The best link analysis tools

In a SEO’s world, the number and quality of backlinks to a site can make the difference between a winner and a loser. Modern algorithms of search engines are partially focused on the backlinks profile of a website.

In this article I will deliver some of the best tools used for link analysis. I’ll also detail both the advantages and disadvantages which come with them. I won’t sort these tools by characteristics or strengths. That way you’ll be able to choose the best one for your online projects.

SEO SpyGlass by Link Assistant

One of the most powerful tools for your backlink analysis profile is SEO Spyglass. This application can extract up to 40,000 backlinks for a website. The product’s official page claims that the app is capable of extracting unlimited backlinks. However, the software is somehow limited; to test that claim, I used the Professional version of this application. seo-spyglass

This limitation probably exists because at a large number of backlinks, the software’s speed decrease very much. As a result, you’ll see your computer freezing if you analyze a high number of backlinks. Even so, this is one of my favourite tools. It allows you to do a lot of things with these backlinks once you finish the extraction. You can also import backlinks from other external tools in .csv format or manually.

Importing backlinks can also be done directly from the Google webmaster tools. However, this is only possible if you have access to that site’s account. It’s impossible to do it with a competitor’s website because you don’t have access to their Google’s account.

The latest version of the application (the update is done automatically) benefits from an improved interface and a couple of new features. Its capabilities include the following: IP extraction, location of the backlink’s server, anchor text used, Alexa rank, page and domain Page Rank, domain age, number of external links from that page, link value and penalty risk.

Pros

  • the application is able to extract a lot of info regarding link profile;
  • automatic penalty risk analysis;
  • predefined reports with the most essential data;
  • easy to use interface;

Cons

  • at a high number of backlinks the application and the computer will freeze;
  • the number of extracted backlinks is limited;
  • the free version isn’t able to save and export data;
  • the software is not able to identify some OBL sources as being the same (like the www and non www domains, for example).

Google Webmaster Tools

One of the most important sources of info on a website’s link profile is Google webmaster tools. However, this source is only available if you have access to the actual website. It can either be your own site, you simply have access to your client’s account or you have partial access with the help of the website’s owner.webmastertools

You can download the backlinks directly from the Webmaster Tools account in .csv format. Then you can import them into other tools. The backlinks are sorted by the moment they were first found on the website’s profile.

Theoretically, this tool should show you real profile of the links for your website. I was surprised to see that after performing manual penalty reconsideration, Google found more backlinks in the website profile than were shown by the tool. After a reconsideration request made for one of my client’s website, I received a response with some low quality OBL from the website’s profile. It was surprising to see that the examples sent by the Google team weren’t  included in the webmaster tools links report. As such, be careful if you wish to use this tool as your only source of information.

Pros

  • the most reliable source of information regarding the number of backlinks;
  • a lot of details about the most linked pages and the anchors used;
  • export capabilities;

Cons

  • you must be the owner of the website or you must have access to the owner’s account;
  • from my experience I can tell you that Google don’t show all the backlinks found;

Ahrefs

Ahrefs.com is one of the most powerful SEO tools for backlink analysis. One of the advantages of this online tool is this: the data is analyzed very quickly. That’s because the analysis is done by a server which has more resources compared to your computer.

This tool’s features (paid plans) include these: API access, PDF export, domain comparisons and batch analysis. The app is also capable of offering advanced reports about the pages most linked, the anchors most used, IPs of  websites (including the same C class reports) and top referring domains. You will also have access to the latest backlinks which are received and lost, the link velocity profile and social media profile of the domain that’s analyzed.ahrefs

Pros

  • reports are instantly generated;
  • you can export data with ease;
  • the graphics are very easy to understand;
  • the profile of the backlinks is updated frequently;
  • you can see the lost / new sources of links;

Cons

  • the tool isn’t free and you must pay for a complete report;

Majestic SEO

Majestic SEO is one of my favorite SEO tools to analyse a website. Its interface is easy to understand. Also, you have easy access to the most important elements of an analysis: the quality and trustfulness of the links pointed to a website.

You can also integrate some plugins directly into your web browser. This way you can quickly generate a report with just a couple of clicks. The plugins are available for Chrome and Firefox.majesticseo

For advanced reports you must subscribe to a paid account. However, this way you have access to an impressive number of downloadable and analyzable backlinks: up to 1,000 million. The integrated API allows you to have access to an even higher number of links.

If you own a domain, you will benefit from full reports after confirmation of ownership.

Pros

  • a very fast tool;
  • a free account offers the most important data about a website;
  • free access for your domains;
  • dedicated add-ons to be integrated directly into your browser;
  • the price is good if you have a large number of sites for analysis;

Cons

  • the updates of the backlinks aren’t done as frequently as the ones done by the ahrefs.com tool;
  • you cannot use it for multiple analysis without a subscription;

Open Site Explorer

This tool that’s owned by Moz.com is one of the most overrated SEO tools. The number of links extracted is low and you can go wrong if you analyze a website only with Open Site Explorer. The updates aren’t frequent and they don’t include all the newly released backlinks.Open-Site-Explorer

From my point of view, this tool should be redesigned and the crawlers should be improved. The actual data offered by it won’t help with a website’s analysis.

The MozBar is available for free and it can be integrated into your web browser.

Pros

  • server-based;
  • the tool is able to show you the latest found links to a domain;
  • the add-ons can provide you with a quick analysis;

Cons

  • the updates aren’t done frequently;
  • the number of backlinks is very limited compared to other tools;
  • high price to pay for limited data;

Bing Webmaster tools

This online-based tool can be a good info resource if you’re the owner of the analysed domain. The data offered by the Bing Webmaster tools isn’t comparable with the one delivered by Google.bing-webmastertools

You have access to most linked pages, most used anchors and you can export the data in .csv format.

Pros

  • server-based;
  • an easy to understand interface;
  • downloadable link profile;

Cons

  • you can only use it for your own websites;
  • the number of backlinks isn’t comparable to the data offered by Google;

Raven Tools

Even if the data offered by Raven Tools is mostly focused on internal analysis, this tool can be a good source of info. You can use the Raven Tools for 1 month in trial mode. After these 30 days are up, you must use one of the subscription plans available on the official site.raventools

The data provided is a mix between Moz and Majestic SEO backlinks. The tool allows you to export an unlimited number of links if you subscribe to a paid plan.

Pros

  • you can test the tool for a period of 30 days;
  • server-based;
  • an easy to understand interface;
  • downloadable link profile;

Cons

  • the price is higher than that of other server-based tools;
  • not enough data on what to expect from the paid subscription plans;

Cognitive SEO

Cognitive SEO is one of the best tools I’ve used so far. Its interface is very easy to understand and the generated reports are impressive.

This particular tool has a lot of interesting features; a couple of them aren’t featured on competiting tools. Here are those unique features: websites classification, javascript backlinks and location of the OBL on the website (footer, sidebar, comment etc.).

The new features also include a live backlink checker, timeline of the links gained by website, on-demand crawling and advanced filtering.CognitiveSEO-suspect-links

You can export up to 50,000 backlinks (this number is limited by the Majestic SEO API) if you choose the Elite plan and an unlimited number of links if you choose the custom plan.

Pros

  • unique features;
  • server-based;
  • an impressive interface;
  • reports can be generated in various ways;

Cons

  • high price;
  • not as fast as the competition;
  • a limited number of websites is analyzed in the Professional and Premium plans;

OpenLinkProfiler.org

This free tool is one of the best if you need a complete and easy to use app. The most important features of OpenLinkProfiler are these: Link Disinfection, Link contexts and Industry distribution. You also have free access to the backlinks profile filtered by country and LIS (Link Influence Score).

OpenLinkProfiler

The main interface of OpenLinkProfiler.org

One of the most useful capabilities is email notification. You’ll basically receive daily alerts about your new backlinks pointing to the analysed domain.

Pros

  • great features for a free tool;
  • online-based;
  • unique features included;
  • fast and accurate;
  • free of charge;

Cons

  • limited number of backlinks;
  • the number of exported links is limited to 1,000;

WebMeUp.com

WebMeUp is another alternative if you want to extract the number of links to your site. For a quick analysis, you must subscribe to a free plan which allows you to analyze up to 3 domains. The good thing is that you can export all the backlinks directly onto a .csv file without having to pay for it.

webmeup

The main interface of WebMeUp tool.

The reports generated by this tool are easy to understand. Moreover, you can analyze a website in just a couple of minutes with only a few clicks.

Pros

  • you can export all the backlinks found after you subscribe to a free plan;
  • the tool is fast and web-based;
  • easy to understand reports;
  • accurate and frequently updated;
  • domains comparison included;
  • backlinks distribution statistics;

Cons

  • the reports generated are not very detalied;

Backlink Watch

This is a simple tool which is useful if you don’t have access to better alternatives. The possibility to export the backlinks seems to be broken and you won’t be able to import data to another analysis tool.backlinkwatch

The extracted links are limited to just 1,000. You have some basic information about the OBL (nofollow, the number of links from the page etc.)

Pros

  • easy to use;
  • the tool is totally free

Cons

  • very limited reports;
  • the export of the backlinks is not possible;

Link diagnosis

Even if it isn’t the best backlinks analysis tool, Link Diagnosis is a free alternative. This app is easy to use and effective in various situations. If you want to use it, you must install Mozilla Firefox and a free extension. Without it, you cannot obtain info on the link profile of a domain. The tool is totally limited by these pre-requisites.link-diagnosis

The data extracted seems to be limited because the API of Link Diagnosis is based on the OpenSiteExplorer by MOZ described in this article.

Pros

  • the tool is totally free;

Cons

  • the number of backlinks is limited;
  • the tool is very slow, even if it’s web-based;
  • because it’s based on the Moz.com API, the data provided by this tool is very limited;

RankingSignals.com

Ranking Signals is an online tool used for backlink analysis. Even if the mention of Alexa.com isn’t present in TOS, I tested the number of the backlinks provided by Ranking Signals. The result: they are using the Alexa.com links reports, but it’s all organized in a very interesting manner. When this article was written, the Alexa backlinks were only accessible if you opted for a paid subscription. This tool provides the data for free. rankingsignals

Even if it’s not the best option available, Ranking Signals is a good alternative if you want to analyze a website’s backlink profile for free. The website also provides a Chrome extension. This is useful if you want to analyze a website directly from your browser.

Pros

  • the tool is totally free;
  • you don’t need to pay for one of Alexa’s subscriptions plans to get  access to their data;
  • the main interface is easy to use and very fast;
  • the tool is web-based.

Cons

  • the number of backlinks is limited;
  • the tool is very slow, even if it’s web-based;

Small SEO Tools

SmallSEOTools.com provides an interesting tool for backlinks extraction. The interface of this app is very limited. However, you are able to download all the links with a single click directly into .csv file format.smallseotools

After the extraction’s done, you can use a specialized tool to extract the important data from these links.

Pros

  • the tool is free of charge;
  • you can export the data in .csv format;
  • the number of extracted backlinks is good for such such an application;

Cons

  • the interface is very simple and you only have access to basic info;
  • the website is full of ads;

Conclusion

If you ask me what the best SEO tool for link analysis is, I will tell you that such a thing hasn’t been created yet. However, you can use the data provided by all of these tools to understand one of the possible reasons why a website is ranking better than another one.

If you know other link analysis tools, feel free to share this info with us. I will update the article when I’ll find interesting tools for backlinks analysis.

Catalin Nichita is the founder of SEOVerse.com project. Catalin has about 6 years of experience in SEO and is specialized in penalty removals and website audits.

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