You’re about to see the 15 best link building tools for 2021.
In fact, I’ve used these exact tools to get backlinks from sites like Entrepreneur.com:
With that, it’s time to reveal my favorite link building and outreach tools.
15 Best Link Building Tools
The world’s largest backlink index.
Ahrefs is a link building software suite designed for SEO pros.
It also has a lot of features that have nothing to do with link building, like:
- A very solid keyword research tool
- “Content Explorer” (similar to BuzzSumo)
- Rank tracking
- Technical SEO site audits
Even though Ahrefs has A LOT of advanced features, it’s easy for non-technical people (like me) to use.
Pricing: $99-$999 per month
My Favorite Feature: “Link Intersect”
This feature lets you see which sites link to your competitors… but not you.
For example, here’s a report I run at least once a month:
This shows me who’s linking to Ahrefs and Moz… but not me.
Why is this helpful?
If someone links to your competitors, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll link to you.
(After all, they might have a relationship with the person that runs that site.)
But if someone links to TWO of your competitors, you have a much better chance of getting a link from that site.
If you can only invest in one link building tool, it should be Ahrefs.
A user-friendly backlink tracker.
Linkody is one of the cheapest link building tools on the market.
Despite that, it has a decent link index.
Pricing: $14-$139 per month
My Favorite Feature: “Top Pages”
See the exact pages that get the most links. This is helpful for reverse engineering what’s working for a competing site. Or to double down on what’s working for you.
Is Linkody as good as “the big 3” (Ahrefs, Moz and Majestic)? Nope. But if you’re just starting out with SEO and have a limited budget, Linkody is worth a shot… especially considering that they offer a 30-day free trial.
Find bloggers for outreach campaigns.
If you want people to link to your site, you need to master blogger outreach.
And the first step of any outreach campaign?
Find bloggers in your industry.
Well, GroupHigh claims to have “The World’s Largest Blog Search Engine”.
And after testing it out this week, I’d have to agree.
I did a search for “baking blogs” and found 33,581 relevant blogs:
So that’s GroupHigh’s big selling point: it makes it easy to find bloggers.
(Whether it’s for content promotion… or straight up link building.)
It also has a built-in outreach platform that you can use to send your outreach emails:
Pricing: $179-$499 per month
My Favorite Feature: “Metrics”
Sure, it’s nice to have a giant list of blogs in your niche.
But how do you know which bloggers are worth reaching out to?
Well, that’s where GroupHigh’s metrics come into play.
You can sort and filter bloggers based on Domain Authority, social media followers, audience size… and lots more.
Although GroupHigh isn’t designed for link building, I know lots of SEO agencies that use it to run their link building campaigns. And I can see why: it’s got a giant database of blogs… and a built in “Blogger CRM” that you can use to send link building-focused outreach emails.
Scale your link building campaigns.
BuzzStream is an outreach platform that helps you stay organized with email outreach.
In other words:
Instead of spreadsheets and random Gmail inboxes, you can use BuzzStream to track conversations and manage campaigns effectively across multiple projects.
(Which makes it especially helpful for teams and agencies.)
Here’s how it works:
First, you either find websites using their built-in “Discovery” tool…
…or upload a list of sites in your niche that you want to reach out to:
Then, use BuzzStream to find their contact info.
(I’m using the handy Buzzmarker Chrome extension to find contact information here. This is arguably the best feature of the entire platform.)
Finally, connect your email with BuzzStream. This lets you reach out to people from within the platform.
You can even dig deep into reporting to see the status of every email (and followup) that you’ve sent:
Pricing: $24-$999 per month
My Favorite Feature: Custom Fields
I view custom fields as the bread and butter of BuzzStream. They let you organize and customize campaigns in any way you want.
Let me show you an example.
One of the very few required custom fields is Relationship Stage. This basically means: “what is our current status with that person?”.
Here’s an example of some of the stages I use.
Let me break these down for you.
- Not Yet Researched – we’ve saved the prospect as qualified, but haven’t prepped for outreach (i.e. found contact info, wrote the email, etc.).
- Prepped for Outreach – this is specifically for those we’ve prepped for outreach, but have a contact form URL (not their actual email address). We save them here until an appropriate time of day & week to submit the form (since this can’t be automated / queued up for a future time).
- Not Started – people we’ve prepped for outreach, and have an email queued up for a future time. When it gets sent, the prospect automatically moves into Attempting to Reach.
- Attempting to Reach – we’ve sent at least 1 email, but haven’t heard back.
- In Talks – we’ve heard back, but we haven’t drawn a conclusion.
- Waiting for Result – we’ve sent our link/post/pitch over for review, but haven’t drawn a conclusion.
- Agreed to Link – they’ve verbally agreed to do what we want them to do, i.e. post our link, accept our post, write about our client’s asset, etc.
- Link Accepted – the link is live! Booyah.
- Rejected – they shot down our request.
There are others, but the above makes up the vast majority. But the cool thing is, you can customize all of the above.
For example, you can create a new set of fields for a guest posting or influencer marketing campaign.
So: why are custom fields so helpful?
- Filtering / Division – if you’re looking for a specific segment of prospects, filtering by that custom field allows us to easily find them. In the same way, this division of organization helps for process management.
- Template fields – a custom field value can be used in an outreach template
- Data analysis – you can add data points as a field (for example, the site’s Domain Authority or whether or not they’ve linked to a competitor)
BuzzStream has a lot of other cool features that I didn’t have room to cover here. If you want to learn more I recommend reading my BuzzStream review.
BuzzStream is one of my favorite link building tools. If you do a lot of outreach or work with a team of link builders, it can save you a ton of time and energy.
Create a disavow file in seconds.
Disavow.it makes it easy to create a disavow file.
Without a tool like this, you need to manually create a file to upload to the Google Search Console…
…and HOPE that you formatted it correctly.
My Favorite Feature: “Apply Disavow File”
This feature is helpful if you have a list of URLs that you want to disavow links from… and a disavow file ready to go.
It compares the two lists. And lets you know which URLs in your list will (and won’t be) disavowed.
The whole disavow process can be a giant pain (I know from experience. I’ve helped several clients recover from manual penalties). Disavow.it makes one step of this process a little bit easier. It’s also helpful if you proactively disavow shady links.
Find and pitch reporters and journalists.
As you probably know, PR is one of the most powerful link building strategies on the planet.
When done right, PR can land you high quality links from HUGE authority news sites (like Forbes, the New York Times, and Tech Crunch).
The problem is:
Most outreach platforms are designed to help you find bloggers… not journalists.
That’s where JustReachOut comes in.
It has a sizable (and up-to-date) database of journalists…
… and a CRM that you can use to manage your outreach within the platform.
Pricing: $99-$699 per month
My Favorite Feature: Source Search
JustOutReach lets you search for source requests from HARO, ProfNet and Twitter.
That way, you can pitch journalists that actually WANT to feature you in their story.
If you want to get links and mentions in the press, JustReachOut can help. It’s dead-simple to use. And it’s relatively inexpensive considering how many cool features it has.
Reverse engineer your competitor’s backlinks.
Moz Link Explorer is the flagship feature of Moz Pro.
And it replaces the old Open Site Explorer.
So: how does Moz Link Explorer work?
First, you pop a competitor’s domain (or specific URL) into it:
And you can see all of their backlinks:
You also get link metrics, like the site’s Domain Authority:
Pricing: $99-$999 per month
My Favorite Feature: Anchor Text Analysis
Quickly see the most common anchor text in a site’s backlink profile:
Why is this helpful?
Well, if you see lots of exact match anchor text, that’s usually a sign of black hat link building.
Moz Link Explorer is the 2nd best link analysis tool on the market. Unfortunately, it’s still a DISTANT second to Ahrefs (Ahrefs’s link database is significantly bigger than Moz’s Link Explorer). That said, a Moz subscription comes with several other tools (like an on-page grader) that can make the monthly investment worthwhile.
Makes outreach (relatively) easy.
NinjaOutreach is similar to other outreach tools I’ve covered already, like BuzzStream and GroupHigh.
So what makes NinjaOutreach different?
First of all, it’s database of influencers is HUGE (in the millions).
Second, it’s more SEO-focused than other outreach platforms. Yes, you can sort the results based on social metrics (like Facebook fans or Instagram followers).
But because NinjaOutreach is designed for link builders, you can get granular with SEO metrics too. Specifically, you can sort results by Domain Authority, Page Authority and number of backlinks
My Favorite Feature: Premade Templates
NinjaOutreach comes bundled with templates for different types of link building campaigns… including broken link building, infographic promotion, and more.
Of course, you should personalize these templates before you send them out. But at least you have a starting point compared to writing outreach emails from scratch.
NinjaOutreach is a powerful piece of link building software. I first tried this tool 3 years ago and it’s come a long way since then. It’s got a much cleaner interface and 5x more features. Although not dirt cheap, NinjaOutreach is a good value considering the amount of helpful features that you get access to.
Supercharged link prospecting.
If you’re sick of manually searching for resource pages in Google, you’ll love Link Prospector.
That’s because it has hundreds of pre-made search strings built right into it.
So all you need to do is enter a few keywords related to your site… and it takes care of the rest.
Pricing: $47-$497 per month (can also pay as you go)
My Favorite Feature: Link Target Score
Most link building tools spit out 1001 link “opportunities”.
And it’s on you to sift for gold nuggets.
Not Link Prospector.
It analyzes every prospect on your list for “LTS”… which bubbles up websites are most related to yours:
That way, you can focus on the prospects that are likely to link to you.
Link Prospector’s features are designed solely for full-time link builders and SEO agencies. In other words: it’s not newbie-friendly. But if you’re a link building pro, this tool can make link prospecting go 2-10x faster.
Discover influential bloggers in your niche.
Even though BuzzSumo is designed for content marketing, lots of SEO pros use it too.
First, BuzzSumo makes it easy to create content that people WANT to link to.
Second, you can use BuzzSumo to find influencers in your niche that recently shared your competitor’s content:
(Which means they’re super likely to share your stuff… and link to it.)
Pricing: $79-$239 per month.
My Favorite Feature: “Brand Mentions”
“Brand Mentions” let you know whenever someone mentions your brand in a blog post… but didn’t link to your site.
Here’s an example:
In my experience, a friendly “can you please link to us?” email can turn those unlinked brand mentions into legit backlinks:
You can also use BuzzSumo to find new links to your site:
(I’ve found that BuzzSumo finds links from blog posts faster than any other tool.)
Sure, BuzzSumo isn’t designed for link building. But as you just saw, you can still use it to get white hat links to your site. Recommended.
Easily identify unnatural links.
CognitiveSEO is an SEO software suite with a focus on backlink analysis.
(Just like Moz Link Explorer and Ahrefs.)
So: what makes it unique?
Well, cognitiveSEO has some interesting features that most other tools don’t have.
For example: “Unnatural Link Detection”.
This lets you know if your site (or a site that you want to get a link from), has a shady link profile:
Otherwise, it’s very similar to Ahrefs and Moz.
Pricing: $99-$499 per month
My Favorite Feature: Domain Profile Influence
Lets you know what percentage of your links come from authority sites… and rinky dink blogs.
It’s normal to have a mix. But if your link profile is lacking heavy hitters, it might be time to get backlinks from bigger sites.
Cognitiveseo simply isn’t as good as Moz or Ahrefs. That said, it’s a solid value at $99/month. Plus, there’s a free trial. So if you’re on a tight budget and want pro-level backlink analysis, cognitiveSEO is probably your best bet.
Use workflows that walk you through the outreach process.
Pitchbox is an outreach platform built for efficiency and ease-of-use.
It tries to be an all-in-one solution, from discovering prospects to reporting on outreach and everything in between.
(In my opinion, it largely succeeds.)
Let me show you how Pitchbox works.
After you sign up login, the first thing you’ll do is create a Project.
Then, you choose the type of campaign you want to run.
As you can see, there are LOTS of pre-built campaigns to choose from.
- Blogger Outreach – you input keywords, they give you a list of blog articles.
- Advanced Search – you input search phrases, they scrape their Google results.
- Product Reviews – you input keywords, they give you a list of blogs that (they think) have featured review articles in the past.
- “Hot Off The Press” – you input keywords, they give you a list of blog articles published in last 48 hours.
- Competitor Backlinks – you input competitor domains, they give you a list of URLs linking to them.
- Link Removal (default OR using LRT) – doesn’t prospect; you have to provide the list of URLs. But makes things very efficient for getting links removed.
What I like about Pitchbox is that the workflow is built right in. So once you start a campaign, it walks you through all the steps (from finding high quality prospects, to grabbing contact information, to actually sending outreach emails).
Speaking of outreach emails, this is one of the areas that Pitchbox really shines.
You can create personalized fields that make outreach emails personalized (without spending a ton of time tweaking each one).
You can also have multiple people work on a single outreach email (for example, one person composes the email and another person comes in to personalize it).
Finally, you can set up automated email sequences to automatically follow-up with people that don’t reply to your first email:
Pricing: $195-$395 per month
My Favorite Feature: Metrics Filters
This you to filter your results by certain quality metrics.
Specifically, you can filter by Majestic Citation Flow & Trust Flow, Link Research Tools Power*Trust, and Moz metrics (Page Authority and Domain Authority).
You can set your own filters, or you can use one of their pre-built “good” or “great” filters.
Pitchbox combines “easy to use” and “powerful features” into a single piece of link building software. It’s not the cheapest tool out there. But if you do a lot of outreach or work with a team of link builders, I highly recommend Pitchbox.
13. Majestic SEO
Link analysis on a budget.
Majestic is yet another backlink analysis tool.
It has the features you’d expect… like number of backlinks, referring domains and anchor text analysis.
Pricing: $49-$99 per month
My Favorite Feature: Topical Trust Flow
This metric measures how many links a site has from a set of highly-trusted “seed” websites.
(It’s basically Majestic’s version of TrustRank.)
Majestic SEO has a massive link database. But the UX is ancient and hard to use. That said you definitely get your money’s worth at $50/month.
Find accurate contact information in seconds.
After trying over 25 different tools for finding contact info, I can say with confidence that Hunter.io is the best.
Not only is it lightning-fast, but the contact info that you get from it is insanely accurate.
That’s because Hunter doesn’t just scrape a single website for email addresses. Instead, it pulls data from several different sources.
Pricing: Free-$399 per month
My Favorite Feature: Email Verification
Hunter automatically verifies each email that it gives you:
That way, you know the inbox is still active BEFORE you hit “send”.
(You can also bulk upload email addresses for verification.)
When it comes to finding email addresses for outreach, you absolutely cannot beat Hunter.
A backlink tool for people new to SEO.
Instead of building their own link index, Monitor Backlinks pulls link data from Moz and Majestic into a single dashboard.
(Raven Tools does the same thing.)
It also comes with a few bonus features, like SERP position tracking and detailed reporting.
Pricing: $25-$144 per month
My Favorite Feature: Disavow Tool
Makes identifying black hat links (and adding them to a disavow file) simple and easy.
When it comes to link analysis and overall features, Monitor Backlinks isn’t even close to something like Ahrefs. That said, it’s 4x cheaper. So depending on your budget, Monitor Backlinks might makes sense for you.
Any Tools That I Missed?
Those are my 15 favorite link building tools.
The question is:
How do you choose the best one for you?
Here’s a quick checklist to help you decide:
- “What budget do I have to work with?” – If you’re so shoestring that you can’t afford shoestrings, Excel spreadsheets are always free. And they usually do the job. That said, outreach tools usually make the process faster and more efficient.
- “How many people need to use the tool?” – If you’re the only one that build links, then you don’t need worry about user accounts and features designed for teams. But if you do outreach with a team, tools like BuzzStream or PitchBox are a must.
- “How many links can I see?” – Backlink analysis tools like Moz, Ahrefs and Majestic give you the most competitor link data. Others might be cheaper… but you get what you pay for.
- “How important is reporting?” – Are you reporting to clients? If so, detailed (and nice-looking) reporting features can be massively helpful.
Now I’d like to turn it over to you:
Which tool on this list is your personal favorite?
Or maybe there’s a tool you love that I didn’t mention here.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.