A version of this blog post was first published on the Unleashed Technologies blog.
22 SEO Experts share their favorite Backlink Analysis Tool (2021)
I think we can all agree that building quality backlinks is not only one of the more difficult aspects of a good SEO strategy but also one of the most important. One way to make this job a little easier is choosing the right tool to use.
A quick search on Google will return millions of results, and pages, and pages of backlink analysis tools claiming to be the best.Image
The truth is, each tool is going to have something it does better than the others. The trick is finding the best overall tool that provides the most accurate data and specific features that you need.
Luckily for you, we rolled up our sleeves and reached out to 22 SEO experts asking them to share their favorite backlink analysis tool. Plus, provide their thoughts on why they prefer that tool the most.
But, before we jump into their responses, let’s take some time to look at some of the more popular tools they recommended.
A Quick Look at Popular Tools
Founded in 2010, Ahrefs is a well-known SEO tool that allows for competitor link analysis, backlink audits, keyword research, paid search reports, and more.Image
Boasting a massive link index and a crawler able to process up to 8 billion pages a day (second only to Google). The Ahrefs tool is easy to navigate while providing a slew of specialty reports and advanced features.
Earlier this year, Semrush announced its plans on going public and is now listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “SEMR.”Image
Offering over forty plus tools and reports, SEMrush is another favorite among digital marketers. Providing an intuitive dashboard, on-page SEO reports, competitor analysis, and keyword research tools great for both SEO and paid search campaigns.
Founded by Rand Fishkin and Gillian Muessig in 2004, Moz is one of the oldest backlink analysis tools on the market.Image
This oldy but a goodie, all-in-one SEO tool is great for finding link-building opportunities and keywords. One feature that I have always enjoyed was Moz Local. Allowing you to easily maximize local business listings even in the toughest of locations.
Majestic has been crawling and indexing the Internet for years and has accumulated the largest commercial link intelligence database in the world.Image
Based out of London, England, Majestic provides competitor link profiles, backlink analysis, and news monitoring, to name just a few features. Majestic is also one of the most affordable SEO tools on this list.
After being acquired by entrepreneur Neil Patel, Ubersuggest has undergone a facelift and expanded its features, including on-page SEO scores and website health checks.Image
Backlink data, content Ideas, and keyword suggestions are just a few of the reports you will have access to with the improved Ubersuggest SEO tool. Like Majestic, Ubersuggest is a very affordable all-in-one tool.
Nightwatch aggregates data from all major SEO and search sources from Google Analytics, Search Console, Keyword Planner, and other popular SEO sources.Image
Nightwatch has the ability to access any Google Data Center, and find anomalies like keywords appearing or disappearing, it then cross-references those anomalies against other reference points making sure it is returning the most accurate data.
Now Let’s Hear From Our Experts
Gina Ramsey – Ubersuggest
CEO | Pink Dog Digital
Building quality backlinks is an essential part of a successful SEO strategy. However, a lot goes into the backlink building process, so you’ll want to use a program that can do it all. My favorite tool to use for overall backlink analysis is Ubersuggest by Neil Patel.
This is a favorite because of the wide variety of information it provides. This backlink analysis tool by Ubersuggest starts by rating your website and giving it a domain score of 1 to 100. This gives you an idea of where your website ranks in Google and how far it is from reaching the number one spot in Google search results.
It then shows an entire list of backlinks to your website and the number of domains that refer to your website, as well as the total number of no-follow backlinks. Having consistently updated information regarding backlinks to your website will help to accurately track progress, making you aware of any changes that need to be made to your overall strategy. Image
Jordan Stella – Ahrefs
Senior SEO manager | UpCity
Our favorite backlink analysis tool at UpCity is AHREFs Site Explorer. We utilize this tool for backlink analysis most frequently due to its diverse capabilities in analyzing our own website, as well as our competitors. AHREFs Site Explorer provides a full scope of our current backlink profile, including the dates that new links have been acquired. On the flip side, it also allows us to identify recently lost backlinks.
In addition to providing the same types of insights for our competitors, AHREFs also showcases the anchor texts and contexts to which competitors are being referenced on the web. This feature presents ample opportunity for analyzing competitor link-building strategies. To take the research a step further, we can also use AHREFs to discover our competitor’s most linked-to articles.
Another reason that we prefer AHREFs Site Explorer is that it provides us with the resources we need to maintain a healthy backlink profile. Not only are we able to track our quality backlinks, but we’re also able to spot potentially harmful links and act fast towards a resolution. AHREFs is certainly an effective backlink analysis tool for monitoring and managing real-time insights.Image
Sean Si – Ahrefs
CEO and Founder | SEO Hacker
When it comes to backlink analysis, there is only one tool that comes to my mind, and that is Ahrefs. I’ve been using Ahrefs for a long time now, and it is still my go-to backlink analysis tool. They have one of the best link indexes in the industry.
Personally, what I like the most about Ahrefs is how easy it is to get the data that I need. One quick look at the overview report, and I already have a good idea of a website’s backlink profile is good or bad. Should I need more granular data, I could easily check the full list of the website’s referring pages and domains. I’m also not bombarded with unnecessary metrics.
Ahrefs is a tool that is used by our team to help a lot of our clients throughout the years, and I don’t think we’ll stop anytime soon.Image
Timothy Prestianni – Ahrefs
Digital Marketing Manager & SEO Strategist | Unleashed Technologies
Here at Unleashed Technologies, we use the Ahrefs SEO tool. We have found that Ahrefs provides accurate backlink profiles and a comprehensive range of features, for example, SEO site audits, domain comparisons, PPC, and top content.
One of my favorite features is “Best by links’ growth,” this allows you to see what pages on a website are generating the most links right now. Providing great insights when planning out and executing content strategies.Image
Anatoly Zadorozhnyy – Ahrefs
SEO Manager | Softline Solutions
Ahrefs is my go-to tool for any SEO work and backlinks analysis. The main factor why I choose Ahrefs over other tools is the data it provides. When doing any backlinks analysis tasks, you have to make sure you get the latest and the most accurate data. With Ahrefs, I’m able to pull current and historical data to get a clear picture of any current and past backlinks.
Compared to other tools, Ahrefs also provides a more comprehensive list of links and referring domains. When doing a backlinks audit or preparing a disavow file, you can not afford to not see all of the links pointing to the website. Ahrefs is able to provide me with exactly what I need for me to run any backlinks tasks successfully.Image
Denise Hartman – Moz
Director of Search Engine Marketing | JP Enterprises
When I received a request to recommend my favorite SEO tool, I thought, sure, I can do that. Now that I’m placing fingers on the keyboard, I’m not so sure. I know that the perennial favorite is MOZ. PC Magazine dubbed it the pioneer of SEO. I read their blogs, and I use some word research, but primarily I use it for the site crawl and backlinks.
While much of the keyword reports are clunky and hard to navigate, I find the MOZ inbound links page to be easy to use. At the top of the page, a dashboard displays an overview of the client’s Domain Authority, Page Authority, Linking Domains, and Inbound Links.
At JP Enterprises Unlimited, we create websites for industrial companies and distributors that sell millions of different items online. Product lines include everything from 15 cent screws to drills used by NASA engineers. You don’t want to know how much those things cost. This makes for many backlinks to review. I rely on the multiple subject search bars that include searches for link source, type, and state. I also like that the links are categorized for easier assessment.
Features on the Inbound Links page include the Spam Score that reports on linking sites that are penalized or banned by Google and should be quickly removed. I also find that I can ascertain a pattern to the links allowing me to create a list of potential backlinks for the client.
MOZ is known for its informational library, and the backlinks opportunity library is no different. Invaluable information on link building is grouped by SEO skill level under the Opportunities tab.
Ultimately, the data from MOZ allows me to create reports for our clients that include easy-to-understand, actionable information.Image
Josh Himms – Ahrefs
Senior SEO Site Lead | The Points Guy
The tool I prefer to use every time I perform a backlink analysis is Ahrefs. The interface is extremely user-friendly and provides the right type of data that my team and I need to conduct a proper backlink analysis such as domain rating, URL rating, backlink destination URL, and anchor text. These attributes are super important when it comes to comparing our backlink profile to competitors and being able to focus on quality versus quantity (which Google prefers) of the backlinks to our site.
Another feature that is important is parsing out which backlinks are from educational or government websites. This is important for us as our website subject matter is largely in the highly competitive YMYL (Your Money Your Life) landscape, and Google weights quality links from those two sources heavily. Finally, my favorite feature is leveraging the URL rating and DR rating metrics by destination page within my site.
It is incredibly important to have quality backlinks, but being able to do a quick analysis and determine if those backlinks are going to relevant pages within your site or just to the homepage, for example, can make a big difference in terms of adding SEO value to those key pages. Image
Andrew Burd – Ahrefs
SEO Manager | Teknicks
My go-to backlink analysis tool is Ahrefs. It’s easy to use and has several helpful reports for comparing your backlink profile against competitors, finding new link-building opportunities, and seeing backlink growth over time. I also like how Ahrefs provides real examples for how to use their reports in the “How to use” window. One of my favorite Ahrefs reports is “Best by links,” which I frequently use to identify 404 pages with backlinks.
It’s also great for finding “link-worthy” content on your website and on competitors’ sites. Overall, Ahrefs has proven to be an invaluable part of our SEO toolkit.Image
Diana Dymond – SEMrush
SEO Manager | Boom Visibility
Our favorite backlink analysis tool comes from SEMRush. This tool is simple to understand and even easier to use. It quickly gives us the data we need to make informed decisions in our SEO strategies for clients.
When conducting competitor research, we head over to the Backlink Analysis tool and plug in up to 5 URLs we’re interested in. The tool then serves up important information like gained and lost backlinks, target pages, source page, anchor text, and authority score. We can also get an overview of how many backlinks, types of backlinks, how many referring domains, and even link attributes (follow, nofollow, sponsored, UGC). All of this data helps us see how competitors are doing in their link-building efforts and figure out a way we can top it.Image
Ryan Kemp – Screaming Frog
SEO Manager | Steinger, Greene & Feiner
Screaming Frog mimics a search engine crawler and gives you the ability to see your website from the perspective of Google, or Bing, or DuckDuckGo… all neatly broken down and packaged into an understandable dashboard and excel download. Whenever I have a major website project or website issues, the first tool I bring up is Screaming Frog. From Meta Data fixes to Keyword Research strategy changes to redirect chain fixes, it can all begin with a Screaming Frog Crawl. It’s easy to understand for a beginner SEO and has enough features to keep an advanced SEO happy. I love this tool.
Some of my go-to features are the sitemap generator, the metadata tab, site structure (especially the section on crawl depth), the response times tab, the in link anchor text word cloud, and the image alt tags tab. You can do so much great Tech SEO with this tool. It’s invaluable.Image
Tom Brodbeck – SEMrush
SEO Associate Manager | Found Search Marketing
My favorite SEO tool is SEMrush. It is my go-to tool for keyword research and competitor research. But the part of the tool I use the most is within the Projects section. I set up every client in the tool to run weekly website audits and rank checks. Within the rank check tool, there is a great featured snippet tool as well that lets you know how well your website is doing in ranking for featured snippets and gives you ideas for new keywords to build new content.
I’m also a big fan of the SEMrush Writing Assistant tool that can be used as a Google Doc add-on to help improve your content writing. Image
Kyle Kozie – Ahrefs
VP of Search | LSEO
My favorite backlink analysis tool is Ahrefs. I love using Ahrefs because of its ease of use and what you have the ability to see. Ahrefs makes it easy to analyze your backlink profile and find any broken backlinks, which you can then resolve to gain back some link juice. With that being said, you also have the ability to analyze your competitor’s backlink profiles and see if they have any broken backlinks, which you can then leverage tactics like trying to get the link swapped for one of your live pages or your client’s live pages.
You don’t only have to look at broken backlinks, though. You can also just analyze your competitor’s backlink profiles to see who they are leveraging for links and target the same sites. Image
John Cunningham – SEMrush
Content & SEO Manager | Burg & Co. Marketing
Our team prefers to use the SEMrush Backlink Audit tool because it’s simple to use yet incredibly thorough. With it, we can identify:
● Who is linking to our website?
● Which page on our site is the link’s target.
● The authority score of the referring site.
● The toxicity score of the referring site.
● Which backlinks are marked as “no follow” by the referrer?
As you can imagine, this information is valuable for a number of reasons. Our primary uses for it can be broken down into two categories:
1. Disavowing toxic backlinks — With SEMrush’s Backlink Audit tool, you can quickly select toxic backlinks and compile them into a list that can be imported into Google’s Disavow Tool.
2. Building a list of authoritative referrers — You can compile a list of authoritative backlinks. Of these, you can identify which may have instructed crawlers not to follow the link. You can reach out to them and see if they would be willing to remove the “no follow,” so the backlink will increase your site’s authority.Image
Chris Eckstrum – Ahrefs
SEO Manager | Manscaped
When it comes to backlink analysis tools, one option rises above the rest, Ahrefs. While there are several benefits to using Ahrefs, using it for competitor analyses is one of my go-to plays.
Competitor Backlink Analysis Using Ahrefs
Ahrefs makes it incredibly straightforward to run quick analyses on competitor backlink profiles. After entering a competitor domain or URL, Ahrefs gives users the ability to dive into a ton of different views quickly. Here are a few that I find most useful:
Total Number of Backlinks & Referring Domains Over Time, Total Backlinks, and Best By Links.
Use Case For Backlinks/Referring Domains Over Time
Identifying the number of links and referring domains of a given domain is the most fundamental part of analyzing a competitor’s site. Use this report to get an idea of how many Links/Domains are linking to your competition.
From here, then benchmark that against your domain to get an idea of how far ahead/behind your site is.
Use the provided trend charts to identify the velocity at which your competition builds links to forecast how aggressively your efforts need to stay competitive.
Use Case For The Total Backlinks Report
Looking at an exhaustive list of links to a site may seem overwhelming and lacking actionable insights, but there is a use case. Once in this report, use the search functionality to search for common link opportunities such as ‘Review,’ ‘Resource,’ or ‘Guest Post’ to identify low-hanging fruit opportunities quickly.
Use the broken links section of this report to show links pointing to broken pages on your competition’s site. From here, craft content to meet that intent (if you don’t already have a page), reach out, and land that link.Image
Bari Friedman – Ahrefs
SEO Manager | REQ
As an SEO professional, my favorite backlink analysis tool to use is Ahrefs. Not only do I use it regularly, but I have found that Ahrefs provides the most current and comprehensive backlink data in comparison to similar tools, and its interface could not be more user-friendly.
Over the years, Ahrefs has offered an increasing variety of helpful metrics and reports for evaluating a site’s backlink profile. From CTLDs distribution and anchor text visualization clouds to best pages by links and broken backlinks reports, there is no shortage of useful data available in the tool. One of my favorite reporting features is Ahrefs’s referring domains and page graphs, which display the historical growth in a site’s acquisition of links. Clients will usually see screenshots of these graphs in my monthly SEO reports.
I also use the tool to analyze competitor backlinks. Using Ahrefs’s link intersect feature, I can easily view and export the sites that are linking to competitor sites but not to my client site. It is a great feature to leverage when conducting a competitor analysis, and it can help identify backlink opportunities for client sites.
Having had experience with several different backlink tools throughout my SEO career, I do find the most value in Ahrefs and recommend adding it to your toolbox whether you are a freelance SEO consultant, digital agency, or part of an in-house SEO team.Image
Bill Gassett – Ubersuggest
Massachusetts Real Estate exposure
One of my favorite all-around SEO tools is Ubersuggest by Neal Patel. As a real estate blogger, it offers a multitude of excellent features I use daily. One of the best features is the ability to know what you should be writing about. It makes little sense to write on a topic nobody cares about. Instead, why not write about something that consumers want answers to? Well, that is exactly what Ubersuggest does – it gives you the search volume on Google for popular keywords.
So instead of guessing, you can write on topics that will drive people to your website or blog. Another excellent feature is being able to see articles on competitors’ websites and the exact amount of traffic it brings to their site. Maybe you will want to write an even better article?
Lastly, you can see all the inbound links coming to any website. Looking at someone’s link profile can potentially help you acquire links you might otherwise not know about. By using Ubersuggest and all of the available tools, I have been able to increase my traffic for Maximum Real Estate Exposure. In fact, it is one of the most-read real estate blogs in the country. Using Ubersuggest has brought the fun back to blogging – I would highly recommend it! Image
Grant Brott – Ahrefs
Director of ROI Strategy | Consultwebs
Our go-to backlink analysis tool is Ahrefs. We also use SEMrush and Majestic for certain aspects, but in the end, Ahrefs is very user-friendly, and being able to see that snapshot of a domain’s growth over time and all the metrics right there on the main result is very helpful for reporting.
The features for digging into specific referring domains are also key. We love being able to see a page title, the URL, and rather links are follow or no-follow. Along with the anchors used on a specific referring domain.
We also love the New and Lost features. Being able to see when a backlink was lost so we can take steps to correct it is a great feature we use regularly.
Overall a solid backlink analysis tool that allows you to drill down as needed into referring domains, anchors, competitor links, and broken and lost links.Image
Jim Milan – Ahrefs
Communications & SEO Manager | Auto Accessories Garage
My favorite backlink analysis tool is Ahrefs. Ahrefs is considered by many within the SEO community to have the best crawler for discovering backlinks. It also has an excellent user interface, and the Ahrefs team is always adding new, helpful functionalities to the tool.
Ahrefs is great for reporting. I regularly use it to provide reports to my executives on the backlinks our site has acquired. The “New” backlinks tool within Site Explorer in Ahrefs allows you to set a specific timespan to look for backlinks to a site that was discovered by Ahrefs within that time period. You can also set it to include only “Dofollow” backlinks and filter out “Nofollow” links so that you are only looking at the backlinks that contribute link authority to your site.
This tool is excellent for weekly reports because I can quickly set the time period to the past 7 days, sort the links by descending Domain Rating, and quickly pull out the backlinks that our SEO team was responsible for acquiring. It is also incredible for researching and replicating the backlinks of our competitors.
I can plug in any one of our competitors’ sites into Site Explorer, sort the backlinks by descending Domain Rating, and begin reverse engineering how these links were acquired. The Link Intersect tool is also amazing for finding new backlink opportunities that have a high potential for replication.
With the link intersect tool, you can enter your primary competitors and see which sites on the internet link to all of those sites but do not link to your own site. This produces a list of sites that are very likely to link to your own site.Image
Dragon Rodosevic – Ahrefs
SEO Manager | Executive Digital
In Ahrefs, we trust! Regarding the dynamic world of search engine optimization, Ahrefs is not a cutting-edge tool. Yet, it allows you to discover and play around with its options as we speak! You cannot only find out domain and URL rating, amount of backlinks, and their quality, but you can also do a checkup on traffic’s performance on referral links.
What does it mean? If traffic is improved overnight, it gives you insight into some possible PBN or Pillow links that are not a lifelong strategy. Another Ahrefs’ convenience is that all referral information about links are in one place, so it’s easy to exclude those which are not reflecting on your target audience and niche!Image
Zach Leete – Nightwatch
SEO & Content Manager | IntelliChief
Nightwatch is an all-in-one Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tool with extremely fine-tuned rank tracking capabilities designed to help companies grow organic traffic, perform SEO audits, drive sales, and produce detailed reports to align SEO initiatives with other digital marketing efforts. It also features an intuitive backlink tracking tool that helps you discover, analyze, and monitor backlinks. Nightwatch differentiates itself from other SEO tools because it focuses on function rather than bloating itself with features that don’t help you achieve your growth objectives. Its backlink discovery and monitoring tool has been a revelation at IntelliChief.
Automated backlink discovery and monitoring: Nightwatch automatically alerts the user when backlinks are discovered or lost. It leverages several external tracking sources as well as Nightwatch’s crawlers to keep you aware of how backlinks are affecting website rankings.
Backlink segmentation: Not all backlinks are created equal. Some backlinks are beneficial, while others can actually harm your website’s ability to rank in SERPs. With Nightwatch, you can segment and visualize backlinks using a diverse set of parameters to create your ideal backlink profile.
Backlink summary: Nightwatch has dedicated screens for backlink-related information. In other words, it cuts down on clutter to help you focus on where your backlinks are coming from and how they are affecting your website. Nightwatch identifies the domain, quality, and status (follow/no-follow) of your backlinks, making it easy to isolate spam links that should be disavowed.
With Nightwatch, you have everything you need at your fingertips to boost rankings and improve your backlink profile. Over the last 3 years, Nightwatch support has been consistent, helpful, and kind. The fact that Nightwatch is competitively priced for small to enterprise-class businesses is a huge benefit as well.Image
Roma Kapadiya – SEMrush
SEO & Content Manager | Design’N’Buy
There is a lot of information you can find on this best back-link analysis tool for any subject you require to improve your link profile, brand and boost your rankings along the way. It’s important that Link building is done after considering proper back-link analysis to avoid harm on your website.
SEMrush is a tool that I have been using for almost 4+ years, and with the new features they are adding, it is becoming a highly robust SEO tool. With this tool, I can see how my website links are performing.
SEMrush is popular in the digital marketing community for its easy-to-use features.
I can simply enter my competitor’s URL and uncover the number of back-links pointing to their website, and you can track multiple competitors at once. With this tool, I can analyze my market and competitors to form my strategy on generating new backlinks, On-page SEO, keyword research, and content optimization. Moreover, I can explore which content performs best for obtaining certain types of backlinks or social engagement.
If you’re not sure if SEMrush will suit your needs, you can take advantage of a 7-day trial where you can get 10 reports per day and see 10 results in a report.
Backlink Analysis Tool Leaderboard
According to our contributing experts, it looks like Ahrefs is the favorite choice among those who participated. Followed by SEMrush second. Below is the full leaderboard list of their favorite backlink analysis tool (by vote count).
Ahrefs – 13
SEMrush – 4
Ubersuggest – 2
Majestic SEO – 0
Moz – 1
Nightwatch – 1
Screaming Frog – 1
We’d Like to Hear From You
Now it’s your turn. What backlink tool do you use and why?
Maybe it’s a tool no one mentioned on our list. Or maybe you’re thinking about trying a new tool for the first time. Let us know by leaving a comment below. Tell us why it’s your favorite or why you are interested in checking it out.