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12 Great Link Building Tools That Are Essential to Your Success

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Kevin Rowe
Kevin Rowe
12 Great Link Building Tools That Are Essential to Your Success
  • 4.8K
    READS

Link building strategies certainly have changed over the years.

So have the SEO tools we use.

Since the old automated link building tools that automatically placed comments like KontentMachine or GSA’s Search Engine Ranker, modern tools have moved to a manual research and outreach platforms.

Tools that I and many of my link building colleagues use today look more like ones used for public relations (PR) rather than link building,

In fact, some of my favorite tools are for PR.

However, there are still some tools specific to link building that aren’t going anywhere.

This list has both PR tools that can be used for link building, as well as link building specific tools.

The tools available can be listed in three areas:

  • Link Research Tools.
  • Prospecting & Outreach Tools.
  • Reporting Tools.

Link Research Tools

I consider research not the process of finding sites but the process of determining what type of sites you should be approaching.

This means you should be establishing quality criteria, categories of sites, authority metrics, and others.

Below are the two tools with the largest database of links and robust reporting.

I’ve included both of these sites as I constantly see each having data that the other doesn’t.

You may find some links to you our your competitors’ sites in Majestic that aren’t listed in Ahrefs, and vice versa.

These tools can be used together to build a comprehensive list of sites to analyze.

As with many SEO tools, the pricing has packages and depends if you pay for the year or monthly.

1. Majestic

  • Pricing: $79.99/month with 1 user
  • Payment options: Monthly or receive discount for annual

majestic link research tool

I can play around in Majestic for days, just swimming through the amount of links.

Here are some recommendations on how to use it and what reports should influence your link building.

  • Topics: This data can be used to identify the types of sites you should be generating links from. Consider running this report on the link profiles for top ranking sites, then finding sites that fit into similar categories.
  • Referring Domains: Use this to evaluate:
    • The number of unique domains you should be focusing on building for your site.
    • The trust/citation flow distribution (count of domains by trust/citation flow).

2. Ahrefs

  • Pricing: $99/month with only 1 user
  • Payment options: Monthly or receive discount for annual

ahrefs link tools

In contrast to Majestic, Ahrefs has some reports that are much easier to run inside the tool.

It certainly costs more, but if you want more data, then Ahrefs is the right choice.

Here are reports to use in Ahrefs over Majestic:

  • Pages > Best by links: Two useful applications of this report are:
    • Identify competitors’ most linked content to influence your content strategies.
    • Identify type of sites that link to content you will produce.
  • Pages > Best by link growth: This is a “trend” report that provides content that is generating links over the last 30 days. Find content here that is receiving a rapid number of links and create content that is more robust.

Prospecting & Outreach Tools

Finding highly relevant sites, that will link to your content, is the most excruciating part of link building.

You can create a large list of sites and bulk outreach to save time, but when you’re evaluating your link building success on:

  • Link gained per hours.
  • The quality of those links.

Then it’s best to handle prospecting manually or in a semi-automated approach.

The tools I’ve listed below can be used for the most popular link building strategies.

3. Broken Link Builder by Citation Labs

  • Pricing: Starts at $67/month
  • Strategies: Broken link building
  • Application: Prospecting

This tool is worth noting in the prospecting list as it can reduce the time it takes to find broken links.

Inside the Opportunities report, you will have a list of broken links along with the sites that are pointing to those links.

Check out my SEJ article on broken link building for tactical advice on using this data.

citation labs broken link building

4. Pitchbox

  • Pricing: $99-$1,500+/month
  • Strategies: Blogger outreach, influencer outreach, online PR
  • Application: Prospecting, outreach

Pitchbox is certainly one of the pricier tools on the market when compared to email tools like MailChimp, but the integrated prospecting is helpful to reduce the time to qualify sites.

If it wasn’t for a few key features, it would truly be a glorified email system:

  • Prospecting sites list builder
  • SEO metrics integrated right into the opportunities report

pitchbox link prospecting tool

5. BuzzSumo

  • Pricing: $99-$499+/month
  • Strategies: Blogger outreach, influencer outreach
  • Application: Prospecting

What a great tool for building lists of blogs, influencers, and authors!

Out of all the prospecting tools on the list, BuzzSumo has the best filtering options.

You can use the tool for a lot of purposes, but for link building, these are two effective use cases:

  • Identifying authors: The content research and influencers sections provides lists of authors/influencers that is searchable by keywords in the content they shared or produced. One fantastic use-case for this is to search through the “most shared” report and find influencers that received more than 2,000 shares of their content then outreach to them to share yours. This can yield a lot of natural links.
  • Identifying sharers/backlinkers: The second use-case goes a layer deeper than the first, finding those that have shared the content. Pull a list of shares or backlinking websites by content then create similar, but better content.

Buzzsumo outreach tool

6. Ontolo

  • Pricing: $97-$297+/month
  • Strategies: Blogger outreach, influencer outreach, directories, blog rolls, resource linking
  • Application: Prospecting

Ontolo guest blogging

If you’re a technical link builder then Ontolo might be your tool of choice.

It certainly doesn’t have the user-friendly setup of BuzzSumo, but its robust features make up for it.

7. BrightLocal

  • Pricing: $3/site or $2/side bulk
  • Strategies: Local citations
  • Application: Prospecting, outreach, citation submissions

Citation building is important for local SEO and should be considered a link building project.

One of the tools with the best value for submitting and managing citations is BrightLocal.

There are two components to BrightLocal: citation monitoring and citation building.

birghtlocal citation submissions

8. Link Assistant

  • Pricing: $124-$299/year
  • Strategies: Blogger outreach, influencer outreach, directories, blog rolls, resource linking
  • Application: Prospecting, outreach

Part of the SEO Power Suite, this deceivingly simple tool has some surprises packed into the prospecting functionality.

I’m not going to talk to the older tactics that Link Assistant can be used for (e.g. forum linking), but the guest posting, giveaways, and links pages (resource pages) can yield a large, unfiltered list for you to dig through.

As you filter through the list of sites on any of the prospecting lists, you can create a custom email for each site.

link assistant link building tool

9. Muck Rack

  • Pricing: Starting at $2,000/year
  • Strategies: Influencer outreach, online PR
  • Application: Prospecting, outreach

In contrast to the other tools, link building is a byproduct of your campaign using Muck Rack.

Here you can find journalists for major or niche publications.

Don’t expect to use standard link building tactics to win placements here, as it’s a true online PR play.

Link building is moving toward influencer outreach and online PR, so PR tools should be on this list.

muckrack online PR tool


Reporting Tools

Although many of the tools in the previous section have reporting functionality built in, I’ve found them all to lack enough custom reporting or the ability to associate links to ranking performance.

10. Google Sheets

  • Pricing: Starting at free
  • Strategies: Influencer outreach, online PR, citations, directories, et al.

You may not expect to see this widely-accessible tool on a list for link building, but the ability to fully customize your reports means it can be used for almost any reporting.

google sheet link reporting tool

To start, a simple report you can create is a link acquisition and quality report.

Include the following columns on the sheet:

  • General fields
    • Date acquired
  • Link details
    • Domain
    • Placement URL (page of link)
    • Anchor text
    • Page title
    • Destination URL (what page on your site the link points to)
  • Linking domain metrics
    • Domain Authority (Moz)
    • Page Authority (Moz)
    • Linking domains (Ahrefs linking domains pointing to the page where your link lives)
    • Total links (Ahrefs links pointing to the page where your link lives)
    • Spam score (Moz)

11. Agency Analytics

  • Pricing: $49-$499/month
  • Strategies: Influencer outreach, online PR, citations, directories, et al.

Agency Analytics automatically populates the dashboard with data from Moz and Majestic and connects that data to critical performance metrics, like ranking and organic traffic.

Qualified traffic that converts to leads or sales is the purpose of our link building and SEO efforts so reporting needs to make a connection between them.

agency analytics reporting tool

12. Cyfe

  • Pricing: $19/user per month
  • Strategies: Influencer outreach, online PR, citations, directories

This tool can be built out as a hybrid between Google Sheets and Agency Analytics, meaning it’s very customizable but can also automatically, and easily, aggregate data from multiple sources to create a meaningful report.

Cyfe Web Analytics Dashboard


Conclusion

I’ve curated this list with the intent to have a tool for every reader, providing enterprise-level with affordable solutions and highly technical tools to the very simple.

But most of all, I hope you can find a tool here for the link building tactic that best fits your approach.

Furthermore, I want you to realize the diversity in the available tools and that you will need to select the right one for the job.

You don’t need to have a $1,000 monthly tool budget to be a link builder, but all of them will take time.


Image Credits

All screenshots taken by author.

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Kevin Rowe

Founder & CEO at Rowe Digital

Kevin Rowe is the founder of Rowe Digital, a link building firm leveraging engagement marketing to build white-hat links. Kevin ... [Read full bio]

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