How to Explore Backlinks Anchor Text

SMS Text

Anchor text is a major ranking factor – it is hard to manipulate (at least it is getting harder now after Google started its anti-paid-links war and got really good at spotting link schemes). Thus by exploring the anchor text of the site backlinks, you will:

  • get an idea of the competitors’ link building strategy;
  • understand what people think of your site;
  • get help with your keyword research (webmasters usually focus on their most important keywords when building links).

As usual, here is a short overview of four backlink checkers followed by the screenshots:

Back Links
Anchor TextY E S
Linking page outbound links+inaccurate+
Nofollow highlightinaccurate++
Firefox Extension++
Sorting options+
Interfacemessed upuser-friendlysimpleuser-frindly
Set Preferences++

1. BacklinkWatch is a bit stuffed with advertisements and slow but it’s free but it will take time visiting each page linking to your site and find the anchor text.


2. Smart backlinks tool offers a handy FireFox extension and viewing options (anchor text on/off; nofollow on/off) speeding up the checking process.

Smart backlinks

3. Analyze Back Links – a very new but promising tool also allowing for a number of useful settings (anchor text being one of them). Some figures however (total backlinks, for examples) seems inaccurate (or I didn’t understand what they stand for).

Analyze Back Links

4. Link Diagnosis tool takes a lot of time but that’s worth it. The utility offers the widest variety of sorting options (anchor text is one of them) enabling you to quickly find any page you need.

Link Diagnosis

Ann Smarty
Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project,
Ann Smarty
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  • Hi Ann
    Link analysis by Joost de Valk used to work well but seems to have stopped working.
    Do you or anybody else know what happened or is it just me!
    In the meantime I’m off to look at Smart Links and Link Diagnosis.
    Thank you for the info…

  • I know, working on it 🙂

  • Sorry Joost – should have emailed you rather than discuss it publicly – my apologies.

    Ann, why didn’t you mention Joost’s fantastic tool in your post?!

  • great tools Ann. Thx for sharing.

  • @Gidseo I have a feeling once Joost gets his fantastic tool working 100%, you’ll be seeing it on Search Engine Journal 🙂

  • Absolutely 🙂 Once it’s up, I’ll review it here.

  • Once again, Ann, a GREAT post. Thanks for sharing.

  • good stuff, just what ive been looking for. any non web based solutions?
    @lorenbaker miss you bro

  • @avi same dude. you in seattle? give me an excuse to come up to NY 🙂

  • Thanks I am bookmarking this to check them out… I have been becoming obsessed over back links as have only just started to understand them. I used to link swap all the time but realized that was not that great.

  • “any non web based solutions?”

    Looks like a topic for a new post. Thank you, Avi! Working on it…

  • Great post, Ann! Pulling anchor text is a crucial activity, and I’m curious to see how these four tools perform.

  • @lorenbaker – couldn’t make it to seattle – always something going on here – this week is

    @annsmarty- start with awall’s backlink analyzer. been looking for one that runs on a mac if you can find one!

  • Nice post – I appreciate the insight. It’s refreshing to hear a review of 4 less talked about tools. Which tool is your tool of preference? Is it a paid tool or free tool ?

    Thanks again Ann

  • Ann,
    Would be interested to learn about any non-web based tools too.

    And I did not know about Link Diagnosis so thanks!


  • I take that back — I just went to bookmark Link diagnosis an low and behold I had it in my favs already. This would indicate either brain damage or too darn many tools 🙂

  • @Gabe : Link diagnosis is my favorite now and it’s free.

  • This is great. Thanks!

  • Yes Ann, I must have to agreed.
    if we compare back link watch and Linkdiagnosis
    so now linkdiagnosis is better with accuracy, speed and some features with firefox.
    i am always eager to check my back links every week so we can get some ideas about our campaign and quality work.


  • For the record: I fixed my plugin.

  • Thank you for the tips

  • Why don’t you list Google Analytics? I believe they also provide a list of all the backlinks to your site and it is free.

  • Actually Google Analytics tracks referrals, not backlinks and it also doesn’t show you anchor text…

  • A very good read, thanks for the information. Will check out these tools.

  • Great stuff here – as sales manager for LinkWorth, we’re always looking for tools that will help us see what our clients and their competitors have done in the past and what their current link profiles look like. Having that information allows us to craft and launch better text link ad campaigns that produce results time and time again.

  • great post will try it out on my find a probate attorney website.

  • Great post. Great tools.
    Thank you!

  • Thanks for the references of the tools above. While I certainly cannot disagree with the value of analytics in growing our Internet Marketing dreams; I can say that (for now at least) I’m just focusing on getting highly relevant content and backlinks out to the Internet while giving much less time to analytics.

    Firgures though, as I hated statistics more than any other class in my College days. Again, that’s not to say it isn’t important because it certainly is. However, I do think we can get so bogged down by attempting to figure out where are site is compared to everyone else’s that we lose the valuable time for the art of actually growing our websites.

    What do you think?

  • Cool tools. I will try to use each of them and see which of them are useful.Thanks for the list.

  • Wow… great article and very helpful. The free tools listed are great. Thanks

  • Helpful post, thanks. I’ve used Link Diagnosis and it is good and comprehensive but the only problem with it is that it only does site wide links.

    If you have a specific page on your site that you want link information for you can’t get it with Link Diagnosis. Put in a specific URL and it will just default to the entire site.

    If anyone knows of a reliable backlink checker that does allow single pages and exportable results leave a comment as i’m trying to analyise individual pages at the mo on my site… Or if i’ve completely missed this on Link Diagnosis please correct me!

  • Eddie

    it seems that at some point google webmaster central DID report on inbound link’s anchor text :

    also, seomoz’s linkscape tool, along with anchor text distribution tool are very powerful.

  • Thanks for the tools. I like link diagnosis the most even though there is quite a wait time. good results is better than crap.

  • This is really good site and rich with content.

  • Thanks for the research. Showing ability to do both page and site level analysis would be great.

  • If you have a specific page on your site that you want link information for you can’t get it with Link Diagnosis. Put in a specific URL and it will just default to the entire site.

  • Great article, love the details. Wondering if you’ve used Jerry West’s custom crafted link finding tool?

    Also, any chance of a follow-up “What Not To Do: Link Building Analytics?”

    If not, I’d love permission to use your article As the Do, and write the Don’ts on the tools listed as well as additional tools.

  • @Chicago SEO Pro, never heard of the one you mentioned – will be checking it out.

    Of course, do use the post to write yours! (and I will also think about the topic you are suggesting).


  • Great post, I’ve been looking for more backlinks tools, will check them out. Thanks for the info!

  • Waw its cool, we can monitoring we and our competitor by this program, How about no-follow link, can they detected ??

    Thank you

  • Thanks for the research. Very helpful.

  • thanks for the seeking knowledge about the backlink to increase pagerank for
    thanks you

  • Thanks for your information… It’s very useful for me, because my pagerank is drop

  • Nice info. Thanks and Happy blogging !

  • bravo…i just can say thanks to u…


  • Thanks for your overview. Good yob.
    I will test these tools.

  • Its a great overview… Thank you for this overview Ann.


  • Try – detailed backlinks report of your site for FREE!

  • sehr gut dankeschön

  • Excellent tools, thanks

  • great tools, thanks for the info.

  • I have been using for a while but with this post I would definitely check Smart backlinks. Thanks a lot.

  • This is a great tool.. it’s deatailed and its free

  • thanks for your information .. I’ll try to apply your tricks

  • Great info, i can use it to against my competitor.Thanks!

  • Great info, i can use it to against my competitor.Thanks!

  • Just about all of whatever you say happens to be astonishingly precise and it makes me ponder why I hadn’t looked at this with this light previously. This particular piece truly did switch the light on for me as far as this specific subject goes. But there is actually one point I am not necessarily too cozy with so while I try to reconcile that with the actual main idea of the issue, allow me see what the rest of the subscribers have to say.Very well done.

  • Great work, i can use it to against my competitor.Thanks!