors more than you
- Shared: Domains that link to every website you’re researching
- Unique: Domains linking to a single website
SEMrush offers 3 plans with the first starting at $119.95 and ending at $499.95
NeverBounce (Email Verification Solution)
You need to verify the deliverability of your potential link prospects’ email addresses before you send outreach emails. If you don’t, the deliverability of your entire link-building campaign can be ruined by bounces. It’s also a huge waste of resources and time to create personalized email templates just for them to bounce.
This is one of the link-building tools that simplifies email verification. You just have to upload your prospects list, and the tool will let you know if each email is “invalid”, “valid”, “disposable”, or “accept all”.
NeverBounce also de-dupes your list automatically. This means you’ll have to pay for email verification just once.
Its standout feature is the Zapier integration. If you’re like most Link Builders and can’t do without Google Sheets, then this feature is divine. You’d only have to set up a multi-step zap that is activated when you input an email address into Google Sheets. It then pings NeverBounce, verifies the address, and automatedly inputs the verification status of the address into the exact Google sheet.
Now the bad news. If you intend to run the above integration method, it’s quite expensive. If you’re on Zapier’s $49 per month plan, it’ll cost you $0.0025 every time your zap runs. So you’ll be spending 10 times the cost of doing it manually.
But, there’s a workaround. You can create a JSON importer to import data from NeverBounce webhooks in Google Apps Script.
NeverBounce charges per email verification for the following:
- For up to 10,000 emails NeverBounce costs $0.008 per email
- For up to 100,000 emails NeverBounce costs $0.005 per email
- If you want to verify up to 250,000 NeverBounce costs $0.004 per email
- For up to 1,000,000 NeverBounce charges $0.003 per email
So, What Link Building Tools Are The Best?
The above best link-building tools list makes running a link-building campaign faster and more effective.
Time matters when building links and it’s less draining to automate the process where possible. You also need to make data-backed decisions about where to get links from, your existing backlinks, and using the right link-building tool can help ease the process.
While we have our preferred tools, the user interface and your workflow could lead you to a completely different set. So, at the end of the day, do your research and test out different tools that solve the same problem until you find the perfect link building software or tool for you.